What is my hen doing?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by StephensonC, Oct 28, 2014.

  1. StephensonC

    StephensonC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have an Olive Egger that is overall very healthy, active and lays almost everyday. I'm not sure how old she is though. Today, she started running around frantically with her beak open. She was acting like she was searching for something. She doesn't normally do this before she lays. Anyway, she soon went to her favorite nesting box and stayed for about 30 minutes or so, then moved over to a nesting box that NEVER EVER gets used. All the while she is still panting. After about 1 hour she finally layed an egg, still panting. (She always pants when she lays an egg, is that normal?) She gets out of the box and runs over to the corner of the run and starts picking up pieces of pine straw and leaves and puts them down beside her. She still has her beak open and has her wings tucked in real tight. Could she be getting broody? Is she trying to make a nest? What could this be? Is this normal? I tried to get her to drink some water, which she did, but still has her beak open. She has also been eating normal. Thanks for any suggestions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  2. StephensonC

    StephensonC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anyone?
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I don't know about the open beak or the panting. Is she eating normally? Did she lay an egg? The picking up and dropping bits of stuff after laying an egg is a normal behavior for a lot of chickens. You may see them tossing bits of hay and leaves over their backs, or even tucking them into their feathers. It's an instinctive behavior, though her timing is off a bit. She's working on her cammoflage. She thinks those little bits of debris make her invisible!
     
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  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Sometimes a chicken will do things differently than the others. If she does these things all the time, and is otherwise healthy and normal, then all it means is this is normal behavior for her, even though it may be cause for alarm in any other chicken.

    For example, I have a four-year old Sussex hen that has the squirts. She had the squirts when I brought her home as a two-day old chick and she has hardly ever pooped solid poops ever since. This is normal for her, even though it would be abnormal for anyone else.

    So, if your hen always pants when laying, it's her default behavior, and no cause for alarm.
     
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  5. StephensonC

    StephensonC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes she did this after she layed the egg. That is exactly what she did. Tossed the stuff over her back and tried to tuck some under her wing. I've never seen her do that before. Thank you!! I thought maybe something was wrong....lol Glad to know it's normal behavior!!
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like she's in more pain than usual, perhaps, possibly pre-prolapse. I think she was trying to run away from the pain, they do that.

    I'd get her onto some regular cold pressed olive oil, it lubricates and restores flexibility to the entire body's mucosal surfaces, as well as the cardiovascular system. You can just dip wholemeal bread into a bowl of olive oil once a week and let them have at it, it's an old farmer's remedy to prevent egg binding and I've never had a single case of that in many years and hundreds of hens, even despite having a few predisposed hens with internal problems that should have prolapsed them.

    Another thing to address is calcium levels. The feeds rarely actually contain enough. Any sort of stress, like heat, fear, flock dynamic changes, illness, injury, whatever, can all deplete calcium reserves. A lot of calcium is needed for muscular contractions to push out the egg, while they don't often complain it is actually painful and hard on them to lay, so any supplemental calcium will both help insulate nerves to provide pain relief, and reduce the chances of egg binding.

    Panting while laying is normal, it's quite a bit of effort they're undertaking when pushing something that large out of their bodies. That said, excessive panting is a sign of pain or stress. What you're seeing is excessive.

    The behavior with the bits of hay etc is slightly faulty nesting behavior, it's taken out of context, but it's still normal. She's trying to build herself a nest, is all, and yes, as you thought, this is commonly seen in hens about to go broody.

    Best wishes.
     
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  7. StephensonC

    StephensonC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK I will examine her vent area first thing in the morning and go from there. Will definitely give the olive oil and offer extra calcium. You mentioned the flock dynamic changes. I did just remove 4 hens from the flock 2 days ago due to their aggressive behavior with her. Thank you for your reply!!
     
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  8. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I was going to say you probably don't need to check her vent, but you know what, it's a good idea. You're being proactive which is better than retroactive, lol, saves far more lives than being too laid back about things.

    I don't think she's prolapsed yet but olive oil's a good precaution. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure after all.

    Best wishes.
     

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