Why has my hen's personality changed overnight?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by my three chickens, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. my three chickens

    my three chickens In the Brooder

    Jan 13, 2008
    My favorite hen's personality changed overnight. I've read many other posts about weird behavior and none sounds quite the same as what's happening with her. Then again, I'm a first-timer, so I put it to the group. She's a Buff Orpington, just under 17 weeks when this began, and has never laid an egg.

    Before, she used to:
    -Be a leader of the flock, walking around all big and tall
    -Stand in front and be top dog when I would feed them greens or fruit
    -Eat a lot
    -Be friendly and lively and "smart" (as much as a chicken can be...)

    Now she:
    -Is always the straggler of the group
    -Isn't agile and often will stand on the roost rather than sit, or sit under the lawn chair they roost on while the others perch above
    -Looks confused and stares off blankly or down at the ground, and always keeps her neck tucked in
    -Is more interested in picking through the dirt than eating favorite things like dandelion greens
    -Eats but not voraciously like she used to
    -Is still friendly with me and will roost on my arm, but almost as if it's because she can't muster the energy to do otherwise

    Weirder still, she seems to have swapped personalities with the other B.O., whom we used to call Scaredy but is now front of the pack.

    Can anyone identify what's happening? Here are some ideas from my crazy mind:
    -Could have eaten a weird plastic bauble from the run (artist lived here before us and the ground is full of beads and such), but then they've been in that run for months now and seem to know better.
    -After this happened I noticed there was a weird orange/blue mold on some small clumps of their food that had got wet and then dried. Could have eaten it and become sick? (But none of the other six seem sick at all.)
    -They pick at the side of the house, sometimes at the paint. Could have made her sick, but again, the others seem normal.
    -She's getting ready to lay? But then, as far as I can tell she doesn't have the egg-laying "hips" yet, and her comb is not mature or red, and smaller than that of the other B.O. (who has also not yet laid an egg).
    -She's prolapsed?

    Or perhaps it's something else entirely? Would appreciate the help.
  2. fornese

    fornese In the Brooder

    May 22, 2008
    I wonder about that one. Could it be just growing pains or hormones? Not trying to be funny. I have a one year old Rhodie that is the alpha hen and for a day or did that but not for long. Your BO is still a little bit young to lay. Maybe give her some "special attention". Try some other food that may perk her up like lettuce clippings or something. A fresh ear of corn on the cob. My hens love it! I hope this will pass for you soon. Sorry she is down. erf
  3. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator

    Sep 25, 2007
    Moldy feed can definitely be toxic; you should always make sure to not feed moldy feed OR food products to your chickens. Is there any way you could be mistaking her for the other BO? What does her poo look like? Any sneezing, discharge from her eyes or nostrils? Have you actually seen her eat and drink? What are you feeding?
  4. my three chickens

    my three chickens In the Brooder

    Jan 13, 2008
    Thanks for your replies. She seemed a little better yesterday morning, when I brought in her favorite (dandelion greens) and she ate a bunch of them then jumped on my shoulder. But now she's back to seeming almost brain-damaged: stands in a corner staring at a wall, mostly by herself, head always contracted down into her body so you don't even see her neck.

    To answer your queries:
    Haven't noticed her poo, as they're all outside and so who knows which is which.
    No sneezing or discharge.
    Have seen her eat from my hands, but not from the feeder or waterer.
    Feeding them all organic layer crumbles and then various fruits and vegetables. They free-range in the yard and there eat the usual.
    And no, I'm sure I'm not confusing her for the other BO.

    More help? I'm nervous that she ate moldy food and some sort of toxicity has gone to her brain.
  5. amysflock

    amysflock Songster

    May 8, 2008
    Tenino, WA
    You said she's never laid an egg...could she be eggbound? We inherited an EE hen who was very submissive, was missing her tail feathers (pecked out by others at MIL's coop), and walked funny, sort of hunched down, neck tucked in (so looked like she had no neck), etc. She also talked a lot, a funny little "woopwoop" sound, and would stop her hunched walking around to "push" or "strain."

    We eventually determined she was egg bound, and while we tried the warm baths, removing the egg (it was up so high we couldn't feel or move it), separation, etc., we found her one morning, dead, next to a giant soft-shelled egg. It was very sad.

    But perhaps you might read up on egg binding and see if that could be the culprit. From what I've read here, lots of folks have had luck treating their layers for that.

    Best of luck!
  6. eggzettera

    eggzettera Songster

    First off if it is hot out where you are NO CORN - it makes them even hotter.

    Second - can you give her some electrolytes like some Avian Charge (got mine through McMurray my feed store did not carry)

    Third - do you routinely put AVC with the mother in it in their water?

    Fourth - do you routinely give yogurt?

    The last three are more like preventative measures like you taking a muti-vitamin.

    If you even suspect she may be egg bound a nice bath in room temperature water may just be the trick.....

  7. my three chickens

    my three chickens In the Brooder

    Jan 13, 2008
    Well, good news! She's back to normal and I have no idea why. She never laid an egg. Who knows what was wrong. I've put oyster shell in their feed now in order to minimize the possibility of any one of them getting eggbound in the future. (The thought of KY jelly and a manual extraction was unappealing, to say the least...)

    Thanks for all the help!
  8. skeeter

    skeeter Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Parma Idaho
    sounds like she just wasnt feeling very good for a few days

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: