Why would my Banty Roost Outside Tonight?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ClareScifi, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I went to shut my chickens into their coop a little while ago, like I always do, and was so surprised to see the Banty roosting atop a pine shavings bale I have propped up vertically by the side of the coop door, to provide warmth and insulation inside the coop. It is still winter, albeit February 1, and the temperature was about 30 degrees F at the time I found her. It had been fully dark for quite some time.

    Granted, she is usually the last chicken to go in the coop at night and likes to play around outside at dusk, going in the coop and then coming out, repeatedly until she decides to go in for good, which is always before full dark sets in. But tonight she was out in the dark. It worries me. I picked her up and put her inside the coop. Usually she squeals loudly if I touch her, but she didn't protest much. I set her down in the pine shavings. I thought she might fly up to a perch, but she stayed atop the shavings on the floor.

    Do you think this could indicate some sort of problem? The rooster has never bothered her, and they have been together for 2 1/2 years. He protects her and only mates with the full-sized hens. I'm wondering whether he could have gotten mixed up and spurred her. I saw no blood nor sign of injury.

    This Banty is at the bottom of the pecking order. The big girls peck her, but not too bad. She usually holds her own with them.

    I was wondering whether since it is February she might be in egg-laying mode and thus acting a bit strangely? She laid one egg early this week, the first egg since last summer. She usually starts laying in February and then stops on the first day of summer or so and doesn't start up again until February. Or could she be broody, seeking out her own space apart from the other chickens?

    I'm so glad she was near the door and I saw her. Had she been somewhere else in the run I might not have known she was still outside and left her there the whole cold night. It is to get down to the mid to lower 20s F here tonight.

    I am hoping the reason she didn't fly up to a perching roost when I put her in the coop was because she was already settled for the night and thus super docile and ready for bed. But I do worry. I guess I will inspect her closely in the morning. I sure hope she didn't get injured somehow?

    Any thoughts? She is a silver-laced Sebright Bantam, 2 years and 4 months old, the only Banty in my flock. I have one rooster who is half Buff Orpington and half Aracauna, & 2 half white leghorn hens. They are the same age as the Banty. The matriarch is a Barred Rock, who will be 4 on St Patrick's Day.
     
  2. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, I'm wrong. I checked the weather forecast, and it's supposed to get down to 15 F tonight. Brrr. She would have been cold outside! Very strange.
     
  3. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    Just watch her closely for a while, she may have just decided it was a nice place to roost. Chickens can be weird...
     
  4. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Wisher. This one has always done some strange things. Stranger than the rest. Like laying her tiny eggs in rolled up rugs or the sleeves of jackets. She will charge at my foot like a rooster if I get near her when she is thinking about laying an egg. She'll peck at that time, but it doesn't hurt. She is tiny and can fly and has flown the high coop walls a few times when bored but always flies back in shortly thereafter. It's as if to show me she can fly the coop if she wants to. She has a ton of personality. I sure hope she is okay. It might be that Esther Mary pushed her off the indoor pine shavings bale and she found the outdoor one to perch on, instead. Or maybe I forgot to scoop poop off her favorite nesting ridge. It's probably something simple like that, I hope? I'd hate to lose her.
     
  5. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am happy to report that wee Merry Etta seems just fine this morning! Praise God!
     
  6. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, no. She did it again tonight! I forgot to take my flashlight with me when I shut the door to the coop. I put up all the insulating materials over that door and then realized I had forgotten to check for her position in the coop. So I went to the other side of the coop and shone a light in that door, but I couldn't see her. It's harder to see inside from that door, so I assumed she was hidden on the other side of a hen, as she is a little banty. But I wasn't sure, so I went to take down the insulating materials on the other side so I could get a better look... But then I spied her sitting atop a pine shavings bale on the south side of the coop, outside of the coop.

    Had she not been in front of the coop, on the west side of it, right by the door, the other night, I wouldn't have thought to look on the more hidden south side tonight, and she would have been out in the cold all night. It's very chilly tonight. So it's a blessing I spotted her outside easily Sunday night. The last two nights she went inside the coop at dark, but tonight she stayed out again for some unknown reason?

    I don't know why she's acting so strangely in the cold weather. She's 2 1/2 years old and has never done this in previous winters. I wonder whether she could have a fever or whether something about inside the coop is bothering her? Is she getting more pecked on lately? Is the rooster trying to mate with her? Hmmmm.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’ve seen chickens sleep outside in below zero weather. As long as she is not in a wind, she can handle the cold. That’s not the issue. Predators might be.

    I don’t know why she is doing that. I see that behavior a lot with juveniles I’m trying to integrate. A more mature hen, usually one near the bottom of the pecking order, makes life miserable for the less mature chicks as they are settling in to sleep so they look for a safer place to sleep than the roosts. Usually that is somewhere else inside the coop, but I have had some go outside to roost. But while yours is the bottom of the pecking order, she’s over 2 years old. It’s strange that this would be happening now, but maybe there has been a change in the pecking order that has caused more conflict? It doesn’t have to involve the top hen.

    What can you do? That’s rough because I’m not sure why she is doing that. Can you maybe put up a separate roost, a bit lower and separated some horizontally from the main roosts. It doesn’t have to be very big for just her. Try putting her up there for a few nights to see if she will accept that as a safer place to roost.

    Good luck with it. These behavior things are not always easy.
     
  8. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, RidgeRunner. She came out of the coop just fine this morning, and seemed happy. I wonder whether banties have more 'wild bird' in their blood than larger hens, and maybe this is the reason.

    I got to thinking, too, that maybe since the door doesn't open as widely as it used to, due to a ridge of ice it can't get over, that this has confused her into thinking she can't go in, but the large chickens don't have a problem with it, and she's small enough to squeeze through it easily.

    I haven't seen any change in the pecking order except for the fact that #1 Hen is getting older. #1 has always pecked on the Banty the most, and maybe she's getting more impatient with the Banty as she ages? That is all I can think of. But the coop is plenty large for the Banty to be able to find a safe spot to roost at alone at night.

    I worry more that she might have a fever or something. She has laid only 1 egg this year so far, and that worries me. Could she have an ovulation problem and resultant fever? She seems fine, but who knows?
     

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