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But I don't wanna be a chicken Granny!

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  • But I don't wanna be a chicken Granny!

    I've been seeing a lot of dark feathers near my nestboxes but attributed that to Summer molt.

    Then the other day I notice one of my Black Stars looked different - picked her up and her belly was bald as a supermarket fryer. No feathers, no down, nada!

    No sign of vermin - fleas, lice, mites - and when I inspected the other 4 (which made me very unpopular with the girls) noone else was missing anything worth noting.

    One of the Delawares looked a bit thin on her midline, but not nekkid.

    Then yesterday my Houdan spent all afternoon in a nestbox while everyone else freeranged.
    I am leaving town for 5 days Wednesday and was worried she might be eggbound.
    But nope. When I picked her up off the box I found she too had denuded her belly and was crabby as hell with me & the other hens.
    All points to broody behavior.
    There is no rooster here on 2 Dogs Farm, so no possibility of a fertile egg.

    I removed my wooden fake eggs fro mthe boxes - no point giving them anything to obsess about.

    Ms Houdan was back to normal when I went to put them up for the night.

    I am hoping it was a combination of heat - we got close to 90 yesterday - and molt that sent their little hormones into a tizzy.

    Guess my farmsitter will have to deal with PMSing hens or molting baldies.

    Any hints on dealing with either?
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

  • #2
    One of mine started to go broody a month or so ago. I just kept chucking her outside, where she'd puff herself up and look miserable for a while, then sneak back in, only to be chucked out again. Only took a day to get her to snap out of it, thank goodness! I don't have time to babysit hormonal hens! No signs of any weirdness since then, FWIW.

    Got someone to collect the eggs while you're gone? Make sure they chuck any mopey hens outside when they gather.
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      If you can't break her up by tossing her out the door, you can try cooling her abdomen.

      Evidently there is some link between hormones and body heat or some such scientific stuff. I can look it up in my chicken books if you want big words.

      Anyway - the suggestion is to break her up by cooling off the belly. Either suspending the bird in a cage for a day or two (with food and water of course), or using ice or something cool in the nest.

      Of course - that may be all gibberish. It may be that sticking ice under the hen or suspending her in a cage is so disconcerting that she wants to get the hell out of the nest and away from the crazy human.
      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
      -Rudyard Kipling


      • #4
        I just let them be. I've no rooster either, so when the girls go all broody, I just put on a glove to get eggs out from under her, if she's a vicious momma (my Delaware hens sure are!) or not (my Buff Orps). I don't see any harm in letting them pretend for a bit. I have enough nest boxes to allow for one to be occupied for a few days (or weeks!).

        When it gets particularly hot for us here, like the 90's, I put the box fan on, pointed into the house, as it is inside my metal pole barn, which heats up like an oven.
        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


        • Original Poster

          I'd heard about cooling her off or isolating her on BYC.
          No time to do either before I leave on Wednesday.

          She was back on the box yesterday with 4 eggs under her - none of them hers (she's my only white egglayer).
          I took her off them - she's not nasty about that, just complained a bit - and threw her out with the other girls. She was back on the box when I put them to bed so I put her on a roost and she stayed there.

          I have 2 boxes for the 5 hens so there will be a free one if she decides to stay put.
          "It's always something"
          Roseann Roseannadanna
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          • #6
            Trixie's little red hen, Gladys Kravitz, sat on her nest for almost 2 months. She is currently locked in solitary confinement in a small wire cage in our hayloft and complaining bitterly.
            "If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."


            • Original Poster

              2 MONTHS?

              Well, Misty stayed on the roost overnight and went out as normal with the others this morning. She's still interested in eating & drinking so that is good.

              On the Plus Side of her acting broody: She is so cranky with the others they didn't dare peck at her bald head.
              So she has a chance at regrowing her crest if she stays broody for a while.

              I found the Bright side
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015