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My chickens are making me bonkers, a little help?

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  • My chickens are making me bonkers, a little help?

    I know there are chicken forums, but they scare me, so please help an infatuated but new chickie mum.

    Issue 1: my roo Fugly is lame. It started about three days ago, and initially he was non-weight bearing (he looked like a flamingo). There is no wound, no breaks in the leg or toes, no obvious injuries. The leg is warm, and I could make the case that his pad on that foot is slightly larger/squishier. I have scrubbed the leg with betadine, put Epsom salt poultice on the bottom of the foot, started him on antibiotics, and confined him to a dog crate. After 3 days he is slightly better (he will stand on it now), but still too lame to let him wander around. Thoughts? Suggestions?

    Issue 2: my hens have decided to turn their egg laying into one giant scavenger hunt. They certainly refuse to lay in the nice next boxes in their coop, but they won't even lay in the same place outside of the coop for more than a few days in a row. They aren't being broody, they lay em and leave em. I've tried locking them n their coop for a week to get them using their nest boxes, and using dummy eggs to keep them thinking here's the spot, but at first opportunity they go elsewhere.

    Some spots so far have included a milk crate in the tack room, the barn cats bed, the flower bed behind the barn, the manger of the horse trailer, a half full shavings bag, an absentee boarders brush box, and my personal fav: the porta potty. They've also laid in hay, which at least makes some sense lol.

    How do I get them to pick a spot? The coop would be best, obviously, but another spot that was consistent would be fine too (they free range during the day, locked in their coop at night).

    Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
    Eventing, Dressage, Young Horses
    Check out my new blog: http://califcountrymom.blogspot.com

  • #2
    He probably has bumblefoot. The large squishy spot is a dead giveaway. Google it and follow the instructions for treating it - wear gloves. Basically it's similar to treating an abscess in a hoof.

    It's a common affliction so don't feel as if your management is poor. If you had a bunch of birds that developed it - well, then you need to check the coop and yard for glass or other sharp objects they may all be stepping on.

    You probably are not making their nesting boxes attractive enough. Hens like to lay in dark safe confined spaces. Locking them in their coop is a great idea - so do that again but try and make the nesting boxes small, dark and mysterious. You may still have problems (mine will occasionally find a secret place too) but you may see a good improvement. Some people have reported success with little curtains for the nesting boxes. I've never used them, but a crazy chicken lady friend used scraps of dark cloth and swears by it.

    Hope that helps.
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling


    • #3
      I'll echo everything JSwan said.

      I have some hens that are particularly shy and will lay in the barn garbage can because it's quiet and away from everyone else. They like to hide and be "safe" whilst laying.

      I will add though, join Backyardchickens.com It's a chicken forum and it's really fun, the people are very nice! There is a plethora of knowledge there--no need to be scared.
      I LOVE my Chickens!


      • #4
        The people on Backyardchickens really are nice although I mostly visit the duck and goose forums, they have been nothing but helpful and friendly. The advice I have seen about wayward layers has always been to keep them locked in the coop longer in the morning as they say that chickens like to lay in the early morning. I know that with my ducks, they have mostly laid all their eggs by dawn although there has been an egg here and there in the yard on occasion.
        My blog: Crackerdog Farm


        • #5
          I feel your pain on the egg thing... Mine will pick a place to lay for awhile and then switch to a new place. I have a few that lay in the nesting box, some in my tack room (where I added a few boxes to encourage them), some in the hay, and some in woods... One of the problems is they get tired of waiting for their turn in the favorite place of the day so they pick a new place. I really didn't like the hay laying so I disturbed them as much as I could when they headed that way. My solution was to buy more chickens to account for the loses. The benefits of free ranging and the joy I get from watching them outweigh the down sides (less eggs, chicken poop everywhere).


          • #6
            I wanted to add, you do not have to sign up on backyard chickens to be able to search threads. You should be able to find quite a few that match your issue, OP.
            My blog: Crackerdog Farm


            • #7
              they keep moving their nests because you keep taking the eggs! LOL I just leave mine locked up until later in the day when most of the egg-laying is finished.

              Just search on BYC.

              IME, they are as crazy about their chickens as we are about horses and they will not hesitate to slap you around for not knowing as much as they do. You'll probably get some good advice along with it; YMMV.
              “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


              • #8
                If you can handle the coth personalities and the snark here, then the byc people are a breeze. Everyone is super nice, almost too much so, it's like some alternate reality.
                "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville


                • #9
                  We hung a piece of burlap to keep the chickens from one side of the coop. The unintended result was that one of the nesting boxes now has a burlap curtain. Guess which nesting box is the chosen one?

                  Last summer one of the chickens was also starting to get creative in where she chose to lay, and adding golf balls to some of the boxes helped convince her to tow the line.


                  • #10
                    Try leaving them locked up until later. Most hens lay early in the morning. Also, make the nest boxes attractive, like previously suggested.
                    “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                    St. Padre Pio