Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › Hen plucking and eating her own feathers etc

Hen plucking and eating her own feathers etc

Gila
user 58290262
Valley Village, CA
Post #: 13
Hi all! I need help because I'm at a loss on what to do. My one year old Australorp is sick or stressed. I have 5 hens, three of which are a year old and two that are nearly four years old. A few days ago I noticed that my Austalorp would not leave the roost. She is hoarding her eggs along with the other hen's eggs under her. She does not get up to go to the bathroom or eat. This hen is usually very scared and will not let me within a foot of her. When she did leave the roost 4 days ago I noticed a strip of feather down her chest was missing. Today after not moving for 24 hours I picked her up to find that she has plucked all the feathers on her under body and must have eaten the feathers because there are none in the coop or the run. (On a side note, for several months now I've noticed my Easter Egger missing feathers around her neck but there weren't any feathers in the coop or run as well. Now I think my Australorp has been plucking and eating the feathers while my Easter Egger lays eggs). My other hens are fine. Why and what would cause my Australorp to do this? Nothing has changed with their run, coop, food etc. The only thing that I know has changed is that LADWP started adding chloramine into the water about a month or two ago. When I moved her she just sat on the ground, feathers ruffled and sqwauking at me (her regular I hate you get away from me noise) so i took the eggs from under her and put her back on the roost. Is she stressed? Egg bound? Do I separate her from my other hens?
Any input would be appreciated!!!!
Laura B.
LauraBonilla
Group Organizer
Norco, CA
Post #: 503
hi Gila,
My belief is that your hen is just broody and other than that, healthy! :)
When they are broody they hoard eggs, even not their own, and sit on those eggs from days to weeks... many weeks... I have three right now who have been broody over 6 weeks... I simply take the time to get them out twice a day (more if I have time), and put them next to the water and bowl of food... yes, they scream, the broody scream at me, but I don't care... I tell them, sweety I love you and you need to eat/drink some water... sometimes I go the extra step and take them out of the run, make them join the rest under a pepper tree where they like to gather... and for the most part they stay out a little bit, bathe under the sun or roll in the dirt before screaming while running back to the eggs!!!

It's normal for them to loose/pluck their feathers under their belly especially in the summer AND when they are broody...

When she is done with being broody (yes, keep getting all the eggs so that the broodiness is shortened) keep an eye on her to see if she is really plucking feathers...

Welcome to the world of brodiness... :)
keep us posted,

Gila
user 58290262
Valley Village, CA
Post #: 14
Thank you Laura. My first thought was that she was broody but I had no idea she would pluck and eat her own feathers. I will move her around like you said and hopefully she quits this. My other hens aren't laying as much because she won't leave the roost.
Laura B.
LauraBonilla
Group Organizer
Norco, CA
Post #: 504
Thank you Laura. My first thought was that she was broody but I had no idea she would pluck and eat her own feathers. I will move her around like you said and hopefully she quits this. My other hens aren't laying as much because she won't leave the roost.
yes, the first time it happened to me, I didn't understand what was happening... I'm now used to see their tummies bare sometimes... I just know it's part of the process.

I have had extreme issues with hens pecking and eating others' feathers and I'm hoping you don't have any of that going on... It's really hard to reverse that behavior. I don't know what's in the feathers that they like/need - I should send a few feathers to UC Davis for an analysis :)

ok, keep us posted :)
Gila
user 58290262
Valley Village, CA
Post #: 15
This morning I got her out of the coop and she squawked but walked around the run and ate a little. When I check on her an hour later she was right back in the coop roosting. I have been told I should not eat the eggs that she is roosting on because she is boiling them. Is this true? My plan is to give her a new roosting box with some golf balls and the eggs she boiled yesterday and keep her off to the side.
I am going to do some reading on broodiness today. Hoping this passes....
Laura B.
FarmerLaura
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 123
Gila,

The eggs are edible if you collect them within a day or two of being laid. If they are not fertile, then they will eventually go bad, but that takes a while. She is not "boiling" them, she is just keeping them warmer than is good for eggs that you plan to eat. I have a Buff Orpington that goes broody, and when she does I just take away the eggs. If I want her to hatch eggs, I will give her golfballs to set on until I get the fertile eggs. She has stayed on the nest over a month, so they can be very determined.

If you do not want your hen to stay broody, then take away the eggs and don't let her get back on the nest. If she is determined, then try putting cold packs under her. Some hens break broodiness easy, others will keep brooding no matter what you do. Also, be prepared for her to go broody again within a few weeks if you do break the broodiness.
Gila
user 58290262
Valley Village, CA
Post #: 16
So do I eat the eggs or not? They are not fertile.
Laura B.
LauraBonilla
Group Organizer
Norco, CA
Post #: 506
Hi Gila,
you can eat the eggs, fertile or not... eggs don't go bad quickly at all... many people in many other countries don't even refrigerate eggs for many days. So, I would not worry about it, and no, she is not boiling them. It's funny what people come up with... boiling requires certain temperature and hens don't get that hot! lol.

I would take the eggs away every day AND I would not put any golf balls or any other balls/eggs under her, so that she goes back to normal life quicker.

There is nothing wrong with them being broody except that you don't get eggs, but gives their system a break, so I actually don't mind it. I actually welcome it in some of my hens who have a hard time with laying eggs because they are so little (bantam games)... I would not try to break the broodiness in any other way than removing eggs daily. That is what I do... just keep them healthy but making them walk around and eat every day.

Mine are so broody they can sit on the box for months! but it is my job to make sure they remain healthy... getting plenty of sun, food, water AND dust baths...


Gila
user 58290262
Valley Village, CA
Post #: 17
Hello Friends!!!!
My Australorp is still broody. It has been well over 30 days and my other hens are now being mean to her when I force her to leave the coop and roam the yard. I have even begun to lock the other hens out of the coop area and force them into another part of our yard so that Ms. Broody can have her own area to eat, sun, and dust. I have tried everything I can to break the broodiness and I fear that the other girls will peck her to death if she continues. Any ideas on what to do????
Laura B.
LauraBonilla
Group Organizer
Norco, CA
Post #: 529
hi Gila,
My Susie has been broody since May 8... I am taking her out of her coop first thing in the morning and last thing at night, to make sure she has a first and last meal every day... in between when I know her group is taking a dust bath, I take her and she normally joins in... and I take treats to her - kale, cheese, yogurt, worms... whatever I can.

You want to make sure she does not loose weight.

If you want to forcefully break her broodiness, I would lock the coop for a day or two... that should do it.

I had a group of three girls also sitting for over a month but something interesting happened. I ask my brother to help me relocate the boxes (because they were against the hottest wall of their coop and in the same wall where the window a/c sit - which didn't make any sense)... So I took them all out and lock them outside with the rest of their group.
When my brother was almost done, I let them in. Very interesting to watch them realizing their boxes were relocated! they promptly sat in new and clean and new bedding... but a few hours later they decided to get over their broodiness - weird!

ok, hope locking everyone out of the coop helps... it may take a day or two, but that should break the cycle... it's the only forceful but not cruel way I can think of...

let us know,
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