Tag / nesting boxes

Chickens Eggs Stories from Our Nest

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Sunshine

Is there such a thing as egg laying etiquette?  I’ve often wonder about this. I have heard stories of hens lining up just to lay their eggs in a favorite box, each patiently waiting until the hen in front of them has had her turn.  Often in our nesting boxes, I will discover two chickens laying their eggs at the same time in the same box.  It is so cute to see them stuffed into the box, chatting together and singing the “egg song” duet.  It must be a bonding experience and one that they enjoy as I discover them this way quite a bit.  However, yesterday things were a bit different.

I was enjoying spending sometime outside with the girls in the morning.  As most everyone was scratching around in the fresh moist dirt I saw that Fifi had to lay an egg.  She popped up the ramp and into the coop to have her pick of all the nesting boxes.  No sooner had she entered the coop, I saw Sunshine make a bee line inside and shoo her out.  This happened repeatedly with lots of squawking and feathers flying.  Fifi came out almost as soon as she went in.  Poor little Fifi, all she wanted to do was lay her sweet tiny little egg in one of the boxes. She would even take the middle one if forced to.  Why didn’t Sunshine understand?  Why was Sunshine so bossy all of a sudden?  Then it dawned on me.
Sunshine was bossy.  Clearly this otherwise docile chicken had begun to transform.  With Tilly being on and off broody, Sunshine has bestowed upon herself the position of head hen!  At first it began with some naughty behavior, like eating eggs (thank goodness she stopped), completely emptying the feeders and bullying the others away from treats.  What had gotten into her?  Power.  She had control and she liked it.  She could do good and naughty and no one was there to stop her.  Her rule is so different from sweet Tilly’s.
I intervened that morning.  I tossed some black sunflower seeds into the run to provide distraction.  Sunshine quickly commanded the scene, gobbling up as many as she could.  Fifi took note and ran into the coop and hid in the nesting box on the far left, the favorite one.  I had bought Fifi about 5 minutes.  Soon enough, Sunshine noticed that Fifi was missing.  She marched on into the coop.  She saw Fifi in the nesting box on the left and determined she decided to occupy the box on the far right.
I returned to the coop about a half hour later to discover Tilly back inside sitting in the middle box with Sunshine’s and Fifi’s eggs underneath of her.  She had been busy.  With her beak, she carefully rolled each egg out of their respective boxes and into her favorite box, the middle one.  With feathers puffed and some cautionary growls from Tilly, I reached underneath of her and retrieved the two warm gifts.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens

Almost A Week in Photos: Hello There!

December 3, 2011

I love it when Tilly runs into the coop from the run when she hears me fiddling with the latch on the nesting boxes. Here she greets me as I open up the nesting boxes to check for freshly laid eggs.

I am away for a few days spending time with my sister and her new baby on the West Coast. Please enjoy these photos while I am away.  I can’t wait to return and share my adventures with you. 

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Musical Nesting Boxes

Fifi

Fifi is over being broody!  It seems as though this little fluff ball had been broody for over a month.  During these past couple of days, I could see the veil lifting.  She has been first with Feathers to jump out the coop door in the morning and I began to find her spending more time in the run and less time in the nesting boxes.  I felt so happy and relieved.

I always get nervous when the Silkies go broody.  They seem to be broody all the time and being broody is not easy on their bodies.  They eat very little and spend most of their time in a zen like trance that is sometimes difficult to get past.  When I find them broody, I like to reach into their nesting box a couple times per day, scoop them up and force them to stretch their legs out in the run.  Whenever I do this,  it is like they are stunned.  It takes them a minute to realize what is happening, who they are with and what exactly I am doing.  As soon as they realize, I barely have time to return and close the nesting box lid and vooomp, the broody girl has returned.

Imagine my surprise today when I went out late morning to give the girls their treats and Dolly was in the nesting box.  Like clockwork, she is dialed in to broodiness, every other month.  It was easy to confirm.  I lifted her up and found a colorful assortment of three eggs underneath her breast.  I am coming to the realization that this is just who she is and how her body works.  It makes me feel like I understand her and in someways, love her more for it.  I returned inside the house and continued on with my day. Later in the afternoon, I fed the girls some scratch.  The weather was getting cooler as the sun was setting. I took Dolly out of her box and let her enjoy the treat with the others.

Once nightfall arrived, I went out to lock up the coop.  I was in for a real surprise.  I opened up the nesting box door, expecting to shoo Dottie Speckles out and there I found it. Three girls, including Oyster Cracker were inside all three of the boxes. I first gently shooed Oyster Cracker out of the left box. She groggily left and walked off toward the favorite roost. In the middle box, I found Fifi. She was sound asleep so I picked her up and guided her feet to the vacant roosting bar. In the right box, I found Feathers. She too was sound asleep and stirred as I guided her next to her sister. Then, in darkness, I blindly felt in each nesting box for any eggs that had been laid between the afternoon and now. When I got to the box on the left where Oyster Cracker had been, there I found Dolly. Oyster Cracker had been sitting on top of her! I scooped her up as well and then placed her next to her fluffy Silkie sisters. Just when I think I have them figured out, they change their behavior. Tonight, it was like a clown car at the circus. The one expected chicken who like to sleep in the nesting boxes wasn’t there but four different ones were.  The hen who was supposed to be broody decided today that another Silkie, Dolly, should now assume that role.


This post is linked up to Deborah Jean’s Dandelion House Farmgirl Friday Hop.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

 

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Mystery Solved

Well, thanks to rugosarosefarm the case of the mystery egg has been solved.  Thanks to her investigative assistance, she quickly tracked down the guilty chicken.  I am so very lucky to have such wonderful followers.  Apparently, Dottie Speckles is the owner of the egg!  Little did I know, that Silver Laced Wyandottes can start laying as early as 17 weeks.  I am so happy for this sweet and rambunctious little henny girl.

Interestingly enough, I ran out of my 50 pound bag of grower pellets.  Figuring that Fifi was 20 weeks and Dottie Speckles was 17, it would be wasteful to purchase another 50 pound bag of grower pellets.  Last week, I started feeding everyone in the flock the layer pellets.  I love it when things happen to coincide.

As the mystery was solved last night and Dottie Speckles did not lay an egg yesterday, I knew that there was a strong possibility that I would find an egg in the coop this morning.  I was hoping that she would figure out to use the nesting box.

As I opened up the coop this morning, all of the girls exited except for Feathers.  In my mind, that could only mean one thing.  Broody Feathers was most likely sitting on an egg.  As I opened then nesting box door, there she was not sitting in a nesting box, but straddling the front lip of the nesting box and the roost.  She had squeezed her body into this tiny little space, blocking the far left nesting box with her body.  As she growled, I gently lifted her up, to reveal a creamy, light brown, little egg.

I brought the egg inside.  Like the Cinderella story goes, it was a perfect match.  A twin egg had been laid, only this time, it had not been roughed up in the run.

 

I am not sure if Dottie Speckles laid the egg in the left nesting box and Feathers rolled it out of the box, or if she came close to laying it in the box and missed due to timing.  Either way, I am sure that it takes a while to get the hang of knowing when the eggs are ready to be laid.  I suspect it is sort of like potty training.  If it is anything like my kids, the third times is a charm.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Evil Broody Twins

Meesha and Autumn are broody.  They have both been broody for about 2 weeks now.  This week, they have earned themselves the nickname, The Evil Broody Twins.  As they perch upon empty invisible eggs, their wrath is apparent when you even whisper their names.

They spend most of their day in the boxes, as expected.  Sometimes I find them sitting on others’ eggs and sometimes only air.  No matter, their greeting is always the same.  It starts out with a lot of low growling.  Meesha puffs up her neck.  I can see her labored breathing around her wattles.  Slowly, I try to pet them to reassure them that I come in peace.  With a quick whip of the neck, PECK!  They get me every time.

This morning, they were both together in the left nesting box, facing in opposite directions.  I think they planned it this way.  If I grabbed one from behind, the other’s head was there to peck my hand and vice versa.  I thought for sure they were fighting over a large egg that the girls laid this morning.  After about 5 minutes, I mustered up my courage and I grabbed them both, lifted them and revealed…nothing.  It was all over nothing.  Don’t ever listen to anyone that says chicken are not smart!  This morning those evil broody twins had a strategy.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Spring Visitors and Traffic Jams

Well, the girls must know Spring is in the air.  Except for Dolly with her new brood of seven chicks, all of my Silkie Bantams are experiencing degrees of broodiness.  Yesterday, Meesha and Autumn monopolized two of the nesting boxes.  Today, Feathers joined them occupying all three.  Tilly has taken on the role of nesting box police officer.  When she is not distracted by treats and scratching, she is inside of the coop chasing the little girls off the nests and out of the boxes.  Today, I found a traffic jam, a line waiting for the boxes.  Oyster Cracker was in one box, Autumn in the other.  The other two Silkies were at the door waiting to return to their boxes!

Autumn in the right box
Oyster Cracker in the left

As the two girls waited by the door, a lot of growling was occurring between the Silkies.  Oyster Cracker on the other hand was getting down to business laying one of her large gorgeous brown eggs.  I know that when I return to the coop in a little while, one of the tiny Silkies will be perched upon Oyster Cracker’s humongous warm egg.

 

Will you hurry up already!

This morning I also had the pleasure of meeting Maryann and her husband Bob.  Her flock of Buff Orpingtons can be found here.We actually live only a few miles from each another and never knew that one another existed until we both discovered each other through our love of backyard chickens.  We had a very lovely time this morning.  I introduced all of our chickens to them.  The chickens were happy to have some visitors.  Chocolate loves showing off his beautiful girls to others.  He even crowed about them to Mary Ann and Bob.  Of course their visit would not have been complete with seeing Dolly and her baby chicks.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to connect with people and share your experiences both good and bad with others.  As she held Percy, it seemed as if she already had a special connection with the chick.  It was a very touching moment.

A gift of Spring from Maryann and Bob

I was also touched by their thoughtfulness.  They brought the most beautiful arrangement of Spring pansies for me and my flock. We made plans for future visits and I will be featuring her flock in my Tour De Coop series sometime this Spring.  They say it is supposed to snow on Cape Cod today, our first day of Spring.  Today, I don’t mind.  My heart has been warmed by this experience!  Once again, another reason to keep backyard chickens.

Photo credits:  Tilly’s Nest