My first egg…..or not

Yesterday I had a minor trauma with one of the girls (although it seemed major at the time).

In the morning, they’d all been doing a great deal of clucking and caroling and one of them went into the coop (on the ground floor, under the nestboxes), lay down in the mulch and proceeded to pick up bits of it and toss them over her back.

Now this is a dead giveaway for preparing to nest. The wild Black Ducks do this by the pools at the back of the property just before they lay, so I thought, “Here we go…..this is IT…..eggs at last”. They’re 24 weeks old and I knew laying was close.

She chatted to herself while she was doing her housework and the other two came to watch, with me bringing up the rear.

But it all came to nothing. Eventually she got up and they all went out to the playground to dig holes.

After lunch, I noticed she wasn’t as lively as the others. Her tail drooped and the feathers on her rear were fluffed up. She was drinking, but not eating, her droppings were a bit runny and she preferred to lay in a quiet corner, with closed eyes, while the other two rocketed around doing their usual things. I gave them a few treats. The others wolfed them down but she wasn’t interested.

They’ve all been so active and healthy, that I was taken aback. What could be wrong?

I Googled sick chickens and her symptoms. Could she be egg bound on her first try? So far I haven’t tried to handle them. They won’t even eat out of my hand. There was no way I was going to try and check her out like they recommended (stick a finger up her vent…I mean, I ask you!!), without stressing her (and me) out further.

There’s a young chap a few doors down who’s a vet and he has chickens himself. I rang, hoping I’d strike him on his RDO. No, he was at work, so I rang there. It was after 6pm and he was due to leave. He promised to call in on his way home.

While I waited, she passed (?laid) a large ‘splat’ of yellowish-white stuff. I took one look and thought, “that looks like egg yolk.” There was an elongated sac as well which had more yellowish stuff in it. I knew chickens can lay eggs without shells; this looked like the whole thing had broken inside her.

My vet neighbour turned up and confirmed it. By this time she was starting to pick up a bit, pecking at the ground. He reckoned she’d probably be OK by morning, but if not I was to bring her into the surgery.

I took a peek at them just after dusk. She’d made it up onto the roosting perch, so I was a bit happier.

Today she was fine…her old self again. But….all 3 of them were in the coop inspecting the layout and chatting to themselves. They never normally go in there during the day. They’ve never been up into the nestbox area (to my knowledge). I removed all the mulch from the floor. I don’t want them to lay in there. There are 2 nestboxes up at convenient egg-collecting height. I don’t want to be scrambling on hands and knees to get eggs off the floor.

Why do they like the basement when the apartments above are so comfy? Don’t chooks ever look up? Why can’t they see what’s up there? The entrance is right beside the night roost and a perch actually leads right into the nesting area.

There’s no accounting for the tinyness of the chook brain.

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