The Chicken Owner’s Guide to Surviving the Panic of Common Chicken Behaviors.
Owning chickens for the first time can be both exciting and daunting. From the moment you bring your feathered friends home, you’ll experience a range of emotions – from joy to panic.
As a new chicken owner, it’s perfectly normal to worry about their health and well-being. In fact, there are a few common chicken-related panic triggers that every new owner will experience.
In this guide, we’ll explore the most common chicken panic triggers and how to overcome them like a pro.
Panic Trigger #1: The Full Crop
“The Full Crop” is a common trigger for panic among chicken owners. This occurs when the crop, a small pouch-like structure in a chicken’s esophagus, becomes swollen and appears as a bulge on the front of the bird’s neck. For those who are new to owning chickens, seeing this bulge can be concerning. However, it is important to understand that the crop is a normal part of a chicken’s anatomy, and it serves as a temporary storage area for food before it enters the stomach.
When a chicken eats, the food is collected in the crop and gradually moves through the digestive system. Therefore, if you notice that your chicken has a full crop, it is a sign that your chicken has been eating and drinking normally. It is essential for chicken owners to understand this normal behavior to avoid unnecessary panic and ensure the health and well-being of their feathered friends.
Panic Trigger #2: The First Molt
Chickens undergo a process called molting, which is the shedding of old feathers and the growth of new ones, as they grow. During their first molt, new chicken owners might panic when they notice that their chickens are losing their feathers and appearing unkempt. This can lead to thoughts that their chickens are ill.
However, the first molt is a natural process that all chickens undergo, and it’s nothing to be alarmed about.
During this process, the feathers will fall out, and new ones will grow, giving the chicken a patchy and strange appearance. It’s important to ensure that the chickens receive sufficient nutrition during this time to help them grow their new feathers. After the molt is complete, the chicken will look better than ever before.
Panic Trigger #3: The Sunbathing Dead Look
Have you ever seen your chickens lying on their sides with their wings spread out, looking like they’re dead? It’s a common sight and one that can cause panic for new chicken owners. However, this posture is a sign that your chickens are sunbathing. Yes, chickens sunbathe, just like humans do. They love to bask in the sun to keep themselves warm and to absorb vitamin D. So, don’t worry if your chickens are lying in the sun like they’re dead. They’re just enjoying the sunshine.
Panic Trigger #4: The Sprawled Out Chicks
When you first see your chicks sprawled out, legs akimbo, sleeping soundly, you may panic, thinking that they’re dead. But the truth is, baby chicks are heavy sleepers. They can sleep soundly, sprawled out, and even snoring! It’s nothing to worry about as long as they’re eating and drinking normally and have a warm, safe environment to sleep in.
Panic Trigger #5: The Poop Situation
Chicken poop is a significant indicator of their health, and as a new chicken owner, you’ll want to know what to look for. Normal chicken poop should be brown or greenish-brown, well-formed, and slightly moist. If you notice any changes in color, consistency, or odor, it may be a sign of illness or parasites. It’s also worth noting that chickens poop frequently, so be prepared for lots of poop clean-up.
Panic Trigger #6: The Egg-Laying Process
For new chicken owners, the egg-laying process can be a cause for concern. When will your chickens start laying eggs? How often will they lay? Will they need any special care during this time? These are all valid questions that many new owners worry about. The truth is, chickens will start laying eggs around six months of age, and they’ll lay approximately one egg per day. You can provide your chickens with a nesting box filled with clean straw or shavings to lay their eggs in. Just make sure to check the nesting box regularly for eggs and remove them promptly.
Panic Trigger #7: Predator Attacks
Keeping your chickens safe from predators is a top priority for any chicken owner. However, it’s not uncommon for new owners to panic at the first sign of a predator attack. Signs of a predator attack may include missing birds, feathers scattered around the coop or run, or visible signs of forced entry. To prevent predator attacks, make sure your coop is secure and that your birds have a safe, enclosed run to roam in during the day. Additionally, consider investing in predator-proof fencing and predator deterrents like motion-activated lights or sound machines.
Panic Trigger #8: Health Issues
Like any animal, chickens can experience health issues, and as a new owner, it’s essential to know what to look out for. Signs of illness may include lethargy, loss of appetite, sneezing, coughing, or unusual behavior. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek advice from a veterinarian who specializes in poultry. Additionally, maintaining good hygiene in your coop, providing clean water and food, and monitoring your birds’ behavior can all help prevent health issues.
Panic Trigger #9: Abnormal Behavior
Chickens have their unique personalities, and sometimes they may exhibit abnormal behavior that can cause panic for new owners. For example, some chickens may appear aggressive towards other birds or even humans, while others may seem lethargic or withdrawn. In some cases, abnormal behavior can be a sign of illness or stress, so it’s essential to monitor your chickens’ behavior and seek advice from a veterinarian if you notice anything concerning.
Panic Trigger #10: Broodiness
Broodiness is when a hen becomes determined to hatch eggs and will sit on them for extended periods, sometimes even refusing to leave the nest to eat or drink. While broodiness is a natural behavior, it can also be a cause for concern for new owners who may worry about their hen’s health or the possibility of overcrowding in the coop. To prevent broodiness, make sure to collect eggs regularly and provide your hens with enough space to move around comfortably.
Panic Trigger #11: Egg Binding
Egg binding is a condition where a hen is unable to lay her egg, often due to a blockage or other health issues. It can cause significant discomfort and even be life-threatening if left untreated. Symptoms of egg binding may include lethargy, loss of appetite, and straining or vocalization when attempting to lay an egg. If you suspect your hen is egg-bound, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately.
Panic Trigger #12: Heat Stress
Chickens are susceptible to heat stress, particularly in hot summer months. Symptoms of heat stress may include panting, lethargy, and a decrease in egg production. To prevent heat stress, make sure to provide your birds with plenty of shade, access to clean, cool water, and a well-ventilated coop. You can also freeze water bottles or place shallow pans of water in the coop to help cool the air.
Owning chickens for the first time can be overwhelming, but understanding the common panic triggers can help new owners to avoid unnecessary anxiety and ensure the health and well-being of their feathered friends.
The full crop, the first molt, the sunbathing dead look, the sprawled-out chicks, the poop situation, the egg-laying process, predator attacks, health issues, and abnormal behavior are some of the common panic triggers that new chicken owners may face.
By learning about these behaviors and seeking advice from experts when needed, new chicken owners can enjoy the rewards of raising chickens, including fresh eggs, pest control, and friendly companionship.