Hi fellow flocksters,
I am a little concerned and not sure how to proceed with my girls.
I have 5, 30 week old chickens that I raised from chicks- 3 Buff Orps and 2 EEs. They all started laying on time (some early) and we were really getting up to speed until ~2 weeks ago when things came to a screeching halt. I now have one EE laying and the others flat out quit. Not one brown egg in 10 days.
I know there are many variables involved here, including temperature / molt, stress, predator shock, feed / water, daylight / seasonality etc etc
I have raised chickens for years and honestly believe I can exclude the basics (food water shelter) from the potential causes. Further, the girls get along with each other just fine and there is no pecking at all.
However, around 2 weeks ago the following happened:
1) We had a 2-day cold period in MD (just barely dipped below freezing)- it has been beautiful and in the 60's since.
2) I saw a large dog pouncing, clawing and slobbering all over the coop- I came out to find he had chewed up a lot of the wood. The girls were all hiding upstairs.
Now, I want to attribute their cease to the dog scare, but I am just not sure. I have had nightmare situations with a separate flock in the past and they never let up production (though they were production reds- so likely not apples : apples)
Since then I have artificially increased daylight by 2 hours, offered them some lovely classical music and maintained an extra clean and happy coop.
Has anyone else experienced this? Buffs are new to me - do they flat out quit at the first breath of winter?
If it is PTSD / shock related - will they ever return to laying? Will I wait 'till spring?
Lastly, Is there anything else I can try?
Thanks for reading, I look forward to your thoughts.