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Chickens acting odd for months now

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by siptea, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. siptea

    siptea New Egg

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    Mar 9, 2016
    My chickens used to enthusiastically run up to the gate and greet us whenever we came into the yard, and spent their days pecking and scratching outside. Around November last year they started molting (I think their first noticeable molt, they are 2,5 years old). At that time they became very shy, staying toward the back of the yard or under their shelter. I'm sure the molting has long since passed but they are still acting very insecure. They spend the day in the coop, under bushes or a shelter. They never run up to us anymore, even when we have food. They used to be obsessed with food, now they are not as in to it.

    Does anyone have any ideas as to what could be wrong and how to bring back their outgoing personalities?
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    Mine will act like that when predators are around, so I would see if anything has been coming around or if there's more hawks. Otherwise 5 is getting up there in age for a chicken, they could be unwell or still trying to recover from the molt, what are you feeding them? A good all flock or non medicated grower can help them recover, and certainly limit any fattening foods at their age as they are prone to having a lot of internal fat if given too much corn or treats, which can make them feel unwell.
     
  3. siptea

    siptea New Egg

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    Mar 9, 2016
    Hi, thanks for the response. They are 2.5 years old, my husband wrote it with a comma because he's Dutch. The strange thing is they only started this when they molted and just can't seem to get over it.

    We live in France and feed them special food for egg laying chickens, it is low fat to keep them healthy.

    Occasional hawks may pass by, or other creatures, but not every day. And this has become constant.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    I have switched my birds off of a layer ration which is 16% protein to an all flock which is 18% protein. I was surprised how quickly they molted and then resumed laying. You wouldn't think 2% would make much of a difference but it did. So perhaps switching to a higher protein ration might help.
     
  5. siptea

    siptea New Egg

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    We don't have such specific options available in my area of France. You can get feed for egg laying chickens or other misc. bird feed.

    I'm more concerned about their psychological state and don't think a change of diet will help. It's been 5 months since the molting began and I'm sure it's long finished.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Chickens can get 'spooky' for reasons so subtle that we may not recognize those reasons.
    They are prey animals and tend to use the flight response as a first reaction.
    Molting birds don't feel particularly well, especially if they have a hard molt, and it tends to make them isolate.
    Maybe some of your behaviors have changed as well? They are pretty sensitive to human behaviors.
    Sounds like the need to be re-acclimated to your presence.
    Spend some time every day (or multiple times a day) sitting in their yard with some treats, be calm, quiet, and patient.

    Have they gone back to laying since the molt?
    Does your feed bag list the percentages of protein, fats, calcium, etc?
    Do you feed any other foods to them?
     
  7. siptea

    siptea New Egg

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    The chickens are not afraid of us. I've seen skittish chickens like the neighbor's, who squack and run when people approach. They just seem to be afraid to be out in the open. I haven't changed any behaviors since the molt.

    They stopped laying in November for the winter. Usually they will resume around April, so it's too soon to know if they'll lay or not.

    None of the various types of feed available here have any information about protein, fat, etc.

    They have never wanted any food other than the egg laying chicken food, but before the molt they were way more into food.
     
  8. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What type of neighborhood do you live in? Is it possible that other people could have gone up to your gate and harassed/teased/frightened your chickens? I'm astounded at how some people have no sense of people's private property/animals. I was just talking to a lady yesterday who said her neighbor's kids had gone into her barn uninvited to see her baby chicks, except they were dropping the chicks and mistreating them. The lady didn't even know the kids were there!
     
  9. siptea

    siptea New Egg

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    Mar 9, 2016
    We live at the end of a gravel road behind a small hamlet. There is no foot traffic, only a tractor going down the road to the fields once a week or so. It's very quiet.

    We noticed that when we put their food in the coop they ate more then when we left it just outside the door during the day.

    This has been going on for months. I feel so bad for them.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Aerial predator scare?
     

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