How to get hens to start laying again after being attacked?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by YonahKluck, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. YonahKluck

    YonahKluck Out Of The Brooder

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    I am moving this post from 'How many eggs ...' forum to here, starting a new thread looking for help. Sorry for the long lines.
    My flock of 3 (three) hens has only one hen laying, very regular, she skips a day about once a week. But now for my story. My flock of 3 started spring 2012 with 3 chicks a Big Black, RI red, and a very pretty multicolor, one day before i knew better, they were ranging and the multicolor was missing, no feathers, no sign of struggle, it must have been a case of grab and run, or multicolor was last on peck order, maybe she ran away to find a better life? I don't know. The other two appeared unaffected and soon began laying on schedule at about 5 months. The Black was always No. 1 to the Red. They continued laying thru the winter in NE GA. of 2012-13. In early spring of 2013 I wanted to increase the flock by 2, so I brought home 3 chicks, (1st week of march '13) raised them indoors until the season warmed and their adult breast feathers were developed. Then I introduced them to the 2 older gals by placing the young pen outside of the run, then after a week or so segregated a section of the run for the 3 younger. Well one morning i found one of the young under the porch, and her two sisters dead partially eaten.(June '13) I believe by a feral cat we see now and then. I then realized that the run, coop security was in need of a complete overhaul. I found the entry place and made a temp repair. I moved the remaining young one indoors. That night the predator returned to enter the coop to find the adult Black and Red. I figure the hens won because they survived. The red looked untouched but the Black was attacked. She was missing the feathers on her breast and underside. They were both standing in the rain that morning very frightened, on command they came to me. I examined the Black and I could not find where her skin had been broken except for a small scratch over one eye, also examined the Red she seemed untouched. I moved the older gals into the garage a few days until I could rebuild the run security. They both layed in the garage. The Black layed a few more days then stopped laying and I think has not layed since. The younger one layed a few small pully eggs on the floor of the new run, (Aug. '13) I picked the egg out of the run when I would see it, then she stopped laying and I think has not layed since. The last egg the younger one layed was pecked and I found all 3 with egg on their face. I have not seen egg on any faces since that one time. So of the 3 only the Red is laying, she is a regular layer skipping about one day a week. During all of this the Red took advantage of the Black's weakness and took the position of No. 1, Recently the Black has begun to retake her No. 1 position taking a pecks at the Red when the mash or treats are presented, the Red is resisting a little, but the Black is beginning to walk with her head tall again. I have tried changing their world by removing and rearranging all toys, ladders, perches, moved nest boxes, mash trough, also changed from hay to shavings, trying to get them busy rearranging their world again. But to no avail the Black and the young one don't want to lay. I need some help. My question is obvious, what can I do to help them to begin laying again? I think that maybe the problem could be that they are getting visited in the night? and the predator is unable to get in so maybe it hangs around and drools, and they smell, sense the predator presence? Should I have to put out traps? I have not put out traps yet because of skunk and polecat. I hope someone can help. Thanks for reading, YonahKluck.
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Any changes or anything that upsets or injures chickens can make them stop laying, sometimes for a long time, months. (Your rearranging things in the coop a lot may make them unhappy.) Also if they are molting, they will not lay for months, the Black maybe about that age if she is around 18 months?. Are you sure they are not hiding eggs somewhere, especially if the young one was laying in the run? Could you have a snake or some other small predator getting in and eating eggs? Also, if hens eat eggs they may not always have egg on their faces, though you will usually find left over shell bits and there will be a mess in the nest box, chickens are not neat eaters. If you have larger predators coming around at night and disturbing the chickens, this could be upsetting their egg laying also. I would try to remove any predators that you can from stalking the vicinity of the coop.
     
  3. YonahKluck

    YonahKluck Out Of The Brooder

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    A few strands of electric wire $$$ would solve several problems that I have, deer in the garden, bear in the garbage, and other varmint. Because of where I live, I believe that trapping would be a never ending task. Maybe the Black is molting (hatched mid april 2012) the Red that is laying was hatched about the same time, there were feathers 3 weeks ago, I saw her pulling them a few times, her tail feathers were off now they are back, I was thinking she was stressed. She could have gone from stressed to molt. The Young ones' comb and waddles are bright red I keep looking for her to lay. If a snake can make its way thru poultry wire then eats an egg can it fit back thru the wire to make escape? I did the rearranging once about 3 weeks ago. There are a couple of places the Young one could be hiding eggs in the run, she also could be hiding them in the shavings. I am going to take a long look tomorrow. I just had an idea, I'm wondering if anyone has charged a tangle of wire, with store bought chicken meat/skin/bone at the center, varmint would receive voltage when they touch the wire trying to get to the bait, using chicken maybe the predator would associate the chicken smell with the voltage. Any feedback on this idea is welcome. Thanks for reading.
     
  4. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: If it taught the predator anything at all, I think it would be to avoid that location.
    Also the smell of meat is nothing like the smell of live prey, so they still wouldn't be learning to avoid your birds
     
  5. YonahKluck

    YonahKluck Out Of The Brooder

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    White County, GA.
    First night live trap yields the feral cat that we have seen before. Cost me $10 to drop off at the county animal control.
     
  6. YonahKluck

    YonahKluck Out Of The Brooder

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    White County, GA.
    Where there is one feral cat, there most likely more, the trapping continues.
     
  7. c17avionics

    c17avionics New Egg

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    I had the same problem. It took three weeks for them to start laying again. I keep them enclosed till about 0400 PM before I let them out. They may have been hiding there eggs where I couldn't find them before this. A friend said to keep them in all day so they had to lay in the chicken house. Before this happened they were laying in the house just fine. I also have a large live trap that we set constantly, catching skunks, coons, possums, feral cats and one pet dog. We wire a sardine can to the bottom of the trap and refill with sardines or canned dog food. We set the trap in our barn to keep animals from pooping on our hay. We set it tight between some heavy objects so they cannot move the trap around. We set the trigger light.

    A friend of mine lost 15 chickens in one night. It ate or scratched through 3/4 in plywood. I lost only one chicken the same way. You think they are safe inside a good wood wall but bobcats, foxes. coons or weasels can get in if they are hungry enough.
     
  8. YonahKluck

    YonahKluck Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2013
    White County, GA.
    I have learned that if the hens are nervous, edgy, not in molt, and not laying; they likely are getting visited by predator at night. Canned Mackerel is getting nightly hits in the live trap. Still waiting and prepared for my first skunk. I keep a black plastic sheet over the rear of the trap so to block varmints view of my approach. I inspect door side of the trap first from about 20-30' before approaching. People have hunted coon around here for generations, I see very a few on the side of the road compared to other varmint.
     
  9. YonahKluck

    YonahKluck Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2013
    White County, GA.
    Is it time to suspend trapping for a few nights? Update: Last night was the first night the traps were not tripped and lead-in bait was untouched. I have had to trap and dispatch more varmint that I would have imagined, I have lost count, possum, raccoon, feral cat, in that order. They must have been receiving predator visits all night long. A couple of nights, trap was tripped without capturing. I think that coon was dispatched from the night before. I also believe that coon was one that I saw in broad daylight rambling around the forest aimlessly. It was MUCH more aggressive in the trap, so I called the county to inquire if they would like it for testing. After being on hold for awhile they came back on the line and said that if the coon had not come in direct contact with a human they do not do testing. I explained the animals behavior, then was asked for the general location of the animal, and was told that they keep a log of such occurrence, they asked that I put the animal down, and thanked me for the service.

    My girls seem to be doing much better the last week, the Black may have even layed, her eggs are more round and lighter color that the Red which are darker and more pointed. The Black is also retaking her No. 1 position, holding her head and tail high, also keeping the other two in their place.

    Thank you to everyone in this forum for all of your help.
     
  10. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Grifton NC
    Quote: It's not a bad idea to keep a trap set ALL the time.
    I once had a streak of close to 40 possums in about 3 months time
     
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