Odd behaviors in my 2 year old hens since adding 2 month olds, no laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dhumaigobae, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. dhumaigobae

    dhumaigobae New Egg

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    Sep 3, 2016
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Hello I didn't find anything near my issue and I'm new to the threads. I have gotten much help just reading here in the past though.

    I have 3 gold laced Wyandotte hens (Saffy, Lavender and Violet). We raised them from 1 day old peeps in the house and transferred them at 7 weeks to the outside coop. All went well but Violet was always bullied a bit and remained smaller than the other 2. She was always first at the food bowl, 1st at the kitchen door to beg and when stressed would follow me at my heels around the yard cawing. She was the last to lay by 2 months, lays sporadically and molted last and was the only one to actually go bald.

    Then in the spring of this year we suddenly got a ton of predators ( we live in a suburb) and we had to quickly take action against the rat who tunneled under the coop. There was extensive damage and we ended up moving the coop about 20 feet to dig out the tunnels and fill it in. It took about 3 days and we moved the coop right back. During that time Violet was inconsolable. She would stand every night in th coops old spot and just bawl. I'd pick her up, walk her around the yard and put her in the coop and that seemed to be it.

    Then we got mice and the issue got out of hand. Violet never seemed the same after that. Now 2 weeks ago a friend who has chickens needed to get rid of 2 and we took them (2 months old) and they are in a cage near the big coop. My big girls have not mingled with them yet but are awar of them and tolerant at this point. Violet cried the whole first night until dawn but quieted down the next day when Saffy and Lavender had enough of it and started pecking at her.

    She has since followed me around, pecked me til bloody on my feet and hands, tried to eat my clothing, and all three have stopped laying. Saffy is in molt so no surprises there. But Violet seems to be laying around more and more in the yard. She's not sleeping, just being very quiet. All three have been eating less this last week. And then I had to trim the hedge and they refuse to go back under it.

    So my question is this- is this all just stress from these multiple things in a row or could something really be wrong with Violet? She has no other sick symptoms. I'm worried that she'll lose it when the bew coop comes this week and they all gave to move into it (the current one is snug with just three so we got a bigger one). Please do share any experience and suggestion!

    Thanks!!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    Chickens don't do well with changes, anything different will cause stress. So every time you change things, move things or add new members they become stressed.

    Rodents are normal around a coop, there are many different traps or poisons that can be used. This time of year they will start trying to come inside and find a nice home for the winter, so you may see some again.

    What are you feeding your birds? They sound deficit in protein. If you are feeding layer I would switch to a higher protein feed, 18-20% and add in some higher protein snacks like meal worms, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese or canned fish. Keep a dish of oyster shells available for any extra calcium needs. I wouldn't allow them to peck you bloody, that's unsanitary for both of you.

    It certainly is possible for them to be ill. Stress can bring it on as well as weather changes in the fall. But without any real symptoms you have to assume they are fine. If your birds are old enough to molt they could be starting. That can cause some to look sick. Higher protein will help them to recover fully, and molt quicker.
     
  3. dhumaigobae

    dhumaigobae New Egg

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    Sep 3, 2016
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks very much for the insight. I think the girls have been avoiding eating in the coop because of the new long-tailed friends so we've experiemented with placement of the feeder. Violet best likes to be hand-fed so I have been doing that today and she's been much more settled. I did also take one of the littles over to the big girls' usual hide spot and sat in the grass with them to introduce. Violet was most curious after she got over puffing herself up and did come over and get very close to me before going off on her business. So I agree, stress has a big hand in this.

    We've also had to gt the littles fed and taken care of first and I think there's some miffed attitudes over that. I have been much more careful to feed the big girls first and that's made for the last 2 mornings quiet. So Violet may start 'speaking' to me again yet!

    Any tips for a successful move to a new coop would be welcome.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    Are they all moving to a new coop? Chickens can certainly get jealous. It will take time for your older hens to get used to the new ones, but should accept them with a bit of pecking here and there. I usually pen mine within sight of the existing members for a week or two than I start to let them mingle under supervision. Repeat each day until you are comfortable with how they are getting along. I pen mine separately at night for a bit longer until I leave them out permanently with the big ones.
     
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    You have some very good advice. It may be beneficial to integrate the newbies before moving them to the new coop. Heres a few links that may help you devise a strategy that suits your situation, in addition to the advice you have already received.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1015820/reintegration-by-supervised-visits#post_15742910

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock


    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/introducing-new-chickens-using-the-see-but-don-t-touch-method

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1098683/introducing-new-chickens-to-old-flock#post_16895615

    Good luck

    CT
     
  6. dhumaigobae

    dhumaigobae New Egg

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    Sep 3, 2016
    Pittsburgh, PA
    @oldhenslikesdogs yes that is exactly what I planned to do. They will all be moving to the new coop but so far they are able to share treats through the babies' coops and I am finding feeding/ petting the old girls first before I even go to the other pen is doing wonders for public relations. We did do a first meet and greet and the older girls took a close look and then went about their business. We'll try that again tonight.
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    Sounds like you are heading in the right direction. I don't think you will have too much trouble integrating.

    Expect some complaints and pacing the fence from the older ones when you move them to the new coop. Are you getting rid of the old coop? as your hens will keep trying to return to it. It can take some time for them to settle in a new coop, especially when the old one keeps beckoning them.
     

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