Traumatized Chickens?

kb1369

Hatching
Dec 22, 2015
3
0
7
New member here in desperate need of answers and probably new chickens! A few months ago we had a hawk kill onevof our chickens. She was high in the pecking order and the other chickens saw it happen. They are all free range birds with a nice coop they can go in and out on their own. All 11 of our chickens lay daily. After the hawk attack, no one laid nor would they come out of the coop. It has been 3 months now and still not one egg!
Questions: Can chickens be so traumatized they won't lay? How long? Will this cause them to be egg bound too? How do I get them to feel safe again? Would adding new chickens to flock help?
I live in Southern New Hampshire, and am always looking for chickens for sale! If their is anyone in this area, would love to hear from you!
Lastly, we have already thought of adding a rooster for protection, but had one in the past and were unable to keep him because he was too loud (that coming from our city folk bosses who live on the property too). Unfortunately, that would be a great solution as it worked in the past!
Thanks for listening to me sound off.......any advice is greatly appreciated!
 

TwoCrows

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Mar 21, 2011
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Hello there and welcome to BYC!
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Yes, they can become this traumatized and will stop laying until they feel comfortable in doing so. Obviously yours are still in shock. You might help move them along a bit with feeling relaxed. I have found these first two things to be very comforting to traumatized chickens....put a ticking clock in the coop. Let it tick away night and day. The constant white noise the clock gives off will help lower their blood pressure and stress. Next put a radio in the coop and set it to some soft quiet type music. Calm music is very relaxing to birds and will help relieve stress. Turn it off at night. I have used both of these on birds with high anxiety with good success.

Next, I would go sit with your birds. Is your coop a walk in type? If so, bring some goodies along with you and sit on the floor with them. Take their minds off their troubles with some goodies. Let them climb all over you, sit on your lap. And if they are too frightened to even do this, work with them every day to get them to this point. Sit with them for 20 mins a day. Every positive experience they have with you will help them bond better with you and trust you when you tell them all is well. Eventually you can coax them out of the coop. Don't force them out, this will only cause more trouble.

Next, put some fake eggs in the nest boxes. A hen feels confident when she sees that another hen has laid her egg there, so if it was safe for her, it will be for this hen to lay hers.

Now being that this is a low light time of year and chickens laying hormones work on the amount of available daylight, your birds may be holding off on the eggs for this reason as well. You might try some added light in the coop, maybe an extra 2 hours in the evening and an hour earlier in the morning. About 12 to 14 hours should help to get them laying too. Always give them at least 8 hours of complete darkness.

Good luck with your flock! Eventually with these techniques, you should get them back on track! :)
 
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kb1369

Hatching
Dec 22, 2015
3
0
7
Thanks for the suggestions! I thought of music.....I will try that as well as spending some time in the coop with them. I have been bringing them treats, the fake eggs in the boxes and the extra lighting, nor have we forced them out. Sounds like some "chicken mediation time" is worth a try!
 

BBQJOE

Songster
Sep 25, 2015
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Void where prohibited.
Maybe you could read them some stories. J/K

I think the clock and music sound like a good start.
I try to sit with my birds at least a half hour to an hour a day. I think they like it.
 

kb1369

Hatching
Dec 22, 2015
3
0
7
Reading to them is not out of the question! Based on the suggestions of sitting with them, why not incorporate storytelling?! They do always follow me around when I am working outside, so maybe they are lacking my attention.
Thanks!
 

TwoCrows

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Premium Feather Member
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Mar 21, 2011
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Chickens are so flock oriented and read body language. So move slowly around them, talk quietly and yes, a good story never hurts! If they see you are calmly going about your day, they will fee more at ease. :)
 

drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
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Aug 26, 2009
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A rooster really doesn't do that much good. Some will abandon ship at first sign of danger. A good roo is one that sounds the alarm so his hens can try and hide or run. Roos don't stand a chance standing up to most predators. They will killed and then are no help at all.
 

WFHomestead

Hatching
Dec 22, 2015
3
0
6
Western Wisconsin
Something similar happened to us too- although it didn't take quite that long to get them back laying. I do think having a rooster helps the girls feel safer- but only because he's been with them their whole lives... I don't know that getting one after the fact would help with the trauma that already occurred. Best of luck!
 

trailrider330

Songster
6 Years
Aug 4, 2013
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Midwest America
Welcome to the BYC flock! We are glad you joined us!

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Sorry for your loss. It sounds like you have gotten some good advice. I hope they are able to settle down and start laying again for you soon.
 

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