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Beelzebub, the Hero

Rooster | www.myfoododyssey.com

Something is rotten in Toyland. I’m not getting any eggs. I haven’t quite figured out what’s happening but I suspect the hens might be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after an intrusion incident.

We were away for a day shopping for the new house and when we got home I checked for eggs. I was very surprised to find there were none as we had been getting 5 to 7 eggs per day. The next morning I checked again in better light to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. I found what looked like the remains of an egg, with little bits of broken shell, in one of the nesting boxes and I wondered if we’d had an intruder.

Egg Thief Evidence? | www.myfoododyssey.com

It was only then that I noticed Beelzebub limping quite badly and saw that he had deep lacerations on both of his legs, along with some blood on one of his shoulders. We checked all the girls but they looked fine. We checked around the hen house to see where an animal might have gotten in but we found nothing.

Rooster Leg Laceration | www.myfoododyssey,com

Apart from the limping, Beelzebub seemed ok. A little subdued, perhaps, and a little nicer to the girls than usual, but still his ole feisty self underneath. I was actually quite proud of him. Whatever animal had come in to steal eggs and maybe even eat one of the girls, he had fended them off and protected his brood.

We kept a close eye on the run for a few days and erected an extra layer of tighter fencing around the bottom of the fence to ensure even small animals couldn’t squeeze through. Beelzebub got better by the day and I’m pretty sure there have been no repeat incidents.

Rooster Leg Laceration | www.myfoododyssey,com

The problem is, I’m still not getting many eggs. Whereas I had been getting an average of 6 per day, a number that had been steadily rising, I’m now only getting 2-3 per day. I have read that stress can put hens off lay but that it usually settles within a few days. This incident was over a week ago and I’m still getting very few eggs.

Rooster & Hen | www.myfoododyssey.com

Coincidentally, we had also recently changed their feed – we accidentally bought barley that was unhulled as opposed to hulled. I didn’t think it would make that much difference to the hens – surely they could crack through the outer shell to get at the barley beneath. It was only after the intruder incident that I noticed they were tossing most of the seed out of the feeder and spreading it round the run. Fearing I was starving them I bought some layers mash and started steeping the barley in water overnight to soften it. They seem to love the softened barley and have been eating well, but it has left me wondering if perhaps the change in diet might have affected their laying habits.

Any thoughts on chicken PTSD or feed changing issues? I’m a newbie, so any advice is gratefully received!

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22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hope you got things settled. Snakes like eggs too. They can get into very small places I would think.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 30, 2014
  2. A change in diet plus the fright through aggressive intruders are two key variables for less eggs. Birds need their peace and quiet to lay eggs on a daily basis and a good amount of protein in their diet too. As much as they enjoy some extra treat from time to time, if they eat it up, the protein amount does not add up at the end of the day and there´s no egg. I would give such low-protein treats only with some extra protein treat to balance it a bit: like some boiled eggs, cut into pieces. I use to give some dried yeast and unflavored gelatin powder (pure protein, the dosage must be precise) together with chopped greens. Barley has only about 10 % protein, it should be balanced. 😀 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barley

    Liked by 1 person

    July 27, 2014
  3. 😀 After your encounters with Beelzebub’s beak I kind of half expected your next blog entry about this beast be in ‘Friday Favorites’ section under some ‘House warming’ or ‘Birthday favorites’ title for some good chicken recipe. But I think I like hero Beelzebub edition even more. Well, unless he starts picking on you again. Lucky you it’s just eggs that are missing and the cock suffered only minor injures that will heal eventually. It would’ve been a greater loss if you found some inhabitants missing.
    From what I remember about chickens, and that is not much, they could have been attacked by some sneaky marten. Those creatures have an apparent sweet tooth for eggs and chicken meat, so good thing that Beelzebub was there to defend his girls, and being a real warrior in his spirit he was just a cock for the job too 🙂
    Regarding your girls taking a break on laying eggs, they should come around. And I think you’re right in thinking that this was some sort of PTSD, maybe even combined with a change in their food.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 11, 2014
    • Thanks Asta. I was thinking it might be some kind of marten or ferret but I can’t figure out how he’s getting in. We put extra fencing up so nothing can sneak through. I suppose he could be climbing over the roof. There was another attack yesterday so I need to figure it out soon before one of the girls gets hurt. Good ole Beelzebub!

      Liked by 1 person

      July 11, 2014
      • Oh, yeah, martens and ferrets can do roof climbing for sure. And you would not believe how small a hole they can squeeze through. And if it’s really a ferret or marten, they’re hard to get rid of – after one successful break and entering they keep on coming. Many many years ago a ferret killed half of my grandma’s hens before grown-ups came up with something to fend it off. Don’t recall how they’ve managed that, so no advice on this though

        Liked by 1 person

        July 11, 2014
      • That’s not good news, Asta. I’ll have to keep a very close eye on them. I’ll be really upset if anything happens to my girls.

        Like

        July 11, 2014
  4. Chicken PTSD is not my area of expertise unfortunately! But I hope they start laying again soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 10, 2014
  5. Those look like right nasty cuts on his legs! Did he get caught in wire or something? My girls have been really contrary lately too with regard to laying… perhaps it is something in the air?? They’re hiding their eggs, or else not laying, as I let them wander everywhere I am constantly listening and watching to see where they are going… found 21 eggs hidden the other day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    July 10, 2014
    • Wow – 21 eggs! Do you have a broody hen to sit on them? There might be something in the air as the girls are doing all sorts of funny stuff. It could be the heat. I can’t figure out what’s happening to the cock. He has two new cuts today – he can barely walk. They stay in the run all day and there’s nothing sharp there. Unless the hens are turning on him my best guess is an intruder – I just don’t know what.

      Like

      July 10, 2014
  6. I know nothing about chickens but I love the name Beelzebub!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 10, 2014
  7. I suspect an evil plot hatched by Beelzebub. He knew the writing was on the wall… strange that a mysterious intruder should strike just when you were getting ready to fire up the cooking pot…!

    Like

    July 9, 2014
    • Hmm – now I’m wondering if the wounds could have been self-inflicted. Or perhaps the hen he’s being nice to was in on it – save me and you’ll be my number one girl!

      Liked by 1 person

      July 9, 2014
    • Yes – you’re on to something there… That Beelzebub (is that really his name?) is as cute as forty foxes… or forty fake foxes. Is is definitely rigged.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 10, 2014
      • Forty foxes?? I think Beelzebub needs to be introduced to those 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        July 10, 2014
      • We have Simone (Lady of the Cakes) to thank for the name Beelzebub. I was originally just calling him Big Boy when chatting to him, but given that he’s a cock I thought this might not come across too well in print! I then christened him Ramsay after Gordon Ramsay because of how cocky he is and the way he sticks his chest out, but the name just didn’t stick. Simone referred to him as Beelzebub in one of her comments and I liked it, so reckoned I’d stick with that!

        Liked by 1 person

        July 10, 2014
  8. longchaps2 #

    Well, well, well, right when you thought his only purpose was for the pot he’s goes and changes the course of chicken history, well at least in your little neck of the woods. He’s a Sergeant First Class protection chicken is what he is, lol. I hope your hens settle back in and start laying soon. It’s very unnerving when your babies get out of sorts. I totally get where you are coming from.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 9, 2014
    • Sergeant First Class – I think he’d like that, Susan! The head is back up high and the chest is out so he does look like a little Sergeant Major!

      Liked by 1 person

      July 9, 2014

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