Beelzebub, the Hero
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!