No eggs and scared chicks

Two stories out of Camp Cluck today: I’m almost out of eggs, and Mimi and Gidget are still afraid to come out of the henhouse.

The past few weeks, the hens have stopped laying – or at least slowed down. I was getting as many as five eggs a day; we’re down to one or two. I did get three eggs once this week, which is hopefully a sign that things are headed back to normal. It better be; I only have one egg in the fridge and I’m not buying them at the store.

I think the problem has been twofold: stress over the new chicks and the temperature swings. We went from 80 degrees to frost and even snow, and now we’re back to 70 and 80 degrees this week. Because hens lay fewer eggs in cold weather, I assume the cold week affected egg production.

The stress over the new chicks probably has more to do with the fact that Mimi and Gidget, when they’re  not hiding under the nesting boxes, curl up together in the nesting box, limiting the privacy for whoever is on the other box.

I’ve been trying to get the new girls out of the coop once in a while. I used the crate, which worked, but they need to learn how to get out on their own.

So today I set up a bunch of pine branches all around the run, giving them several places they can hide. Then I shooed them outside while I fed the other hens treats, like potato peelings, leftover popcorn, and strawberry pieces.

My hope is that the hens are distracted with yummy treats and Mimi and Gidget have time to explore a bit. So far, Mimi and Gidget run right back into the coop and the older hens have claimed the space behind the pine boughs.

It’s a work in progress. What can I say?

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2 responses to “No eggs and scared chicks

  1. I learned a great trick with introducing new chicks to the flock. First you keep them in a cage within the space of the other hens, for about a week, so everyone gets to know each other. Then, you take the dominant hen and stick her in the cage with them for about 4 days. Release all to the wilds together after that. Mama hen should protect the chicks, and it minimizes picking. Hope this helps! Has worked really well around here with new pullets.

  2. Thanks for the tip! Mimi and Gidget spent a few days in the dog crate inside the chicken run and that def helped. They're finally very contented in the run with the other hens.Joanne

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