Traumatized hens

Our Easter egg chickens were traumatized about 2 months ago when stray dogs attacked the free ranging flock and killed 3 hens. They had just started to lay normal sized eggs so they are not too old to lay and we have not had an egg of any size since. The barred rocks recovered quickly but the count is down. Is there any hope for these poor hens?

Joyce Baum
Pattonsburg, Missouri

Sorry to hear of your trouble. That’s one negative aspect of free ranging your chickens. We free range ours, but do it in our fenced orchard so predators have a very hard time getting in. (It’s always possible…) Your pullets will start to lay again. Try feeding them a couple handfuls of cheap dry cat food a day along with their regular feed. It’s high in protein and amino acids and often helps hens recover quickly from stress and molting so they begin laying again. — Jackie

Raising poultry and pigs

Do you have any suggestions for books on raising turkeys, chickens, or feeder pigs? I know there are the BHM books that I plan on ordering, but I like to get a couple of viewpoints before I dive into a new project.

I would like to get 3-4 feeder hogs for my extended family, 10 or so layers, 10-15 meat birds, and maybe 10-15 turkeys for meat.

Matt Hountz
Sunman, Indiana

The Backwoods Home Magazine’s handbook on raising chickens is inexpensive and quite good. But for more information on chickens, I’d recommend Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. They also publish Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs and Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, all quite thorough. I’d recommend starting slowly with maybe your layers and meat chickens and a couple of turkeys and perhaps one or two feeder pigs so you get some hands-on experience while you’re learning. Then the next year, you can do more with confidence and experience behind you. Good luck! You’ll love it. — Jackie


  1. HELP. Our Delaware hens have turned CANNABILISTIC. They literally are ripping each other apart daily and look pathetic (rather ironic as we decided on the Delaware breed for their beautiful looks and known tasty meat).

    Have secure coop.

    Have secure fenced in area open to them every day with free access to coop at all times.

    Have changed food numerous times.

    Have turned off fall and winter light, also tried changing watt from 60 to 40…no difference.

    Use pine wood chips from local TSC for bedding.

    Give mixed grain daily in addition to regular feed so they have plenty to peck at.

    Have tried the salt water treatment.

    Have tried the poultry grain and mineral block.

    Do have a penned-in, outside dog but a good distance from the chickens area.

    Live in country on a 100’x200′ lot with neighbors on top of us on all three sides.

    They (the chickens not the neighbors) have always seemed aggressive toward each other….although not very trusting, they have never attacked us or our small grandkids. We do not handle our chickens as pets.

    We have 11 Delaware hens, all the same age that we ordered directly from a hatchery in July of 2011.

    Any suggestions? Have you ever experienced such widespread cannibalism? Thanks in advance.


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