Two weeks ago we left our hens to fend for themselves for a long weekend. We left the door open and arranged no hensitter. Food was nearly out in the coop, but there was plenty in the compost bins, and several water sources in the yard. Unfortunately, some hen knocked the inner coop door shut and they were all locked in for the weekend – 9 chickens, no food, no water. It was a perfect storm of malchance and neglect.
The hens survived just fine – no one beat anyone up, no one expired. But there are no more eggs. All kinds of stress can cause a hen to stop laying (particularly lack of water), but moulting – when they loose and then regrow feathers – is the worst. Being trapped in the coop without food and water has triggered a moult in our whole flock. There are feathers everywhere and no eggs to be had. And we don’t know how long it will last – a typical moult can take months.
A hard lesson for us in the height of egg season.