a pair of hens--both old, one injured--what should I do?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by newly_chickened, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. newly_chickened

    newly_chickened New Egg

    Apr 28, 2011
    Hi everyone! I am very, very new to chickens and learning more about them every day. We sort of inherited a pair of chickens that came with our house. They were already living there in a small run and coop in the backyard where they are quite happy, it seems. They are older (about 4-5 years) and both used to be egg laying, according to the original owners, however only one of them lays eggs and she only lays them every couple of days, at best. We've been wondering what to do with them in general since we would much prefer to have egg laying chickens if we have chickens at all, but as a vegetarian city girl, I've just sort of hidden my head in the sand and ignored the issue...until now, that is. One of the chickens, the non-layer, has injured her leg somehow. I'm not sure what happened to her, but she is not using one of her legs and having a pretty hard time getting around. The leg doesn't show any wounds or anything, but it's just hanging there, limply and doesn't respond when I touch it. I put her in a dog crate with food and water, so that she doesn't have to scramble up and down the ramp, but I think the end is near for her. I have a couple of friends who told me that I can give chickens away for meat very easily in this town. Is this, realistically, the best thing to do for her right now? I am also considering taking her to the vet to have her euthanized, but my husband thinks that is kind of crazy.

    Anyway, my question is--what about the other hen? I think they two hens have been together for years. Will she be okay if her friend disappears one day? She is also pretty old and only lays a couple of eggs a week, should I get rid of her too? Would she do better if I got her a new companion? I apologize for my chicken ignorance. I never thought that I would have chickens and I am definitely going to think about these things and learn more before I get any new chickens! I think their coop is probably too small to house more than 2 birds.
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    First off, [​IMG]

    Secondly, never apologize for wanting and being willing to learn new things or for being a kind person that wants the best solution for the creatures in your care. [​IMG]

    Yes, the uninjured hen will suffer greatly if her friend is gone. They are flock creatures and are really lost without others to depend on for companionship and mutual guidance. Do you want to continue to keep chickens? It may be possible to obtain a few younger hens to gradually introduce to your uninjured one before her friend leaves; so she won't pine away from loneliness. You would normally need to quarantine, but if I were in your position and only talking about adding maybe two hens to a singleton, I'm not sure I would bother with all that.

    As for your injrued bird, is there someone that could put her out of her misery for you? I can't do it myself, so my husband handles that issue whenever it comes up. There are several ways of doing it and (as far as we humans can tell) are painless for the bird. Then you could give her a proper burial.

    I'm sorry someone didn't answer your post before now. I'm also sorry that your first experience with chickens hasn't been the greatest. They really are a joy to keep.

    Take care [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2011
  3. Micklemoose

    Micklemoose Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 6, 2011
    You said you are a veg, but are you opposed to a mercy cull if it is necessary?

    I suppose it is no different than putting down a pet that is in pain. I always hate doing it with my cats, and my other cats just dont care, while chickens are much more social. It sounds like an unenviable position to be in and I am sorry for you.

    I know it sounds silly, but you might get the healthy chicken a stuffed animal for companionship. Not as good as a real chicken-mate, but better than nothing.
  4. Micklemoose

    Micklemoose Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 6, 2011
    Ahh sorry you said you were willing to have her euthanized.

    It honestly might be quicker and less trouble to give it to someone for meat. People who raise chickens are quite good at killing them without the bird suffering unduly. Even if you have the vet euthanize her, I am not sure the pain would be any less as it sounds like she is in constant pain as it is.
  5. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
  6. schellie69

    schellie69 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2009
    Chickens are social creatures if the one that is not injured will more then likely attach to another person or animal. I know some on here do have house chickens they even sell diapers for chickens. At this age if she is injured and hurting the best would to be to have her put down. Unless you can see a wound or maybe bumble foot. Have you checked her leg to see why she is limping?
  7. newly_chickened

    newly_chickened New Egg

    Apr 28, 2011
    Thank you so much for the replies! I am definitely not against a mercy killing. I think I will probably give the injured chicken to someone who can do the job themselves and use her for meat asap so that she doesn’t have to suffer. I think even my husband, the meat eater in our household, doesn’t want to do the job himself. I did check her leg and it just seems to not work. Her claw doesn't react at all if I push on it and it just sort of hangs limp and can't support any weight.

    I guess I am mostly worried about the healthy chicken and her ability to cope without her old friend and whether or not she will accept a new hen into her life (I guess I may be anthropomorphizing a bit here!). We definitely want to keep having chickens, so another one will be in our future (maybe sooner than we expected, I guess). I think my husband really wants to use this as motivation to get rid of both chickens and get two new ones.
  8. GiddyMoon

    GiddyMoon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    Tucson, AZ
    Quote:I have a close friend who uses old hens to brood her chicks. So..something to consider...maybe you can get a few chicks and SEE if the one you think you might keep...would brood them for you? She may totally reject them..but it is worth a shot. This friend says she has had much better luck with her chicks living and doing well since she gives them to the old hen.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by