Can chickens become depressed????


In the Brooder
10 Years
May 18, 2009
Citrus Heights, CA
I have a 1 year old bantam laying hen "Rosemary" that I recently got about a month ago. She came with two of her little pullet friends that she had bonded with and Rosemary was definitely at the top of the pecking order. I introduced two new (big) RIR hens to the flock, which the three bantams did not take kindly to. The three banties would huddle together and try to stay out of the way of the bigger hens. I ended up giving two of the banty hens to my mother in law - leaving Rosemary and the two RIR's together - and now Rosemary is definitely at the bottom of the pecking order. Now, Rosemary is hiding out in the coop most of the day, not laying eggs any more and just sitting on the RIR egg (until I come to get it from under her). Is she going broody or is she depressed? Another issue is (since I got her a month ago) she has had a small prolapse in her vent that I have been washing off and applying Preperation H to every few days - but that doesn't seem to be the cause of her behavior now. I am quite new to chickens and really started all this just for the eggs, but I find that I am becoming attached to my neediest hen. Do chickens really get depressed? Any advice would be great. Thanks all.
I believe that any animal can become depressed. I'm not sure how to help her though. I would maybe give her a nice place of her own to retreat to or get rid of the ones that bother her.
Of course they can...she can mourn the loss of her companions and grieve for them. she is the little thing all alone now. Maybe giving her some special attention and a safe haven of her own...then add another banty friend for her.
I have a little oeg roo that had his mate from the day old chick days killed by a hawk.

I thought for sure I was going to lose the guy. He literally sat on the roost for a few months and withered away to darn near nothing.

Fortunately he snapped out of it and is a happy healthy little guy.

Yes they get depressed and they mourn. Chickens have an emotional context that many would just not look for.
It makes me sad to know that I probably caused all of this by taking her friends away. The only reason I did was because they were given to me for free and the owner had no idea how old they were for sure or what they were or even if they were laying. I chose to give back the two that weren't laying so that I could have two other ones that were laying. I feel awful that I didn't know about them being that attached to each other. In the beginning when I first looked into getting chickens, I really only wanted to get RIR's because of their big beautiful brown eggs - but then I was given three banties that (only one) laid itty bitty white eggs. I only have limited space in the city so I wanted to get the most bang for my buck so to speak. I only kept Rosemary because I felt sorry for her with the whole prolapse vent thing and didn't want to put that problem onto my mother in law. Now I'm wondering if I should give Rosemary to MIL, so he can be back with her friends, and get another RIR. MIL has a lot of other chickens too.
If the prolasped vent is not a problem, maybe you should give her back.
That's so sad the she is missing her mates and she will probably never fit in with the RIRs.
I would agree. If you're sure the prolapse is getting better and isn't causing her laying problems I would return her to her old chums (could the prolapse be the real reason why she has stopped laying - she's eggbound and prolapsed? If so, very serious for her indeed and needs attention right away). She's clearly very upset and lonely anyway.

I had a BO that nearly starved herself to death after I had to give her sister back (the sister was a feather-eater and therefore a potential cannibal threat to the rest of the hens). She got so weak that she developed mycoplasma and we almost lost her. She's fine now, but I think if it hadn't been for the mycoplasma (which seemed to be the trigger for her to snap out of it) she would have wasted away.

So, the poor little thing could most definitely be depressed, yes.

But you weren't to know, so don't feel bad. Just get her back with her flockmates as soon as possible.
About 8 months ago I got the cutest little Easter egg layers. I Bought them as chicks, raised them in the coop and soon enough they were almost ready for laying. But on a Sunday morning I woke up and saw that my Neighbors hunting dogs tore though the netting of the outside part of the coop, got inside and took two of my chickens and ate them. :( only one survived and she still lives on. We fixed to the hole I'm the wire and added extra layers and about 3 months ago we got 4 little chicks and added them to the coop and she seems happier. But can they become depressed? I would probably become depressed if I saw my friends eaten by dogs.

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