Can chickens mourn?!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by beckstaar96, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. beckstaar96

    beckstaar96 In the Brooder

    Feb 20, 2017
    Hi there,

    I'm utterly heartbroken, as a strangers dog attacked my beloved Pekin Bantam Rooster on Tuesday, I did what I could but the vets said the kindest thing in the end was to put him down. I'm heartbroken, he was truly a part of our family. He acted more like a dog then a chicken!

    Anyway, my flock situation is a little different. The flock was my beloved Roo, a hen, and interestingly they had only one chick this year. The chick is now fully grown, but the three were very close. He was a very good dad, he would feed the chick and even when it was fully grown. (Note: We did have more hens but we had a rat invasion in the coop which didn't end well).

    The hen and roo had grown up together, they had basically been inseparable for 4 years.

    Since he died, my hen and chick (who is now turning into a grown roo) haven't left their coop. They're free range so normally wonder around, but they haven't come out of their hutch. My 'chick' seems to be okay, he clucks and comes to greet me when i go up to see them. He seems fairly normal. But the hen is completley silent and won't come out of her coop.Normally she clucks away repeatedly, but she's almost silent now.

    Is it possible they're in mourning or something? From experience I haven't experienced chickens being particularly attached to each other, but I've not seen behaviour like this in chickens before. Surely they aren't still in shock? They've come down to the house for food and they're drinking water, but they've gone back to their coop and they're just sitting in there.

    Anyone experienced this before?
  2. Sagey_7878

    Sagey_7878 Songster

    Sep 1, 2017
    First I’d like to say, I’m sorry about your rooster! :hitBut yes, chickens do mourn. When they are so attached to a certain chicken (especially a rooster that rules the flock) they do get quite upset and in some cases can die of loneliness or of a broken heart.
  3. Sagey_7878

    Sagey_7878 Songster

    Sep 1, 2017
    Also, they’re probably waiting for him to return....
  4. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

    Jan 30, 2015
    I'd be hesitant to transpose human emotions to chickens. For sure they don't like change and resultant possible effects on flock dynamics but in my experience things revert to normal after a 2-3 days after the loss of a flock member.
    chickens really likes this.
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    Chickens do not feel Human emotion.
    They are displaying stress from the Dog attack and scared to come out of the Coop. The dynamics of the flock will change now that the Rooster is gone.
    Sorry that happened.
    Mimi’s 13 likes this.
  6. Sagey_7878

    Sagey_7878 Songster

    Sep 1, 2017
    I’d disagree with that. All animals have feelings therefore they do have human-like emotions. Yes, I agree they’re scared from the dog attack, but they’re upset that they have a flock member. Chickens can and do mourn but they’ll eventually get over it....
  7. Birdinhand

    Birdinhand Crowing

    May 23, 2016
    chickens aren't humans but they do experience emotions of various sorts, there is a whole science of behavioral biology devoted to chickens and it's quite fascinating. they are finding they are far more complex that many of us realize. my guess is that they were unusually deeply bonded to the rooster and his absence has left a gaping hole in their routine. they are probably afraid of venturing out without his protection. I would get another rooster soon and maybe another hen or two to round out the flock more and I bet things will balance out.
  8. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    Okay..Its not mourning as in people. It's the change in the flock. A close buddy is gone and now they need to do things on their own.
  9. chickencheeper

    chickencheeper Crowing

    Jun 4, 2017
    My Coop
    I see what you’re saying howver isn’t 2-5 days the average period of time before a human stops grieving?
    Sagey_7878 likes this.
  10. oceansunset73

    oceansunset73 Songster

    Jul 14, 2017
    So sorry for the loss of your rooster. :(

    It could be the combination of trauma and loss that they are feeling. Especially because their leader is now gone, so they have to figure out a new order of things. It will pass.

    I rehomed a bullying chicken a while back. Her buddy mourned, but she got over it after about two weeks. She's perfectly fine now. While they do not have the same exact emotions as humans in every aspect, they do feel pain and they do feel loss to some degree.

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