Chicken has PTSD

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by chickytweet, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. chickytweet

    chickytweet New Egg

    Dec 30, 2015
    New to this, but I had now where else to turn and I've learned everything about chickens from here. We had two chickens we loved dearly and one night a raccoon broke into coop and murdered one of them. So we moved the other one into the house to sleep at night. She became terrified of the coop. She also hung out inside the house when we were home too. They are free range chickens. We got some chicks and a 8 week old friend for her. Now all of the chickens and Tweety sleep in the coop, but we have to take Tweety to the coop at night. All of the other chickens are already in the coop. Tweety waits by our back door for us to pick her up & put her to bed. The coop has indoor & outdoor lighting and heating. Before the raccoon massacre she went in the coop by herself at night. If we were out of town we could call the neighbor to lock the door. Now we can't leave town. Any suggestions would help. It's hard to sneak a chicken into a hotel. :) we will take her camping though.
  2. Birdrain92

    Birdrain92 Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 7, 2013
    Welcome to BYC! Because of what happened in the coop was so traumatizing it is in her memory. What freaks her out could be caused by different things. She still has the memory but it could be seeing or a scent that triggers the memory terrifying her. It seems she has bonded to you or someone she's used to as a guardian of protection. The only thing I can think of with this is make her feel safe in the coop during the day or night without needing you. She needs to believe the coop is a safe place once again. This will take time. Other birds can sometimes help but it will be some time. There's no fast way with this in my opinion. I've never experienced this personally. Maybe keep her in the coop but keep an eye on her during the day to try it. I'm just trying to brainstorm some things that might help.
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    If possible, maybe putting food in the coop during the day may encourage her to see the coop as a better place, or feeding treats in the coop may help?
  4. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member Project Manager

    Jan 10, 2013
    [​IMG] glad to have you join us. But so sorry about the problem and loss.

    It is interesting that most folks think Chickens have short memories, but I have witnessed evidence in my flock that proves to me that they do have long term memory - at least for a few months.

    And IMO your assessment of PTSD is correct. It could be that the one who was killed was her best friend and in addition to the traumatic episode she is feeling alone even tho in the flock. Wish I could offer a solution, but even for humans there's no simple answer to help.
  5. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 True BYC Addict

    Apr 19, 2012
    NW Vermont
    How old is she and does she hang with the new chickens during the day? Is the run and coop predator proof NOW? If not, get on it ASAP, not that she would know the difference. NO chicken wire, 1/2" hardware cloth only on ALL openings of any size. A coon can squeeze through amazingly small spaces and a weasel/ermine through even smaller ones. Latches that a coon can't open, ground protection to keep critters from digging under.

    How about you go down to the coop before it is roost time and wait for her to come to you. Move the "protection" to where you want her to feel safe. Give them some scratch in the run before roost time, if you don't have an auto door put it on the floor of the coop. Maybe she will follow the other chickens into the coop and change her routine.
  6. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us! :)
  7. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    bruceha has given you some good suggestions. Indeed chickens can have ptsd - they are flock animals. Witnessing a savage attack and losing a coop buddy can be devastating to them. She may in time form a friendship of sorts with another hen, or maybe young bird that needs mothering.
  8. chickytweet

    chickytweet New Egg

    Dec 30, 2015
    Thank you. The chicken that got murdered was the one that led her to the coop every night, she was older, so that makes sense. We will stop bringing her into the house and putting her on our laps to watch tv. Maybe that will help. We love her company and she thinks she is one of the cats.
  9. chickytweet

    chickytweet New Egg

    Dec 30, 2015
    Yes it is overly predator proof. We bought the coop from Amazon it is small and the latches were too.
  10. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 29, 2012
    I don't think it has much to do with what happened to her friend, you are giving them a bit to much credit assigning human mental disorders to them, and everything to do with habit and learned behaviours. You have taught her to act how she is.

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