Depressed Chicken, How to Manage?


Mar 17, 2017
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Hello and hope everyone is having a good day!

I have something that I have never dealt with before in my 10 years of raising chickens. Last week, our 1 year old Egyptian Fayoumi rooster, Clyde, was killed. His main hen and hatch mate, Bonnie (who is also an egyptian fayoumi) has been slowly going downhill since. I am 100% sure she was not attacked or hurt in any way, and I dont think it is an illness due to the timing and the fact that none of my other 20 chickens are showing any symptoms whatsoever.

Typically, this breed are very lively and fast little chickens, who free roam and make many many rounds around our property during the day. Starting the day after his death, she has become more and more docile and will hunker down for long periods of time. She will hang out with one Americana hen, but there has been a huge change in her personality. She is still eating and drinking, but overall seems extremely depressed and like she has lost her personality and gusto. And it is getting worse each day.

Last night she roosted on the round in a different coop than usual, which was very strange. Today she did not make it far out of the coop and was in the same spot all day. I have her in a dog crate now with food, water, probiotics and nutridrench. Going from 100% to almost lethargic in the past week has me very worried that she has lost the will to live. Her comb has started to droop and her coloring is more gray than the usual purple/red.

Again, I have delt with many different chicken illnesses (bumble foot, prolapse, mereks, etc), but this seems like more about spirit than sickenss.

Has anyone else had experience with depressed chickens? I know her and Clyde had a very special bond and would hang out most of the day together.
Any advice on how to help her move forward would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Wyorp Rock

🐓 ❤ 🐛
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Sep 20, 2015
Southern N.C. Mountains
Can you get some photos of her and her poop?
Is she laying eggs?

Check to make sure her crop is emptying overnight, she may need de-worming, watch to see that she's eating/drinking well.

I would also check her again for injury/bruising, lice/mites, etc.

Chickens do seem to notice when a flockmate is missing, but they usually adapt to the change within a day or two. For her be going down hill so quickly, I would be looking for something physical.
Aug 17, 2020
Quebec, Canada
I am so sorry for your and her loss... I have seen that in a budgie that lost his mate, I had to give him a baby budgie to raise, that helped him focus on something outside of his depression.

I had a duck lose her only duck friend (she never liked the chickens), she was never the same again. I gave her lots of personal attention, she would sit on my husband's lap for hours, she needed personal contact. She was the only duck for over a year like that, but was not thriving as before. I tried to give her babies to raise, buy she didn't fully embrace the role. She died a little over a month after they arrived. Grief is a difficult companion.

I would, of course, second the above post from @Wyorp Rock to take a good second look, it is not unusual for depression to make us vulnerable to illness. People often become ill when they lose a spouse or child, it is how losing your will to go on without them manifests.

I would not isolate her in the chicken hospital though... Loneliness makes depression worst.

All my love to both of you... Cuddle therapy might help you both. (Kangaroo care is known to help in many cases of rapidly declining health issues, you can google it, I know it sounds like a kooky idea, but it has been studied and works with NICU babies) I hold hens who are emotionally or physically challenged and sometimes carry them around all day like a newborn. Putting her down next to me to do something, then carry her to our next job. They sit on a stool next to me while I do dishes or laundry and then on my lap/desk if I am sitting down to work on the computer. Sounds crazy but only my spouse is witness and he just laughs and ignores us.

I have had success with that, but who knows if the hen would have been just fine without the extra affection. Of course the affection is good for my health! I love the little devils. (Even when they eat all the berries off of all the fruit shrubs in the garden!)


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