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Depressed Chicken ???. UPDATE

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by pgpoultry, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    I really don't know what is wrong with Bluey, my Blue Partridge Brahma hen with a twisted spine, but she is behaving like she is depressed.

    It is understandable if she is depressed, but I don't want to project human emotions onto my birds.

    Bluey has a scoliosis (twisted spine), but is usually e feisty, rather fat and fully functioning member of her chicken community. She went broody for the first time this summer, and, having tried to break the broodiness, eventually I gave her a couple of eggs to sit. One was a non-starter, the second she broke and ate the contents, and the third hatched, but she smothered it. She was looking for chicks for some days, but eventually started to come round and re-joined the flock a little, but was initially rather put upon by the rest.Then she went missing, and eventually I found her in the garden pond, saved only by the density of the pond weed in there. Dried, warmed and re-fed, she did not seem to want to be with the flock. The boys over-mated her, though the girls , initially a bit stand-offish, are now fine with her . (Previously she had been a rather dominant hen).

    So I hoped Bluey would eventually regain her position and integrate. She did not. One morning she just stayed crouched in the corner of the coop and would not come out. I decided to put her on her own in the agricultural shed next to the momma hens with chicks. Here she seems fine, slept in a little cardboard box, came out and scratched around in the day (in her own pen), and started to lay eggs after a few days.

    Thinking she was recovered, I bought her out to be with the flock. The former behaviour has recurred, but worse. She disappeared one night during heavy rain and only re-appeared midday next day, soaked, cold and very hungry.

    Since then she has generally gone to the coop at night, but in a morning has scuttled out after the others have left and gone onto a bank with thick brambles where she has just stood all day if left. She ate and drank nothing there, but when I have bought her into the house she has eaten and drunk enormously, started to preen and walk around after a short while.

    Yesterday, having bought her in twice (retrieving her from the brambles) for food/water, she went there again near nightfall and just stood with her eyes closed. I bought her in and she perched up on the recycling where she has spent her night.


    As you can see, pooping fine, face nice and red, and feathers all growing back nicely after her moult.

    I'm just not sure what to do next.Should I put her back with the hens and chicks? (The two momma hens are now together with just 3 chicks prior to moving back to the flock).

    Should I introduce her bit by bit to the other hens? (they are not bullying her or behaving in any way badly towards her)

    Anybody any other suggestions or had experience of this? Many thanks.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011

  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Have you ever wormed her, or checked for lice/mites? They can be debilitating to chickens and would cause her to be listless. I see she wears a saddle, do you have a rooster she is afraid of? She sure seems like she is avoiding the others - because she perks up and eats well when you are giving her attention.I don't know that I would keep her near others with young chicks, since she was not a good mother.

    She is such a pretty girl, maybe she wants to be a house chicken.
  3. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Songster

    Nov 10, 2010
    Congress, AZ
    My Coop
    Could the scoliosis be causing her pain? Maybe some med (no clue what chickens get for pain).
  4. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    She is free of lice and mites and I have wormed her a couple of times in the last 6 months, too.

    She wears a saddle as all the boys mate with her and, as she was bald on her back from moulting and her one side is lower than the other due to her scoliosis, she was getting badly scratched. i don't really have a 'bullying' type of rooster, but chicken mating isn't any too gentle for the likes of her.

    She has eaten enormously again this morning. i don't think she has any pain, but aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a good and very cheap pain killer in chickens.

    I don't think she was a bad momma. just inexperienced, and I've had rookies who have made a bit of a mess of things the first time before.

    Currently she is in the agricultural shed with the two mommas and a pullet who walked in there. The alpha hen (who has two chicks) ran straight for her, so I have placed her in a pen made up from sheep hurdles (they come in very useful for making quick pens). She is now 'behind bars' which she could get out of if she chose to, but she and the other chickens are staying on their own sides of the fence and all are walking around and clucking happily at the moment.

    I am rather confused.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  5. chookhead

    chookhead Songster

    Sep 7, 2011
    hmmm thats a very strange chicken u have there sorry ic an toffer any information maybe she wants to be come a mother and is sad about her dead chicks if u have a spare chick put it under her at night and see wat she does [​IMG]
  6. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I don't know. If she seems fine and perks up when alone, then starts acting weird and hiding when in with the rest, sounds like something is happening there. Perhaps leave her in her own pen that you say she can get out of if she chooses, and let her choose when to join the others?
  7. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    Bluey has been absolutely fine in the ag. shed in her own little pen.

    Alpha hen's chicks wandered through Bluey's pen and she has been fine with them, letting them eat her food.

    Bluey has settled into a cardboard box in there and laid an egg.

  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    It sounds like she would do great with a nice hen or two as company, but away from any roosters or mean hens. She just isn't able to physically protect herself.
  9. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    Well, Bluey seems to be content with her makeshift pen in the agricultural shed. She is within the hurdles in her cardboard box (not easily seen here), but was laying an egg at the time.


    She is generally wandering about and scratching, but making no attempt to leave her little 'cell'. Interestingly enough, the two other hens in there who both have chicks are not trying to get into her either, but the chicks are regularly running in and out of Bluey's temporary home. (The hens with chicks are also Brahmas and usually too lazy/heavy to fly). The hens with chicks will soon be leaving the shed so I will increase the amount of space Bluey has. Bluey can use a large area until lambing in March/April next year when I'll have to think again. I may need to bring her some companions in, too. I think this classifies as 'preferential treatment'!
  10. Dowie

    Dowie Songster

    Apr 29, 2011
    I reckon Bluey had had a gutful of the roosters. I think some hens hate it, and if there's a few of them...well...she seems pretty happy now, safe and sound.

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