Depressed chicken? What do I do...

lothomson

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 2, 2015
71
5
79
Hi,

Willow, one of the two chickens I had, passed away two days ago for no apparent reason. Her only other coop mate and best friend, Joy, has been very lost for these couple of days...following me closely and then tapping on the windows if I leave her alone for too long.

Joy was the shy, submissive one to Willow's protective mother-like position in their small pecking order arrangement. Should I get younger hens, chicks, or hens that are the same age as Joy? I want this to be as stress-free as possible for Joy, and I am also worried that she will be depressed and die before I can properly introduce any new members to her (due to quarantine).

What can I do for Joy in the mean time, and what age flock members to you recommend?


Happy Holidays,
Lauren
 

junebuggena

Crowing
Apr 17, 2015
23,102
8,207
491
Long Beach, WA
I think getting a few young chicks would be best. If you get a few adult hens, they may gang up on Joy and bully her. You'll be able to introduce the chicks to Joy by the time they are about 8 weeks old, they will be too small to bully Joy. Joy may take on the role of flock leader/mentor.
 

lothomson

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 2, 2015
71
5
79
Thank you,

I am hoping to get about 3 chicks from mypetchicken.com, and I hope everything will work out. Do you have any recommendations on making her a little bit happier for the time being? I am giving her some lap time and watching over her...but I'm not sure if it is enough to make her feel safe and not alone.
 

000

Songster
6 Years
Jan 5, 2015
264
21
124
I am very sorry about your loss. it is so sad to loose your little girls and boys.

I have delt with depressed chickens before. Do not be concerned about feather loss and reduced egg production. I agree about the chicks. For the time being put a heat lamp on her at night and put a blanket or stuffed animal for her to cuddle with. Also (as bazar as this may sound), try to get a chicken sweater from online. It will give her a sense of safety and comfort. Also give her lots of TLC. Treats fed to her by hand and cuddling are great. In addition playing music might help her not feel lonely.

5934987bc98d8fc25ca9f6db21b67248.jpg

54e9f32c5cfcb_-_pink-sweater-chicken-lgn.jpg


https://www.google.com/webhp?source...ken+sweaters&tbm=shop&spd=6353077607113548033

Good luck and keep us posted!

-G
 

lothomson

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 2, 2015
71
5
79
Thank you!

I put some black, fuzzy towels on the roosting pole, along with a stuffed animal horse. She seemed happier right away with the company, pecking away at that poor stuffed animal's eye.

Do you know any hatcheries/places in southern California that sell chicks all year round? I have only found California Hatchery, but that is my fallback for now.
 

000

Songster
6 Years
Jan 5, 2015
264
21
124
I live in Northern California in the bay area, so I do not of any hatcheries down there. Most feed stores only have chicks in the spring. Breeders have quality chicks that are healthy and humanly treated, but only in the spring. Greenfire Farms is expensive, but quality and humane. They are located in Florida and ship chicks year round.

I would recommend them:

http://greenfirefarms.com/

I ordered 6 (minimum order) Cream Legbars but they sent 9 assuming that some will die while shipping. All 9 of my chicks made it and the 3 that I kept (I found the rest new families) are still alive and thriving. They bring new reeds into the country and save breeds that are dying out.

-G
 

000

Songster
6 Years
Jan 5, 2015
264
21
124
When introducing new chicks I would Place them under her while she is in the nesting box. This will fool her into thinking they are her chicks. If everything goes right, then she will raise them for you and you don't have to brood them in your house. And I am glad that she is happier
ya.gif
!

-G
 

cafarmgirl

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 24, 2009
5,521
610
327
California, central valley
When introducing new chicks I would Place them under her while she is in the nesting box. This will fool her into thinking they are her chicks. If everything goes right, then she will raise them for you and you don't have to brood them in your house. And I am glad that she is happier
ya.gif
!

-G

I would not attempt this unless she happens to go broody on you, if she is not broody it could easily go very badly for the chicks. Something else you could do would be to brood chicks in their covered brooder inside the coop if you have room, where she could hear them and maybe see them but not have direct contact. Then you can introduce them when they are older and better able to defend themselves if she gets bossy or aggressive. You've seen what she wants to do to the eyes of the stuffed animal you put in with her!

And I'm sorry but I disagree with chicken sweaters. This totally prevents a bird from doing any of their natural preening and fluffing of their feathers. It might make people feel good but not so much for chickens.
 

appps

Crowing
8 Years
Aug 29, 2012
4,784
647
321
Australia
When introducing new chicks I would Place them under her while she is in the nesting box. This will fool her into thinking they are her chicks. If everything goes right, then she will raise them for you and you don't have to brood them in your house. And I am glad that she is happier:ya !

-G


Yes she has to already be broody for this to have any chance of not ending with dead chicks. Even then be prepared for it to not work, our silkie still tried to peck them to death after being broody a month.

You can add them around 3-5 weeks old if you make sure they have plenty of places to escape to if she takes a dislike. They need to be introduced in a seperate but visible area for a week first before allowing them together. They are young enough most hens just ignore them, but you need to watch carefully in case you have that one that reacts badly instead. I still lock them away on their own at night for another couple of weeks.

BUT.......That said though if it's the middle of winter there you can't really do that either because birds that young are going to still need heat if it's winter. I think you are going to struggle to provide heat and let them integrate while young enough.

Being winter I would be tempted to buy young pullets old enough to not need heat but young enough not to be sure enough of themselves to gang up on her. Again keep them together but seperate for a week or two before letting them together. So pick an age will be still young enough at the end of quarantine
period. Again make sure they have escape/hiding places and feed and water at both ends of the run in case she won't share hers. Big the integration doesn't go well (a few pecks and chasing is normal) then seperate again for a few more weeks. She will at least have company through the fence.
 
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TwoCrows

🌻🐣🌻
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Mar 21, 2011
47,976
107,495
1,712
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop
Last year I lost a hen. Her best buddy went into mourning like crazy. I mean the bird had panic attacks when I turned out the light at night, she stood in the darkened run at night whining every night waiting for her best buddy come come to roost with her. She stopped laying, eating and refused to go out to free range. She sat depressed on the roost bar for weeks. It was very sad to watch. It took this bird 3 months to get over it and 6 months to find a new friend in the flock.

Until you can add to your flock, you might start by putting in a ticking clock in the coop. Let it tick tock day and night. The white noise coming from the ticking will help to relax her and lower her blood pressure.

Put a radio in the coop set to some very quiet slow music. Birds respond very well to quiet music and I have used this on many occasions to sooth sad, lonely or stressed birds. Both of these helped my bird last year after losing her buddy.

But yes, I would consider adding some friends for her at some point.
 
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