Depressed or sick chicken?


In the Brooder
8 Years
Aug 13, 2011
Hi! I am very new to the chicken world...having had my first four (now three) for only two weeks. Since we got the first two from some friends we have had nothing but problems with them. They are/were about 1 1/2 to 2 yrs. old - still laying. One (a black sexlink) was pecking horribly at the other (a buff orpington). Most of the buff's feathers were gone - she looks like a turken:( I also got two more - 1 red sexlink and 1 maran who are much younger - hatched last May, so they are about to start laying soon. Anyway, the black chicken was being a bully so we didn't integrate them right away. Finally, the other day she started eating my Buff's eggs - naughty!!! So, we decided she had to go. Last night we did her in (she's now in the fridge). It was a quiet affair and it was very quick. We tried not to disrupt the others at all and it was about bedtime so I don't think anyone noticed. Anyway, right before we went to bed, we slipped the two younger ones in with the older one.

This morning we woke up and everyone seemed fine - that is with the exception of poor old Rosie (the Buff). She seems very depressed all of a sudden. I went out to the coop to open the door and let them out, usually they are really excited to get out and roam around but she just stood there and didn't know what to do with herself. I went over and sprinkled some mealworms around for them to try to motivate them and get them excited but she just turned her nose up at them and went to stand on her perch. I also noticed that her breathing sounds labored and she has been sneezing/coughing all morning. I don't notice any mucus or swelling, comb is fine, no spots or anything else weird. She also laid an egg like normal. No wrinkles on it or anything (don't know if I should eat it though?). Now she is back in the nesting box just sitting there. It has been very hot here (up to 100 this week) so I opened up the door to the roost for some extra venthilation. Anyway, I don't know if I should be alrarmed or nervous? She hasn't taken a bite of food all morning or a drink that I have seen.

One other note is that I found that she was very attatched to the other chicken (the one who is now gone). When we separated them poor Rosie had a heck of a time going up to roost alone - she would pace on the ladder and cluck for about 20 minutes before finally going up to roost. They were a very codependant pair. Any advice??
... you should never just "throw" in more birds with the others with out properly introducing them(put the new girls in a pen near the others). well as far as poor rosie goes you took her friend and made her sad. She should get over it soon i know when my buff miss floppy died suddenly her sister carmel was very lost for a while... even resorted to sitting in her box all day. make sure she is getting water and is near food if they dont drink for more than a day that is when you might start to worry. And for the buff with no feathers i have been through that and i recomend hot pick. hope this helps...
Thanks for the reassurance. I knew not to just throw them in together from the get go. We waited two weeks and had them in a separate mini-coop next to the big one, then we snuck them in gently last night around midnight. they had been free ranging for a few days together too. It's good to know that someone else has had a bummed out chicken before. I just went to check on her again and she's quiet when I'm not around - it's almost like her 'gurgling' and raspy breathing starts when she sees almost sounds like a purr - although it might be a growl considering our situation...By they way - she's the one who was being picked on by the mean one. I only have 1 buff orpington, but I would like to get more! What is hot pick? I have coated her with blue kote which didn't do a whole lot. Her neck feathers are coming in nicely and I've been giving her black oil sunflower seeds to help wtih that. Her heiney is still totally naked though:( They also have electrolytes in their water. I hope she's back to normal soon!!
Are you sure Rosie wasn't molting ,Was there bleeding or raw spots? Mine are going through a molt right now and they are bare headed and bear necked also bear butted almost and my back yard looks like I had a pillow fight out there! LOL I have seen them picking loose feathers off of each other (almost like they were picking a bug or a piece of food out of there feathers) and off of the ground But there not damaging each other cause there feathering out just fine I did add more protein to there food though to help them feather out faster.

I did have 2 sister SS hens and they stuck to each other like glue unforunately Dottie was taken by a raccoon and Uno her sister was depressed for a long time over it. She is better now and sticks close to me all the time now when Im outside but she never did pick another chicken friend to hangout with.

I hope your Hen will be fine and is not sick mine sneeze and cough when I give them the layer crumbles and I always thought they were getting sick but it was just the crumble dust going up some of their noses. So now I jsut use the pellet. But do keep an eye on her and make sure she has food and water at all times. Sandy

Just occurred to me, Did the two girls come from the same place, where they lived together with or without issues? If it was true feather pecking, it may have been stress related moving to a new home and all. you did say you'd only had them a couple of weeks right?

After reading your llast post at around 6pm Im really convinced that she was molting if her feathers are already coming in even if you were using blue coat and she was still being picked on her feathers would not be coming in so quickly after the other chicken was gone.

Heres a couple of bad pictures but both of these girls was bald as buzzards two weeks ago! notice all the dark feathers coming in on there neck and heads and all the loose feathers on there backs and butts, well everywhere really. Some go through harder molts then others.



Last edited:
Yes, I've thought about the molting thing a lot - was really hoping that's what it was. Thought about mites and lice etc. But, I've seen her being picked at, and there were never any feathers laying around. In fact, I think that Hilda (the mean one) was eating any feathers they lost. Who knows. here's a picture of her when we first got her two weeks ago. I think it was mainly happenning when they roosted at night becuase they would roost facing the opposite direction. I did see blood once soon after they arrived here but never since. That was when we did the blue kote. They did come from the same home and the pecking was going on long before we got them. In fact, Hilda had been pecking at three others (two of whom got eaten by the family dog, that's why we aquired the whole set up for free). So, needless to say, poor Rosie has endured her fair share of trouble lately. We might have to start calling her Poor Rosie from now on...
Sweet thing.


To update on the wheezing/growling/coughing and what not - I went out tonight to see how they were fairing and Rosie was roosted just fine in her regular place. She was breathing normally and seemed fine. The other two are hilarious, they came from the same place but are having a pecking order war themselves. The younger one refuses to take her she will opt to lay down in the nesting box in front of the other one, even after a shoving war. it's pretty entertaining:p
OH MY POOR Rosie is right. I'm hurting with her. It is possible that the place they came from, they did not get enought protiens / proper foods / if they are kept in too small an enclosure, these things can cause feather pecking. And yes she is hurting from the loss of her BFF.....
Time will heal all wounds, hope she gets better fast. Lots of TLC is what I suggest.....
Well I hope she does much better , now that her best friend/worst enemy is out of the picture and they are away from their previous home.
I dont think (and this is just my belief), I dont think that chickens peck and eat feathers to be mean at all, I think they do it because they are lacking something (protein) probably from there diet. Throwing them out a handful of kitten or cat food now and again or a scrambled eggs are both really good sorces of extra protein when molting. or just in general really. Good luck , Sandy!

Best of luck to you, Rosie, and the other 2 remaining girls!
Thanks for your help and condolences...I'll pass them on to her:) BFF/worst enemy is totally what she was! I started calling Hilda 'Darth Chicken' as she passed over to the dark side....the point of no return. She was black and fit the name perfectly. Thankfully Rosie's neck feathers are really filling in now. She's a sweet sweet thing. I have to admit though that all this has been a hard initiation to the chicken world...I'm really hoping for an upswing. Maybe that first egg from the two younger ones will be a ray of hope...hopfully that will happen soon!
Yes you did have a very hard start at chicken raising, but It can only get better, I had a hard start too, I mean it was great in the very beginning, then when the chickens went outside to live in the coop, I started listening to my DB who was born and raised on a farm he is 70 so they did alot of things different back then, big mistake for me and my chickens. First off he told me I was way over feeding them? Wrong! but I listened to him STUPID ME! He said when they raised chickens all they did was throw out a couple of handfuls of corn in the morning and then again in the evening! What he didn't tell me is that His chickens were free ranged 100% of the time, they didn't even have a coop to call there own, they just slept whereever on the farm they wanted to at there own risk, if a preditor got them it was part of the scheme of things just the way of nature! So I just about starved my own chickens before I got smart and read up on all the feeding and raising chickens then we got hit with Cocci, I lost 13 birds and most of my favorites of course, then we had a group of Raccoons (Mother and 3 kits) take about 8 more, talk about feeling like a chicken Momma failure, It was a horrible feeling! But thank goodness Most of the folks on byc are really good people and will be supportive and help you in any way they can and I did a whole lot of bugging the crap out of the good people on here asking every question I could and learned alot. But I have a million more questions and ask daily, I don't always get an answer but you know thats how it goes sometimes.

So no matter what problem you have. Doesn't matter how big or how small , if you post it , somebody will have gone through the same issue at some point and can give you good suggestions on how to handle the situation. Like the bulling Hilda did to your Rosie, Most people would probably told you it was time for her to go to chicken jail for a few days to a week and knock her off her self proclaimed pedistool, lower her ranking in the pecking order, or adjust their diet, if that didnt work, remove her from the flock,however you saw fit, but you handled that the way you saw fit and I commend you for that and Rosie is so much better off now, but you should remember that there has to be a top hen and somebody will take that place, and a low man on the totem pole and there will be some rough treatment but it is normal and they have to work it out, (that was a hard lesson for me)and you might have to go through this everytime you add more hens to your flock. My top hen just passed away a couple of weeks ago (EE named Maisey)well when she passed Marta (cuckoo Maran) took over and she chased and harrassed every hen in the coop and it was hard to watch but they worked it out and things are fine now But for a week or so it was a constant fight. Even my big old Roo Zues stayed out of the pecking order scuffles unless they got super serious then he would step in and end it but most of the time he lets the girls work out there own problems. LOL hes such a good boy!

Anyway point being if it wasn't for the people here on BYC and all of their good advice, I would have just sold off my chickens and quit but I know now that I would have regretted it if I had !

So if your having issues, just ask for suggestions on here, youll get plenty of answers and options, weigh them all then do what you think will
work best for you, thats what I do anyway.

I wish you the best of Luck! Sandy
Oh thank you so much:) You are really sweet - I appreciate knowing someone else had a hard beginning but has made it through. My friend (who has had upwards of 80 chickens at one point!) keeps telling me 'they're just chickens!'....she's right. But she also understands that I am trying to do this right, and that's important to me! We got these guys for a number of reasons, to be pets, provide eggs and give our sons a sense of responsibility and rural living (even in the heart of the city) and also to give them a sense of where our food comes from (ie. the circle of life etc.) So far most of those desires have been met, just a lot quicker than i had intended!
I feel at peace with things right now and Rosie seems to be doing 90% better today (PTL!) She came out to get treats when I brought a bowl of rinds and goodies out for them and she even ventured into her favorite spot in the yard, under my lilac bush for some worm and bug picking. It's very hot here too, over 100 today and yesterday so I'm sure that doesn't help at all. I'm sure in the next few days they'll all be back to their normal frisky behavior:p I am so thankful to have found such a great place to come with my questions, and people who will faithfully respond when I need advice!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom