Difficult dilemma: One remaining chicken was attacked by a raccoon and may actually survive. When i


In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 24, 2013
Hi All-
I'm hoping to get some helpful feedback regarding our hen Peggy who was attacked by a raccoon two days ago. We had three chickens, but Joan and Sally died at the hands of that rotten raccoon. We were able to save Peggy who is now at the vets. The vet is not a bird vet, but she's been very kind and has done quite a bit of research & called other vets. I love our vet. She thinks that Peggy can pull through (with several antibiotics and a pain killer). She still has both her eyes and most of her feathers. Her head is nearly bald and she has a few pretty deep puncture wounds on her neck. She was also molting at the time and so wasn't 100% to start with.

Here's the dilemma: We're not sure nursing her back to health is the right decision for Peggy.
  • She's now an only chicken which seems like a lonely life and we're also afraid she might freeze to death over the winter without anybody else's body heat
  • This could get expensive, but not too too expensive. We're really only talking about cheap drugs right now.
  • Peggy is 3 years old. We were committed to keeping them as pets until they died of natural causes -- but maybe that's what's happening here?

Our vet thinks she might be able to place her with a rescue, but, again, she doesn't really know chickens and we're pretty certain that Peggy would need to be completely well before she had any chance of surviving being introduced into a new brood. And here it is nearly October. So we'd be racing the weather to get her back in fighting shape. This is all assuming that someone is interested in adopting a 3 year old, beat up hen.

Our options now seem to be:
-nurse her back to health and keep her
-nurse her back to health and find someone who will adopt her

We would not be heartbroken by option #1, but don't want to go there just because it's most "convenient." Also, our vet said she's probably not comfortable putting down an "otherwise save-able" hen. Which means we'd have to bring her home and do it ourselves. :(

Does anybody have an advice for us? We're a little lost. :(

-Jessica & Andrew
I kept mine and got another chicken! I had three chickens, two were killed by the predator and one, Sissy, lost a wing. I didn't know what would happen, but I wasn't going to take her to a vet (just my choice). I cleaned the wound in the bathtub, put some antibiotic ointment on the stump, and left her indoors overnight. The next day I put her back outside. She lived another two years until she died from heat stroke one summer.

Hens are very, very simple, and they can survive pretty severe injuries. My hen had some brain damage after the attack, and it took her a year to be normal again. I got her a black australorp friend from a farm, and they were fast pals. Another year a predator attack got me down to one hen, and that time I decided to rehome the survivor and take a break from chickens. After a year I was ready for chickens again. I knew my chicken would fit in easily at her new home because she was my lowest ranked hen. She readily slipped into the lowest place in her new flock.

The question you have to ask is do you still want to keep chickens? If the answer is no, then rehome her. There are probably plenty of people who are willing to nurse an injured hen back to health. Or you can nurse her yourself and rehome her then. If you choose to keep her, you will have to be her flock. The times I had one chicken, I had to be number one hen and tell them when to get up, when to go to bed, when to eat, etc., until they got the hang of calling their own shots, which took about two weeks.

Putting her in the stew pot is also a viable option. There is probably someone in your area willing to take your chicken and eat her. Sorry for your losses. Raccoons suck.
Thanks, DStewart. Maybe we're overestimating how difficult it would be to integrate her with new chickens. We have a friend who has a friend with a large flock and he says, because of his large flock, chickens have an easier time integrating. Maybe we could nurse her back to heath and then pass her along to him? Hmm....
Is that just passing the problem off to a more compassionate chicken-owner?
It would be a shame for her to survive the coon then die by your hand. If you honestly don't want to keep her then give her away to somebody who wants her and don't lose any sleep over it. The coon would probably come back & get her if you kept her.
Yes, she can integrate with a new flock. It takes a bit of time for everyone to figure out where she will be in the pecking order. That is normal. Again, it comes down to whether you want chickens. If you do, keep her and get more chickens. (Fix your predator problem, too!) If you don't, give her to your friend with chickens. No worries.
I'm having a similar challenge. My flock of three is now a solitary, depressed, lonely chicken who has literally never been without chicken company. I feel like I need to solve my predator problems before I can be a good home to new chickens, so I've found a foster home for the survivor.

Other posters have made good points -- what you do depends on whether or not you want to take a break from chickens and rehome her, or if you want to rebuild your flock so she has company. It would be a shame to euthanize her after saving her from the 'coons. And it depends on how your chicken is -- I've heard some people say that solitary chickens will be fine on their own, but I don't think that's the case for my gal. They need their peeps.

Good luck!
Thanks Curlita!
Peggy is now back home. We decided not to euthanize, though we're still not sure this was the right decision. She seems to have suffered some brain damage -- at least that's what we're blaming for her change in behavior. She doesn't seem quite sure how to eat and mostly sits in the corner. She could still be in shock. We rarely see her drinking, though she must be drinking some because it's been a week now & she's still alive. We're going to give her some time to bounce back and then consider whether or not she might do better in a big flock (we found someone with a big flock who has had success introducing lone chickens. He says with such a big flock, they always seem to find some buddies). I'm still not 100% sure she'll pull through, but she did show some interest in strawberries today. I'd figured that if she didn't even want strawberries, she was a goner.

Well see how this plays out...

For now, she's getting several hours of outside time a day (mostly hiding under a bush, but still...) and getting locked up tight in the garage at night...
 She seems to have suffered some brain damage -- at least that's what we're blaming for her change in behavior.  She doesn't seem quite sure how to eat and mostly sits in the corner.  She could still be in shock.  

After a traumatic event chickens often go into a trance or shock like state for several days. After they come out of it they will still mope around for several days to a week before they get back to normal.
Good to know! Thank you, ChickenLegs!
We knew a lot about healthy chickens before this. Unfortunately, now we're having to learn a lot about hurt chickens. But it's all good information.

It's been a week now, so hopefully she'll start turning the corner soon!
I appreciate your post! We are new to chickens and the raccoons got all but one of ours. She survived, but had a head injury as well. She is bouncing back little by little. I can tell she is lonely though. I am hopeful to get more chickens this weekend at our county fair. I'm thankful we can learn together and learn from each other's experiences!

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