Do chickens mourn?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AdiosCowboy, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. AdiosCowboy

    AdiosCowboy In the Brooder

    Aug 4, 2008
    This might be a weird question. I have had three chickens for almost three years until two days ago when one of my girls died suddenly (necropsy results pending). I've been keeping an extra close eye on the remaining two looking for symptoms and one has been acting a little odd, but not similar to the symptoms shown by my deceased chicken. She is not clucking or vocalizing hardly at all, she seems less energetic, she's not as quick to go for food as she used to be. She still eats plenty and appears healthy. The hen who died was the most dominant of the three and the hen who is acting odd was at the bottom of the pecking order.

    So my question is, do chickens become depressed when one of their own dies in a very small flock? Is my hen acting weird just because she doesn't have the alpha female clucking at her? Is it a matter of less competition making her lazy? Or is this something I need to consider as a health problem? Additionally, are two chickens enough to keep each other company?
  2. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Songster

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    It's possible that she's sick. It's also possible that chickens like many other social animals feel loss. Especially since it was the dominant hen and there were only 3 to begin with. I would keep a close eye on her like you have been .
  3. Chuckles1330

    Chuckles1330 In the Brooder

    May 11, 2009
    I think they do. When my dominant roo, Darth Vader, was killed defending the girls from a hawk, they definitely seemed to mourn. Yes, they were freaked because of the hawk, and also the change in social structure, but the 2 birds that had been with Darth his entire life (2nd roo and a hen) definitely seemed to miss him. Henny in particular - she was "his girl."
  4. poseygrace

    poseygrace Songster

    Apr 29, 2011
    I don't know if "mourn" is the right word, but they definitely feel loss, and it does make them act differently.
  5. hcppam

    hcppam Songster

    Sure they do! [​IMG]
  6. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I do believe that at least the more advanced animals can experience "emotions" similar to many human emotions - in a different way of course, but they certainly notice loss, often have best buds, have been known to show compassion, etc. So it does not surprise me in the least that, especially in a flock as small as yours, your others are acting "off" due to the death of a flockmate.
  7. silkeysandra

    silkeysandra Songster

    Oct 18, 2008
    grand prairie, tx
    I do know they are smart enough to know the other hen is gone and they may worry about unseen predators. When Gerty lost her hatch mate Henrietta, she looked all over for her running and clucking, then just sitting and kind of moaning. I got her another 'friend' quickly, but you know it is never the same. They have bonded now, but it took time and she's not as attached to Hilda as she was dependent on Hennie for conversation. They do develop friendships and they do feel loss. It wouldn't hurt to get a couple more girls. Then she would be closer to the top of the pecking order and not the bottom. Might bring her out of her slump if she's just worrying and not sick. Give lots of treats more times a day if possible to keep their minds on something other than their missing friend. [​IMG]
  8. shanon C

    shanon C Hatching

    Aug 30, 2014
    Lake Stevens
    I am new to the group. I had 7 chickens and one rooster. Yesterday, something came into my yard and snatched up one of my most social hens. They are about 4 mo old now.
    I let them free range during the day and put them to bed in their coop at night because I thought that was when the predators come out. The rooster seems very upset! I kept them in their coop area today for safety reasons! What do I do now? Get another chick?
  9. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Crowing

    Oct 24, 2009
    Could be not eating as fast because she now can relax that the dominant one is gone and is not hogging the best of the food.

    I don't know if they feel sad when another chicken from the flock is removed or dies... but I am sure they know about it.

    My top rooster will not go into the coop until he has counted in all the other chickens.. rooster and chicks too.

    If one is late home he will stay outside waiting.

    I breed fancy bantams.. and when I sell some he knows... waiting outside the coop until its nearly totally dark.. sometimes I have to pick him up and put him in... He will do this for several days before he gives up about them coming back.

    So if the roosters know... I am sure the hens do too.

    Hens are also very brave protecting their chicks... and put their own lives at risk... so they must have some emotions about their chicks.
  10. shanon C

    shanon C Hatching

    Aug 30, 2014
    Lake Stevens
    My rooster didn't want to go in his coop. We did have to pick him up and put him in.
    I think they are all a little "chicken" to go outside! It happened infront of all the chickens.

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