Do hens remember their friends and/or pine for them when they're gone?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by caralouise1974, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. I only ask because I originally had two buff orps, who slept cuddled up together in a single nestbox and were the best of friends, and I suppose actually may have been sisters. They stuck together like glue, even to the exclusion of their bluebelle companion who made up the threesome as the poor little 'odd one out'.

    Sadly though, one of the BOs was quite seriously feather-picking and beginning to turn cannibal on her her sister (who actually didn't seem to mind at all!), so we had to give her back to the breeder we got her from.

    After she went, the remaining BO seemed to get skinny and listless, and she eventually caught CRD because she was so thin. Having now fully recovered, she's back to eating and drinking well and seems almost like a different hen. She's begun laying today and seems to have finally pallied up with the bluebelle, although not to the same extent as she did with her sister.

    Is it possible that she missed her friend/sister and pined herself poorly over her? Or was all that a bit of a co-incidence and perhaps she was simply coming down with some illness all along? Am I giving this hen too much credit for emotional complexity here?! [​IMG]
  2. Oceanseve

    Oceanseve Songster

    May 23, 2008
    Guthrie, OK
    We bought two BOs together last year and after one died, the other stopped laying for about a week or two. She still had another chicken to keep her company, but I would definately say she was depressed after losing her oldest friend.
  3. Believe it or not, chickens have feelings too. [​IMG] Kidding, of couse. But yes, the poor girl probably missed her friend. Chickens are very social animals and in a small group, especially social. Scientists speculate it takes approx. 2 weeks for a chicken to forget another chicken. (Which is why a problem usually occurs with broody hens separated from their flock.) I'd consider this normal behavior.
  4. Aw bless her, I feel terrible about it now. I didn't have a clue that removing her sister so suddenly would have such a devastating effect. She was in a really bad way for a while back there, and when she got the CRD, we thought we were going to lose her. We just assumed that because we'd still got the bluebelle, she wouldn't be all that worried by it.

    (Still, it was a rather better outcome than letting her sister pluck her vent raw and ending up eating her innards, or some such cannibalistic vileness! Chickens are gross sometimes aren't they?)
  5. ams3651

    ams3651 Songster

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    I posted this before but someone down the road had 3 roosters, 2 were hit by cars in a matter of 2 weeks and the body of the second one was left in the ditch. Every day for weeks that beautiful little rooster would sit next to his buddys body. I was so sad. They have 2 neighbors with free ranging chickens and a couple days ago I went past and was delighted to see he made his way up the hill and was handing out with the chickens. I was worried when I didnt see him for a couple days. It was so sad to see this little rooster so attached to his buddy, even after death.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  6. Wow, what a sad story. I never gave chickens credit for the that kind of loyalty - I thought it was the sole preserve of Greyfriars Bobby!
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I have had chickens die and never seen that behavior from the rest. A dog or coyote killed one of my hens and the others didn't seem to notice. My DH was in the hospital. While I was gone to pick my DH up at the hospital something, from the dog like tracks around my girls body, killed her. I left my house at 11am and returned at 2pm. During that time she was killed. I checked on them before I left home and they were all ok.. When I got home and found the body the others hens didn't seem to notice.
  8. We started our flock with two EEs and they were together alone for a long time. When i added bantams, i still kept the two big girls separate by themselves. But i did notice one of them (Grace, the younger one) was becoming more domineering and violent with Penny (our first and favorite chicken). When we added 6 young Red Stars and tried to integrate them, Penny did fine, but Grace was afraid of them so they picked on her. Consequently, Grace increased her aggression with Penny - picking her face feathers out, even jumping on top of her like a rooster and pecking her. That was it for me, Grace went to another home.

    But Penny really missed her. She changed from her friendly self and became withdrawn, moping around, and then went into a hard molt. i felt terrible, but i couldn't let her be ravaged by her supposed friend. She eventually came out of it and is fine now. But it was very painful watching her grieve like that.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2009
  9. Chickenaddict

    Chickenaddict Songster

    May 19, 2008
    East Bethel MN
    I got 2 hens from a swap a few years ago, pumpkin( buff black tailed japanese) and a dutch/sebright mix hen (ginger) Both are the best of friends. Ginger goes broody quite often and is an excellent mother so she is on vacation from the rest alot but everytime she gets thru raising her babies and is put back in the coop her and pumpkin pick up where they left off without any hesitation. Pumpkin is my handicapped hen and doesn't move around too easy with only one toe on each foot due to severe scaly leg mites and frostbite. Ginger is the only one who has never picked on her. I have 2 serama hens that act just like that as well. If one hens off brooding chicks when she returns its like she never left [​IMG]
  10. HorseFeathers

    HorseFeathers Frazzled

    Apr 2, 2008
    Southern Maine
    We kept two hens together in a large dog cage because they were being picked on. We recently let them out and they stuck together, one defending the other when another hen challenged her. It was very cute. [​IMG]
    I don't think they have "friends" like we do, but they certainly know who doesn't like them.

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