fainting chicken?? Weird stuff.


11 Years
Apr 22, 2008
west Michigan
This is something that actually has more than one component. I'll try to stay on topic, but...well some of you know me.

I have a 2 1/2 yr old RIR that was having some problems with roosting. She's pretty heavy and I think that she fell off the roost and injured her hip a little. Still walks ok and seems ok with it. At the same time I had an Auracauna that went broody, and Curious the RIR was very 'curious' about that. She started acting like she wanted to be broody, hiding eggs, etc. She's always been one of our favs, and very gentle, etc. So, we had hatched some eggs and we gave two babies to her and she was a great mom. She took care of the babies as if they were her own, and at 8 weeks I figured it was time to reintegrate her to the coop with the other hens and the trouble started.

Of course there was the normal hassle about the pecking order, which is really serious. Since she was such a gentle soul, she hardly fought back. She'd just run to a corner and hide her face to protect it and let the rest peck her. They kept her from the food and water too. After two days I removed her and put her back in the brooder pen. With her babies, and another young bird that doesn't seem to want to grow up. Every time I would open the gate so that she could take her chicks out, the others would attack her. (but not the chicks) She started hiding inside the brooder coop and refusing to even come out into the pen. Finally I decided to take her and her family home (if you remember we live in town and keep our chooks at our "cabin" up north) So, got them home, into our coop and pen that we use during the winter when we don't go up north anymore, and she still doesn't want to go out into the pen. And, since she won't go out, her babies don't go out much either. They go, but won't stay long without her. I've even put them all out there and locked them out for a short time. As soon as I opened the pop door, in she went.

Okay, now for the weird fainting part. When I try to encourage her to go outside, or pick her up, she appears to faint. The first time it happened I thought she was dead, she fell over on her side and just laid there. Then I saw that she was breathing, slow and easy, no gasping or wheezing or anything. I walked away for a little bit, thinking that when I went back she might be dead. When I went back she was at the feeder. Eating. This has happened a few times now, and I'm wondering if she is fainting from the fear or stress or trauma , or if it's a self defense mechanism or what? Or is she faking so that we don't bother her? Does anyone have a clue?
T, the only advice I can give you might not be much use at all.
Two things come to mind. My big ol' brahma roo, Thor, acts like he's the cock of the walk and he does protect the girls well, now that he's an adult, but I remember the coward in him when he was little. Back when I had two roos and Thor was the beta, my alpha Zeus would occasionally decide to chase Thor. Thor would run as much as possible, but when all else failed and he was trapped, he'd flop over as if dead. He'd stay that way until Zeus lost interest and walk away, then suddenly revive. This may be a roo-only thing, but I thought I'd mention it.
The second thing that comes to mind is that you mentioned she is pretty heavy. I've still got the CXs as you know and they are pretty big; so big that I know a few of them have hearts that struggle to keep up. Could it be that your girl has a heart problem? Stress could cause her to be in a state where her heart is pumping blood like crazy to keep her organs going, but not enough gets to her brain and wham-o, a fainting episode. I'm a decidly not a chicken vet., but these two things come to mind.
I'm seriously feeling that it's the same thing that Thor had going on. She's a heavy bird, or was before all this stuff, but not like the meaties. Just a heavy build. But the 'fainting' happens when she feels threatened. Just wondering if her babies are going to learn this behavior too, LOL. Good thing I paid attention the first time it happened, and didn't start burying her, haha.

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