How can I help my chickens (traumatised from another chicken death)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Sascha, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. Sascha

    Sascha In the Brooder

    Jan 29, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi there, I'm a first time poster. I had an awful thing happen last night to my favourite 3 month old hen Lucky (it ended up being an inappropriate name, poor little girl).

    My mum had to put the chickens into their pen last night (they are free range in part of our garden), because I was home late from work. Our baby hen Lucky (which we hatched from one of the other hens - she needed to be helped out of her egg - hence the name Lucky) ran in and ate a bit of food and then ran out before Mum could get all the other hens into the hen house. Mum chased her and chased her to get her in but she didn't want to go, and as it wasn't yet dark, Mum thought she would leave her out for a bit so she would start to roost and she could catch her.

    Mum went up there about an hour later as it was just dusk and she found our poor chicken just dead with her head bitten off by what we assume was a rat, as she had tried to roost in a bush nearby. Mum didn't hear any screaming or anything happening and she feels so awful that she couldn't get her in any earlier. Usually they will all go in when we feed them fresh food at the end of the day, but sometimes one will run out while the others come in and try have a bit more time free ranging, but we always try to get them in early so that owls and foxes and things don't get them. So we buried poor Lucky in the garden. I've been so upset that I didn't get home any earlier to help put her in.

    Anyway, we went to let the other chickens out this morning and none of then will leave their hen house. They are completely quiet and still, no clucking or anything and none of them will step a foot out of the door. They seem really traumatised.

    Does anybody know anything that will help them feel better? Would they have heard her dying or could they smell it? We've cleaned and washed all the area. It probably happened about 2 or 3m away from them from what we could tell. I didn't realise they would be so affected by it or that they'd get so upset. I feel so awful for them and so bad about what happened.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2009
  2. Rte.66_chicks

    Rte.66_chicks Songster

    Feb 22, 2008
    Kingman, AZ
    They should get over their fear in a few days, and be back to their old selves. Time will do a great job of healing.

    BTW [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  3. damselfish

    damselfish Songster

    Mar 8, 2008
    Southwest Missouri
    Welcome, and I'm so sorry about your chicken.

    When we've had predator problems, the chickens haven't been as upset as you describe. Maybe because this one was still a baby that the mom was attached to? Or maybe, as you say, because they saw it happen.

    My only (possibly) useful thought is that maybe whatever got her is still there and they can smell it, causing their fear. Or maybe just scent traces and it's already gone?

    Good luck and don't be too hard on yourself. Sometimes chickens just don't do the smartest thing.

    Someone more experienced than me will be along shortly to help, I'm sure.
  4. Sascha

    Sascha In the Brooder

    Jan 29, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks [​IMG] I know, they can be so silly sometimes! I've never kept chickens before so this was the first time something like this has happened to me even though we've been so careful!

    Its not even just the Mum hen, all the other seven chickens refuse to leave the hen house. We've tried taking then out but they just run back in!! I didn't think it would affect them so much - I was really suprised!
  5. Sascha

    Sascha In the Brooder

    Jan 29, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Note: Sorry I did post most of this post, but changed it, in the predators section because I didn't want to repeat the story - but also wanted to know if people thought it was a rat that did it? The post was closed for being too much of a duplicate - I'm sorry I didn't mean to duplicate it too closely and didn't know where to post!
  6. Poohbear

    Poohbear On a Time Out

    Nov 12, 2008
    Most likely a cat, raccoon or owl got her. Open the chicken house door and throw some scraps of bread or boiled egg whites to the other chickens in the mornings outside the pen. They will soon overcome any fear they have of going out to range. Sorry you lost Lucky.
  7. LilBizzy

    LilBizzy Chicken Storyteller

    May 20, 2008
    I am sooooo sorry to hear about Lucky. [​IMG] Your mum must feel terrible. Unfortunately, things like that happen, and there isn't alot we can do.
    My neighbors dog got one of our chickens, and it took a few days before the other chickens acted somewhat normal. I had a rooster die for no apparent reason right outside the coop, and again, you could see the others were affected by it.
    They feel safe in their coop. They may have heard the attack. It's hard to say.
    If you have time, maybe you can sit at the door of the coop, but outside, with treats. Talk to the chickens and let them step out of the coop to get the treats. Then leave some treats just outside the door. Then the next time you go out, if they are still inside, repeat, but a little further from the door.
    But just give them time. They will come around.
  8. Im so sorry. I just lost a hen today also. I guess she got hurt, and the other sebrights pecked her to death. I felt horrible.
  9. #1California Chick

    #1California Chick Songster

    Dec 5, 2008
    SF Bay Area
    [​IMG] Welcome to BYC!!! [​IMG]

    I am so sorry that such a sad event sent you to BYC!!! I am sorry that you lost Lucky!!! [​IMG]

    Don't worry about having your other post being removed as a duplicate!!! We know that you are new!! [​IMG] To understand all the "rules", go to the Blue line up at the top of this page and click on "INDEX". Click on the second item "BYC WEBSITE". Then you will see TWO "STICKIES" at the top. Click on both of these to learn all the "rules" for the site!! The rules are not difficult or unfriendly!!

    I don't know where you live -- so it is hard to say what the predator was. I am guessing NOT a rat!!! Racoons, weasels, possums are likely to eat the head.

    I agree with Damselfish that your chickens saw the attack or can smell the predator or BOTH. The predator may have come back last night and left lots of smells around the coop.

    I agree with Poohbear that you can probably coax them out of the coop with some treats. If there is plenty of room in the coop, you just might leave them in the coop for a day or two.

    Good Luck!!!

    And welcome to BYC!! [​IMG]

  10. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    Welcome to BYC, sorry that you lost Lucky. We're happy you are here with us! [​IMG] But sorry that your first intro is for this reason.

    It does sound like a raccoon, or weasel, maybe an owl... rats don't usually eat the heads, they erm... well, go for the soft underparts, not usually the head.

    I suggest treats for the others as already suggested... in the coop if need be so they feel safe, maybe just outside the door so they can dash back in if they want to. They will forget pretty soon...

    As others have said, hens often evade our capture for their own birdy reasons no matter how we try to keep them safe.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: