Is it cruel to keep just one chicken?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by WendyA, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. WendyA

    WendyA Out Of The Brooder

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    We had our first experience of chicken bereavement this morning (the black beauty in my profile picture) :(

    I’m a bit sad but trying to think practically, ie about the one chook left behind rather than the one which has left us. I’m hoping to move house in a few months’ time and didn’t plan on getting any more chickens before I move – the plan is to eventually have more than two in the new gaff but we only have space for a couple here in our small urban garden.

    However, I’m now worried about the welfare of our remaining hen. I’m not sure if it would be better to keep her alone for a few months – maybe around six – or would it be better to give her away to someone with other chooks so she has some company? Obviously this means going through the stress of being introduced alone to an existing flock!

    If anyone is able to share any experience of either idea I would be very grateful.

    Many thanks, Wendy
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

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    [​IMG]Hi WendyA,

    So sorry about the loss. [​IMG] I don't have an answer for you but understand the dilemma you are facing.

    I have lost all but 2 of my small flock and cannot add any newbies until at least the spring - and have the same worry should I lose one of them.

    Likely I'm more selfish than you and would plan to try to hold on to the hen you love, give her extra attention and watch her closely to see how she deals with the loss and stresses. Rehoming and integration in an established flock will also be a challenge for her.

    They are happier in a flock, but many folks have had success with a solo - especially house hens.

    Give yourself time to grieve and see how she reacts before you make a final decision.
     
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  3. WendyA

    WendyA Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your reply sunflour. Yes, I think you're right to wait a few days to see how she fares. I've also realised since my first message that the remaining hen (Honey) will be very cold by herself overnight so I plan to giver her a hot water bottle to snuggle up to.
     
  4. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

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    Hope she fares well so you can keep her.
     
  5. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

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    If you have power and a heating pad, you could do something like Blooie's idea - maybe cover it and set it on low and hang it on a wall? post #1
     
  6. WendyA

    WendyA Out Of The Brooder

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    Sadly I don't have a heating pad but I will look into getting something if the hot water bottle doesn't work out. I may bring her inside when the weather gets really cold. Thanks sunflour.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  7. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

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    Hope things work out, let me know how she does. [​IMG]
     
  8. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your poor hen. If you were to give her away, she would suffer having to join a flock, so she might be better where she is. But chickens are flock birds and social. Is there anyway you could find someone in a similar situation and take their one. That way you would have only two and your hen might be happier. If not, I would try to bring her into a garage or basement, perhaps in a pet carrier at night. (not sure how cold it is where you are.)
    While I've never had a single adult, I have for various reasons wound up with a single baby which was given a toy animal and feather duster in the brooder, and integrated into the flock or with some slightly older chicks ASAP.
     
  9. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there
    Hens are social flock animals so they like having a friend.
    I would suggest getting her another two friends,
    The reason I am saying this is that if one hen dies there is still another two left so
    One hen isent left on her own
    Goodluck
    Fionn.
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Sunflour has the best advice.

    Here's the thing about chickens and having "friends". While it is known they form attachments, it's not like human attachments. They derive their sense of well being by being in proximity to other chickens, a flock in other words, even though they may not even get along with any of the other chickens. In the case of a chicken being re-homed to a new flock, while it's stressful and likely the new hen will be bullied, the chicken will still derive a sense of well being from the flock.

    But, I think sunflour is right in suggesting you keep her as a single for the time being. She will be fine as long as she gets a reasonable amount of attention from you.

    As for the cold, I had a disabled hen a few years ago that would sleep in a basket in my garage. She also spent most cold days hanging out in my plant window in the garage, and she was quite content since I paid her a lot of attention. Chickens can form attachments with people and be quite happy.

    Since you will be moving in the coming months, it makes good sense to hang onto your hen, spoil her, and then get some baby chicks when you finally move to your new place, chicks being more easily accepted than an older chicken would be.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
    1 person likes this.

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