Is it natural for a hen to play dead during an attack?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by DWH, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. DWH

    DWH Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 26, 2009
    Dogs attacked my flock and one of my hens was playing dead.
  2. 1acrefarm

    1acrefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 3, 2007
    Is it possible it fainted?
  3. ruby

    ruby Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2008
    Gold Hill, Alabama
    yes, I've seen it!
  4. DWH

    DWH Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 26, 2009
    OHHHHHH.......................................... Why? are they just scared? would the rooster being killed during the attack have something to do with it?
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I (stupidly) tried to introduce a bossy campine pullet to a single ISA Brown hen in a tractor, a few years ago. The campine bit the sexlink HARD on the wattles, several times, hung on real tight looking smug, and then the sexlink proceeded to try to KILL her. I intervened as soon as possible, but not before the sexlink had the campine laid out on her back on the ground, apparently dead. The campine was totally limp, and her legs and neck would wibble very "dead-ish-ly" every time the sexlink would peck or shove her. Seriously, I was totally sure the campine was finis.

    I retrieved the campine, and in a few moments she revived.

    I do not know whether it was involuntary fainting or having the wind knocked out of her -- that was a SERIOUS clock-cleaning she was gettin' -- or whether it was a desperation attempt to get the attacker to desist. But, it sounds like the same thing you saw with the dog attack. So, yes, it happens.

    Hope your other hens are ok,

  6. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

    May 13, 2008
    She sounds pretty dang smart to me, many animal species do this as a way of protection from preditors. I would keep that one for sure.

  7. Momo

    Momo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2008
    Nelson BC
    Here's my perspective as a person who knows something about the effects of trauma on emergency responders: All animals (ourselves included) have three modes of reaction to a traumatic event: fight, flight or freeze. We tend to forget about the third one because we always talk about the "fight/flight" response but freezing occurs just as frequently. When you can't fight and can't run, sometimes you just ... check out.
  8. Jess N Jeff

    Jess N Jeff Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 25, 2009
    South San Diego, Cali
    Quote:I agree with you completely.

    I also had a dog attack my chickens and they fell to the ground frozen in fear after they saw one of their sisters get eaten. Only one chicken was could have been all of them. I took the rest in, warmed them up and after about 10 or so minutes they came back.
  9. chickensducks&agoose

    chickensducks&agoose Chillin' With My Peeps

    I panic when being chased, and freeze as well... usually covering my face, totally panicked. my kids think it's hilarious, and love to growl and chase me... rotten kids.. [​IMG] So yes, I imagine that chickens would do it too... just praying for it to be over.
  10. Pampered Chicken

    Pampered Chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 25, 2009
    My dog's did the same thing to one of my chickens and she did the same thing. I picked her up to throw her over the fence thinking she was dead and she flipped in the air and landed on her feet and ran off and hid.

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