Lone Elderly Chicken -- Advice Needed

andythescot

Songster
11 Years
Nov 29, 2009
199
59
201
Central Mass
Hi everyone! I need some advice. This past weekend one of the two remaining members of my OG flock passed away very suddenly, and I am now left with one 11 y/o hen, Crabby, who has lost vision in one of her eyes due to glaucoma.

I lost two other girls to old age this year, and when there were only two chickens left I began reaching out to shelters in my area to find chickens to take in who needed a home (since two does not a flock make). Edie dying so suddenly has complicated matters. On the one hand, I'm worried that introducing new birds to just one senior hen may make Crabby--the longtime top of the pecking order--a target for bullying, since she is half-blind and quite elderly. On the other hand, chickens are obviously not meant to live alone, and especially not a chicken with only one good eye.

In the meantime, we're keeping Crabby in the run since she needs an escort to help keep an eye out for danger. I think adding more chickens is the best bet for her, but still I'm worried about it making her circumstances worse. What would you do in this situation?

And then while we figure things out, is there anything we can do to ease her loneliness? Would a mirror maybe make her feel more comfortable? Maybe it would give her the idea that she's not so alone/vulnerable? Obviously a mirror is not a long term solution but I want to do everything I can to help keep her comfortable.

Many thanks in advance!! This website has been such a great resource to me for 11 years now, as long as I've had Crabby <3
 

SueT

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
May 27, 2015
10,029
32,521
1,027
SW MO
I agree w above. I don’t think she needs more chickens and complications added to her life at this point. If you feel like starting a new flock of youngsters, do it where she can see them, but be separated from.
I have a 5 yr old hen who used to be top of the pecking order, but as she got older, she lost rank and no longer has much status at all. You probably don’t want to see your old girl bullied by a newcomer(s).
 

HomeSweetFlock

In the Brooder
Jul 5, 2021
9
43
41
Thanks, all, for this thread. Momma Hen has been so wonderful to all our chicks through the years. Often even more maternal than their own mothers. Now the flock has grown substantially and she was getting bullied/aggressively mounted. We brought her in to our mud room just for some peace, but don’t really want to keep her there as I know they’re social creatures. The mirror is a fun idea, might try that. She’s looking much better after a few days of recovery but do you think I could reintroduce? Carefully of course - starting with just her and the other OG hens we have left. Sorry for rambling..just great to know others have similar issues. BYC is the best!!
 

Sahraschweiss

Songster
Apr 9, 2020
393
941
176
Wildwood, Missouri
I have a flock of 27, but one of my girls was getting bullied a year ago. She couldn't keep up with the rest of the flock. She has hip issues--stomps rather than walks, and after a vet visit we found a heart murmur. Big Girl has big personality and lays huge eggs. We weren't ready to give up on her, so we tried letting her be a house chicken.

House chickening is not for everyone. They are messy, loads of dander and dirt, loud, and don't forget poop. We diapered her at first, but keeping her booty clean was more of a chore that picking up poop from our hard wood and tile floors. The dogs helped with poop duty. Gross, but helpful.

Both me and the hubs work from home and share an office space. Our Big Girl wanted to be with us in the office too. So we set up food and water for her along with a low perch and a huge mirror. She would cuddled up to the mirror and chatter away with soft murmurs and trills. Sometimes she snuggle next to our feet or dogs. We set up a cubby for her to lay in, and made a dirt bath on the porch for her. She lets us know when she needs porch time.

On occasion, we will get a few of the outside girls together to have social time in the yard with her. Everyone usually gets along,.but Big Girl will still come cuddle next to our feet when she is tired. I think she prefers people to chickens.

Throughout this now year long experience with a house chicken, we have found that she knows her name, has a call for us, looks to us for safety, use the mirror for grooming, and can hold her own with the dogs unsupervised. We have become her flock as much she has become ours.
 

HomeSweetFlock

In the Brooder
Jul 5, 2021
9
43
41
I have a flock of 27, but one of my girls was getting bullied a year ago. She couldn't keep up with the rest of the flock. She has hip issues--stomps rather than walks, and after a vet visit we found a heart murmur. Big Girl has big personality and lays huge eggs. We weren't ready to give up on her, so we tried letting her be a house chicken.

House chickening is not for everyone. They are messy, loads of dander and dirt, loud, and don't forget poop. We diapered her at first, but keeping her booty clean was more of a chore that picking up poop from our hard wood and tile floors. The dogs helped with poop duty. Gross, but helpful.

Both me and the hubs work from home and share an office space. Our Big Girl wanted to be with us in the office too. So we set up food and water for her along with a low perch and a huge mirror. She would cuddled up to the mirror and chatter away with soft murmurs and trills. Sometimes she snuggle next to our feet or dogs. We set up a cubby for her to lay in, and made a dirt bath on the porch for her. She lets us know when she needs porch time.

On occasion, we will get a few of the outside girls together to have social time in the yard with her. Everyone usually gets along,.but Big Girl will still come cuddle next to our feet when she is tired. I think she prefers people to chickens.

Throughout this now year long experience with a house chicken, we have found that she knows her name, has a call for us, looks to us for safety, use the mirror for grooming, and can hold her own with the dogs unsupervised. We have become her flock as much she has become ours.
What a touching tale!! Thank you for sharing your experience, gross but helpful and all! :love
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,834
35,682
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
If you have the space for it, this is where a prefab in/right next to your current set up might come in handy - it gives her her own little coop and run space, so she can see/hear the flock and socialize that way, but can't be harassed by them.
 

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