Lonely old chicken

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by feathering, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. feathering

    feathering New Egg

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    Hello everyone. I have been raising chickens for the past 14 or so years; usually the flock ranged from between 5-14 birds, but now I have a unique problem that I have never encountered. The last chicken. For the past three years there have only been two of them, and recently my Rhodie died of old age. The hen that remains is an Ameraucana, Blondie. She was always on the lowest rung of the pecking order and has always been fairly independent. The Rhodie used to pick on her until she realized she was her sole remaining companion. Blondie tended to Rhodie until her last days, yelling at me to give her attention whenever I would come by to check on her.

    Since Rhodie's death, she had been quiet. She stopped laying, though I think that is in part because she started molting. I think she is now helping along the molting process with some serious plucking, however. I feel quite bad for her, because I do think she is lonely in their large now-empty coop. She is free-range, but will only come out of there is activity in the backyard. (Thankfully, it's been fairly warm out, so despite it being late November we've been active back there.) I briefly considered giving her to a flock up the street so she wouldn't be so lonely, but I know how cruel a flock can be to a lone newcomer, especially as old as her. Getting more chickens is unfortunately not an option. I am thinking about making her a new pen in the barn attached to the house, where there is more activity for her to be surrounded by... but it would mean a much smaller pen. She's currently accustomed to having about 300 square feet to roam in with dust baths galore and instant access to the outdoors should I let them out for the day; the proposed pen would be around 10sq feet. I know this is plenty adequate, and she and the entire flock were quite spoiled with their spacious apartment. I just imagine her getting quite bored with so much less space, and no room to dust bathe.

    I have been spending more time than usual down with her, giving more treats than usual, and she'll follow me around but she doesn't like to be touched. So, what do you do when your last chicken is lonely? ):
     
  2. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry, but why is getting another chicken not an option? Chickens are very much social animals, and that kind of severe isolation can be very upsetting for a chicken. Could you adopt someone's old spent hen to be a buddy for Blondie? Or maybe get her a bantam buddy? Or maybe find someone who can give her a home that has a smaller flock? When My EE Waffle lost her entire flock to a predator, she became the matriarch in the new one.

    When you say she is helping her moult along by pulling her own feathers, it makes me think she is stressed and lonely. a 10x10 apartment off the house would be fine for her, but I wonder if you could spend enough time with her to give her a good quality of life.

    By the way, welcome to BYC!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  3. feathering

    feathering New Egg

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    Adding to the flock is not an option, as I will soon be leaving and where I am headed she cannot follow. ): If she is still around by the time I leave, her care will be left to my brother/mother, who do not want to look after an entire flock. I feel that if I were to add a single chicken, the same situation would eventually arise again. [​IMG] She is so old I really don't feel she would survive being added to another flock.
     
  4. Attila the Hen

    Attila the Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How sad. I don't know the answer. I like what Kari said about getting someone elses spent hen--plenty of them around. It sounds like you are doing all you can besides getting her some friends. I imagine she misses other chickens more than humans. I'd find her another home if you can't have any more chickens--but that's just my own uninformed opinion.
     
  5. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    where are you located? Someone here on BYC near you may be willing to give her a home in a smaller flock if you are willing to do so. It may be the best thing for her.

    I suggest BYC over the flock up the street, simply because MANY very experienced members have done flock introductions over and over again, and may have small flocks that would make it easier to intgrate her into. Many members here keep chickens as pets, and watch over their small group very carefully.

    How old is she? Honestly, old or not, she would prefer to be in a flock situation and be at the bottom of the pecking order rather than living out the rest of her time alone [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  6. FrizzlesRule

    FrizzlesRule Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If it's just one hen, can't you keep her? I would love to have her, but live too far away.[​IMG]

    I've had many old hens that live from 12 to 14 years old.
     
  7. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the OP's problem is that by herself, Goldie is lonely. The most they can do is build her an area closer to the house, and spend more time with her. Unfortunately, that still leaves Goldie lonely. They need other chicken-y company and constant companionship that we humans just can't provide.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  8. feathering

    feathering New Egg

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    She's about 10 now, so she could have a few good years left in her. I would love to/do want to keep her, but as Kari suggests... she needs chicky-companions. She always spent so much time by herself when she had them around, but she misses them now. It'll be hard, but... I think I will look into seeing if there are any small-ish local flocks that could integrate her. She's a good chicken. ): I just want her to be happy.
     
  9. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good luck with her, whatever you decide. I truely wish that finding an old spent hen was an option for you. It would allow her to keep most of her routine, and stay with you for a while longer while also giving another deserving lady some wonderful golden years.

    Where are you located? Who knows, maybe someone here is super close to you and would love to give an old hen a good home. I for one would take an old hen...there are lots of others like me in this community who would love to give an old lady some great golden years.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  10. un-named

    un-named Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd take an older hen. I have 11 chickens now, a few are old, and a huge barn for them to roam in and they free range during the day although the older girls tend to stay in the barn.
     

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