New Hen Tragedy (warning: graphic language)


In the Brooder
10 Years
Nov 1, 2009
Hi everyone. I have a flock of 5 hens and 1 rooster and on Friday brought home a new hen about 2 years old. I started off my flock with 2 and increased every few months, so I was aware of the anti-social behavior expected when you bring in a new hen. The first night I put my hen in the coop, the others were fine with her other than the usual staring down, etc. Each morning I would let them out of their coop (they are free roaming all day), the new hen would come out and go her own way. Just as a background note, she had an issue with her beak when she was younger and was attacked by a rooster and her upper and lower beak didn't line up and the bottom one had a slight chip in it. When it was time for bed, I would scoop her up and put her in the coop myself and all was fine. In the morning, I would peak in before letting them out and she would be on the ground with the others, all seemed okay. She was evening laying on some eggs one morning so I knew she was adjusting nicely. At night she would sleep in the nesting boxes, not roost with the others. We have a fire pit in our backyard with a large moat around it, I can find the dimensions if that is helpful to try and figure out this puzzle of a tragedy, but I did notice that she would look at the water in the moat. We thought maybe she was thirsty and not comfortable drinking with the others, so I would put a bowl of water out for her in several locations during the day if she needed it, as well has a bowl in the coop at night. Sunday, she was in the backyard while my boyfriend was doing yard work and all seemed fine. I went out for a few hours and came home and looked for her, but didn't see her. As we have a large piece of property and she was in the woods the first 2 days, I thought she was just exploring. I'm on the East Coast and they have been heading into their coop around 6 pm each night. Around 5 pm, I was in the house and my boyfriend came inside and discovered my beautiful hen in the moat of the fire pit drowned. I am wracked with guilt and I have no idea understanding the concept of how this could have happened. The water in the moat is about 3 feet, but as you can imagine a moat type design, it wasn't very wide. Could she have fallen in? Would a chicken want to jump in the water? I thought "nothing is angrier than a wet hen" and chickens despised getting wet. My boyfriend thinks that she fell in and didn't have the spacing to open up her wings to float? Are chickens bouyant like ducks or geese? Again, this wasn't a baby chick, this was a mature hen. Could she have been chased in and then didn't know how to get out? What I'm having the most difficulty understanding is that if she did land in the water and was unable to outstretch her wings, could she have just stayed in the water until I discovered her and was able to take her out? The temperatures here on Sunday were about 65 degrees. I'm sorry for sounding so pathetic, but I really am having a very hard time with all of this. We also have a koi fish pond in our backyard and one day our rooster must have been chasing one of our hens and she landed in the koi pond. She was at a disadvantage to begin with because she had her leg bitten real bad when I adopted her and rehabbed her for a good 3 months. At this point, she doesn't really use the leg that was hurt, but she is perfectly fine, lays the most beautiful green eggs and is a good-standing member in the flock
When I retrieved her out of the koi pond, she had both wings outstretched like flotation devices and I'm thinking that probably helped her stay afloat. When I retrieved her, she was very raspy and could hardly stand. I gave her small amounts of white cider vinegar and she was fine in about 30 minutes and returned to the coop. This incident happened about 4 months ago. I cannot for the life of me understand how my new hen drowned. Can anyone please help me shed some light on why this tragic accident happened. I am beyond devastated. I only had her 2 days and I feel so guilty that I wasn't home at the time to see her in there and I could have gotten her out and taken care of her. We have 3 cats that teeter on the edge of the moat and put their paws in to retrieve water, even though they have plenty of water in the house, but they never fall in ... I know we may never know the "why's" of a tradegy, but it might help to understand how a chicken could have fallen into the water and the bouyancy issue. I know I can't bring her back, but this Board has always been so informative, I'm trying to make some sense out of this. My boyfriend was outside last night draining the water from the moat so this never has a chance of happening again. Here is my beautiful Janie who I only had a few days, but became such a big part of my heart. Bless her.



9 Years
Aug 11, 2010
Many birds have a desire to immerse themselves in water. That is why there are so many different waterers and folks put marbles in the water dishes. It is usually a behavior of younger birds, your two year hen seems a little old for it.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Oct 19, 2009
wow.. I too have a koi pond that my chickens come to drink out of. I have around 30 now. Several hens have fallen in while being chased by the roosters, but they are able to swim and get out. Do you have any large rocks that would help out if another gets stuck in there? Or maybe give the edge a slant so they could kinda walk out. Sorry, she was a pretty girl...

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