Single chicken sad after flock was killed

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by DoodlesCA, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. DoodlesCA

    DoodlesCA New Egg

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    Jul 25, 2016
    Hi All,

    I'm new here but have been reading regularly since we decided to start owning backyard chickens nearly 5 months ago. This has been my "go to" place for all things chicken!

    That said, we had the sad reality a few days ago of a family member bringing over her dog without permission and not checking to see if my chickens were free ranging. 3 of the 4 were killed and we're all devastated. We actually thought the dog got all 4, but I found one of our sweet girls hiding behind a rose bush the next morning petrified. I dont know what's worse, losing an entire flock, or having one remaining chicken who lost the only friends she knew. We went out and purchased 4 additional chickens but they are 2 months old so they still have some time before they can all live together.

    In the meantime, our poor girl seems so depressed. We spend as much time with her so she's not lonely but when she is outside in her run, I find her either hiding behind that same rose bush we found her behind, or just sitting in her coop. We have actually resorted to bringing her in the house during the day for a bit to just hang out with us. We feel kind of heartbroken for her watching her so sad, and I'm wondering if you might have some advice for how to make our girl as happy as possible during this time of transition she is going through.
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    [​IMG] Even though there is a significant age/size difference between her and the new chicks, I would be tempted to try a controlled integration. There may or may not be some aggression on her part.
     
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  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    I am so sorry for your losses. [​IMG] Things do happen.

    Chickens do mourn over their flock mates. I have had hens that will become very depressed, slow down in eating, stop laying and even refuse to go out to free range.

    If this your situation was happening in my flock, the first thing I would do is keep these new 2 month old pullets enclosed around her. Keep them caged of course but maybe in a few weeks you might try mixing them in? I usually don't mix in new young birds until they are at least 3 months of age because they are so fragile and delicate. But in this case, even as stated above as Sourland has mentioned, she is depressed enough she may welcome the company? Not always, but possibly. Start the intros now if even if for a few minutes a day as you watch the situation. Your hen may perk up just knowing she is not alone.

    Also...I have found that lonely or stressed birds respond very well to quiet music during the day and a ticking clock at night. Its amazing how I have seen birds I have in a hospital cage due to some illness...they will curl right up to a ticking clock. It seems to be very soothing and regulating to their system.

    Again I am so sorry. Hopefully time heals your heart. [​IMG] Good luck with your new flock and I hope this older hen heals over well too soon! :)
     
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  4. DoodlesCA

    DoodlesCA New Egg

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    Jul 25, 2016
    Thank you for the quick replies!

    I have introduced her to the new chicks and they certainly need monitored time together right now. She tends to peck at the smallest one quite often. I know they need to re-establish a pecking order, but these new girls are just a bit small for her to be pecking so much right now.

    We have the new chickens set up right next to her. Her coop has a lower level enclosed run that is blocked off halfway for the new chicks to live in. She has constant access to be near them without getting to them. She doesnt seem too interested in them while they are out of reach though.

    I guess I'm feeling I am doing all I can for her now, I just wish I could take her grief away. Is having her with us so often going to affect her establishing a bond and a place in the pecking order with the new chickens once they are all living together? I'm assuming this new batch will establish their own pecking order and she'll have to find her place in that once their all together. I just hope being the bigger chicken, she can be higher in this new pecking order than she was in her last.
     
  5. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Definitely don't let the chicks be with her unsupervised yet. 2 months is a bit young and fragile yet for a hen's big beak. Even an accident can injure young chicks. So I would definitely wait until they are at least 3 months to permanently leave them with her. But you can definitely let them be together while you watch them interact. The little ones can come to you for protection. If you do this every day for a month, when the are 3 months of age, the mixing should go pretty smooth. The older hen or hens will always want to defend their territory, but it shouldn't be too awful bad if you start the intro's now. I do like to put out more food and water stations when I mix in new birds. The older birds or bird can guard these areas and starve them out. So you have to be careful especially with young chicks, that they get enough food and water.

    There really isn't any way to ease her grieving. Time will heal her over eventually. But with some birds, it can take a couple of months to adjust to the loss. I have seen this in my flock many times. She will be ok. Just spend some extra time with her, do like you are doing and invite her inside, give her a few extra goodies and just distract her a bit. She will heal.
     

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