Even though you do everything possible to make sure your chickens live their best lives, accidents happen. It could be that some predators attacked and now you only have 1 chicken left in your coop.
What to do when you only have 1 chicken left? You should consider giving your chicken some new mates since chickens are social animals, so living alone may affect their mental health.
What to do when you only have 1 chicken left?
If after an accident, you only have one chicken left, you should first feed and water it inside the coop. Then you should consider getting some more companies for your chicken.
After an accident like the predators attacking the flock, your hen may act wisely and not go out of the coop again for a while. It could be several days before your chicken decides to go outside.
Chickens are social animals
Keep its mind interested
While your chicken is inside the coop, it still needs food and water, so you should give her some. Just let her recover inside the coop for a while.
Also, you can find something to keep it interested or some toys for it to play with. For example, a small ball for the chicken to move around or a hanging apple for it to peck.
Get new chickens
This process can be stressful and tedious for the chickens and you as well. The chicken could be aggressive and vicious, and they can peck another chicken to death.
Here what you should do to make the process go smoothly:
- Quarantine new chickens: check and look for signs of lice, mites, fluid from the eyes, and scaly spots on the legs to prevent infection.
- Feed the new chickens: Feed them minerals and supplements to strengthen their immune systems.
- Introduce the chicken slowly: It is recommended that you let the new chickens see your chicken first, but not touch, for about a week. You can also place them next to each other, but separate them with pens.
- Let them contact each other: Now you can let the new chickens move freely around, then let your existing chicken join in. You should expect some jostling at first. That is totally normal.
- Resolve the troubles: If there is some trouble with the old chicken adapting to the new ones, remove them and retry the next day, and repeat the process until the squabbling ceases.
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Why shouldn’t chickens be alone?
Chickens’ social complexity
People may think that it is okay to only have 2 chickens. However, you should keep a flock of 3 chickens or more so the chickens can fulfill their needs.
More chicken means more complex and satisfying the chickens’ lives are. For example, 2 chickens have 4 relationships between them, 3 chickens have 9 relationships between them, and so on for higher counts of chickens.
In some ways, chickens are similar to humans, we could technically live alone, but our mental health will be heavily affected. We need human relationships to be mentally happy.
Chickens are not too different. Although they may grow a bond with humans, they will feel lonely if there aren’t any chickens around and may feel stress, which affects egg-laying and their lifespan.
Chickens can feel lonely
Chickens have roles in the flock
A group of chickens is called a flock since the members take on roles similar to human families or teams.
In a flock, chickens will choose their roles. For example, one may elect itself as a head hen, or one may choose to protect the flock when the roosters aren’t present.
The head chicken will often assign roles to less-dominant chickens. And also often, the less-dominant ones will fight back for their preferred roles, but the head chickens will stop it using violence.
Chickens need social activities to be happy
Chickens keep their mental health by fulfilling their physical emotional needs. These involve leaning and resting together under the sun, hiding their heads under another chickens’ fluff, or roosting wing to wing.
As time goes on, a group of 2 or 3 chickens will grow close relationships with each other. They will usually dust bath and roost together and forage side by side.
A chicken will not be alone in a flock for long. The only time chickens need a bit of privacy is when they are laying eggs.
Protect your chickens
It is better to not let the accident happen again. You will need to watch out for the predators that could potentially attack your chickens again. Here are some animals you should be aware of:
- Coyotes: They can find a way when there is seemingly no way to access the coop. They don’t climb as much, but they can dig their way to get to your flock.
- Foxes: They are skillful at approaching your coop; they can stake out for weeks before entering the coop. They can dig as well as dogs and climb as well as cats. And once they get inside, your flock’s chance of survival is almost zero.
- Raccoons: They have opposable thumbs and can manipulate the latches, so use more than just a door fastener to secure your coop.
- Bears: their size and strength are enough to threaten your chickens and you as well. They can go to suburban areas to search for food, and your coop may be their target.
So, what to do when you only have 1 chicken left? You should first keep its mental health in check by introducing things to keep it interested like toys.
Then, you should get new companies for your old chicken since chickens are social animals. They enjoy daily activities together.
When getting new chickens, make sure to quarantine and the new chickens first, then introduce them slowly to your old chickens to avoid conflict.
Image credits – Photo by Zosia Korcz, Mari Loli Aranda on Unsplash