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stephyp

Is our hen lonely?

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We bought three hens in 2004, two light sussex and a rhode island red (called Ruby). About two years ago we lost both the light sussex and, as we had been given a couple of rabbits to rehome by the RSPCA, I decided we didn't want to buy any more hens. Ruby was never interested in the other girls and often pecked them if they came near her, she was always off on her own foraging in the garden. But I was still concerned about her being lonely and asked around locally to see if anyone could take her but no-one wanted such an old chicken (the cheek!).

 

Now she lives quite happily with the rabbits and even sits with them during the day, after initially showing them who's boss. At the moment she is moulting but the problem is she has started to come into the house in the evening, jumping on the coffee table next to the sofa (where I'm sitting, having a quiet cuppa) and tries to get to sleep. I did de-mite her house just in case its that but apart from that I'm not sure what to do.

 

She's very cossetted, has lovely glossy feathers and a bright red comb. She does sit in the house quite a lot and purrs so I know she likes being in here but this is the first time she's been so attached to us. During the day she often follows us from room to room and sits wherever we are. Does anyone think she's lonely?

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I'm thinking she sounds positively blissful!

I'm sure if she was unhappy her health would deteriorate, Wouldn't she be more stressed if you introduced new chicken after such a long time - but what do I know.

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She's certainly lonely, but that doesn't seem to be affecting her health Stephyp. She enjoys your company and the stimulation she is getting from you and the rabbits is enough for her. When chickens get depressed they stop talking, stop moving around much and stop eating eventually. Most hens need the company of other hens (cockerels don't help them), but some take to being on their own very well and I think Ruby is one of those.

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I just had to re-read this - Ruby is 11 years old? :shock:

 

She must have been really well cared for, and I agree with Beantree, if she was suffering she wouldn't look so healthy. i think you've done an amazing job looking after her.

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We also have a lone hen. My plan is to buy a couple more, but I am in the process of rearranging the run so can't do it yet. Stanley is about 4 years old, but she seems happy enough pootling around on her own for now. She lives with the ducks, but in the daytime she also comes in the house and sits with us. She is much more friendly now, she didn't want to know us when she had chicken company! :lol:

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Thanks for the great comments everyone, its reassuring to be told we're probably doing a good job. We take great care with all our animals and I think they're pretty happy but I wanted to make sure. I've recorded Ruby purring on my phone and was thinking about putting it on Youtube. People often don't realise what lovely personalities chickens have and how they should be treated.

 

Oh and yes she really is 11 years old and will be 12 in April! When I bought the girls I thought they only lived 5-6 years but I understand it can be longer for pure breeds. We will continue looking after Ruby in the manner to which she has become accustomed, live mealworms, sweetcorn and pancakes being her favourite treat foods. Thank you all again!

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Agree with what others have posted.

 

When Boo was first left as a lone chicken, after a few days, she retreated into the eglu and had to be encouraged out. She was clearly 'depressed' on her own. We got 2 more hens, who also, eventually died.

 

Boo was completely different this time - she seemed fine, getting loads of human attention.

 

So I believe it completely depends on the hen AND the other attention they get. Omleteers know their hens and their normal behaviour and can tell if they're OK.

 

You must be doing something right for her to be 11 !!!

 

H

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