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Lone hen dilemma

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I’m looking for some advice and opinions please. I feel like I’ve spent the past couple of months constantly stressing about chickens.  
 

I typed up the whole long story but I’ve decided to keep it short. I have one lone ex batt after losing two to a fox whilst free ranging. The hen that’s left is very docile, bottom of the pecking order, was bossed about and has a limp.  

She’s had a very stressful few months (only had her 5 weeks and was a tricky introduction to my existing hen who bullied her rotten) I’m not willing to rehome her and inflict more stress and bullying on her. She’s currently coming in the house with us until 1pm for company then back in the eglu afternoon/night. She doesn’t really like being in the eglu, she stays in the house and won’t come out in the run. It’s breaking my heart. My options are:

1) Keep her as a lone house chicken - I’m not keen on this idea due to the mess she makes and it just seems unnatural 

2) take in 2 ex batts from cages these shouldn’t mind the fact that they can’t free range over the winter But I’m worried about the lack of space and the two Ganging up on her ( they won’t rehome single caged hens) 

3) take in one ex commercial free range hen. Worried it will get stressed with being kept in the run and will be in better physical condition than her and bully her

4) rehome her 

What is the best option for her ? 

 



 

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This is a hard choice to make.

Ganging up on a chicken is not nice to see and I have had that with my older girl Gemma when I introduced chicks.

I think if your girl was mine, I would pop her in the run with the cube door shut - that way she can't hide inside.

If you have lots of spare time try to keep her company and give her cuddles.

When she is on her own give her a treat ball to keep her amused, a corn on the cob or a cabbage. Try to fill her day with amusements with things to climb and perch on.

The clocks will be changing soon, so her day length won't be as long.

Don't forget to open the door so she can go to bed :wink:

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Hi Luvachicken

thank you for your reply.  I’m working from home at the moment so she’s been indoors with me during the day for company with music on.  I decided she could stay in overnight but she asks to go back out to bed about 5pm.  She’s so adorable, a real little gentle sweet thing.  
 

She won’t come out of her bed this morning, I did feed her in there and she ate but I hate to think she is sad. 
 

I don’t know if I would be kinder rehoming her. Both rescues for companions are mid November so she has a few weeks on her own yet 

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My preference would be to avoid rescues completely (they can be very aggressive) and just get two youngsters to keep her company; ones that haven't bonded earlier would be best.

House chickens can be a bit messy; tiled or lino floors are essential and they must go outside during the day anyway. We have had a variety of house chickens, all of which went out and all came back home to roost, some in cages, some in cardboard boxes and one very special lad who had his own dog bed under the kitchen table. Sometimes that's what you have to do. We would never risk their welfare by rehoming them.

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Thanks Beantree. What lucky little chickens you have! 
I must admit this little hen has completely stolen my heart . She’s so gentle and quiet, not like my previous bold mischievous hens!

i have laminate flooring but am already fed up with disinfecting and mopping the floors twice a day.  This will have to be a temporary solution until I can find her some company. 
 

im going to extend the run divide it in half she will have the eglu end and the newbies will have the other end. Not sure what I will use as a nesting box yet. I’m nervous about the introductions but I think she needs some chicken company 

 

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On 10/23/2020 at 6:30 AM, Cat tails said:

A cat litter box will do the trick. The cheapest kind without a filter in the roof though.

That’s a great idea, you mean as an alternative house for the new chickens right? 
I would put it within the secure eglu run

 

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1 minute ago, Flopsy said:

That’s a great idea, you mean as an alternative house for the new chickens right? 
I would put it within the secure eglu run

 

Yes exactly!

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This whole house chicken situation is really beginning to stress me out.  I’m constantly mopping the floor, not only poo everywhere but she’s growing feathers so dandruff everywhere too. I love her to bits and she doesn’t want to be outside on her own but it’s starting to get to me the constant cleaning 

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22 hours ago, Cat tails said:

You could get a rabbit pen and a cheap linoleum off cut to limit mess. 

I’ve ordered a retractable dog gate to try and contain her a bit and keep her from jumping on my sofas.  I’ve also cleared out a cupboard and put a cat box in there , with a blanket thrown over the top when she’s sleepy.  She still tries to get on the sofa to sleep. I do have wooden flooring so I’m mopping morning, noon and night.  I put her out in the eglu run this morning and she hated it, pacing up and down. I’m having second thoughts about getting more chickens. It’s really hard work . 
 

thanks for all your advice cat tails x 

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I used to have a tiny hen that would try and sneak out into the house at night to roost on my lap. And couldn’t bare not letting her in. I know how you feel. 

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I know from having a poorly hen indoors how messy they can be, so I do feel for you.

Do you have a dog crate she could stay in instead ? We use a puppy training pad to soak up poops on the bottom of it and some coop cups for food and water.

That way she could stay in your company, the mess would be a bit more confined, and you could give her cuddles as often as you want to.

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On 10/26/2020 at 8:03 PM, Cat tails said:

I used to have a tiny hen that would try and sneak out into the house at night to roost on my lap. And couldn’t bare not letting her in. I know how you feel. 

That’s so sweet! These little chickens have such big personalities 

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On 10/26/2020 at 9:19 PM, Luvachicken said:

I know from having a poorly hen indoors how messy they can be, so I do feel for you.

Do you have a dog crate she could stay in instead ? We use a puppy training pad to soak up poops on the bottom of it and some coop cups for food and water.

That way she could stay in your company, the mess would be a bit more confined, and you could give her cuddles as often as you want to.

It’s been a bit easier the past couple of days, we’ve been working in the garden so I’ve forced her outside with us. Initially she just stood at the back door asking to go back indoors but after a while she wandered off and was scratching around.  With the early nights she’s in bed by 4pm. Still trying to sleep on the sofa!!! But I’ve drawn a line there and put her in the cat basket on bottom shelf of a cupboard.  The door is open so she can get out but as soon as I put a blanket over it she stays there until I get up the next morning 

thank you for your advice and support it’s much appreciated 

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Blankets come in very useful. Mine have always been very chatty once the blanket is taken off.

I'm glad things have been a bit easier the last couple of days and it sounds like she has been enjoying herself in the garden.

Hopefully she might start to see that outside is the place she needs to be.

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My Pekin bantam has just lost her companion and is alone. I am trying desperately to get another friend for her but due to COVID restrictions, Avian flu and Christmas, this is proving very difficult. Does anyone have any tips to help a lonely chicken? I have put a couple of mirrors in the Eglu, a perch and a treat ball.  If I can just get her through the next couple of weeks I will be happy.

 

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Hi Flopsy

How are you getting on with your lone hen?  Did you get anymore to keep her company?

I'm interested to hear as I have a similar dilemma with one lonely hen.

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Have you heard about chicken diapers? You can buy them or make them easily out of old socks. They save on any mess and make life so much easier. They are great for nursing sick hens, cuddle time or if your chickens need to be indoors for any reason. 

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On 12/20/2020 at 1:16 PM, Toast said:

My Pekin bantam has just lost her companion and is alone. I am trying desperately to get another friend for her but due to COVID restrictions, Avian flu and Christmas, this is proving very difficult. Does anyone have any tips to help a lonely chicken? I have put a couple of mirrors in the Eglu, a perch and a treat ball.  If I can just get her through the next couple of weeks I will be happy.

 

Hi Toast, sorry to hear you lost one of your hens. It’s a sad situation but even worse when you are worrying about one being lonely.  We are in a similar situation, we were due to have two ex batts from the BHWT rescue on 21 November but everything’s been cancelled because of avian flue. Our flopsy chicken lives indoors with us now so she has us as company. I’ve bought a cat litter tray and litter for her to dust bath, she got a peck toy for Christmas and I hang an apple on string. If we are out for a length of time I leave the tv on for her. She definitely gets lonely without us and starts calling for us in the morning if we are still in bed. It’s not an ideal situation by far but I think she is happy. I hope you find a solution , I remember all the worry we went through.  Keep us posted how you get on x

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On 12/29/2020 at 1:33 PM, Dina said:

Hi Flopsy

How are you getting on with your lone hen?  Did you get anymore to keep her company?

I'm interested to hear as I have a similar dilemma with one lonely hen.

Hi Dina,

sorry for my late reply.  Im in Essex, considered a high risk area for avian flue so still no company for our flopsy. I really think she is happy though. I do occasionally worry she has no company of her own kind but I think even if I get more chickens she will still live with us unless she chooses to move outdoors. She’s used to central heating and Netflix now 🙈 plus she still has a limp so I worry she might be bullied.

It is hard work because there’s ALOT of mess but I have her contained to the back of the house with a child gate and an extendable dog gate. I’m currently working from home so I’m with her all day.  Before the avian flue outbreak she was out freeranging the garden most of the day so I hope the spring should be easier.

She follows me around everywhere, behaves like a normal chicken and even started laying eggs, which I didn’t expect she ever would.  
 

please let me know how you get on and what you decide to do with your girl. Best of luck 

On 12/30/2020 at 1:46 PM, Dragonfli said:

Have you heard about chicken diapers? You can buy them or make them easily out of old socks. They save on any mess and make life so much easier. They are great for nursing sick hens, cuddle time or if your chickens need to be indoors for any reason. 

Hi Dragonfli 

I did look into them but they had bad reviews on Amazon . People were saying that the extra large size would only fit a bantam.  There were also some you could order from USA and on Etsy but they were quite expensive. I might have another look though as I’m going through tons of kitchen roll and zoflora disinfectant on my floors!!!

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I have the same problem and would appreciate some advice.

Lone chicken as a result of a fox attack leaving two and then one developing an impacted crop which the vet could not rectify. Hen had been on her own for 6 weeks as she then had issues with soft shell eggs getting stuck inside - she was a very poorly ex batt when I got her in June but she's a fighter. Under two weeks ago I bought a point of lay commercial bird as company as BHWT not rehoming due to avian flu and I have found our new hen dead in the run this evening, for no explicable reason.

I would bring lone hen indoors but I have small children and wooden floors and I can't see it being at all practical. Does anyone have a suggestion as to what I could try? Loathed to try and get another hen after what has happened but also don't want my girlie all on her own. Not helped by not being able to free-range as they did before AI restrictions came in. Hens are housed in a Eglu Cube with a 2m x 3m walk-in run attached.

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On 1/8/2021 at 10:01 PM, Gardengirl said:

I have the same problem and would appreciate some advice.

Lone chicken as a result of a fox attack leaving two and then one developing an impacted crop which the vet could not rectify. Hen had been on her own for 6 weeks as she then had issues with soft shell eggs getting stuck inside - she was a very poorly ex batt when I got her in June but she's a fighter. Under two weeks ago I bought a point of lay commercial bird as company as BHWT not rehoming due to avian flu and I have found our new hen dead in the run this evening, for no explicable reason.

I would bring lone hen indoors but I have small children and wooden floors and I can't see it being at all practical. Does anyone have a suggestion as to what I could try? Loathed to try and get another hen after what has happened but also don't want my girlie all on her own. Not helped by not being able to free-range as they did before AI restrictions came in. Hens are housed in a Eglu Cube with a 2m x 3m walk-in run attached.

Hi Gardengirl sounds like you e had a stressful time of it with the chickens. It’s a shame because it takes the fun out of keeping them and I’m questioning whether I will have anymore after flopsy due to all the worry and hard work trying to keep her happy and my house clean at the same time.  
 

luvachicken had a good suggestion for me to get a dog crate and put some lino down so it limits the amount of mess you have to clean up to one area if you decide you can manage with having your hen indoors.  
 
I really struggled with the situation at first but I’ve got used to it and learnt a lot about chickens by having flops indoors with us.  I wouldn’t do it again and I wouldn’t recommend keeping a hen indoors unless absolutely essential but it is doable, she is happy and it gets easier as time goes on.

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Hi Flopsy and Gardengirl

Well Beatrice got a new companion at the beginning of January (we're in Essex too, sssshhhhh, don't tell!). First couple of weeks, I kept them separate, now they are together in run and coop. There I was worried about Beattie being bullied when she herself has turned into a bit of a bully. I guess it's just the pecking order, but she is definitely in charge and Maisie doesn't seem that bothered. 

I am very glad I got her as I feel although they may not be best of friends (yet or ever) at least they do have some company and they often stand together and wash or groom themselves. I'm hoping to see them dust bath together come the end of lockdown.

On 1/16/2021 at 2:36 PM, Flopsy said:

Hi Gardengirl sounds like you had a stressful time of it with the chickens. It’s a shame because it takes the fun out of keeping them and I’m questioning whether I will have anymore after flopsy due to all the worry and hard work trying to keep her happy and my house clean at the same time.  

Agree so much with this. I definitely won't be getting anymore, the whole experience has been difficult, although to be fair, I also get a lot of joy from them. They often make me laugh out loud!. My dilemma will be when one of them pops their socks.

Having a house chicken isn't an option for me as we have a cat who is already traumatised by the chicken in the garden!

On 1/8/2021 at 10:01 PM, Gardengirl said:

Loathed to try and get another hen after what has happened but also don't want my girlie all on her own.

I think you were very unlucky with your new hen, I'd give it another go?  Maisie came from a local poultry seller who had a few left over from the summer, she is 18 months old.  Having Maisie has taken away the worry about Beattie being lonely. Mind you, I now worry that Beattie being mean to Maisie instead :D Only kidding, it is not that bad!

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I would definitely get another single hen. I had a very similar situation and decided to get one hen alone because my other hen had lost her sisters to a fox. They get on marvellously. I put them together at night to start because that would make them want to snuggle together because of the cold and then eased it in from there. I definitely recommend not leaving her as an alone hen because they want to be part of a flock. So get one hen and put it with your current hen and then get another hen a few weeks later from the same breeder. Good luck 🙂

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