One is the loneliest number even in the world of chickens.
Chickens have a social order within their flock that is much like a family. Each chicken takes on a role in the flock, which is the basis for the pecking order. This starts even as chicks and once established, makes for a peaceful coop.
The top rooster or hen watches out for predators, finds food sources and eats and drinks first before those that are weaker and lower in the hierarchy.
All chickens have a role and make relationships with other members of the flock. You will find them dust bathing, roosting, and even snuggling together in pairs and sets of three.
Therefore, a lone chicken has no emotional or physical support without fellow feathered friends and becomes bored and lonely, which in turn causes stress, and affects not only their egg-laying but also can shorten their lifespan.
Predator Risks to one lone chicken
Other dangers for just one chicken include a higher risk of death from a predator, struggles in winter time and turning to a human to be their flockmate.
Predators are one of the constant dangers for any chicken, and when they are all alone, it presents even more hazard for them. There is strength in numbers, to not only recognize and sound the alarm when danger is near but also to defend themselves against that predator.
Warmth in the winter months
In the long months of winter, multiple chickens roost together to stay warm. You may find two hens in a nesting box or the head of one hen under the fluff of another hen’s body to keep warm. A lone chicken doesn’t have that protection and is more likely to suffer in the cold.
A chicken without a flock puts the job of flockmate to the human owner or owners. Although having only one chicken to take care of may seem more straightforward, it is a disadvantage to the chicken. Chickens have their own language, and as far as I know, they don’t teach that on Duo Lingo. Couple that with the lack of emotional support of having a feathered BFF, it increases loneliness and leads to poor quality of life.
What is the magic number of chickens if you want a small flock?
The smallest ideal flock size is three hens for not only egg production but also in case one of them becomes sick or dies, it always leaves two together.
If you find yourself with only one chicken, what should you do?
The best option is to get some flock mates ASAP.
Until then, you will need to find adequate protection for your hen, some people opt to bring them in the house, but a predator proof cage works just as well. Plan some entertainment for your chicken by putting new things to eat in the cage or by moving it around to different areas.
How to Introduce Chickens to Each Other
When the happy day arrives that you have found a couple of flockmates for your chicken, it is best to follow some rules to keep the “bullying” down in the coop.
First, it is best to quarantine the hens for a few days and/or have it checked by your vet to make sure they are healthy before introducing them to your coop.
Then place them in a smaller pen inside of the coop so they can get to know each other before they can physically peck at each other.
For an in-depth article on introducing chickens to each other, check out our post on the topic!
Make some Coop Changes
Make sure to provide new places to roost, additional water and food dishes and places for the chickens to hide such as a stack of branches for the new coop mates until they are all settled into their pecking order.
You will find that having three or more chickens will not only bring Egg-tra joy to their life but yours as well.
Do you have a set of BFF chickens? Share your photo of them below.