A chickens innate behavior is to be social with other flock members. They enjoy dust bathing, preening, foraging, perching and congregating together. For the happiness, health and well-being of your chicken, it is best to raise it with other chickens.
1. Do Chickens Get Lonely?
A chicken that is raised alone can get lonely! Chickens thrive on being social. Raising just one chicken doesn’t allow them to perform normal chicken behavior with other flock members.
This can be very stressful to a chicken. Increased stress in a chicken can have a negative impact on them:
Recommendation: Get a Minimum of 3 Chickens
If you are thinking of getting a few chickens, I highly recommend getting at least 3. This way, if something happens to one of them, the other one’s are not left alone.
If you are thinking of incubating and hatching chicken eggs, remember that the hatch rate (especially with shipped eggs) is usually less than 50%. Plan accordingly so you aren’t left with a lonely chick.
Signs that Your Chicken May be Lonely
- not laying eggs
- not eating or drinking
- doesn’t make common chicken noises
- doesn’t dust bathe
- isn’t preening daily
- lack of luster in its feathers
- isn’t foraging for food
- decreased lifespan
“When considering bringing a member of another species into our care, it is important to think about not just what makes us happy, but what is best for the animal as well. In the case of chickens, living in a flock with members of their own species is what their instincts are honed to expect, and that situation seems to be best for their well-being.”My Pet Chicken
2. Chickens Keep Each Other Warm
The added benefit of having more than one chicken is that they do a really good job at keeping each other warm. This is especially important during the cold winter months.
If you have ever looked at hens that are roosting for the night, you will see that they huddle close together and fluff their feathers out. They are not spread out across the roost.
By fluffing their feathers out and keeping close together, they lock in the body heat that is being emitted from their body. This is how they keep warm.
When they fluff their feathers out, it allows tiny air pockets of warm air to remain under their down feathers and close to their skin. Keeping close to another chicken, ensures this warm pocket of air doesn’t escape!
How to Tell if a Chicken is Cold
- Cold chickens will huddle together to keep warm.
- Cold chickens will fluff its feathers out to help trap warm air pockets close to its skin.
- A cold chicken will raise one leg up to its belly to keep warm.
- Cold chickens will tuck their head under a wing.
- A frostbitten comb, wattle or feet tells you it has been exposed to extreme cold in the past.
3. Chickens are Social Animals
Chickens are social by nature. Even if you look way back in history, you will always see them in “flocks.” They are very seldom seen off on their own.
If a chicken is off on their own, they are more than likely ill. The only other reason a hen may be off on her own is because she is broody and trying to hatch a clutch of eggs.
- Chickens like to dust bathe together.
- Chickens like to preen together.
- Hens like to lay eggs together.
- Chickens like to forage for food together.
- They like to eat and drink together.
- Chickens enjoy roosting together.
4. Chickens Will Protect Each Other
If there is danger in the area, chickens will alert the rest of the flock that they are in danger. This is mostly seen when there is a rooster present, but hens do this as well.
The Flock is Only as Strong as the Weakest Member
A chicken will protect the flock. This is why if there is a weak or injured chicken in the group, that chicken will be picked on until its death.
A weak or injured chicken is a threat to the entire flock. If a predator smells blood or sees an easy target, the whole flock become at risk.
5. What to Do if Only 1 Chick Hatches
- Check Your Local Feed and Tractor Supply Stores
- Usually around Spring or early Summer, tractor supply stores will sell day old chicks.
- Check Online-Depending upon where you live, you might be able to find someone rehoming baby chicks or chickens.
- Next Door
- Check Local Farmers-If you are lucky, you may find a local farmer that is willing to re home or sell a few of his or her young chicks.
- Increase human interaction.
- Dust Feather-If all else fails, place a dust feather in with your baby chicks. This will help to simulate it being with a mother hen.
CONCLUSION: 5 Things You Need to Know-Can I Own Just One Chicken?
Chickens can get lonely and it is recommended to keep a minimum of 3 chickens. This way, if something happens to one of them, the other ones will not be left alone.
Chickens are social animals and are happiest, healthiest and much better adjusted if they are able to perform their regular chicken activities in a group.
Why should I keep more than one chicken?
- Chickens like to dust bathe together, (cleaner chickens)
- preen together,(clean their feathers)
- roost together,
- forage for food together,
- protect each other,
- keep each other warm,
- are happier,
- healthier (less likely to develop diseases)
- Hens lay eggs together (more eggs).