Our little feathered things are quite prone to a bit of stress. Just like us humans, their stress can lead to real consequences that affect their overall well-being and fertility. When chickens feel stressed, their small bodies are flooded for stress hormones that can deplete their systems of necessary vitamins and minerals – leading physical symptoms. This stress can be directly attributed to illness or to environmental factors. Helping your flock to feel safe and secure will ultimately provide you with happier chicken that will produce more eggs.
Ultimately, some stress is unavoidable however as a chicken keeper it is your responsibility to ensure a safe home for your flock. You can do this by supply proper feed, adequate housing and instigate measures that will reduce risk of predators.
How can you tell if your hens are anxious?
Different causes of stress may exhibit slightly different symptoms, recognizing these symptoms early will help you detect what the problem is and make changes. Here are the most common symptoms of stress:
- Easily disturbed, listless and particularly flighty
- Excessive preening
- Disruption in egg production
- Pale comb
What causes stress in chickens?
Chickens are able to adapt to high temperatures, however they do require easy access to different points of hydration along with opportunity for shade when outside the henhouse. Heat stressed hens look lethargic and may even be panting. Their combs will be limp and pale
Stress from Predators
When hens feel under attack, they will become alarmed, stressed and exhausted. Predators such as rodents, snakes and even the family pet can cause psychological stress.
While not a predator per se, mice and lice can also stress chickens.
Bullying causes stress
At some point in your chicken coop a pecking order will be establishes or reestablished. Depending on the breeds and the chickens themselves this can be a very stressful situation, involving pecking and bullying tactics.
Pathogens and Parasites
Pathogens and parasites can lead to an unusual amount of stress on the body. This will lead to a weakening of their immune systems
Not getting the right feed
Imbalances in nutrition can *over time* cause stress on your hen’s body. Hens require daily amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins and minerals in order to produce eggs. Deficiency puts stress on the body to extract these necessary minerals from other bodily functions.
Environment Causes Poultry Stress
Changes in the coop or henhouse will make your birds feel unsettled and flighty. Showbirds in particular can be susceptible to stress when in transit.
How to help a anxious chicken
The best way to help a stressed chicken is pinpoint the cause of their anxiety. If you have a flock of hens, stress may be affecting more than one hen and should be a priority to resolve.
You won’t need to call in a chicken whisperer, however you may find that the addition of some electrolytes and probiotics into their diet can help. Other simple measures that may help include introducing another chicken feeder and another chicken waterer.