Friends Among Hens

September 9, 2012

I can’t imagine my life without friends.  In my travels through this world, I have met friends in expected places  and sometimes very unexpected places.  Some are in my life more than others.  Some it has been years, yet we can pick up right where we left off.  Others are there because of a certain need or cause.  Some are there for as long as you can remember.  I cannot imagine living without them.  Not surprisingly, chickens have friends too.

I often wonder if some of the same breeds from the hatchery are in fact siblings or just friends.  Sometimes, I don’t think that even matters in life.  To some of us, friends are our family.  In the world of chickens, they share love.  They chatter with each other.  They snuggle on the roosts near each other and yes, they have a preference.  They eat together.  They share a bond.  They spend time with one another and they have favorite friends too.

Oyster Cracker and Sunshine, our Buff Orpingtons, are great friends.  At first it didn’t start this way when they were one day old chicks.  It developed and grew.  They worked at it.  Today, they are thick as thieves, completely inseparable.  A fine example is when one of them needs to lay an egg.  As one sits in the nesting box, the other follows her inside the coop.  Once the nesting box of choice is selected and deemed worthy of the egg, the henny girl sits down and the other goes outside to the run.  As the egg process is occurring inside, the other can not help but come in and check on their bestie every 20 seconds or so.  From the run, she scoots inside and chats with her friend.  Call it coaxing ,words of encouragement or just an “Are you done yet?”, it continues on until the egg is finally laid and they can rejoin each other in the run.  Everyday, they reciprocate this behavior only to one another, to their best friend.

When I have to give Oyster Cracker a bath, I take her away from the flock.  This makes Sunshine very upset.  As the bubbles and scrubbing commence, Sunshine pines for Oyster Cracker’s swift return.  She calls from the run, non-stop.  “Where have you gone?”  Even when Oyster Cracker, our self-professed lap chicken, wants snuggles and spends countless time on my lap, Sunshine is at my feet, content to wait.  Sunshine has never wanted to snuggle like her friend, but somehow understands the connection.

I received an email from a friend the other day.  One of her poor henny girls has been down.  Earlier, they lost a flock member and now another hen went broody, leaving her henny girl feeling alone.  Her chicken became depressed.  It did not matter to her sweet girl that there were other new recent additions to the flock to become acquainted with, she longed for her old dear friends.  To me this was fascinating.

Chickens love.  Chickens make friends.  Chickens have emotions. Yes, chickens live in a flock and find safety in numbers like most birds.  However, in both places, I have now seen that chickens do have long term memories, sweet henny girl memories that they share between one another.  Memories that make them feel good.  How can I blame them for wanting to make more memories with their best friend?  Isn’t that what we do with our best friends?

This post is linked up to Homestead Revival’s Homestead Barn Hop.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


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14 thoughts on “Friends Among Hens”

  1. I just love this post. You could not have wrote this at a better time. I recently just lost one of my girls Puffy Cheeks and my poor Agnus is so lost without her. They were inseperable and the best of friends. Agnus now has the three little ones I was integrating to the flock, but she is not part of their clique and I don't think she wants to be. I have been contemplating finding another hen to be her friend, but worried it might not work out. I love your blog and appreciate those who take the time and realize that chickens have feelings and are more then just a means for eggs.

    • I am so sad to hear of the loss of Puffy Cheeks and what Agnus is going through. It is so hard to watch them mourn the loss of their friends. I might suggest if you haven't already getting her a henny friend that is the same breed. I find that chickens of the same breed tend to "hang-out" together. It would be great if Agnus went broody and you could slip a new girl under her at night that she could raise and befriend.

  2. Really enjoyed reading this post!

    A few months ago my SLW 'Opal' passed away and her companion of 8 years, a naked neck hen named 'Twinkie', was noticeably depressed. She hung out by herself, wasn't very interested in feed….I honestly thought it wouldn't be long before she joined Miss Opal. Thankfully she's started to come around a little in the last couple weeks, taking on some 'mentoring' of the younger birds and passing out a whoopin' or two when a young cockeral needs to be put in his place.

    And people think that chickens are stupid…..

    • Oh poor Twinkie 🙁 That must have been such a difficult time for her. I am so glad that she seems to be coming around. Love that she can put your roo in place. What a good girl!

  3. What a lovely post, and sad too.
    I find our chickens also have their favourites, you will see them paired off when out free-ranging. But at the end of the day, they all cuddle up together in their coop. Adorable.

  4. So sweet! I've definitely noticed pairs and threes of girls in my little flock. The 3 Easter Eggers always stick close together and rarely socialize with the first 7 girls, for example. They get very distressed if they even lose sight of one another!

  5. I just found this post and had to write. Wilma and Betty were our first hens, also Buff Orpingtons. I always called them the "ladies" as they loved to sit side by side on a 2×4 lip around the chicken run. I liked to think that they were sharing in some gossip. Sadly, we lost Wilma last week and it breaks my heart when I see Betty looking for her under the coop. She's bonding with one of my other hens, but I know that Wilma has a place in her heart, as do I.

    Love your blog!


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.