What would you do if you thought you were the last human on Earth? Would you feel happy or sad?
If you are an introvert like me, you would feel incredible. Because now you can do whatever you want, go wherever you want to go, and be whoever you want to be. But then you would suddenly realize that most of the things that were normal in your everyday life, you cannot do because of the fact that you are the last human on the planet.
We as humans NEED social interaction to live a happy life. The same thing is true with chickens.
They need a social order that they can live in. They are not like coyotes or foxes where they can live a happy life alone. They need to be surrounded by a family structure. That way the strongest roosters can protect the entire family from predators while others make sure that they are well fed and are laying eggs.
It is incredible how efficient this whole social order becomes once you see it in real life. Every chicken knows what its role is in the order and does that without missing a beat.
The top rooster or hen which is usually the biggest in the coop will guard the entire coop and make sure no predators come close to the coop. They are also in charge of finding food and water. And they are also the first ones to eat the food and drink water once they find it.
Once the rooster is done feeding the other chicken that is lower in the hierarchy can then feed.
This is just one example of how cool this entire social structure is.
Another great one is how they form relationships with each other when they need dust bathing, or even snuggling together when they feel cold. It is such a cute thing to see.
Now contrast that to a lone chicken.
This chicken has no one to rely on and does not have anyone that will protect it. No one to snuggle with when it feels cold and no one to help it when it needs to get a dust bath.
This increases their stress and that reduces their overall lifespan. That is the reason why you see lone chickens never laying good quality eggs and they also never live as long as the chicken that is in a flock.
No Protection Against Predators
Sure, you will make sure that they are safe in the coop. You will take on the role of the big rooster and make sure that there are no predators in the area where you are going to keep this chicken. But here’s the problem – that isn’t natural.
Chickens aren’t used to relying on humans to be their protectors. Sure, you are better equipped to protect a chicken than a rooster. But they need to see a familiar species they can believe in to protect them.
They need to think that they have the numbers on their side. And believe it or not, every species believes that there is strength in numbers.
It is a lot easier for a predator to eat a chicken if it is alone.
Like I mentioned above, when chickens feel cold they snuggle together and keep each other warm. Usually, they do this in pairs of 3. And if you have made a good chicken coop that has multiple nesting boxes (check out this beginner’s guide on building your first chicken coop) then that makes the whole thing even better for them.
Because nesting boxes are usually dark, these chickens can snuggle up with each other and lay more eggs together in the same nesting box.
Contrasting that with a lone chicken, it does not have the luxury of snuggling up with other chickens. So it will have a hard time surviving those harsh winter times. This might be the time it will pass away unless you make sure that the chicken coop has proper heating.
I know it might seem like a better idea to just have one chicken because then you have fewer problems to deal with. Logically it makes sense.
But if you think about it from a chicken’s perspective, that is not a good thing. They are used to living in a flock and since they have their language (as far as I know. Don’t quote me on this), they like talking to each other and having that emotional support.
If the chicken is alone it doesn’t have anyone to talk to and very soon it will fall into depression.
So How Many Chicken Should You Have?
It is best to have at least 3 chickens in your coop. That is the smallest flock size you can have.
But how did I come up with the magical number 3?
Well, think about it. If one chicken gets sick and dies, you will still be left with 2 chickens that can support each other while you get the third one.
But if you only had 2 chickens from the start and one dies, you are left with just 1 chicken that will soon fall into loneliness and depression. And the chances of the 2nd chicken dying increases exponentially.
What should I do if I only have 1 chicken right now?
Well, you should work on getting at least 2 more chicken asap. Your chicken needs flockmates to survive more than you might think.