How To Help Your Hens Stress Less

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 21 July 2020

Reducing the stress in your flock is very important for their health. Like humans, if chickens are constantly stressed out, it cause a range of ailments and bad habits. Luckily, chickens are easily entertained, and there are lots of different ways to keep them fit, healthy and amused.

Here are some common stresses that can string out your chickens, and easy ways to keep them calm!

  Common stress triggers include:

  • Mishandling

There are actually a number of reasons why its important to correctly handle your flock - it really does contribute to the overall health of your chickens.

Minimizing stress in your flock is important to keeping them healthy and happy.  You’d actually be surprised by how much your own behaviour impacts on your hens.

boy holding brown chicken incorrectly

Why is it so stressful for them?

Chickens cannot stand the feeling of being restricted or vulnerable.  Often, when chickens are struggling hard, its because they might be tilted at an unnatural angle or held too tightly. Unfortunately, a struggling chicken often makes a handler grip on even tighter, exacerbating the problem!

The more you mishandle your hens (it can be pretty painful for them!), the more they begin to distrust you. They actually will become stressed by your simple presence, and more stress = higher susceptibility to disease. Also, stressed hens don’t lay as many eggs - so that means less produce for the breakfast table!

How to de-stress your flock:

Make sure you always hold your hens the right way! To become an egg-spert in hen holding, check out our ‘The Right Way To Handle Your Hen’ article which goes into detail about the correct way to handle your flock. Also, make sure your chickens are very familiar with you - this means spending time feeding them, talking to them and being in their company. The more they are around you, the more comfortable they’ll be.

  • Introducing new chickens into the coop

Introducing new chickens into an existing flock can be an extremely stressful experience for them, as it disrupts the previously established pecking order the hens have made.

isa brown chicken flock foraging in the backyard carefree

How to de-stress your flock:

Unfortunately there's no way to make the experience completely stress free, but there are definitely ways to make the transition easier.

- be mindful of the ages of the hens that you’re introducing, and the ones that are currently in the flock. Sometimes younger hens have trouble if they’re in a flock with older hens, and need to be fully grown before being incorporated into the coop.

- put the new chickens into the same run as the original flock - but separate them with wire mesh or some other material. It’s a less confrontational way of getting the chickens used to one another. Do this for about a week before taking the guard away.

  • Boredom

Why is it so stressful for them?

If hens are finding their daily lives a little on the bland side, they can become agitated and start forming some unfavourable habits - such as pecking at each other!

How to de-stress your flock:

There are lots of easy ways to keep your hens relaxed and amused - homemade chicken pinatas, adding hay, chicken swings and more! Find out how to keep boredom at bay with our Best Boredom Busters To Keep Your Chickens Busy! article.

Quick ways to relax your flock:

  • Lavender in the coop/run

Lavender has the marvellous ability to calm your chickens! It’s a brilliant as a relaxant for your feathered friends - and for you as well! So if your hens are a bit highly strung, place some lavender up into their nesting boxes - it’ll help calm their senses and give them a bit of DIY aromatherapy.

silkie chickens leaving their backyard chicken coop to inspect some lavender

Check out our Herbs for Hen Health: Lavender article for all the benefits this marvellous herb has for your flock, for your garden and for your home.

Keeping your flock de-stressed, happy and healthy is very easy. One of the best ways to ensure your chickens aren’t going a little coop-crazy is to ensure they have enough space to themselves for perching, nesting and roaming.

All of our coops will ensure your chickens can keep their personal bubble! The Taj Mahal and The Penthouse have ample run space, and the Mansion is fit for the finest of birds!

There are plenty of ways you can prevent, identify and resolve health issues in your flock. To avoid stress for both chooks and keepers, we all want to do an eggcellent job when caring for our feathered friends. Did you know 67% of chicken keepers surveyed experienced a chicken health or behaviour issue in the first 12 months that they didn’t know how to handle?

But don’t worry! Our feathered friends over at Chickenpedia have created a Chicken Healthcare Course. It is a comprehensive online course that covers everything you need, including what to look for in an unhealthy chicken and how to support your egg-laying hens to optimal health. All of their courses are really well structured and filled with vital information, which is why I highly recommend them to all of my readers! From raising baby chicks to feeding to behavior, you’ll find valuable information that’ll give you the knowledge and confidence to successfully look after your chickens.

Check out Chickenpedia today. As a member, you will also get access to the ALL of their chicken courses!

Sources and further reading