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How can you tell the age of a chicken? (pictures included)

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I am curious, how can you tell how old a chicken is?  For instance, if somebody told you the birds you bought from them were 8 months old and had just started laying.  BUt, to you they look much older, say 2-3 yrs older?  I have japanese black tailed white bantams that  I am referring to.  I have two roosters that I have raised since birth, and then I have 9 hens that are supposed to be 8 months old.  To me, the hens just look older.  Their feet aren't as yellow as my roos.  Their toenails are VERY long.  I've had them about 3 weeks now and only gotten 3 eggs.  Also, their crown is very pale, not a bright red as I thought it should be if they had just started laying.  My roos feathers are so much whiter and cleaner.  Their feathers look dirty and just plain old.  I was chalking the "dirty" appearance up to maybe movement during shipment, but now I am starting to wonder.  When you put a hen up next to my roo, there is just an obvious difference.  Here's some pictures, if you can see to make a conclusion.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_chicks-9-04_107.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_chicks-9-04_118.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_chicks-9-04_123.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_chicks-9-04_111.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_japhens_007.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_japhens_002.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_japhens_025.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_japhens_012.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_japhens_017.jpg
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/60664_japhens_025.jpg


****What's your opinion?  Need some better, close up pictures?  All opinions appreciated!!!idunno

Toooooo many chickens to count!  300+.......and recently added 7 ducks and a goose.......would rather be out with my animals than ANYWHERE else....
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Toooooo many chickens to count!  300+.......and recently added 7 ducks and a goose.......would rather be out with my animals than ANYWHERE else....
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post #2 of 21

The only thing I know about has to do with their wing feathers going from youth to adults.  Not sure if it was for all breeds, but you can try and see.  If you spread the wing out and look at the tips the pointy feathers are the juvie feathers and the rounded the adult.  As they age the pointy ones are gradually replaced with the rounded ones from the bottom up.  Then you can guage about where they are age wise.  Holds true so far for the hard feathered birds we have.

Sorry, but I don't know anything else as far as aging chickens.  Could the coloring issues you're seeing be because of their diet from their original home?

I don't bother to count them anymore.    Thanks to "Chicken Math" I already know the answer will be 10-12. 
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I don't bother to count them anymore.    Thanks to "Chicken Math" I already know the answer will be 10-12. 
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post #3 of 21

Are those spurs I see on the roos?  I think it's pretty hard to age a hen, but spurs can be a pretty good measure of age on roos.


Edited by Coopa Cabana - 9/8/10 at 8:15pm

~Gail~ My 2003 Mid-Life Crisis:  My small backyard flock of Bantams:  Coopa Cabana Cochins!  In 2013, my focus will be to continue working to improve my Golden Laced Bantam Cochins - the Midas Project!
Got Cochins?  Want Cochins?  Check out the
2012 Cochin Breeders Directory!
NPIP #84-111.  Member ABA; Cochins International; Rocky Mountain Feather Fanciers.

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~Gail~ My 2003 Mid-Life Crisis:  My small backyard flock of Bantams:  Coopa Cabana Cochins!  In 2013, my focus will be to continue working to improve my Golden Laced Bantam Cochins - the Midas Project!
Got Cochins?  Want Cochins?  Check out the
2012 Cochin Breeders Directory!
NPIP #84-111.  Member ABA; Cochins International; Rocky Mountain Feather Fanciers.

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post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coopa Cabana 

Are those spurs I see on the roos?  I think it's pretty hard to age a hen, but spurs can be a pretty good measure of age on roos.


I know how old my roos are - I got them at Easter from TSC, which makes them a little over 5 months old.  The hens are the ones in question.  I bought them from a breeder online and I am starting to wonder about their age.  My roos just look soooooooo much better than the hens. 

**I will get a close up picture of their feet and post in a bit.  They just look like old feet to me.........

Toooooo many chickens to count!  300+.......and recently added 7 ducks and a goose.......would rather be out with my animals than ANYWHERE else....
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Toooooo many chickens to count!  300+.......and recently added 7 ducks and a goose.......would rather be out with my animals than ANYWHERE else....
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post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by NC29mom 

To me, the hens just look older.  Their feet aren't as yellow as my roos.  Their toenails are VERY long.  I've had them about 3 weeks now and only gotten 3 eggs.  Also, their crown is very pale, not a bright red as I thought it should be if they had just started laying.  ****What's your opinion?


Gut feeling and the observations you pointed out say ALOT!  thumbsup


How long have you had the hens?

Lisa

~ This IS my signature line~
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~ This IS my signature line~
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post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by harewizard 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NC29mom 

To me, the hens just look older.  Their feet aren't as yellow as my roos.  Their toenails are VERY long.  I've had them about 3 weeks now and only gotten 3 eggs.  Also, their crown is very pale, not a bright red as I thought it should be if they had just started laying.  ****What's your opinion?


Gut feeling and the observations you pointed out say ALOT!  thumbsup


How long have you had the hens?

Lisa


I just got them less than 3 weeks ago.  I thought the breeder I bought them from had a great reputation.  Everything I read about him was marvelous.  I paid $180 for 9 birds, including shipping.  He claims they just started laying eggs, but to me they look like they are at the end of their laying period.  I have only gotten 3 eggs since I got them, and one was in the box they came in.

I wish there was a definite way to tell.  I have 14 japanese BTW chicks that are 6 weeks old.  I had planned on selling/giving them away since I found these hens to go with my boys.  But, now, I am starting to wonder if I shouldn't keep my chicks and get rid of the hens.  I guess I will have to wait and see.


Thanks everybody.  I am just beyond frustration...........

Toooooo many chickens to count!  300+.......and recently added 7 ducks and a goose.......would rather be out with my animals than ANYWHERE else....
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Toooooo many chickens to count!  300+.......and recently added 7 ducks and a goose.......would rather be out with my animals than ANYWHERE else....
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post #7 of 21

My guess is the beak structure.....that is the noticeable difference I see in older birds. Like the aged horse teeth, the more slanted the teeth is, the more older it is. The young ones are more rounder and curved than the older ones.

Don't take my word for it but when I had a four or five year old roo,, he was older than the rest of the hens and his beak was the only one I saw the differences besides his spurs. My older Wellie hen, her beak was more slanted and longer than she was as a young yearling.

BYC Member since 4/11/2002 
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BYC Member since 4/11/2002 
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post #8 of 21

I think you can also get some idea from their legs. The younger ones have smooth shiny legs with bright skin and the older they are the rougher, duller and more scaly they appear. Their vents will show their age too. Even if they have already started laying you should be able to tell the difference if they have laid 100's  of eggs or just a few. Also , it's not unheard of for layers to stop laying under the stress of relocation. I would expect that. It may even send them into molt and that may mean quite a while before they start laying again. Very pretty birds though!

Dark Horse Acres

NPIP 42-618

Iowa Blues and a mixed flock of a wide variety.

http://www.iowabluechickenclub.com/

 

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Dark Horse Acres

NPIP 42-618

Iowa Blues and a mixed flock of a wide variety.

http://www.iowabluechickenclub.com/

 

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post #9 of 21

could it just be the difference in environment?

food, water, shavings, housing, treats, supplements, human interaction, etc?

plus adding in the shipping and new environment stress?

but sorry, I have no idea how to age a chicken as you are wondering about.

17 chickens (2 New Hampshires; 2 Dominiques; 2 Giant Whites; 2 Dark Brahmas; 1 Buttercups; 3 Astrolorps 2 Easter Eggers, 1 Sumatra & 2 mutts. Two horses: Morgan, Paint; two dogs, one cat, one, very patient, husband.
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17 chickens (2 New Hampshires; 2 Dominiques; 2 Giant Whites; 2 Dark Brahmas; 1 Buttercups; 3 Astrolorps 2 Easter Eggers, 1 Sumatra & 2 mutts. Two horses: Morgan, Paint; two dogs, one cat, one, very patient, husband.
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post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by karimw 

I think you can also get some idea from their legs. The younger ones have smooth shiny legs with bright skin and the older they are the rougher, duller and more scaly they appear. Their vents will show their age too. Even if they have already started laying you should be able to tell the difference if they have laid 100's  of eggs or just a few. Also , it's not unheard of for layers to stop laying under the stress of relocation. I would expect that. It may even send them into molt and that may mean quite a while before they start laying again. Very pretty birds though!


Yes, I also thought the stress could affect their egg laying.  BUt, it's been almost 3 weeks.  Do they go that long?  or longer?

And, how can I tell by the vent?  Can you elaborate?  I am going outside now to take pictures of their feet.  Maybe I can get a better shot of them now they know I am the "treat lady".

Toooooo many chickens to count!  300+.......and recently added 7 ducks and a goose.......would rather be out with my animals than ANYWHERE else....
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Toooooo many chickens to count!  300+.......and recently added 7 ducks and a goose.......would rather be out with my animals than ANYWHERE else....
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