Battery hen rescue 101--please help me get started from the basics!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RedheadErin, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. RedheadErin

    RedheadErin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 30, 2011
    So.... I am thinking of contacting the local egg farm and trying to buy some of their old battery hens. We want more egg layers/mature hens right away and since we are probably getting some Americaunas from a hatchery, we don't want an exceptional number of chickies all at once. (we had 6 last year and they were a little overwhelming.)

    I have a million-billion quenstions about this. I searched the fourm, but I dint find many answers. If you have any answers or even any good advice, please lay it on me!

    My first questions:

    1. If the farm in the next town isnt willing to give up its hens, how d I find a different source? Internet search has proven pretty useless.

    Egg laying:
    1. Is it true that supposedly "spent" hens will continue to lay eggs once they are in healthier conditions, such as my yard?
    2. how long will these hens normally live, and how much of that time will be productive egg time?
    3. HOw long after I bring them home will they porduce eggs?
    4. How long will it take for any antibiotics/junk adative to their food to clear thier bodies and not show up in the eggs?
    5. Are these hens productive and reliable layers? athey dont ahve to be perfect, but I do want to get egs porportionate to the number of birds ai am feeding.

    Bringing home:
    1. How long to quarentine?
    2. THe only place I could put them is my garage. (Or if I am really desperate, an unused bathroom or my basement). How cold a night could they stand?


    1. Right now my hens are on a mixture of Purena Layena in the blue bag and the increased-omega 3 layena. Will these hens need anything different?
    2. I am sure the egg farm is not feeding 100% vegetarian omega-3-added feed. in fact, they are porbably feeding the cheapest hting they can find. (This is not an Eggland's best or anything like that. They make thie kind of eggs I will not buy becaseu to me, they taste like fish.) So what is the best way to change them over to the feed I use?
    3. Will they need any vitamin suppliments or anything at first?

    1. Will they know how to scartch and hunt for bugs? WIll they learn form the other hens?
    2. Will they be terrified the first time the rooster tries to mate with them? I am thinking of putting my gentler rooster in with them after the quarrentine period is over. If it does scare them (it would me!) will they get over it/learn from the other hens?
    3. I have heard stories of battery hens that were even afraid of grass. They get over that, right?
    4. Will they have any lasting behavior issues I should know about? (remember, I already have one hen who cannot be trusted outside bacause she wanders away at night. I need some SANE normal hens, not more psych patients! )

    First Aid:
    1. I understand they frequently do not have many feathers. HOw can I keep them warm/help the feathers grow back?
    2. Are they prone to any particular injuries, for example, broken bones from poor nutrition?

    OK, enough questions for now! After my rooster fiasco, I am not too keen on taking in new critters without asking an extensive number of questions. I really need to know what to expect.

    Thanks guys!
  2. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Dec 22, 2009
  3. StarLover21

    StarLover21 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2011
    Your're in the US, right? If so, I am too, and I've looked all over. I can't find any good rescue organizations, local farms seem best

    Egg Laying: Yes! Those 'spent' hens, will probably be only 18 months old! They will have may more years of egg laying, though they will slow down. For me, my retired hens are pets, and have forever homes with me.

    Most chickens live to be anywhere from 6 years to 14. I'm not sure- they may have a shorter lifespan because of former life conditions.

    Depends on the chicken. Some peoples rescued battery hens layed eggs on the second day- some may take a week to a month to settle down.

    ??? A month? No idea, sorry.

    Yes, they will be good layers.

    Bringing Home:

    About 30 days

    Most chickens can tolerate -0 temps. If they don't have very many feathers, you will want to keep them warm.


    Yes! Protein to help them grow back the feathers- oyster shell, mealworms, etc.

    Whenever I changed feed, my chickens didn't notice. But if they refuse the new feed, you can gradually mix it in.



    It's natural instinct, really. They're catch on themselves, or learn from other hens.
    Probably :) . They'll get used to it.

    Yes, they'll soon learn that this 'green stuff' is edible and has lots of yummy bugs in it!

    Not sure.

    First Aid:

    As I said, protien.

    Not sure.

    Hope that's helpful!
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
  4. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2008
    Based on my experiences with leghorns hatched for school projects, the inherent personality of the leghorns usually used in battery laying farms is insane. Expect them to make Chicken Little look like a staid laidback old lady. Expect them to jump in pure panic at any shadow and not know how to behave outside of a cage.
    It will be great if I am exaggerating, but I would expect the worst and hope for a pleasant surprise.
    This past summer we brought a dog from the inner city apartments of Brooklyn NY to the coutnryside farming area of PA. You will be doing essentially the same with chickens. It took her weeks to adjust.
  5. RedheadErin

    RedheadErin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 30, 2011
    Yes, I hear that. Our original 6 all came from a project like that. That is them in the pic. We still have the two hens and one roo form that batch. They are OK, but dumb, flighty, and stubborn. The other 3 roos went to my friend's house. To of them are fine, the other is crazy.

    Since I'm not looking for pets right now, but productive layers, I don't mind much about the personalities. Just so long as they can figure out to go in the shed for the night, I'm good with it.

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