Battery hens

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by just2511, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. just2511

    just2511 New Egg

    Dec 17, 2013
    Liverpool england
    Hi there, I've just took on 4 ex battery hens that were released just 3 days ago. There missing feathers, 1 poor girl has an almost bare behind. Currently eating layers mash but just tried them with warm porridge with blueberries which there looking at with horror!! Had 6 eggs from them already which wasn't expected. Any tips on what I can do to settle them in, getting them in top shape etc. there also very wary of people so just spending time getting them used to seeing us
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2013
    Kelp is a natural multivitamin/mineral supplement, and I can't recommend it highly enough. The effects are subtle at first but after generations of using it, I know it's indispensable now. I've never seen animals in such great shape as they are on kelp when on any other supplement.

    A general ration is a pinch per bird per day, mixed with something wet to bind the granules or powder. You can buy it cheaply in bulk. It will prevent them moulting bare ever again. I've had ratios of male to female that are 50:50 without "overmating" occurring, because kelp makes the feathers strong enough to withstand pulling, and also controls the endocrine system so they moult gradually, replacing feathers soon after they lose them, not losing them all in one go and then not regrowing them for a long time. Kelp also restores lost instinct without losing tameness, makes them friendlier and calmer, too, so it's not like my males are hen-abusers, and if any were I would cull them. A female has as much a right to a happy life as a male, in my farmyard at least. Some people don't mind if their males are cruel to their females. Clumsiness is one thing, but a male who spurs and stabs at a female while mating is just twisted and not worth breeding.

    Generally, given that they have endured a cheap diet and less than great environment as a general rule for layer hens, they will never be in top shape compared to a bird that's had a great start to life. You can't put in later what never went in, in the first place. Even having less than healthy parents makes an impact on the birds' future life and health expectations. But you can drastically improve their health, nonetheless.

    Layer pellets are mostly harsh on the body and tend to force them to lay, since the breed was developed in conjunction with the pellets. If you get what I mean, they keep the bird in a steady state of staggering forwards. Not running, but just afloat, always off balance. Always experiencing more demand than they can meet. They tend to crave fats and oils, but are generally kept on deficient diets to prevent them getting fat or lowering production. They can't "win".

    I would supplement them with olive oil, (cold pressed extra virgin), to help meet that need. Once a month, just before the full moon when the worms emerge into the intestines to reproduce, I give my chooks something like wholemeal bread with olive oil and cayenne pepper or tabasco to shift the worms. Since I do it so regularly there are never any adult worms, but cayenne and olive oil are anti-inflammatories and great for the cardiovascular system which is often very weak or damaged in layers because of their diet of cooked fats, cooked oils, and cooked proteins (basically the exact diet our cardiologists tell us causes heart disease.) It's no surprise that heart attacks are common among layers. Olive oil of course is high in natural vitamin E and this helps basically everything. Layers are often desperately deficient in it. The only form of it they are allowed is usually cooked as the pellets are cooked, therefore not helpful, and often synthetic, which is actively harmful and causes cysts and other issues.

    It's not actually more important to have a high dose of something as it is to have the dose in its natural form or very close to it, and in balance. Vitamins and minerals in nature tend to come in conjunction with the necessary enzymes etc to process them, whereas isolated extracts can be hard or impossible to assimilate properly, even harmful. Malnutrition often causes obesity because the isolated nutrients are stored in fat until the body comes across the missing elements required to process them.

    Chickens love hot stuff and there is absolutely no need in my experience to give them chemicals to worm them. There are a variety of herbs that will do the job perfectly well. I would possibly make an exception in the case of a weak adult bird with established parasites, when you need a quicker acting agent regardless of any side effect damages. Having said that, I've never used a chemical wormer, and have never lost an animal to worms, nor had one overrun even when I obtained wormy stock from other places. A natural diet has always worked for me. But if you feel it is necessary, or just are more confident using chemicals (as most folks are) then do what is right in your eyes. The survival of the animal is more important than following an ideology or preference when you don't know its efficacy or aren't experienced enough to make it work. Herbs take a fair bit of learning. Following a label is much easier for many, especially the very busy, and I don't blame them!

    Layer pellets from most commercial brands keep the body producing at a rate which is commercially viable but physically unsustainable, because layer breeds tend to respond to the pellets a certain way. They generally burn out and die young and prematurely aged, with even the best care. I will never buy layers again, personally. They tend to carry undocumented genetic diseases, since they're generally culled young, so nobody knows what they have lurking that will emerge later. I view them as a false economy, and even on a great diet they never produce eggs as healthy as those from a chicken with less strenuous physical demands on it. They can never ingest enough protein and nutrients to keep both themselves and their "product" in top condition, so by default both are sub-par. You can't get truly healthy eggs from a hen who will never know true health. Better than cage eggs but not as great as eggs from a hen whose system takes a break from laying when she needs, and who has been fed a truly healthy diet. If you can, getting them onto raw or natural forms of protein will benefit them, but it's more something you do for the animal than for the product as it can lessen their output for the reasons mentioned below.

    Taking them off a diet they're used to can be a little harsh on them as they go into instant detox and try to rebuild their bodies from the healthier foods, and this can affect their production. But being older layers you can probably expect non-production from at least some of them.

    I definitely recommend kelp to meet a wider spectrum of nutritional needs than the majority of other feed supplements you can buy. Mixed supplements tend to cook the kelp which is not as healthy as raw and dried. Anyway, that's a fair bit of off-topic info, hope something in there benefits you and/or your poultry.

    Best wishes.
  3. just2511

    just2511 New Egg

    Dec 17, 2013
    Liverpool england
    Fantastic thank you for the advice :) will be trying them with the kale and olive oil ASAP. Don't want to overload them with too many new foods too quickly. Not bothered about the egg laying, tho it's a bonus. Would just like them to live out there years in an environment they deserve and not the 1 they have had until now. Thank you again for brill advice
  4. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Hi and welcome to BYC from northern Michigan [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  5. Triple Willow

    Triple Willow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2013
    I believe the very best thing you can do for them is start them on fermented feed immediately. They will love it and you will love the results you see in them and you will also love the savings in feed (it goes a lot further). You can read all about fermented feed and talk to several experienced flock keepers on the "Fermented feed for meat birds" thread. It is not only about meat birds. A wide variety of topics are discussed. Hope you'll check it out, you won't be sorry! And we would LOVE for you to try fermented feed (ff) and post pics as you go along to show the results.
    1 person likes this.
  6. [​IMG]
    I always thank people who go out and get battery hens! So thanks so much for rescuing them!
    1 person likes this.
  7. liz9910

    liz9910 Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 8, 2012
    Northern California
    Welcome to BYC!
    1 person likes this.
  8. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Well done on your part. In a months time you will be amazed at the improvement in their looks and attitude.
  9. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
  10. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Hello :frow Welcome to BYC and Happy Holidays! Good luck with your new girls.

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