Battery hens

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by redmarealpha, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. redmarealpha

    redmarealpha Hatching

    Aug 3, 2014
    A friend of mine stopped outside an egg operation and saw a big box by the side of a dumpster. He peeked inside of it, and found six live hens in with about as many dead ones. He threw the dead ones out and brought the live ones to me, since they were in such bad shape, he couldn't sell them.
    I am a novice chicken lover, I've only had a few "pets" in about as many years, so I have NEVER seen anything as pathetic as these young hens. They are nearly naked, their beaks cut off, and one has bumblefoot in both feet, the lumps about as large as big olives. I'm really worried they won't grow feathers fast enough to beat winter, as it's already late August here and it gets cold around September.
    They've been exploring the barn, and amazingly enough, have even been laying eggs. I have a very young Amarcuana rooster, one Black Austrathorpe, and an older black Sex Link that hatched some eggs I got from a friend. Just cast offs, but I love them. How can I help the battery hens recover in time for winter, and will their beaks grow back? They are in serious trouble feather wise, and I know I'll have to deal with the one poor hen's feet. She's not lame, but the infection might kill her if it's not treated. Is there anyway at all those can be treated without cutting them out? My Vet is a farm Vet, and his advice wasn't very helpful, as I could have thought about killing her all by myself.
    If I have to surgically remove them, I will, I just dread having to hurt her, she's been through so much already.
    Any advice would sure be appreciated.
  2. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    Poor hens! Good for your friend for rescuing them. Their appearance is not unusual for battery hens, since their main purpose is to lay eggs, with not as much attention paid to their well being/looks.

    The feathers will grow back in time. To help with this, you can give high protein foods (mealworms, wet/dried cat food, sunflower seeds, etc), along with some good quality layer feed. With any luck, the feathers will grow in by the time it gets colder.

    Unfortunately, the beaks are another story. They will not grow back. Commercial laying hens have their beaks cut so short and then cauterized to prevent further growth and stop bleeding. The trimmed beaks help prevent feather picking in the close quarters of a commercial egg facility, but they obviously aren't preferable for a small-scale operation. If the debeaked hens seem to have trouble eating, offer their food in deeper dishes, and tear up any tough treats (lettuce, etc.) you give them. Otherwise, there is nothing you can do, but the hens can still live perfectly healthy, happy lives.

    Now about the bumblefoot. Mild cases can sometimes be treated with antibiotic injects and epsom salts soaks, but severe cases require surgery. I've never done bumblefoot surgery, so I can't instruct you on it, but there are several threads on BYC that can be helpful.

    Good luck with your rescue hens! The are lucky to have come to such a nice home.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2014
  3. redmarealpha

    redmarealpha Hatching

    Aug 3, 2014
    I was afraid the beaks wouldn't come back, bless their hearts, they can't even pierce the skin of a ripe tomato. Some have toes missing, nearly all of them broken, frayed feathers and naked bottoms. It has taken them three days to walk properly, and they have no idea what to do when it gets dark. I stayed out there with them as it got night fall, they'd just squat on the ground where ever they happened to be when they couldn't see any more. I picked them up and took them in the barn to a stall with plenty of straw in it, then set them in little hollows I made for them to sit in.
    How is treatment like what they went through, legal? These are brown egg layers (Golden Comets, I think, a Sex Link breed just for egg laying), expensive eggs in the store, but brown or white eggs, chickens deserve better than this. I thought there were laws about humane treatment in commercial egg factories?

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