Brought home some stinky battery hens.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by vanderlander, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. vanderlander

    vanderlander Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all. Along with a host of other problems, these girls smell like a pig pen. I saw some posts on deoderizing a chicken run with BA and lime, no idea what BA is. I'm also sure its more of a hen problem than the run. Since they are battery hens they don't know how to be chickens and are not taking dust baths. Any advice is greatly appreciated as I stumble along with these girls. I have to say though. in the few days that I've had them they have come a long way.
     
  2. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay a few Q's

    Are these your first chickens?
    Where did you get them?
    Are they your only chickens?
    Did you bring them from a commercial place to your home?

    If you have other hens make sure you quarantine new hens. I don't doubt that they do smell bad, the pooor little dears. I did an article here about battery confinement and it's just terrible, it interferes with all of a hens natural instincts like bathing, scratching, foraging, running and free-ranging and perching. How old are they? Are they a decent weight? Most likely they are Leghorns? I would feed them a high protein diet and give encourage them to eat treats from your hand, are they skittish? Make sure to check them for parasites, because a battery weakened hen has a poor immune system generally and they wont last long if they have any illnesses. I hope you can recover the poor girls, how many did you get? BTW sanding the run with traction/construction sand will get rid of moisture and help with any smell.
     
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  3. vanderlander

    vanderlander Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 24, 2012
    Tennessee
    Hi. Thanks for the advice. No, they are not my first hens and they are quarantined away from my flock. Their weight is low and they are production reds. I took a guy up on some chickens on craigslist and got 6 of them but one has already been quarantined and culled due to illness. The guy said they are a year and a half but they just look soooo rough, I think they may be older. I had no idea they would be battery hens when I left my house that day. As soon as he brought them out of some cubby hole on his nasty property they looked dead. He was carrying them by their feet and there was no movement. Big bald spots, debeaked and I don't think I have ever seen such ragged looking birds.


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    Since they have been with me, I've taught them how to roost, how to forage, I'm teaching them to go in if it snows or rains and the list goes on and on. I've fed them grains and greens and putting ACV in their water. They are eating and drinking like they have never seen food and drink. Their combs are turning red again and they just look much happier in general. You are totally right, you have to teach them to be chickens again. I'm a sucker for underdogs. Every day I see huge improvements.

    Since they don't know how to dust bathe, will they know what to do in the sand? Is there anything I could put on them to reduce the smell?
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  4. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have never dealt with chickens that didn't learn how to naturally but, If it were me, I would do this....Mix up some food grade diatomaceous earth and some wood ashes (just wood and old newsprint, mind you, no coated magazine paper or wood that has been painted or treated) and a little traction or even sandbox grade sand like I mentioned mefore. Mix this stuff up in a container big enough for a chicken, like an old rubbermaid, a cardboard box, or a cat littler box bottom works well. I would put one of the hens in and start dusting her yourself like you would if you were treating her for mites. Get the dust up under her wings and everywhere. Maybe she will take to it after you show her a few times by doing this. Try to do it also so the others can see. If you can get one hen to do it herself, the rest may follow her lead. Try to use the boss hen of this little flock if there is one. Leave the container in their run at all times so they can see it and become aquainted with it.

    The poor little things, that is so sad. I am happy that they have found what sounds like a loving home with you. I hope they can all come around. Their age actually sounds about right...most owners do not keep battery hens past 3 or so years at the most because their laying average begins to drop at that point.

    PS you can also bathe a chicken with water and soap, if they are dirty or caked with sludge or smelly, you may consider trying this. Use baby shampoo or bubble bath and a sponge. Put the hen on a dry towel or in a bathtub and use a soaked sponge, washing in the direction her feathers grow. Obviously don't scrub or you will muss up the feathers she does have. Use a towel in the same way to mostly dry her and a blow dryer on low heat for the rest. After washing, I would dust bathe her as stated above.
     
  5. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh and btws grain is a good treat for them, but make sure they are getting a high-protein complete feed like Flock Raiser or Chick Grower. Grain is not a complete feed, it's actually pretty low in other vitamins and such that they really need right now, so I would start them on Flock Raiser (it's an all-fowl feed that is higher in protein than Layena) and make sure they still get oyster shell calcium supplement in case they do lay any more eggs. If you are feeding Layer, you can actually get small bags or Flock Raiser and supplement your new hens with it so they get a little more nourishment....I always feed mine their feed first thing in the morning and then about half an hour or so later I will throw a cup of scratch down. The reason being, I would preffer they eat more of the feed than fill up on grains. Another good treat for your hens will be yogurt...it is great for their digestive systems if you get it with live probiotic cultures and they LOVE it. Mealworms, dried or fresh are great treats and high in good fat and protein. Greens are great all the time for them, sometimes at my grocery when the bags of kale and chard are about to go out of date they will mark them down to super cheap and I'll feed that to the girls.
     
  6. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they smell that bad, I'd bathe them. You will need to wait until they molt for them to look good again. If you have other chickens, once they are incorporated with others they may learn. My first hens here, after moving and having to sell all my birds, were two 1.5 yr old WLH that didn't look great. They had decent housing but just a clay floor and lots of high roosts. There coop was taller than it was wide. Probably 4x4 but 10' tall with roosts all the way up and the guy warned me, don't let them go you'll never catch them. After a week here in the coop I let them out in their yard, 40'x50', and they had no problem figuring things out. They are the first to go through the fence and wander about looking for whatever. Everyone else respects the fence even though they could all fit through the 4x6" holes. They looked a bit beaten up tail feathers frayed and all. After they molted in Nov, they look pristine white again.
     
  7. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You might want to check out the fermented feed thread. If you end up bathing them, they would have to be kept inside until they are completely dry and the same for allowing them near dust bathing, it they are still moist and they get in the dirt, they will be mud.
     
  8. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah I do agree that once you put them in wit your other hens, they will probably pick up a lot of things from them, but the quarantine time for them is going to be like 2 weeks or something right?
     

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