how can you tell the age of a hen? I have two that i really dont know how old they are except to trust what the previous owner told me. Im a 'truster' but in the future espacially, it would be something mabie handy to know. Thanks
i just went on the "search" thing here and seems that once they're laying, it's pretty hard to tell really how old they are......well, except for the suggestion to "cut of their legs and count the rings"...haha...DONT DO IT.. they were just kidding. So i guess i go back to *trusting* that what i was told was correct Thanks for wondering too I thought my question must of been WAY out there cause no one said nothen
I wish someone did know how to tell. I want to know too. The only thing I know is that you can tell approximately how many eggs a hen has laid by which parts of her body are bleached out.
Well now I've pulled out my trusty book and you CAN tell a little about their age also from the bleaching sequence: (bleaching means that the bright yellow or pink or whatever color their skin was as a youngster is slowly replaced by paler skin as they use up the pigment to color egg yolks instead of their skin- weird
Bleaching starts at whatever age the pullet started to lay. It goes like this: bleached vent = 0-10 eggs laid or 1-2 weeks past egg laying age; bleached eye ring= 8-12 eggs laid or 2-2.5 weeks past laying age; bleached ear lobe= 10-15 eggs laid or 2.5-3 weeks past laying age; bleached beak= 25-35 eggs laid or 5-8 weeks past laying age; bleach bottom of feet= 50-60 eggs laid or 8 weeks past laying age; bleached front of leg= 90-100 eggs laid or 10 weeks past laying age; bleached hocks (backs of legs up near the feathering)= 120-140 eggs laid or 16-24 weeks past laying age.
So I guess if they started laying at say 6 months, you could tell if they were at least over a year old. Mine were somewhere around 3-5 years old when I got them. I wish there was a way to figure it out too. Good luck! Maybe somebody will tell us.
Its kind of hard to explain, but!
If you can hold your hen with one hand, use your other hand to feel her rump, right above where her legs join her body. You should be able to feel out her hip bones. Place the flats of your fingers inbetween her bones.
If you can fit more than three fingers, then shes an old layer.
Two fingers means just started laying, or soon will.
One finger means too young to lay.
It doesnt give you exact age, but will help you from buying worn out hens.
I'll see about taking some step by step pictures tomorrow if this is hard to understand
The gap between the pelvic bones doesn't tell the age. When the hen is in lay, there is a gap of two finger widths, but if she is off lay for any reason: weather, moult, stress or whatever, the hip bones will be about a finger width apart.
Older birds tend to have rather rough looking scaley legs compared to a young bird that will have bright plasticy looking scales. Younger birds also are more heavy and muscled up. Each year the moult starts earlier and goes on for a bit longer than the previous year.