did I get old hens? (pics of heads and legs added!)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by backyarder717, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. backyarder717

    backyarder717 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 15, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    I am new to the backyard flock thing...we recently bought 12 hens and a rooster (barred rocks and RIR's) from a lady. It has been three weeks. Only three or four eggs so far. I think she sold us her old birds but I am not sure. How can I tell if they are over two years old or not?

    Thanks


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    Last edited: Dec 24, 2009
  2. G Wiz Ranch

    G Wiz Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    post pics of their heads, and one of the roos leggs
     
  3. chickenlover54

    chickenlover54 Henely Hatchery

    May 20, 2009
    Northern Illinois
    hens need time to settle in before they lay. You should probably be getting more eggs soon
     
  4. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    While it's certainly possible that you were sold older hens, there are other possible reasons that you aren't getting eggs.

    The stress of the move could have caused them to stop laying. That can happen. Also, winter isn't the best time of year for egg production in general. The shorter days cause a slowdown.

    Even if the hens are older, they may still lay for you. I still have 2 hens from my original flock. While it's true that they don't lay as well as they used to, they do still lay. Big, giant eggs! They are heritage birds, and they (and their daughters) didn't even start laying until the spring after they hatched. Plus, they don't lay well in winter. So they aren't "worn out" at all. This might work differently with a hatchery hen who was bred for extreme egg production in youth. I'm not sure about that.

    But if you can post pictures, we may be able to give you a guess on the age of the birds. I'd say pics of head, total body and legs, if you can. My older hens don't scream "I am old!" at all. In fact, they look great. Very healthy. But the legs show their age. I'm not even sure I can explain why. They just aren't as smooth as a young hen's legs? (HA! The same thing could probably be said about me! [​IMG] )
     
  5. backyarder717

    backyarder717 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 15, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    just added the pics....thanks
     
  6. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The second picture, the one of the red hen, her comb is very small and the head feathers look to me like she is just coming off her molt. That would explain why she isn't laying right now.

    The next picture, of the barred rock with the the floppy comb, I can see in the background that she is missing tail feathers. Could she be molting as well?

    Molting is natural at this time of year, and takes up a lot of the hen's energy, so they stop laying during that time.

    The legs and feet don't look like the legs of young pullets. But they don't look like the legs of elderly hens either. My guess, and it's just a guess, is that your hens are over a year old. But I think they will probably produce for you later this winter, or possibly in the spring, since you are in the North.

    Actually, your little flock looks pretty nice to me. I think I see an Easter Egger in the righthand corner. I hope you get a lovely green or blue egg from her. I know it's disappointing when you buy chickens for eggs and you don't get eggs. We're seeing dozens of threads about that right now. And it's normal. They don't lay well in the winter. They need time to molt and rest their systems. You can add lights in the coop that come on early in the morning and simulate a longer day. That may help the hens that are done with their molt. You can also add extra protein to their diet to help them grow those new feathers on out. Mine love meat scraps! Other than that, we've already passed the shortest day of the year, and the days are getting longer, so the wait time for eggs is getting less and less every day.

    If I were you, I would give them a little more time before I decided that I had made a bad deal.

    My hens pretty much stop laying in the winter since I don't supplement light. They start back in January, but they aren't up to good production until mid-February. Full production in March. I only have one hen laying right now myself, so I feel your pain! Even my youngest girls are taking a break. I keep telling myself, soon, soon....
     
  7. backyarder717

    backyarder717 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 15, 2009
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    hey lauralou...thanks for the info!!!

    Now that you metion it yes...I think the rock is molting, there are b/w feathers everywhere...do they only go through one molt??? So she could be a year old or so?? Even the one that you thought was just coming off a molt...so that is good news??

    yes, there there is an easter egg chicken also...two actually

    I am adding protien....well layena actually. plus treats

    Thanks for the good news!
     
  8. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    my hens took a long time to recover from their molt, like a couple months. Give them some extra protein, make sure they get calcium and treats and they should settle in for you. Out of the 5 hens I had last winter I would get about 2-3 eggs a day which is actually pretty good, when they molted I got no eggs from the older ladies. Give them some time and treat them well and they should do well for you.
     
  9. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They molt every year. Some molt early, some molt later. Later is actually better, because we hate it when they molt in late summer or fall. They should still be laying eggs then! And some molt so slowly that you barely notice it, while some drop half their feathers and run around naked for a while. I have a hen like that right now. Simply pitiful.

    Like I said before, I'm only guessing at their age. They could be older. But they look like nice, healthy hens to me. I don't think they are worn out and good only for the soup pot. Not by a long shot.

    Time will tell. [​IMG]
     
  10. fiberart57

    fiberart57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Colorado
    I agree with lauralou in that they all look bright-eyed and healthy. I'm no expert on chicken aging but their combs are a nice deep color as are the legs. Damerow in her Chicken Handbook talks about yellowing, or loss of, in layers that have been at it for a while.

    Congratulations on the new members of the family.

    Mary
     

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