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Disscusion on RIR heartyness

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by LittlePip21, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello! Recently I have been wanting to discuss RIRs. Specifically on how hearty they are. In all the books I've read I hear such high appraisal and nothing but positive reviews. But, in my personal experience I have had a slew of medical problems, especially pertaining to egg laying (internal laying, egg binding, etc). So, i guess I'm just curious, is this true for anyone else? or is there anyone who has had good luck with RIRs? what about heritage vs production? Discuss. [​IMG]
     
  2. chippy99th

    chippy99th Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmm, interesting. Ours have always been pretty healthy. We've certainly not experienced any egg problems. Ours are hatchery birds bought as chicks. They do tend to take a little while to get moulting over with (not as long as our Barred Rocks though). They are great layers and seem more resistant to mites, lice etc. than most of our birds, for whatever reason.

    On the other hand, I've heard lots of great things about Leghorns. They're good layers, sure, but the only group we ever had had such horrible health issues all their lives that we never got anymore. Maybe we just had bad luck with them. Maybe you had bad luck with your RIRs? Which, if true, is a bummer.

    Honestly, all my RIRs have been great birds health- and production-wise. My only complaint would be that they seem less personable and more independent than my others.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  3. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    interesting! perhaps It's because I bought them from the feed store, a friend of mine bought some orpingtons locally too, and she ended up loosing around three to egg bound issues. do you know if your RIRs heritage or production? mine have always been pretty friendly, but that might just be the individuals. that's funny about the leghorns, maybe its just certain groups birds that have bad genetics? thanks for your input!
     
  4. chippy99th

    chippy99th Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not sure, but I would guess mine are production. I always get our pure breeds at the local feed store, which gets them from a hatchery, so perhaps it depends on the feed store's source. (Our mutts usually find us on their own, but that's another story.)

    I think I've just been really lucky because I have actually never had health issues related to laying (*knocks on wood*). My old EE used to lay soft-shelled eggs occasionally, but that was the extent of it. I have Orpingtons too and they are some of my best layers even though they're older than the rest of the flock.
     
  5. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's good to here! The feed store I bought them from is not very knowlagable in chickens, so they might not buy them form as reputable a source, but I'm guessing it's just bad luck!
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi

    I think it is important to establish that you are in fact talking about Rhode Island Reds which are a deep shiny mahogany colour and not Production Reds or Red Sex Links as many people get them all confused and see a red chicken and think RIR.
    Red Sex Links and Production Reds have been bred to optimise egg production.... both in terms of daily laying and egg size. In commercial set ups, they would be culled prior to their 3rd year, before most problems are likely to occur, but in backyard flocks, many people like to keep their chickens for their lifetime and unfortunately because of their high production level, their reproductive tract gets "worn" and then issues like egg binding and internal laying start to occur. It's the price you (or they) pay for that increased production. True RIR should probably be less prone to these problems as they will not be as consistent layers as Red Sex Links or Production Reds, but of course we are talking in general terms and everything varies at an individual level. Leghorns that have been selectively bred to improve egg production will be at risk in the same way. I have exchequer leghorns, which are much less productive than white or brown leghorns, but look pretty and they seem to be very hardy. In fact at 3-4years I am probably getting better production than I did at 1 year but they take time off each year to moult and rejuvenate like most older ladies.

    I just lost my only RIR last week and apart from not laying for the past year and a half and battling an intermittent respiratory infection for 2 years, which she never let get her down, even when she was wheezing and gurgling, she was hale and hearty and flock leader in a large mixed free range flock for the past 3 years. I rescued her from a fox attack last year and she bounced back without any sign of trauma and she loved playing auntie to broody hen chicks although never went broody herself. Sadly, being confined for months due to Bird Flu restrictions meant that she didn't get the fresh air she needed to keep her lungs clear and she eventually lost her battle with the infection last week but she was eating with gusto the day she died, so never gave an indication that she was struggling with it....a real trooper. I got her 3 years ago from a friend and she was well over a year old then, so she was probably 5 or 6. I intend to open her up for a post mortem exam when I get a chance just to see if there is an obvious reason why she stopped laying or just ran out of eggs, but I will definitely get another RIR when the opportunity arises because in my opinion she was the epitome of hearty.

    Regards

    Barbara
     
  7. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, I'm so sorry, she sounded like a wonderful hen[​IMG] yes, I believe mine were not RIRs at all, the feed store I got them from has almost no chicken knowledge at all, and that's what they had labeled them as (they also tell people Cornish crosses are good layers, so I'm not surprised). Quite unfortunate about the production breeds. it seems irresponsible on the industries behalf to let birds have such a glaring health tendency and do nothing about it, but i guess in normal circumstances they are culled at 3 anyway. thanks for your input![​IMG]
     
  8. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote: They are actually culled between 18months and 2 years. They rarely make it into their 3rd year. The food industry is about providing as much food as possible for the minimum amount of cost. Animal longevity is not of interest because you produce them in the knowledge they will be culled young. It's about profits but we are all complicit in that because we all complain when the price of food goes up and like to shop around for the cheapest deal, so I'm not pointing the finger at the farmers or anyone else. There are too many people in this world for us all to have the luxury of treating all animals fairly and eating well. We have to look at ourselves first before we point the finger at others. There is always a trade off.
    Sorry, I didn't mean that to sound like a personal lecture. Just wanted you to be aware of the facts and why things are that way. Not saying it's right, but it's too easy to be critical without examining our own small part in the status quo.
    For example, something simple like buying sexed pullets instead of straight run..... people create the market for pullets because they don't want cockerels but surely they therefore have a small part of the responsibility for what happens to the excess cockerels that they didn't want....since for every pullet they want, there will have been a cockerel hatched that they didn't. They shouldn't then criticise what the hatcheries do with those excess cockerels...ie mincing them up for animal food or whatever, unless they are themselves, prepared to raise them or cull them. There are unforeseen consequences of so many decision we make in life and animals are often at the sharp end of it.

    Going to step down off my soap box now and go back to my chicken chores [​IMG]

    Very best wishes to you

    Barbara
     
  9. ejcrist

    ejcrist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm starting a breeding program for RIR's in a couple of weeks and I have a trio of heritage birds I got from a breeder last year. rebrascora is right on the money about their description as opposed to production reds. The two pullets I have started laying late last fall and lay maybe three eggs a week compared to hatchery Barred Rocks and leghorns I have that lay twice that many. The SOP birds are a very dark mahogany color and easily twice the size of my hatchery birds. They're also very calm, gentle, and healthy. I'd guestimate if you got a couple of heritage birds from a good breeder your odds of getting one with health problems would be lower, and I'm pretty sure they'd lay for many more years than a hatchery bird, albeit at a slower rate.
     
  10. LittlePip21

    LittlePip21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes! I have actually researched this and I definitely agree! when I said they were culled anyway (I knew they were culled at 2, but i wasn't sure if where you live they were culled later.) it may have sounded like I agreed with it, but I most assuredly don't, it makes me sick how the industry treats these animals, and how we can just ignore it because they are "food". I am pointing at myself as well, I cringe every time I pick something up in the isle and realize that I'm contributing in some way to the monster that is being covered up and pathologically ignored. I just don't know what to do, every time I see the huge mountain of egg cartons in the grocery store, I think about how each egg represents a day of misery for some poor hen[​IMG]. Its just hard to know what to do, I've actually looked into raising the cockerels i get for meat, I'm just worried i'll end up with a bunch of roosters I cant cull because i got attached to them by handling them as chicks. That's a good point about the pullets, even when I think about it now, what happens to all those baby chicks at the feed store that were never bought? I'm always skeptical about products that promote animal well fare, because sometimes the stuff on there is just a twist of the words. for instance, I read on a cage free carton that the hens are on a "Vegetarian diet" which to me sounded like, "all we feed them is mush and we make it sound healthy". chickens are not herbivores, and it said nothing about the well roundedness of the diet. also, don't you think "cage free" just means a bunch of birds stuffed into a building anyway? its so hard to know what to do, do you have any suggestions on ways to not support the system? and about starting meat birds? thanks for your thoughts. Glad someone feels the same way!
     
    1 person likes this.

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