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Getting my first hens Sunday! What should I be looking for?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Raen, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. Raen

    Raen Songster

    Nov 3, 2010
    Hi guys, I've been building my coop and found a lady on craigslist who is re-homing her flock of five friendly hens. They're 1.5 years old, the breeds are Brahma, Buff orpington, Red Star, Maran, and one she can't remember. These were some of the breeds I was looking for, and the size of flock I wanted, and they're adults, which is good for me going into the winter (I might add 2-3 more chicks in the spring).

    I'm going to see/get them Sunday. What should I look for when examining these girls? Is there a way to tell if the age is accurate?

    Also, transport. I was planning on using dog kennels, hopefully two in one and three in another. Would that work? It's about an hour drive from her house to mine. How much space do they need for transport?


  2. wildeflowers

    wildeflowers I suspect fowl play!

    Jun 29, 2010
    Okay, I am sorry but I am going to be negative nelly here.

    You (and I, too) are not experienced enough to be able to really tell how old these hens are, so you are already at risk of getting taken. Secondly, this is Craigslist. I'm sorry, but I don't take anyone's word for anything on Craigslist. I must be able to verify everything. Thirdly, I personally would not buy hens that are over a year (and mostly because they could easily be older and out of their best production days and she just saying that they are 1.5 years old). Why is she getting rid of them? Has she ever had any illnesses in her flock? Are they vaccinated for common poultry diseases?

    I would either go to a show, locate a reputable breeder, or order from a hatchery, either chicks or young pullets.
  3. awesomefowl

    awesomefowl Argues with Goats

    Pick the hen up, check her vent (cloaca). It should be wide and moist, which means she's laying. A tight vent means she is not. Alse check under he wings and vent for mites, lice, louses....if you find any dust her with a pesticide powder. Overall the look should be sleek, shiny and healthy, with a red red comb and wattles. Unless she is molting. I learned the hard way to check every adult chicken for lice/mites/louses. Good luck with the hens!
  4. Raen

    Raen Songster

    Nov 3, 2010
    Quote:Thank you for your concern. Really, I'm not trying to be snarky or anything. I just e-mailed her the questions and I'll let you guys know the response. So far, she seems like a nice lady who really, really does not want anyone to eat her pets.

    I think that the craigslist trustworthyness thing might be regional. We buy things off Craigslist all the time, and never have problems. We've gotten fantastic deals on all sorts of stuff, and generally people have been extremely honest and forthcoming, in our area. So the craigslist thing doesn't bother me at all. I'm a pretty trusting person when I get a good vibe from people, and this has worked out well for me in life so far. [​IMG]

    I think, theoretically, it might be better for me to wait until spring and get all "fresh" young chickens, but I really don't wanna. My husband is deploying for 4 months in January, and I want some chickens, dammit. But I don't want to get babies right now, just when it's starting to get cold, so this seems like a good compromise.

    I've googled about mites and know what to look for. It sounds like scale-y legs can indicate either an old chicken or leg-mites, so I'll look for that. Great tip, awesomefowl, on the vent checking. Will do.

    If others think this is a terrible idea, I can be talked out of it, but I'm not sure where to get young but not-too-young chickens this time of year. I want a mix of breeds, not just one, and worry about getting chickens from different breeders and having to quarantine and all that.
  5. NeeleysAVLChicks

    NeeleysAVLChicks Songster

    Aug 4, 2009
    Leicester, NC
    I say you go for it!

    Wildeflowers does bring up some good points, but I think if you go to this ladies house and feel out the situation and something feels amiss, then you can always back out.

    I'm with you about Craigslist, I know some folks have gotten completely duped via the site, but I've had great luck in our area, some of my very first chickens were off of Craigslist.

    In addition to mites, etc, also, be sure to lookout for any sneezing, wheezing, nasal discharge, "common cold" type symptoms....if they have anything like this don't walk, RUN!

    ETA: Should you decide to get them, we're going to need PICTURES!!! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  6. DianeS

    DianeS Songster

    Feb 28, 2010
    I bought one adult and three POL chickens I found via Craigslist a few months ago. I followed everyone's advice here and its worked out just fine!

    In addition to checking the vent, you want chickens who, as simple as it can be, LOOK healthy!

    You want legs that look like legs, not like tree bark. You want eyes that you can see, that are healthy and shiny, not gooped up with grey gunk. You want feathers that look like healthy shiny good feathers, not ones that are ratty and half pulled out. You want skin that looks healthy, not covered in a dust of dandruff, lice, or mites. You want to see the chickens stand up and walk around. And you do want enough knowledge of rooster vs hen that you don't end up getting the wrong gender by accident.

    If any of the chickens have something that makes you think something is wrong, trust your instinct. A healthy chicken looks healthy. If it does not look healthy, something is likely to be wrong. Sure, it might still work out, but if it doesn't you will have not only paid money for chickens that don't lay or that may end up dying, but you also might have infected your coop and run and have to go to some lengths to disinfect it before you try again.

    So go take a look, chances are you'll get a decent gut feel for the situation.

    (And BTW, all five chickens can travel in a dog crate that's big enough for a large dog like a Golden Retriever, Labrador, or German Shepherd. In fact, the more chickens in the crate, the less they fall over when you bump a pothole or turn a corner. Go ahead, stuff them in. They'll be home and loose soon enough!)
  7. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    What DianeS said.

  8. Raen

    Raen Songster

    Nov 3, 2010
    Thanks for the replies!

    OK, here's how new I am: How do I check the vent? I mean, you have to turn the chicken over....do I hold the wings down and flip her on my lap, or what? Is there a youtube video I can watch?
  9. woodmort

    woodmort Songster

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    I used to regularly sell my second-year laying chickens because I wanted new ones. I'd warn buyers that, while they were healthy, they won't be laying every day but that if that was what they wanted it was "as is". I suspect this may be what is happening here.

    Now to answer your question: As far as what you should expect: They will be disoriented for a few days and it will take them to find their way around. I'd keep them cooped up for a few days for this reason. Probably they will have to establish some sort of pecking order so there may be squabbles. Don't expect them to lay right away, in fact if the age is correct you may run into some molting so you'll have to wait them out. You should get 2 or 3 eggs a day from them for the next couple of years--the exception may be the Red Star, they tend to burn out after their 3rd laying season.
  10. Raen

    Raen Songster

    Nov 3, 2010
    Quote:They are second year hens, and she's moving them to make room for new chicks in the spring. This works pretty well for me, and I know they're past their prime laying and that I probably wont' get much from them this winter, with the change in location and season. She says they're vaccinated and healthy, and I do think I'll be able to tell if they're actively sick.

    Is there a way to say when they're ready to free range? The yard is about 1/4 acre and fenced with 6' chain link. I'm building a small covered run, too, but I want them to be able to roam the yard asap.

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