How long to keep chickens......

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by juliawitt, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. juliawitt

    juliawitt Songster

    Aug 9, 2009
    When I was growing up, we only kept a batch of chickens for two years. So, we had 2 year old hens, 1 year old hens and then the new babies. Each year, once the newest girls started laying the 2 year old girls would go to the freezer. I did not want to do that. But I am finding that as my girls are now 3 years old, we have a problem each month. Someone just keels over, someone is lethargic, one just quit walking and on and on. I now have another girl with no real symptoms, she just is not perky. Good color, eating and drinking but lazy and has no energy. I have no idea how to treat her because I cannot tell what her problem is. So, my question is....after 3 years of age, can I expect chickens to start experiencing health issues? My young girls never have a problem, just my aging girls....We have a beautiful coop, lots of ventilation. We keep it quite clean. Summer we have a vent fan, winter a calf barn heater. We clean waters almost everyday. We give an organic layer food. I add some game bird feed for extra protein. Fancy scratch in the morning. Couple of times a week, I will give oatmeal and yogurt. Free choice oyster shell. They free range, with me watching 2 or 3 times a week. For all my hardwork, I keep having a problem. Should I just give up and butcher all my 3 year olds? Am I not doing something right? Suggestion are very welcome.....It is disheartening that I cannot seem to go a full month without someone acting sick........
  2. farmdude

    farmdude Songster

    Sep 20, 2009
    NE Wisconsin
    What breed of chickens do you have? I have longtailed chcikens and mine live on without problems. I have never had a bird live past 10. they keep laying but not as much and it seems the older the birds the more broody they get. It sounds like you are doing everything fine.
  3. Glenmar

    Glenmar Songster

    Jan 17, 2011
    I am not sure what to advise. This is my first full year with chickens. Mine were hatched spring of 2010. I also thought about replacing them next spring by taking them to a swap, and then hatching some new chicks, but so far they are still laying great.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    You might consider worming your flock once in awhile to see if it will help. There is a period of time (egg withdrawal) where you must toss the eggs after the medication.

    Lack of energy could easily be worms.

    You can find a vet to do a fecal test for worms for a small fee if you don't wish to medicate without proof.

    Just a thought!

    (Mites can also suck the blood/energy from them.)
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2011
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    It can depend on your breed, where you got your chicks, how you fed them when they were young, meds given, etc.

    The majority of my flock is 5 yrs and some are 6 yrs old and still laying every or every other day. I chose for hardiness and egg genetics and have raised them without chemicals. I've had no illness but I did have some production blacks who fell off the roost with heart attacks in their first and second years.
  6. juliawitt

    juliawitt Songster

    Aug 9, 2009
    My oldest girls are a combo of Dominques, SLWs and GLWs. I fed medicated crumbles for 10 weeks then on to flock food until laying. The sick one (right now) is a Dom. Perfectly fine until 4 days ago. The heat was terrible this summer. I gave electrolytes in their water and lots of watermelon, veggies and of course, their regular food, which was flock pellets. I am so frustrated right now. This Dom is beautiful and very sweet. I thought that I would try to build them up with the idea that my birds are stressed due to the difficult summer. I gave cooked oatmeal mixed with greek yogurt and scrambled eggs each morning this weekend. The sick Dom ate her portion. She is pooping yellow watery poo. A little more perky but obviously not right. I have read, and read some more. At first I though it might be cocci, but due to the fact that she is ruffled, isn't having bloody poos and was medicated as a peep, I'm beginning to think that cocci isn't the answer. She is drinking alot. I'm starting to wonder if it isn't kidney failure. She isn't egg bound, her lower abdomen feels just like my other girls and she isn't waddling. Her crops feels fine. Her color is good and her comb is red and waxey. No other bird has any similiar symptoms and after 4 days, maybe longer, (it's been 4 days since I noticed)...I would think others would be pooping yellow runny poo also. I'm leaving on vacation this Friday and the last thing I wanting to be thinking about is a sick hen........ideas are very, very welcome. I hate the idea of treating with Corid and then finding out I further stressed my girls for nothing. I wormed appr. 4 months ago with wazine.........Wanted to add, we clean the coop every week, dust for mites, bleach out all containers. Checked everyone for mites yesterday....Nada.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011
  7. Animalian

    Animalian Songster

    Jun 18, 2011
    Someone on here has a 13 year old chicken, it has developed grey feathers around its beak and everything!

    I have also read about a project studying the health of chickens, they had about 50, a few would die and they would dissect them, all riddled with cancer. When the remaining birds reached the age of five they killed them all, dissected them and found that they all had cancer at various stages except for three of them!

    Must be prone to it I guess, except for those lucky three and the 13year old.

    Perhaps that's what it could be, I know two people who have got cancer, on had lumps, the other just "felt really off" <her words
  8. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

    Jun 4, 2011
    hatchery birds really aren't bred to have long lives. They select for birds that will lay fairly young, lay a lot of eggs, and then be culled for food. Think assembly line production.
  9. lorain's fids

    lorain's fids Songster

    Jul 9, 2011
    New Jersey
    Maybe it could be something in the water. Do they drink tap water or water from the garden hose. I know it has been said not to drink water from a garden hose anymore, I'm not sure what chemicals leech from the hose into the water, but I know it was bad for your health.
  10. Blue

    Blue Songster

    Apr 6, 2010
    I'm not sure about the garden hose thing. We have always watered our chickens with water we poured from the garden hose, and our oldest hens right now are around 5 or 6 with no apparent problems.

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