How to tell if you are getting a good/healthy hen/rooster?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Dixiedoodle, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Songster

    Apr 14, 2007
    Next week-- I will be going to look at some RIR hens and rooster. Tell me what YOU look for in a good heathy hen and rooster. Please keep in mind that I haven't had chickens before and know very little about what I am looking for (I have been reading everything and become a little over whelmed...This man is suppose to be a good breeder and will let me choose from his stock. I want 4 hens --that are started and a young rooster. I have several books that give the disquaifications for show quality birds but do I NEED this type of bird for a back yard flock? I just want health/happy chickens to play with and have eggs. Thank you for describing you idea of a healthy/good chicken...Dixie
  2. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    If you just want pets, you don't "need" show quality.
    Things to look for are: red, waxy waddles and comb, bright eyes, clean and healthy looking feathers (be aware of a bird that doesn't appear to preen itself), no discharge coming from eyes or nose, no sneezing. Also, chickens are active and a healthy bird will scratch, sqwack, peck and move around a lot.
    A bird that is not healthy will have dull eyes, ratty feathers (a healthy molting bird will look this way, however), a depressed or exhausted expression, it will move slowly, not seem interested in treats or food, and it may sneeze or have discharge coming from it's eyes or nose.
    Read up on the signs for lice, mites, worms, etc. and look for them.
    Use your gut instincts when looking at the birds because they will probably be correct.
  3. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    Everything CarriBrown says is perfect. Chickens are very good at hiding illness, so if you actually see anything suspicious, it's not good.
    Do you trust the person you are getting the birds from? Unscrupulous people may try to unload elderly hens that have decreased in their egg production. (However, a healthy hen can lay well into her older years, so...). If the man is a good person, I'd trust his judgement to pick out some nice ones for you. Many folks are very proud of the strains they have developed over the years and don't want to be associated with passing along substandard birds.
    It's difficult for a novice to judge the age of a hen, but there are some tell-tale signs. A young hen should feel somewhat flexible in the breastbone. An old hen will have thicker, slightly scalier legs than younger ones, and you may even see spurs starting to grow.
    Have fun on your chicken adventure!

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