I know it's not polite to ask a lady...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lisebarb, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. lisebarb

    lisebarb Songster

    but how can you tell how old a hen really is?

    The fellow I bought my girls from told me they were all under 2 years old but then I read something here about telling the age of a bird by how scaly their legs are. Being a newbie I wouldn't know how smooth or scaly a chicken's legs should be or if that's even true.

    So, since I can't ask the girls, how DO you tell?
  2. bluey

    bluey thootp veteran

    Apr 10, 2008
    Washington, PA
    I think the approximate age can be told by how faded the color of the legs are but you have to know by breed, what color they start off.
  3. ella

    ella Songster

    You can tell how old they are during their first year, especially the first 6 months because they develop pretty uniformly. But past that it gets a lot tougher.

    The legs thing; if they are a yellow legged breed and the legs have completely bleached out they've been laying for about 24 weeks. Here's a page that explains how to evaluate a layer: http://www.msstate.edu/dept/poultry/extcull.htm

    whole how scaley the legs are as age indicator is bull. Hen's with scaley leg mites will get progressively rougher legs that's proably where that came from. My 6 year old girls have lovely smooth legs <--- hmm that didn't come out right! [​IMG]

    If you already have them you can tell approx. age by how many eggs you're getting. One egg every other or every third day and they're probably under 3 years old. But nothing is set in stone because laying ability depends on many factors, such as breed, time of year, general health etc...

    So bottom line, there's no way that I know of to definitively tell a hen's age, sorry!
  4. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    I have heard that feeling the breast bone can give a guess as to a hen's age...
    If it's flexible, it's young and if it's not it's older.

    You could check their teeth and count the rings...[​IMG]
  5. Lunachick

    Lunachick Chicken Slave

    Mar 19, 2007
    Brick, NJ

    But first you have to catch the dern things!
  6. the1much

    the1much Currently Birdless Hippy

    whatever she tells you,, add 5 years [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. buckeye lady

    buckeye lady Songster

    Sep 29, 2008
    Rootstown Ohio
  8. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] another good thread going south.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2008
  9. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
  10. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Quote:Yeah, if the breast bone's flexible the pullet is probably under 4 months old.

    The breast bone's pretty much solid by around 5 months of age, with some variation due to breed. I know for sure from looking at breast bones in birds we've butchered at different ages. Even by 20 weeks, only a bit at the tip (1/4 to 1/2 inch) is still cartilaginous and flexible. That's too small to feel for sure on a live bird.

    You probably won't be able to find out how old she is. If she still lays eggs, don't worry, be happy.[​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: