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Identifying HEalthy Laying hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by leo, May 19, 2008.

  1. leo

    leo New Egg

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    May 19, 2008
    Recently we purchased many laying hens of different sorts and we are dissmayed of our selections. The main question that we have, HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE HEALTHY ONES, WE TAKEN WORDS OF SELLERS...BEWARE.
    Some said bright yellow legs, high red combs.
    What are the real indicators ?
     
  2. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Here's two different charts I found:
    The Family Poultry Flock Edited by Lee Schwanz A Farmer's Digest Publication
    Quick guide to productive hens
    Layers and nonlayers

    Character Layer Nonlayer
    Comb..........................Large, smooth, bright red, glossy..........Dull, dry, shriveled, scaly.
    Face...........................Bright red.........................................Yellowish tint.
    Vent...........................Large, smooth, moist..........................Shrunken, puckered, dry
    Pubic bones.................Thin, pliable, spread apart....................Blunt, rigid, close together.
    Abdomen.....................Full, soft, pliable.................................Contracted, hard, fleshy
    Skin...........................Soft, loose.........................................Thick, underlaid with fat.

    High and low producers
    Character High producer Low producer
    (continuous laying) (brief laying)

    Vent..............Bluish white..........................Yellow or flesh color.
    Eye ring..........White..................................Yellow.
    Ear lobe..........White..................................Yellow.
    Beak...............White.................................Yellow.
    Shanks............White, flattened...................Yellow, round.
    Plumage..........Worn, soiled.........................Not much worn.
    Moting............Late, rapid...........................Early, slow

    A Guide To Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow
    Culling Checklist
    Body Part Good Layer Poor Layer

    Carriage........................active and alert.......................lazy and listless
    Eyes.............................bright and Sparkling.................dull and sunken
    Comb and wattles...........large and bright......................small and pale
    Shanks.........................thin and flat...........................round and full
    Back.............................wide.....................................narrow or tapered
    Abdomen.......................deep and soft.........................shallow and hard
    Pubic bones*.................wide apart and flexible.............tight and stiff
    Vent*...........................large and moist......................puckered and dry
    Plumage........................warn, dry, and dirty................smooth, shiny, clean
    Molt.............................late......................................early
    Skin.............................bleached................................yellow

    * Most reliable indicators.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    78
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    If you mean healthy as in 'has been laying well, recently' then you can look for bleaching-out of the shanks, wattles, ears etcetera which happens when a hen has laid a lotta eggs in the recent past. And you can look at her vent; if it is pink and loose-ish looking she is more likely to be in current lay than if it is pale and dry and tight. (edited to add: remember that birds transported to a new home and new flock may stop laying for some days or weeks - it's pretty normal)

    However, if you mean the current health of the bird as in 'not carrying any diseases of which it is likely to soon drop dead and infect half the rest of the flock', I do not believe there is any good way to be sure an adult bird isn't incubating something Bad.

    This is especially true if you're buying at an animal sale or auction, where they're all exposed to each others' exciting germs (and where, frankly, a lot of the birds that are for sale there are for sale for a *reason*, if you get my drift). But it's true when buying from private flocks too. And remember that chickens often carry things that don't bother them at home but when stressed by transport and a new home and new flock, the chicken's resistance is lowered and it gets sick.

    If you don't quarantine new, adult birds for a month or so, then unfortunately that just IS sort of a big 'kick me' sign [​IMG]

    Buying day old chicks and raising them up yourself is MUCH safer, flock health wise.

    Dunno if that helps any, but good luck to you,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2008

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