OK to purchase "farm hens" rather than try to get known breeds?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by francielcsw, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. francielcsw

    francielcsw New Egg

    Sep 18, 2011

    I just got my coop and run ready, and have called the only place I know in the greater Los Angeles area, Blacksmith's in Bellflower, to get some adult hens. They said they mostly have "farm hens" , some of which are laying eggs, although they don't know which ones are or not. I'm a little confused as to whether I should go ahead and buy 3 of their hens, or look elsewhere for particular breeds that I have been reading about. I'm interested in hens for laying, and am open to having a younger hen, although not baby chicks as I'm not prepared to care for them in my home.

    Anyone have any suggestions re:

    1. OK to just buy "generic" farm hens, rather than trying to ascertain their breed?
    2. How young a chicken can I get that can go directly into coop & run, rather than needing special care in the home first?
    3. As you can see, I am eagerly wanting to start having chickens, but don't know how to take an informed plunge -- any advice is appreciated!
    4. Do you happen to know any places in the greater Los Angeles, CA area where I can buy chickens besides Blacksmith's? I live between Glendale and Pasadena.

    Happy to be here!
    Thanks very much!
  2. becky3086

    becky3086 Crested Crazy

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thomson, GA
    There is nothing wrong with getting mixed chickens if you just want some eggs.
    The only chicks that need special care are those that are still brooding. If you are buying chicks ask if they are still in the brooder or not. If they are out in the pen-no problem.
    How to take an informed plunge--read, here and get a chicken book. There are way too many sources of information for anyone to be making any uninformed plunges.
    Can't answer the last one.
  3. Oldhound

    Oldhound Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 21, 2011
    South Carolina
    If you have no experience and do not know how to tell if a hen is a 'good layer" by looking at her then you might be better off with Ready to Lay or Point of Lay pullets . Also moving a laying hen nearly always puts her off and she can stop laying for weeks . Any experienced poultry farmer should know the signs of a good layer . I would be suspicious of any farmer who says they can't tell if a hen is laying. There are some good hybrid / crossbred layers that are crosses of excellent layer bloodlines and I do not mean MONGRELS . Good Luck , but if I were you I would keep looking and increase your options.
  4. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    If you don't want a specific breed, a barnyard mutt will be just fine. However, I wouldn't buy from anyone who didn't know whether their hens were laying or not. It sounds to me like a good way to get yourself some non-laying hens.
  5. Malita

    Malita Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 23, 2011
    McKinney, TX
    We raised my bantams from chicks but got tired of waiting for eggs. So we bought 4 farm hens so we could have eggs now and full sized eggs vs. the cute bantam eggs. The farmer showed me how to check that they were laying and we checked each one. They have blended in so well. You'd never know they weren't raised as pets and we got eggs right away. We've had a few adjustment problems with one laying every other day and very soft shells but other than that - it went so smoothly.
  6. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2011
    watch the Riverside County craigslist for laying hens for sale... its not that far a drive from where you are and they regularly come up for sale (used to live there)... basically check the more rural areas around you. if you're N of LA, try the cragislist for Santa Barbara, ventura, maybe central coast. that's a pleasant drive, and worth doing if there are chickens to be had!

    you can also try the local humane society, Riverside County has chickens for adoption on a regular basis and they'll know if they're laying. don't know what the cost is, however, and it might be more than for a purchased chicken.

    you should be able to find hens that are laying now if you look just a little wider, geographically speaking.

    we bought farm hens when we moved to MO about 3 months ago, the farmer didn't know what breed the were (after some research, looks like they're New Hampshires) but said they were gentle to handle (they are) and good layers (they are). I neglected to ask about age, but it has worked out fine. we get 3-5 eggs a day, from 5 hens and a rooster, and that's plenty for what we need. we did see about 2 weeks with fewer eggs right after we moved them. I suspect they're getting better feed than they were as over the last month the eggs have gotten steadily larger.
  7. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 19, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    1. Sure, if you don't care about what kind they are, but I would be SURE to make SURE they are NOT old (over 1 year) and that they are laying.

    2. Generally they can go out in the coop at 8 weeks as long as they have all their feathers and the weather is good.

    3. To get them to know that your coop is their new home you will need to lock them inside the coop (with food and water) for a few days without letting them out at all. (Make sure they aren't too hot.) Then they can be let out into their run or your yard and they will all go back into the coop every night at dusk.

    4. I'm sure there are a lot of places to buy chickens. I would look here on the California, Southern California, and San Diego threads.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  8. Cosmopolis Chick

    Cosmopolis Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 24, 2010
    Grays Harbor
    Quote:hi and [​IMG] !
    I want to urge you to resist the urge to buy the first hens you see (like I did when I was young).
    You should be able to pick the hens up, from the cage or from the sellers hands, and EXAMINE them. You may think "oh, it's only $15.00" (or whatever
    is the going rate in your area) but it's NOT only 15 bucks! You get her home and she will eat her head off for months while you [a.] wait for her to lay,
    or [b.] treat her for mites, worms, upper respiratory infection, low body weight, and oodles of other bad/sad things! Some hens look nice and chunky
    but under all of the feathers they're underweight. That's not a healthy girl!

    You say you're thinking of buying 3, that's a good number to start out with, I would suggest you buy all 3 (or 12, or whatever you decide on) at the
    SAME place on the SAME day. That will limit cross-infection of the above mentioned nasties. Plus, if they all turn out to have mites or a cough - I would
    return them and demand my money back (and ya gotta thoroughly clean your coop and run.)

    As you examine each hen don't rush and get embarrassed you're holding the seller up. Look how the seller grabs & holds them and do the same.
    People have different ways and may get mad if you have a way they're not familiar with. I grab my hens right at the top of the wings, right where
    they join the body, getting my thumb under one wing and my first two fingers under the other, and hold tight. This prevents the frantic flapping most
    hens will do - plus I can keep the beak AWAY FROM MY EYES. BYE, the hen should be struggling/active, not limp or sleepy. That leaves my other hand
    free to examine: nostrils for any discharge (should be NONE), eyes for discharge or sores, gently examine several areas of skin for mites or sores, feet
    should be clean and intact (no weird diseases or missing toes), and lastly the vent should be loose looking and moist with mucus. A dry puckered up
    vent means she is either too young, too old, or taking a long vacation from laying. If you see anything gross, or any birds coughing - stop, make your
    excuses, and LEAVE.

    The time invested in examining the girls on purchase day will pay off a hundred fold with happy, healthy, egg-producing hens.

    If, after you have your little flock all set up you should decide to just "go look" (RIGHT, we all do that and come home with one or two!) at some hens for
    sale be sure to disinfect yourself when you get home. Anytime you visit ANYONE'S poultry of any kind, chickens, ducks, quail, turkeys, ANYTHING, you
    should wash your hands, change your clothes, and wipe your shoes/boots down with a dilute bleach solution. No, that's not going overboard, take a
    look at the "Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures" board under "Community Forum". Don't let it make you paranoid. For the most part chickens
    are very hardy and healthy and bounce back from almost anything. but you are way ahead of the game if you buy clean birds and then make an effort to
    keep them clean.

    Oh, by the way, I also do not allow folks to visit my chickens. When I am selling a bird they make an appointment and I meet them at my front door at the
    appointed time. They SHOULD ask to see the flock and my set-up but they never do. If anyone should ever ask I will allow them to view from the house
    windows which are real close. People that already have chickens have the potential of carrying respiratory disease in on their hands or shoes.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by