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

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' 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. OvertheHenHouse

    OvertheHenHouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2011
    San Diego
    A couple of years ago we moved from LA to San Diego. Sorry I don't know and can't advise about where to buy hens up there (you might want to check with feed stores in Santa Clarita, Agua Dulce and Acton, and perhaps also check farmyard rescue organizations), but want to suggest Craigslist (and I'd imagine this forum) as an option. Do you want any kind of egg, or do you want a specific color /size? Do you want a particular 'look' in chicken, or would any chicken do? Do you want a specific temperament, or is 'anything goes' OK?
    If you have opinionated answers on any of the above, I'd suggest going breed-specific. If none of it matters and what you're looking for is an egg layer, then you've probably found what you need (although I'd still suggest checking the outlying areas and CL). Good luck - and congratultations on finishing your coop / run!!!
  3. francielcsw

    francielcsw New Egg

    Sep 18, 2011
    Thanks so much for your reply!
    Re: opinions: Eggs: want frequent, large, tasty! Don't care about color.
    Look: No preference, but no experience either!
    Temperament: Friendly, some character, not too feisty & not nervous; I'm told however, that if I get these hens that are at Blacksmith's, since they have been there for over a month or two, that the chickens won't be that friendly since they are not really socialized? That was a little disappointing to hear, but I thought perhaps I could help them adapt with attention and especially treats?

    I did check Craigslist and have begun to peruse this site.... I'll also check the other areas you mentioned. I was hoping that La Canada or La Cresenta would have chickens too!

    Thanks again!
  4. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Quote:Steer away from Cornish or Polish as Cornish is a short lived meat type, and polish don't lay well. Other than that, most breeds commonly sold should fit the bill for you just fine. As for the unsocialized birds, you will be able to bring around almost any hen with patience, kindness, and treats. They are very food driven hehe. Truth is, none are really socialized much in the beginning anyway.

    It's perfectly ok to get "farm hens" rather than known breeds but it's hard to know what to expect if it's not a known breed.
  5. 7kids12hens

    7kids12hens Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 20, 2011
    My favorite hens are americanas, and they are considered mutts. They can definitely be won over and at the very least will eat out of your hand very quickly. I have 11 hens. 4 of them like to be held, most of the others eat out of my hand. 2 of them squawk like crazy if you touch them, so I'm just happy for them to do that. They all come right up to me and are very curious about what I'm doing. I would try to get everyone from the sameplace at the same time. That's easier and safer than trying to add them 2 or 3 at the time. Then you have to worry about somone bringing in disease.
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    2. How young a chicken can I get that can go directly into coop & run, rather than needing special care in the home first?

    My baby chicks grow up in the coop only, never in the house, and I am far from alone in this. I do have power in my coop so can provide a heat lamp, though, and a draft free setup. If you don't have a heat source, they will certainly be ready for the coop at 6 to 8 weeks. Or sooner, depending on your outdoor temps. Last spring I turned off the heat lamp at 3 weeks because they were avoiding it, even to sleep; nighttime lows were in the 60's or so. Chicks raised by a broody can be outdoors from day one, even in our winters (occasionally down to the teens) as mama takes care of warmth.​
  7. Darklingstorm

    Darklingstorm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 10, 2011
    Durant, Oklahoma
    I got mine from a feed store and online hatchery (day old chicks only), but I've read several other posts on here and this is what I've learned.

    1. Know your breeder very well. Getting "farm hens" means that they should be around 4-6 months old, but if you don't know your breeder you might end up with a hen that has already reached her peak production and is on the down hill slide.

    2. Know how to identify any health problems. Mites and lice can not only infest the bird but your coop and run too. So getting chickens already infested will infest everything else. So look at the birds and living conditions closely. Look at the eggs laid too. See if the eggs already laid are well formed and firmed shelled.

    3. Know how to identify a male from a female. If you go to someone that isn't honest and don't know anything, they just might try to "off load" some extra roosters on to you saying that these hens just haven't started laying yet. Lots of times only the Alpha rooster will crow and be a rooster, sub roosters I've heard can act a lot like a hen so that they don't attract the Alpha rooster's attention.

    4. Know what feed they are being feed. Switching their feed and moving to a new home can sometime put a chicken in shook and severely delay egg production. Switching feed fast can also cause diarrhea. If they are laying they should be on layers feed or finisher feed with calcium offered.

    5. Ask lots and lots of questions, make a list and don't be scared to just flat out ask. Chicken lovers (like us here) will love to answer any and all questions. Yes, some are in it just for the food or business end, but they too should be very knowledgeable in their chickens. If the breeder can't answer simple questions, then that should give you a big red flag and I would go some place else.

    Good luck on the chicken hunt and welcome to BYC
  8. kizanne

    kizanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    I have several barn hens and some from Feed store hatchery orders.

    I love my barn hens but I also knew approximately which breeds were mixed, not exactly but I knew they were barred rock, RIR, and such that are layers of normal size.

    I'd get them only if you know that have the characteristics of chickens you are interested in.

    Mine have been very enjoyable as I got them at 1 week old and they have had me guessing the whole time what mixes they were. And I have naturally ended up with a rainbow pack of eggs, I have one green, one blue, one reddish, one speckled, 2 brown, 3 light brown, one dark brown but not quite chocolate layer.

    I also can't have a rooster so I won't try breeding. If I was going to breed I'd probably go with pure breeds from known lines or something.
  9. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Chillin' With My Peeps

    I started out with farm hens and as one poster mentioned it's been a blast trying to guess what is in their gene pool!

    Do ask to see laid eggs

    Do ask if you can return them if for some reason you're not happy with them. `Sometimes you can and sometimes you can't... But ask!

    Do look at the chicken. Are their feathers clean, bright and glossy? Are any feathers missing? Look at their butt, is it dirty? Do they smell bad? Do they look bright eyed and curious? Do you see any obvious health problems?

    Can the seller give you a rough guess as to their ancestry?

    And last, [​IMG]
  10. OvertheHenHouse

    OvertheHenHouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2011
    San Diego
    Lots of good advice. My Easter Eggers are the friendliest in my little flock, followed by my marans. If you do a little research into breeds, you'll be able to pinpoint ones that fit what you're looking for. I wanted a mixed bunch of egg colors and friendly birds. I decided on Cuckoo Marans (deep chocolate colored eggs), Easter Eggers (although I was told mine were Ameraucanas - boy have I learned a lot about that here at BYC! - greenish and pinkish eggs), and Buff Brahmas (light brown eggs - they were an impulse buy because they're so unusual around here and so beautiful and are supposed to be friendly). I also ended up with a couple of Silkies because they were the last two at the feed store and they looked sad. Rhode Island Reds and Orpingtons are good layers and friendly hens, and the Orpingtons are really laid back (I like buff orps best - they're a classic big yellow chicken - and wouldn't be surprised if I added some later).
    Here in San Diego you can usually find breeders on CL who have young, hand-raised hens. You know who the good ones are because they post regularly. I know there's a breeder out in Riverside County - possibly in Norco? - who posts on CL down here. Don't know if they post up there or if that's too far afield for you but wanted to mention it.
    Good luck and have fun!

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