Question for people who have culled & processed hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Carolyn, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. Carolyn

    Carolyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2008
    I have mostly processed excess young roos but recently culled some hens. One was a healthy young hen but she was culled for good reason and when I processed her she had an egg ready to be laid and evidence of many future eggs. I remembered when my grandmother stewed up a hen the yolks of various sizes were there.

    I purchased welsummers at different times from a gentleman who got hatchery birds originally and these were second or third generation later. One hen became fatter than the others, looked healthy and never laid. She was definitely not a roo. When I culled her there was nothing inside that looked like she had any potential for laying. She was over a year old and otherwise healthy.

    Several months later a sister hen went thru a molt and she began to look frail, lost weight but showed no signs of illness. Pretty sure she wasn't laying but not certain. I felt like it was the molt and tried to make sure she had extra protein but expected her to pull out of it however she died. She was about 1 1/2 years old. I did not autopsy her but visual external inspection showed no problems and she was re growing feathers.

    That left 3 of the hens, and because I lost some to predators I am not sure of the age but they were within 6 months if not the same age as the above hens. My egg production for wellies was way down. It soon became obvious 2 were molting, then they started the weight loss, etc. The other looked fine and kept laying. I decided to cull these two. There was no sign of illness but the ovary area had grey eggs, no yellow at all. Is this common in hens that are going to resume laying??? These hens were less than 2 years old and were not early or prolific layers.

    I do know that the previous owner fed mostly corn in the winter and game food during rest of year when he wanted them to lay. They had limited free ranging. I feed them game feed initially with scatch daily and limited free range. Later I switched to laying pellets because they weren't laying well which helped. My chickens now free range over a large yard and wooded area. The last hen seems to be fine. They were never without supplemental calcium once laying.
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Optimal nutrition gives optimal production results whether that be eggs or meat.
    If you want the most eggs, a complete layer feed should be given as at least 95% of the total intake.
    Lots of research has gone into what it takes for max egg output. You can take advantage of all that scientific research and buy a complete feed
    or you can give a hodgepodge of feed stuffs and deal with the results
    or you can do your own research and figure out what grains, seeds, legumes, protein/mineral/vitamin supplements you need to blend at what ratios to give good results.
    Traditionally scratch grains were the only supplement provided chickens but traditionally, free ranging meant access to quality foodstuffs and traditionally, they didn't get 250 eggs a year from hens.
    Free ranging on quality forage can provide good nutrition.
    Unless you have that and you opt to make up a feed and you miss an essential amino acid/mineral/trace element/vitamin etc. you can dramatically affect production or even cause death. Scientific poultry nutrition research has been ongoing for 100 years and reinventing the wheel is something most people don't have the time or money to do.

    Corn is a very incomplete feed as is any other single grain.
    Game bird feed does provide extra protein and I give it to chicks but it is formulated for growing pheasant/partridge/turkey etc. and may be missing things layers need.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  3. Carolyn

    Carolyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2008
    Thank you, Chicken Canoe, I am pretty sure these birds had some nutritional issues that resulted in poor laying and a shorter life.

    I want to know if a hens ovaries have gray not yellow immature eggs is this ever normal. There were several immature eggs, but all were pretty small. I guess there is no way to tell but that seemed so odd when I processed them.

    My birds always have layer feed, extra calcium, quality garden/kitchen scraps and access to several acres of woods and grass, weeds and flower beds. Additionally they get egg shells and have oyster shell calcium available. The only time I ever fed the game feed was several weeks after I first got them because I thought it was best to continue the feed they were on and I had no other chickens. All my wellies were bought at POL.

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