Should I buy already laying hens?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by winecountrychic, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. winecountrychic

    winecountrychic Hatching

    Jan 28, 2013
    I have 4 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes that are 7 weeks old and they have a comfortable set up in the garage. I finished their coop and run and it got me thinking that I could buy a few hens on Craigslist that are already laying and leave my chicks in the garage for a while longer. Good idea or bad idea?

  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    I can't tell you if the it will be a good or a bad idea, but you can do that, yes. Keep the new chickens quarantined away from your chicks for at least a month to make sure they don't carry disease or pests and I'd suggest you deworm and dust them for mites as a precaution also. If possible go to the seller and have a look at the conditions the chickens are kept in and look for any signs or injury/disease etc.

    It will be better to introduce the chicks to the older chickens when they are more or less the same size, so you should plan your housing arrangements so you can keep them separate until then.
  3. cmoore333

    cmoore333 Chirping

    Jan 28, 2013
    I have done something similar, I bought 3 hens in October, then bought 2 more hens and a roster off Craig's list (set up a seperate coop for the) but they got combined after two weeks (happens when my daughter got scared of Frank:( when she was helping out... So we bought new chicks two weeks ago,and they are now in my living room (living in an old toy box of my daughters) till they are old enough to go outside,well I was checking out Craig's list again and found such a deal I just bought four more hens...I have them separated from my old flock, this time there shouldn't be any mishaps and they are staying in thier own pen for the full 4 weeks:)
  4. NotableNancy

    NotableNancy Songster

    Dec 28, 2012
    My husband wanted to do this as well. I opted to just wait to get the chicks and not get laying hens as well for a few reasons.
    I am a newbie and wouldn't know if I was being sold a young hen or an old one. Seems many people sell their hens when their egg production is slowing and don't tell you that. I wouldn't know what to look for as far as diseases/mites/lice etc. Even with quarantining I could be inviting a whole host of problems into my coop. And last, I've read many people get their 'hens' and they turn out to be young roos. I don't think my neighbors would appreciate crowing at odd hours so I'm not planning on having any.
    If you have someone you trust you can buy them from and know they are healthy/young etc then I would say go for it. Or maybe you can bring someone that is knowledgable about poultry and they can help you.
    Of course I am a complete newbie and am only passing on info I have read on here but honestly, I'm so excited about getting my chicks I have read these forums for hours and hours!!!
    Good luck and let us know what you decide.
  5. what did I do

    what did I do Songster

    Apr 10, 2012
    Just know that you can introduce unwanted bugs or illnesses into your coop by doing this. It may not happen but it can.

    I think I would move the chicks you have now out to the coop and get more chicks.
  6. winecountrychic

    winecountrychic Hatching

    Jan 28, 2013
    Thanks for the input. I think I have already decided to just wait it out for eggs from my chicks because I am a little leary about getting adult hens that I didn't socialize myself since I have 2 little girls.
  7. missnu01

    missnu01 Songster

    Nov 16, 2012
    Had the same issue when I bought some adult craigslist chickens...He said it was 3 laying hens and a rooster. It was actually one hen that was too old to lay, one that was too young, and one that lays like some sort of crazy egg obsessed beast...We ate the one that wasn't laying, and the one that hadn't started finally has, now 2 months later...the other one is still a laying machine...The rooster is also awesome, but not much of a rooster when it comes to protecting the hens, or even watching them really.. I then got a mama chicken with 7 chicks. 2 of the chicks got sick and had to be culled, but the remaining 5 are doing awesome...4 pullets and a cockerel they are now at the point of lay getting in their little red combs, and the cockerel has started breeding the hens, but no crowing that I can tell so far...I also picked up a free silkie roo off craigslist and he's great. Actually watches and follows the hens, and acts like a rooster, although the big roo won't let him breed the hens...Lol. So I have a muttley flock of 10 various "used" chickens, and am ordering quite a few in the spring.

    You can easily tell the difference between roos and pullets by the time chicks are 8-10 weeks old, so that isn't really an issue as long as you do your research.

    I think it is good to start with a few adult chickens, just because I know I like the justification of being able to collect eggs when my chicks are still growing up I will still be able to get a few eggs while waiting...But there is definitely a risk with buying anything "used"...and chickens are not exempt to the buyer beware clause.

  8. Chickluver2012

    Chickluver2012 In the Brooder

    Nov 3, 2012
    Do you have your hens each one by herself? How did you find out which one is not laying??
  9. missnu01

    missnu01 Songster

    Nov 16, 2012
    I would get one egg, and only see the one hen going into or coming out of the nest's easy with only 3 or 4 chickens. Not to mention turns out that the one that is laying lays white eggs, while the other 2 should have laid brown, I didn't know that then---and my workhorse leghorn white layer is ridiculously loud, so for the first few days there would be a terrible screeching commotion and I would dash up to the coop to find the white hen laying a huge egg, while the other chickens crowded around making quieter noises...She would be like BAWK "I'm laying an egg" and the other hens would bobobok quietly back as if to say "yes you are laying an egg". For whatever reason the leghorn laying an egg, is still sometimes a community event. The big roo that came with the first set of hens always looks on and offers reassuring noises, but sometimes all the chickens will huddle around the nest box to offer their support bawks...I don't know why...

    Anyway I am rambling on...I knew she was the one laying because she is loud about it, and she was the only one ever in the nest box leaving behind eggs. We were apparently right, since she still lays an egg a day...
    It will be harder when we have more chickens. Right now I have a hen that lays a x-large white egg, one that lays an x-large brown egg, and one that lays a medium to large brown I can tell who is slacking...when I have 15 or so brown egg layers it will be hard, but the trick is to just watch closely and spend time in the coop wearing old pants sitting in the floor just hanging out with the chickens. You will get to see the dynamic and who is doing what. Like the outside of the coop egg gathering boxes...No way, not for me...I want to go in the coop and spend some time with the hens...

    Sometimes you can tell whose egg is whose by where you find it...
    My leghorn lays upstairs in the coop in an x-large dog crate that is my meet each other but don't eat each other, and also my broody spot...
    While the other 2 hens lay downstairs in the garage under the stairs that lead up to the coop.
    Once I have more chickens I might have to take more notes.

    I have heard of people putting different colored food coloring on their hens bums so they can see what color marked eggs they get...but if more than one hen uses the same nest that might get a little difficult. I believe the trick is silently watching and being part of the flock a couple of times a day. We'll see what my method is once we get more that are laying. We have 4 getting ready to start, and they were all from the same hatch, so might lay very similar eggs, so we'll see then how good at figuring it out I am.

    Also in the first instance the one hen was obviously of an advanced age, much like the rooster we got at the same time. It's like the guy started with a hen and roo, then got another hen, then got another hen.. I don't know how old my leghorn is, but she seems like she isn't too old, simply because she lays 5-6 days a week, but also because she just doesn't look old. her feet aren't all gnarly looking, and she just seems neither young nor old...I would guess her to be 2 or 3...the Buff Orp is probably around 9 or 10 months because she looked full grown when we got her, but just started to lay after we had her for a few months...
    The older hen was very hefty looking, with duller feathers, and just looked--well old...Lol. She may have had some other issues that were keeping her from laying....When we processed her she was full of fat...way more fat than it is possible she was too obese to lay. I don't know what that guy was feeding them, but I feel like it wasn't optimal..then again the rooster is crazy for scratch and will hound you relentlessly until you give him some, so that might have something to do with why she was so fat...either way I don't want to feed a chicken that is doing nothing for the flock other than eating the food that more useful chickens need...I figure even a non laying chicken can be useful as dinner for a couple nights in the way of dumplings or stew.

    Jeezus I am long winded/fingered/typed? So yeah just watch and you might be able to see who is who in the nest boxes.
  10. missnu01

    missnu01 Songster

    Nov 16, 2012
    To finish up, if I had to do it over again I would do it just the same. I really like my adult already producing chickens, and wouldn't want to not have them...I am also super looking forward to chicks, but I really love eggs...and don't really love waiting at it made more sense...also made my husband more into the chickens since he gets to see at least a small return on the investment right in the beginning.

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