Sick of hatchery hens dying of Egg Peritonitis

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by cambriagardener, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. I would like to add a few chicks or pullets to my small flock. Three years ago I bought six chicks of various breeds from the local farm supply. All chicks were beautiful and healthy. But over the three years, all but one has had "egg-making" problems. The SLW and the GLW both laid eggs with thin shells. The BO had a problem with eggs breaking inside her. The RIR just plain old layed down and died at 1 1/2 years. Now the EE has egg peritonitis and her days are numbered. When she goes, I will need two new pullets and I am determined to not get hatchery chicks.

    Are heritage breed better for healthy egg production. I don't need hens to lay huge eggs every day. It means more to me that they are healthy and lay a few eggs a week and live longer. Can you suggest breed that I might look into? Should I find a farmer with a mix of breeds? Any suggestions will be appreciated.

  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Take it from someone who has had 10 or 11 hatchery hens, plus one daughter of a hatchery hen, die of EYP and/or internal laying: Get better stock. None of my good quality breeder stock has died from this malfunction, not one, at least so far. That tells you something. And I mean quality stock, not just someone who bought hatchery stock and is propagating it and calling themselves a breeder.

    Hatcheries do not breed for longevity. I mean, why would they? Add that to the fact that chicken hens are the only animal on the planet that suffer from spontaneous ovarian tumors just like human women and it's a wonder any live past the age of two.

    None of my BBS Ameraucanas have died from it. The oldest is going on 5 now. None of my Delawares have died from it. They are over 3 now. None of my breeder Orps have died from it, only one hatchery Buff Orp hen did. In fact, none of my breeder type Orps, both BBS and Buff, have had any egg issues whatsoever. These all came from really good breeders. It's not the actual breed, but the quality of the stock, from my experience.

    The further you get from the first generation hatchery stock, the better, IMO. Even mixed breed chickens may be better than "purebred" hatchery hens. I haven't had any trouble out of my crosses except one, though I'm watching one right now who may have an issue. No hen is immune, of course, but your chances are better away from the common hatchery stock.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  3. I will take your advice. I see lots of ads on Craig's List for purebred pullets but I suspicion that they bought chicks at the same place I did, or online, and are breeding them. This is not what I want. I don't need breeding stock since I can't have a rooster, but I need good, healthy hens. My heart breaks a little with a young hen gets sick at the height of her egg-laying career.

    Does anyone have suggestions on the best way to get "good stock"? Should I be looking online. I'd like to drive to pick them up but don't know if that is possible. I live along the central coast of California. I could go inland to Fresno or the central valley but don't know how to find good quality stock there. Any ideas?
  4. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    You can find many good quality stock by visiting those breed sections. I am certainly they will help you make your selection.

    Yes I've had hatchery stock dying of EP, or any egg laying disfunctions. It seems to hit them around two to three years of age. Rarely ever had any live pass five years old.

    I now have breeders Welsummers and issues with egg layings. My Spitzhaubens are from Ideal hatchery, yet, I have not had any egg laying issues so far, probably because of the cross breeding between the Spitz and Polish stock back in their family tree.

    Not sure of the hatchery bantams, some of my friends live longer than the LF, but bantams were not known for the egg production.

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