So sad and frustrated--any advice welcome :(

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mom22alcorns, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. mom22alcorns

    mom22alcorns Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey all,

    I got 10 production red hens 6 weeks ago that I was told were 14 months old. No biggie, not looking for egg machines here.[​IMG] 2 days after I got them I noticed feathers missing and pin feathers coming in around their necks and backs. Asked BYC and found out they were molting. (Thx BYC!) So not expecting anything egg wise until sometime in July. Cool...have just been planning on waiting it out and enjoying how sweet and fun they are. In the last 6 weeks I have gotten a dozen eggs from them. Very surprised as I didn't think they would lay anything at all. But I saved the eggs and when I had enough to cook I decided to make them for breakfast today. Big icky surprise. [​IMG] The shells were on the thin side. The yolk was so pale it was lighter than a store bought egg. And the whites were just plain runny. When I mixed them up to scramble them, it was a pale icky frothy mess. No one wanted me to cook them. I did anyway thinking maybe I would just give them to the hens. They came out practically off white. Nearly no yellow color and just looked unappetizing. The hens inhaled them and didn't seem to care.

    Here's a bit of how their environment is: 20'X23' enclosed run, 6'X8' coop with 2 nesting boxes with open door, wired meshed windows on one side and at roof peak, free range an acre of yeard on weekends, eat 16% layer crumbles, free choice oyster shells, BOSS as daily treats, yogurt, fruit, veggies, and oatmeal as treats about avery 3rd day. I do the deep litter method using pine shavings and DE. Access to fresh water 24/7. Birds don't act sick and are very friendly and active. No laying around much until the heat of the day. They are almost completely in shade no matter the time of day.

    I contacted the woman I got them from and she told me that until I got them from her they had never been outside. WHAT? How is that possible?? She had originally told me she was getting out of the chicken business and concentrating on emus and when I went and picked them up from her she had a really nice large coop and about 150 other production reds that she was selling. All looked clean and healthy. Then this week I notice she has another ad for 300 more hens. Seriously? Where is she getting these hens?

    Sorry for the long post, but my DH is fed up and wanting me to get rid of them and start over with younger hens. But I love each and every one of them and am sad at the thought of getting rid of them. I don't care if they aren't heavy layers, but DH wants them to at least contribute a bit to the family. What do you think guys? Will they come around? If you think their egg will get better with time I will fight to keep them. They are just so sweet. any advice, information, help appreciated!
     
  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm just guessing but it sounds like a big egg farm is getting rid of his older laying hens to make room for younger better laying birds.
     
  3. mom22alcorns

    mom22alcorns Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is there a way to do a search online and find out if there are any egg farms in her area?[​IMG]
     
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Greens give the really orange yolks. Give them foods rich in beta carotene: clover, spinach, swiss chard, cantaloupe, etc. And it may take some time for them to get enough calcium to improve their shells.

    Are their beaks clipped? If so, chances are they are battery hens that lived in a cage their whole life.
     
  5. mom22alcorns

    mom22alcorns Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:They adore cantaloupe...lol I gave them spinach this afternoon and as usual they snubbed it. [​IMG] Their beaks are a bit shorter and rounder on the top than the bottom, but not my much and not all of them are like that. I am hoping to wait it out. They are just so wonderful otherwise [​IMG]
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    They sound like battery hens and are probably spent...having had the lights on all year round, their egg laying has been going nonstop for 2 years. Production hens burn out quickly, particulary if raised in a battery house with battery methods. They shouldn't be molting at this time of the year either....spring is high production time and molting usually starts in July/Aug. The pin feathers coming in could mean your chickens had been victims of feather picking in their mass production living quarters.

    For what it's worth, though you seem attached to these second hand hens, your chicken experience would be better all around if you obtained young birds or even started with chicks. The older battery hens are subject to reproductive system cancers and disorders and with the recent scare of salmonella tainted eggs from battery operations, I'd hesitate to even eat their eggs. That contamination was found to be inside the eggs, meaning those battery hens had to have had systemic salmonella infections that extended to their reproductive systems, not just their digestive tracts.

    If your hens even thrive at your place they more than likely will eat more feed than they produce. Imagine collecting eggs each day with rich, orange yolks that have a sweet, nutty flavor, fully-feathered, shining hens with their full beaks and bright eyes producing healthy eggs for your family for several years to come. The oldest hen in my flock is six this year and still producing like a champ. Chickens raised in optimal conditions, if from good layer breeds, will continue to produce for several years past the 2 year mark.

    Rehome your hand me down hens. And I would never deal with anyone who operates a typical commercial battery operation....they have no thoughts for quality of life, healthy food production or long term sustainability. In other words, they are in it for the money and could care less about their chickens or your health.
     
  7. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would also try giving them some vitamin/electrolytes in the water....seems if they were never outside it may take them a bit to catch up. I hope it works out for you [​IMG]
    I do agree with Beekissed though....it's unfortunate but true....
     
  8. MetalSmitten

    MetalSmitten Chillin' With My Peeps

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    you said you got a dozen eggs over the course of 6 weeks? how old were the eggs? they get more runny with age. that may be part of your problem if the eggs were more than a week or so old. otherwise, i'd agree that they were probably battery hens... they should still be good for some eggs in the future, and proper nutrition + outdoor access will certainly help. but the commercial places tend to get rid of their hens around the time of their first big moult because production goes down too far. sounds a bit more than coincidental then that they started moulting right after you got them... i would possibly not buy birds from that place again. good luck with them though! [​IMG]
     
  9. M.sue

    M.sue Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2011
    Michigan
    I give you so much credit for trying to help these gals. From reading the other posts (and they sound like they know their business) it sounds like they are right about them. With a little TLC and a nutritiously balanced diet you might be able to bring them around. For how long, I don't know. My grandpa always said...Just because it's used or old doesn't mean it's broken!. If they won't produce enough for you to make some kind of money back on them , hopefully you & your family will at least be able to enjoy them even if they're short lived. Good luck and wishing you the best!
     
  10. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Store bought eggs (if I remember correctly) are at least a month old when you buy them. Your hens' nutritional needs are even higher than normal now because of their molt; feathers are high protein. If you keep them, you may get pretty decent egg production in a month or two, and you should get better quality eggs as they catch up on nutrition. Commercial layer isn't as high in protein as some other feeds. Feeding them their own eggs at this point is great, for the protein. For a few weeks you might want to concentrate on upping nutrition.

    Here's a thread about the problems these types of chickens tend to have with the laying system:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=79443&p=1

    If you keep them, it's just something to keep in mind, as there is nothing really to be done about it. And if you do, hopefully in in a month or two you will have at least decent egg production, along with better quality eggs as their nutritional needs are met. Of course there is a reasonable argument to sell and start over; that's up to you. I wish you the best in your chicken adventure, whichever way you go.
     

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