1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    Not a member yet? join BYC here & then introduce yourself in our community forum here.

symptoms of old age in hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by warren, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. warren

    warren Songster

    Sep 29, 2007
    My 2.5 year old hen had watery droppings for a while. Then she started to be more easy going with her companion and stopped bullying her. Then she started to lay pale coloured eggs. (They had always been brown up till then.) Finally she started drinking lots of water and became very tired. At this point I sadly destroyed her as I knew that she could not go on. Her companion, who was not so prolific a layer, has just started to be kind to her companions. She laid an almost white egg today. She looks tired. She is 3 years old.
    Have others seen this pattern with old, high production hens? They are ex-battery Warren hens. I am wondering if she is worn out or if anything can be done. She is still laying 4-5 eggs per week. She is on layers pellets and treats and free ranges around the garden. My other two young hens are not showing any similar symptoms.
  2. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    Hens normally have a much longer lifespan than that. But maybe being abused as a battery hen sapped their longevity.

    Make sure you are feeding a complete layer feed to the girls you have left. Sounds like they need a well-rounded diet of good nutrition.
  3. warren

    warren Songster

    Sep 29, 2007
    Thanks for your comment Buff. My two young hens are not ex-batts so may live longer. The first hen to get sick often laid an egg for 16 days at a stretch and had one day off before starting again. She did not take time off even over the winter. The surviving hen had two months off in winter. It must be a huge strain on the system.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    do they have supplemental eggshell or oystershell? They may not be getting enough calcium just from layer ration anymore, esp. not if they get treats or grass as well.

    Condolences and good luck,

  5. chickenfanatic

    chickenfanatic Songster

    Jul 19, 2008
    deming new mexico
    ur a saint for taking in thoose battery hens i wish i could adopt some here but no such luck im no animal rights activist but thats just mean letting them live like that
  6. Reinbeau

    Reinbeau The Teapot Underground Premium Member

    I have heard that birds bred to be heavy layers, like sex links, Golden Comets, etc, don't live as long as the standard breeds. I'm no expert, just passing on what I heard.
  7. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    Has she been wormed?
  8. Ricks Chicks

    Ricks Chicks Songster

    What is a battery hen?
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member 11 Years

    A battery hen is a commercial production hen, usually kept caged in very tight quarters.
    I am finding that my heavy production hens are suddenly, at the magic age of two and a half years, getting salpingitis where there is an infection and and the egg material starts building in the oviduct/fallopian tubes. I've lost two and my head hen is dying now from the same thing. That is not old by any means, but I am losing my highest producing birds to it from my original flock, one at a time.
    One thing that causes the loss of color in the eggs is the molt combined with heat stress. Also, infectious bronchitis can cause that as well.
  10. warren

    warren Songster

    Sep 29, 2007
    Thanks for your helpful comments folks. They do have oyster shell and grit freely available, Pat, but do sometimes lay thin shelled eggs. I am too soft on them and do let them have too many treats, but ease off when the shells seem thinner than they should be.
    They have been wormed, Rooster, but it would not hurt to do it again as it has been some months. I have not seen any roundworms, but there may be others. No poultry has been kept on my land for at least 30 years that I know of, and maybe never, so there will not be a high burden of worm eggs around.
    Sorry about your losses, Speckled. I understand how you feel. I actually had a nightmare about a hen I dispatched recently. I thought that I had got over it, but it must be still in my subconscious somewhere.
    It has been hot here so that may be a factor in her illness. That gives me hope as it is cooler today.
    She has never had an obvious moult, and I have had her for 1 year, and her previous owner had her for about a year and said that she had not moulted during this time.
    They are not showing symptoms of respiratory infection and should be vaccinated against infectious bronchitis, so that should not be a problem. We will see how she goes on over the next few days/weeks. Time will tell.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: