Two chickens already died-is this a solution?

Lyranonamous

Songster
Nov 23, 2013
152
148
156
Freeville NY (near Ithaca)
Hi all, Long story short we put a second hen (Bridget) down today from what seems to be the same thing. The first one (Lizzie) had a post mortem that showed bad adhesions in her intestines. The second one (Bridget) had numerous unshelled eggs stuck inside that the vets suspected was caused by adhesions too.
The vets at Cornell said reproductive issues are common in "older" layers, around 4 yrs old. Lizzie was 7-but Bridget was in fact 4. He said it's less common in dual purpose birds. It seems to be most common in the breeds that lay the most eggs. He mentioned Leghorns.
So my questions are: Is buying chicks from Agway, McMurray or My Pet Chicken (or other large hatchery) kind of like buying from a puppy mill? (Lizzie was an Agway chick) Would we be better off buying directly from a breeder who cares about the breed (if we can find one)? And, would land race birds such as Icelandics be an even better choice to decrease the number of issues with reproductive problems? Do mixed breeds have hybrid vigor as in other animals?
I hope someone can set me straight if I'm not understanding this well.
My theory is that the long term health of the chickens isn't being considered by hatcheries-they are just mass producing chicks.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Dreaming of Spring
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
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Most chickens die between 4-8 years of age no matter where you get them. Longevity can be based on breeding, feeding, stressors, and general quality of life. I've had breeder birds live to 10 and hatchery birds live to 10. I have found sex links and other hybrid layers to have shorter lives. Leghorns in general should have an average life.

Get your birds from whatever source you want. Don't feed them lots of fatty foods, and make sure they exercise daily. That's about all you can do.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
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I too think a real long life is an unrealistic expectation. You can pay big bucks for an animal, and have it die.

If you feel better getting from a breeder, by all means do so. But chickens have husbanded for centuries to produce eggs as consistently as possible. To me, if you are getting birds to live good lives to the ages of 4 and 8 years of age, you are doing an excellent job, and they have had a good life.

Mrs K
 

Norcal527

Songster
Mar 22, 2019
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Sacramento area
Wild fowl lay maybe 20 eggs per year and then hatch their babies. Humans have selectively bred chickens for hundreds of years to increase this egg production. We now have these poor birds laying 200-300 eggs per year. Unfortunately this just leads to health complications as their bodies haven't necessarily adjusted to this increase. All types of chickens are unfortunately vulnerable to reproductive issues.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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The first one (Lizzie) had a post mortem that showed bad adhesions in her intestines. The second one (Bridget) had numerous unshelled eggs stuck inside that the vets suspected was caused by adhesions too.
Did they do any pathology to test for bacteria or virus or cancer?
What breed were they?
 

danceswithronin

Crowing
May 24, 2018
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Alabama
I think chickens are just generally short-lived animals, same as rabbits and many other prey species. In the wild they would not live that long, in captivity they are often bred to be killed early in life for butchering or to be butchered as soon as they slack off laying at 2-3 years, so they aren't bred to live much longer than that.
 

Norcal527

Songster
Mar 22, 2019
307
478
136
Sacramento area
@Norcal527 - I don't think the jungle fowl lived real long lives either, predators, feed supplies and genetics. This is unrealistic expectations.
That's comparing apples to oranges. Kept under the same conditions a hen laying 200 eggs per year is going to be more prone to reproductive issues than a fowl laying 15-20. I dont think it can be argued otherwise that humans selectively breeding for this have caused an increase in these type of issues. That bell cannot be unrung however so you are right that its unrealistic to expect otherwise from modern chickens.
 

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