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Ex battery hens

 
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mousjoos



Joined: 05 Jun 2006
Posts: 1972
Location: VERY Sunny SW France
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 16 6:35 am    Post subject: Ex battery hens  Reply with quote    

I'm sure this question has been raised before but here goes..

I've been offered up to a dozen ex-battery hens from a local "factory", & was wondering if there are any residual "effects", if & when they continue to lay ?

To clarify; I'm not at all up to speed with what type of feed these hens have when incarcerated, but I hear that they live in almost permanent daylight conditions, & therefore that their food may also contain certain enhancements.

If this is the case, do the effects of said enhancements wear off in time, or are they likely to stay in the birds' system for life?

Any info gratefully received.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32493
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 16 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

the dirty four dozen were allegedly non caged bird s(technically free range but i susspect they had a few pop holes and no reason to go outside) but when i got them they were a bit shabby to say the least.

1 there were 50 but two croaked within a few hours

2 iirc they were about 13 months old

3 they were very thin,somewhat bald and a few looked dreadful

4 they were agrophobic and clustered in a bunch rather than using the 50m2 barn pen to its full extent

5 they had no idea about perching

7 they had no idea about scratting or foraging

8 they were hungry

9 they seemed very confused by a new environment.

10 they were quite aggressive to each other


now the good points

plenty of good food,a mixture of pellets,corn,dried peas ,greens,(dont tell defra meaty bits) and so on along with adding chalk and grit ,worming them etc etc helped a lot

they were clever and fast learners so by putting a few on the perches they got that in a couple of days.
they learned that they could potter about rather than huddle in a corner
their feathers grew back over a couple of months
they learned to scratt by following me playing momma chook ,turning over stuff,raking at the floor etc etc to expose worms,beetles and other wildlife for them to eat(more of that later)
they learned to forage greens whilst out and about with me

this phase lasted about 6wks at the end of which they were pretty good at forage, they had established a social order,learned to sunbathe and dust bath etc etc .
most of the red mites had gone ( a squirt of budgie spray and diatomic earth powder)
they became independent at scratting for live prey (over time they became hunters of mice and rats,they ate a hedgehog and i spotted 3 of them using a gos pig as an earth mover by herding it and taking the critters it excavated including on one occasion using it to dig up a rat nest so they could eat the babies)

at the end of 2 months intensive training they were down to about 3 dozen as a few fell over dead,there were a couple of "accidents" such as eating an oily rag or getting eaten in a pig pen.

about that time i got them a big rooster that they took to well

shortly after they transferred from farmyard to chookmobile and thrived all summer/autumn although they did a velocoraptor thing to the local rare wildlife

re laying.they were slow at first maybe an egg every 4 days on average and plenty of soft shell/misshapen ones but by the time they went out they were on every other day mostly decent quality.

i spose they were down to about 25 by autumn when the foxes and a few natural causes wiped em out to last 2 or 3.

the twice i tried hatching the eggs were both dismal failures ,i got 2 live hatches one of which only lasted a couple of hours,the other i hand raised to adult ,she was charming but layed one egg and promptly died

as gbh hens in intensive units are very stressed they cull them when their laying tails off but if they get some tlc they will produce a decent amount of eggs ,at least for another year.

if you have the time to teach them what they need to know they are quite awesome as free range birds.

if i was basing a system around them i would plan on replacing at least half the number every year and training up new ones on a regular basis

utterly wonderful experience but hard work,you need to think like a sergent de le legion, expect casualties especially in the first couple of months

in terms of food in =eggs out i recon they are worth it but if you costed your time into the input side they would not be a commercial success on the scale we tried

a dozen or so for domestics would probably be a lot of fun and economically viable compared to buying pols ,my ones were great but although they did what we were trying to achieve with a chookmobile among the cows they were too rough on the wildlife and to do it really well i recon a big range with lots of moos,a keeper/chookmobile so as you actually live with the flock and perhaps a working flock/s of 500 birds to make it commercially attractive.

hope that helps,feel free to ask questions as im bound to have missed something important, obvious or obscure.

mousjoos



Joined: 05 Jun 2006
Posts: 1972
Location: VERY Sunny SW France
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 16 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thank you, that's all good info

I thought to let them range on the field, but was a bit worried about a sudden culture shock

Also, I have folks that buy my eggs because factory eggs are inedible; this I always thought would be due to the food being tailored to maximise output.

I wouldn't really want to mix the two regimes...should I dope test the "batts" to see if there are any "Armstrongs" amongst them ?

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32493
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 16 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

i would not worry too much about residuals by the time they are ready to go out and are back in some sort of good laying condition most things they might have had will be at trace levels.(and it should all have been approved stuff anyway ie not dangerous)

ps if you do use budgie spray there is a set period when you are not supposed to eat them so do that asap if they arrive with mites

to market the eggs as organic takes loads of hoop jumping and with the number you mentioned you might get around 6 or 7 eggs a day and it just isnt worth it.

however they will be really good eggs if you can get the birds to scratt and forage with some corn/dried peas as a baseline diet so gate sales will cover your surplus and put a bit in the feed money pot

in midsummer mine hardly bothered with rations and seemed to do well on what they found

mousjoos



Joined: 05 Jun 2006
Posts: 1972
Location: VERY Sunny SW France
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 16 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

that's better than I expected to hear

the French do make their producers jump thru' some mighty big hoops & some are inclined to go round instead of thru'....wine growers being amongst the worst

my egg enterprise is only amongst folks that know, & that want real eggs. there's no real profit but as you point out, summer means less grain & more scratting so that's at least one "gain"

I'm speaking to chook bloke this week so will see what he can come up with

thanks again

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32493
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 16 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

yer welcome,they will reward you if you show em some chook shaped tlc.

some of mine had me in giggles and horrified at the same time.

AnnaD



Joined: 12 Jun 2007
Posts: 2777
Location: Edinburgh
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 16 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Unfortunately I had a pretty bad experience with rescue hens. We rescued 6 at the end of April, and in two months all 6 were dead. No idea what happened, but they dropped off one after the other. It was sad to see the children get used to watching their chickens die. Personally I will never get any rescues ever again.

Maybe I'm just unlucky, and I know others have had better experiences.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 16 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

AnnaD wrote:
Unfortunately I had a pretty bad experience with rescue hens. We rescued 6 at the end of April, and in two months all 6 were dead. No idea what happened, but they dropped off one after the other. It was sad to see the children get used to watching their chickens die. Personally I will never get any rescues ever again.

Maybe I'm just unlucky, and I know others have had better experiences.


They are bred to get to 72 weeks, I think you're better considering yourself lucky if they live longer, rather than unlucky if they don't.

AnnaD



Joined: 12 Jun 2007
Posts: 2777
Location: Edinburgh
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 16 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

In that case it seems totally pointless re-homing them!

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 16 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It is, it's the equivalent of reusing Costa takeaway coffee cups.

Ty Gwyn



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 3943
Location: Lampeter
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 16 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It does depend on the hybrid a lot,

A good many year`s back we got a bunch of warrens,they layed like trains in their 2nd lay,majority still alive,then the eggs and lives waned off over the next 2yrs.

Last lot a few year`s back were Lohmann browns,again layed well in the 2nd lay,but one by one they died off,these birds are bred to lay to the max on the min of food,the ones Rob has mentioned I presume.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32493
Location: yes
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 16 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

what they said about longevity seems about right, if the factory culls fairly early in the tail off laying/falling down dead stage one season is a good result.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 16 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Ty Gwyn wrote:
It does depend on the hybrid a lot,

A good many year`s back we got a bunch of warrens,they layed like trains in their 2nd lay,majority still alive,then the eggs and lives waned off over the next 2yrs.

Last lot a few year`s back were Lohmann browns,again layed well in the 2nd lay,but one by one they died off,these birds are bred to lay to the max on the min of food,the ones Rob has mentioned I presume.


I think it also depends a lot on not knowing how they were treated before you got them. If they'd been fed antibiotics it might have been enough to keep them going while on the formulated diet in a controlled environment but not in the real world.

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