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Author Topic: Poor laying from Rescued Hens  (Read 6102 times)

colliewobbles

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • South Norfolk
Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« on: July 12, 2013, 01:04:04 pm »
Hi all - we have our third lot of rescued hens from Little Hen Rescue.  The previous two lots have been from caged hens that were in very poor condition - however, apart from losing one nearly immediately they all did really well and provided us with lots of eggs for a long time.

We got another dozen about 4 months ago - this time they appeared in better condition and were quite well feathered.  We were told these were better because they were farmed under the new, improved conditions.

Since then a couple have suffered a prolapse which we have managed to cure and they have recently all moulted and re-feathered.  However, they all still look quite scraggy and don't look as good as our previous hens have after a few months.  Added to this the laying is really sporadic.  For some time we were getting very weak eggs with rippled shells - we have given them a period of tonic in water, plenty of grit and wormed them.  They are mixed with our ducks and 7 older chooks and have around 1/8 acre to free-range in.

Despite all of this laying is really sporadic - two days ago we got 14 eggs, yesterday we got 4 eggs but generally it is around 6-7 a day - not a lot from 19 hens!

We realise some of our older girls won't be laying regularly now but it seems that even the new ones aren't.  Do you think we have just been unlucky with this bunch or maybe they are now older when then come into rescue?  Or could there be something else going wrong that we haven't thought of?

Thanks in advance for any wisdom you can share.   :wave:
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Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2013, 01:37:20 pm »
What you don't know is how good their diet was before rescue, either.

colliewobbles

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • South Norfolk
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2013, 01:40:32 pm »
What you don't know is how good their diet was before rescue, either.

There's a thought - maybe they have improved their housing but cut back on feeding costs!

shygirl

  • Joined May 2013
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2013, 01:42:29 pm »
mine used to go off lay in hot weather.
maybe they are a diferent type of hybrid if they are kept in different conditions.
i never got many eggs of our ex-commercial hens as they use to eat them before i had chance to collect them  :rant:

Stereo

  • Joined Aug 2012
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2013, 02:00:39 pm »
We had 20 ex organic hybrids a while back. They were a disaster, poor things. Very feather pecked and very skittish. Eggs we very thin and most broke during laying. Those that survived were eaten by the hens who would hang around the nest boxes all day waiting for eggs to be laid. We wormed them, did grit, ACV and everything else we could think of. They had the best feed, mixed corn, greens and were on fresh grass.  Spent a load of time and money putting in roll away boxes which the eggs just smashed in but it was just too depressing in the end. We gave them away to someone, clearly warning them what the issues were.  I think in total we lost a few hundred quid on it all.

I wouldn't do it again to be honest. My feeling is that these things are bred and bred to a point where they are totally finished at 18 months. I also feel in some way that taking these birds on gives the battery owners a nice get out so they can feel better about what they do. But I can also see why people want to rescue them. Good luck with your birds. Hope you can pull them around.

colliewobbles

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • South Norfolk
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2013, 02:07:42 pm »
We are wondering if the hot weather has anything to do with it.  But also wondering if they are just never gonna be particularly good - as experienced by Stereo.  To be honest, it has put us off getting rescued again and we are thinking of getting some good quality POLs if we don't see an improvement in the next 4-6 weeks.

Trouble is we now have a bunch of loyal customers at dog training who want our eggs from us but we are not even getting close to the amount we need!  Typical hey?

Donna

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2013, 02:42:13 pm »
I was getting 5 eggs from 2 young leghorns and 4 old hybrids, occasionally 6.  At the moment I'm getting 3.  I've put it down to the heat.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Roxy

  • Joined May 2009
  • Peak District
    • festivalcarriages.co.uk
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2013, 03:23:57 pm »
I have kept hens for many years, both POL  and lately rescue hens, plus some ;pure bred older hens that have been gifted to me.  I have noticed they lay like mad in the spring and then have a couple of weeks rest about now, and then start again.
I have probably 60 hens supposedly laying at the moment, the others being broody, or too old.  I am getting about 18 eggs a day, but suspect some are laying away from the sheds - that is an issue with rescue hens, they lay anywhere.  Some days the total has been 10.  I also think the weather is an issue.
To get them laying really good, they need a lot of layers pellets - I mean a lot, which would not be cost effective to be honest.
 
 

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2013, 05:07:30 pm »
We had a Scottish poultry farmer staying in our farm holiday cottage last year and she said that they moved their birds on after two years because the eggs got bigger and bigger but used the same amount of shell, so the shells got thinner and thinner.  At any one time they had 20,000 in lay and two batches coming on ready to replace them.  We keep rare breed large, soft-feathered fowl and use farm gate egg sales to help cover the cost of breeding them.  We find our home-reared birds will be in lay by Winter (we don't start up the incubators until after lambing's finished) and lay well until the following Autumn, slowing down or ceasing through the moult.  We therefore sell off the previous year's laying birds in late summer and the Autumn - they'll lay well  and for many years for their new owners but not be as productive through the Winters.

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2013, 08:36:19 pm »
Gale Dumelow says the same thing as MF -only an amount of shell and spread over a bigger egg means thin shells with bigger eggs. Battery hybrids are not meant to last over 18 months and they have been selectively bred to produce the maximum possible in that period. Later birds should be more efficient in meeting that objective so have less left when re-homed than their predecessors. Have we come to the end of ex-batts?

colliewobbles

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • South Norfolk
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2013, 08:45:09 pm »
Have we come to the end of ex-batts?

Could be a possibility  :(

Fanackapan

  • Joined Jun 2013
    • Facebook
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2013, 09:37:35 pm »
Officially ex batts ended some time ago to be replaced with the 'enriched cages' , in many people's opinion just a move to appease those that protested over the whole battery cage system. In truth I don't believe they are an improvement.
Most intensively farmed hens (cage,barn and free range) are regarded as spent within  the year and that is when they are got rid of. It is only a small number that get rescued for rehoming in relation to the numbers discarded by the system.
You will never be able to compare to getting pol but there is no reason why the majority once recovered from their ordeal shouldn't go on to lay reasonably well, it just takes a little time, as the originator of the thread has already discovered.
I dont know but wouldn't expect that they are fed on inferior feed as surely that would compromise their laying in the factory farm ?
Mine are kept seperate from the rest of the flock on being brought home, given a day to get used to their surroundings then are treated for lice/mites . Worming with flubenvet the 2nd week. Fed mainly on good pellet but healthy treats with protein are offered eg meal worm, oily fish,live white maggots. Quite often it takes their digestive system a while to settle so no extra greens like  cabbage/lettuce etc are offered or they tend to get what we call dire rear  :innocent: which can set recovery back.
Thin egg shell can be improved by adding limestone flour to  their feed or even ground baked eggshells help, though very distorted eggs usually indicate a problem unlikely to be easily sorted .
To answer the question was I unlucky this time, I think you may have been, rescue organisation don't go to just the one outlet so maybe this release of hens had come from a less well run farm.

Bert

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Isle of Mull
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2013, 06:55:44 am »
 Personally I think getting eggs from ex- batt's would just be a bonus  ;D . The Main reason for having them is to give the poor little sods a second chance at life  :thumbsup:  . Like any animal or any one that has been through a pro longed traumatic experience, there is a fairly high chance they are going to have psychological problems and need a little extra care and tolerance  :hug: .
 Sorry if this offends anyone, it's just how I feel about ex batts.

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2013, 07:12:06 am »
I agree with you Bert. Getting eggs is just a bonus really. Problem is the expectations of people taking them in I suppose, because the release centres don't give people the full picture at all. I've heard good reports of ex-bats and seen happy pictures. I've also heard of major problems and high mortality which is very upsetting for the keepers. Certainly not the thing to take on as a first time keeper.

colliewobbles

  • Joined Mar 2013
  • South Norfolk
Re: Poor laying from Rescued Hens
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2013, 08:52:39 am »
We weren't going on what the rescue centre said, we were going on previous experience which has been very good.  Between me and my sister we have had around 50 in the past with good results and no particular problems - I just think that this batch seem less hardy and was wondering if the poor egg laying could also be as a result of that too. 

Overall, given what people have said on here, I think it is probably a combination of the very warm weather and a change in the husbandry of these birds in their commercial setting.

 

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