Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

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LadyA
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Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by LadyA » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:38 am

I'm down to four hens with this batch, and, at over two years old (they're brown girls), laying is getting a bit hit and miss. Getting an average of two eggs a day from the four, which is good, for their age, and considering they have been laying non stop. They've been an excellent batch (five originally - one died in her sleep recently), with no health issues at all, no egg or laying issues.

However, I had determined when I got them that from now on, I was operating an "all in/all out" policy, and giving the house and run (which is huge) a thorough cleaning and disinfecting between batches and leaving the ground outside have a break of about a month/six weeks. And as it turns out, I'm just about out of pellets, so this lot are being despatched today or tomorrow, and then I'll get a new batch in maybe April. Sad to see them go. But I think this lot, because of maybe not being integrated with older girls? have been much healthier than previous hens. They've had a lovely life, and I don't want to wait until the inevitable illness starts - which I'm sure it would do, soon, as they start reaching the end of their laying lives. Not looking forward to their going (my son n law is going to do the deed), but looking forward to getting stuck in to the cleaning and getting the place ready for new girls. And being over-run with eggs again!
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Hen-Gen
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by Hen-Gen » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:23 am

Glad you’ve had such a good, stress free batch of hens. That’s hybrid vigour for you!
I’ve never kept commercial hybrids but I’d hold fire on the killing quite yet. Most hens at this time of year, if kept in natural conditions, are a bit hit and miss with the laying. But come Mid March are back in full production.
I’ll be interested to hear what others have to say.
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Marigold
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by Marigold » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:37 am

i agree with HenGen - though it does depend on how many eggs you need on average. I tend to let mine go on until either the egg supply gets less than I need, or egg quality is degenerating generally, with softies and/or blood spots - usually after their third summer, when they're going into moult anyway and will stop laying. Like you, I'm not sentimental about keeping old hens, but at the moment I have 5, which have laid nonstop since they arrived last March, and I've been overwhelmed by extra eggs, even in the depths of winter. I got that many because I thought some would pass on from various causes, leaving me with the 3-4 birds I need, but they're all fine. So when two or three have dropped by the wayside, and I do decide the time has come, I shall welcome a clean sweep and a spring clean. Next time, I must remember I only need 3! However, if you're lucky enough to have hybrids who remain healthy and active, they will go on well into their third season, and although egg laying problems do occur, I've found they're much less frequent than often supposed.
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LadyA
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by LadyA » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:06 pm

Well, I supply dau & her family with eggs, and both they and I eat a lot of eggs! Dau & family easily get through 18/24 a week. The hens I have have all gone through a moult this Winter - some a long, slow moult, and one a "pillow fight" moult that saw her walking around almost oven ready for a while. So, I think, come April, five or six new POL will be good. I've been through hens with peritonitis and other egg problems several times, and hens just going downhill from general "ill health" although I couldn't figure out what was wrong with them, and tbh, I don't want to go through that again. Watching them, afraid I'm missing something obvious that would help them. If it makes sense, I'd rather they "went" while they were still enjoying life? If I had the set up, (and who knows? some day...!) I would set up a separate "retirement area" for the old girls, and get a new batch. God knows, I've space enough! Just not fencing, and housing.
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Marigold
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by Marigold » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:07 pm

And all the extra work and expense of looking after pensioners! Dau is very lucky, to have your lovely eggs, and it gives you a reason to keep more hens than otherwise you might have done. Enjoy the new girls, and let us see some pics of them when they arrive.
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rick
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by rick » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:27 pm

I had heard of some keepers (moderately small flocks for eggs to pay) putting their old hens out to fully free range when they got past reliable production. Nice for them I suppose but the idea of them getting into trouble and fading away under a bush somewhere not so good.
I've come to the conclusion that a good hard moult is a good sign as they seem to be rejuvenated all over as long as they have sufficient nutrients to get through it properly.
But, let's face it, you would probably lose another one, at least, before the year was out.
A retirement run is just the sort of thing I'd go in for if I had the space. And have some ex batts as well, and another run ....
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Tweetypie
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by Tweetypie » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:55 pm

I'll add my ten penneth.... my two "rescued" hybrids have been through a moult - Cindy in November and Barbie in December. Up until their moult, Barbie laid an egg every day, Cindy laid larger eggs every other day and occasionally laid a double yolked egg. As it stands now, both lay every other day, possibly due to their recent moult??

The other two younger hens lay every day.

As mine are pets, with benefits (eggs), I could not bear to end their lives, however, should either become ill, then I will not allow them to suffer.
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rick
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by rick » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:03 am

Ah! We all here have very lucky birds and, however things pan out practically and emotionally, many lucky birds now and to come!
Sounds like Barbie and Cindy are handling things very sensibly Tweetypie. I don't think less eggs are due to the moult (though it may have marked the transition.) its just a natural progression to slow down after the first couple of years and that's good because they couldn't keep up being commercial super egg layers indefinitely!
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LadyA
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by LadyA » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:31 am

rick wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:03 am
because they couldn't keep up being commercial super egg layers indefinitely!
That's the thing. And I have to say, this batch have been absolutely amazing. I've had them almost two years, and they were all laying every day when I got them, so I reckon they are at least 2 1/2. And until the last few weeks, they were throwing out an egg a day, each, non stop. They must be exhausted. The one that had a full moult stopped laying and far as I can make out, started again straight after.

So, I'm looking forward to a new batch of young girls. I got out of having them as pets when my husband was ill, I just didn't wasn't able to spend any time out doors. It was a case of run out, fire some feed at them, grab the eggs, and run indoors again! And when my hens were pets, I just found it far too upsetting when, inevitably, they would become ill, and I'd have to cull them. So, now they are livestock that I chat to when I'm out! I don't give them names anymore, and I haven't learned to tell one from another (not really! One is slightly darker than the rest, that's all.). In years gone by they all had names and I could tell at a glance which brown girl was which, to other people's astonishment! "But how do you tell them apart?" they'd ask - but when you get to know them, hens, like people, don't look alike!
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Marigold
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Re: Time to say goodbye to this batch. :(

Post by Marigold » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:23 am

Mine all have names, and I enjoy putting thought into choosing names I think are appropriate, largely to help my memory. I choose various breeds so they each lay a different colour egg. This makes for pretty boxfuls of eggs, sometimes amazement when recipients see the mixture of greeny blue ones, dark brown speckled ones, pearly white ones, and 'normal' beige ones. Mainly it's so they all look different and are easy to tell apart, and also as a check on who has laid that day, as part of my daily health check on all of them. Keeping several breeds over the years adds to my own experience and knowledge about breed characteristics, but also because, although I keep them mainly for eggs, they do add life and interest in the garden, and I feel a variety of breeds looks more interesting than all the same. i don't think of them as 'proper pets,' but to keep up the level of care that they need, especially in winter, there have to be some extra features to maintain my interest!
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