Chickens

eventerbabe

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Dec 16, 2004
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Just wondering who here has chickens? We got our original 5 girls (2 bluebells, a blackrock, a buff leghorn and another breed I can't remember) in April 2017. Big ginger died in December 2018 on Christmas Day. Just keeled over in hen house. We then rehomed 4 ex battery hens. A few months later two of our original girls died (one stopped eating, lost ability to stand and then went, the other stopped eating and was back and forth to vets before I decided enough was enough). Then we lost one of our ex battery girls. Again slipped away suddenly overnight. Last week, my favourite ex battery hen keeled over in the run and was gone. No warning. My vets are awful with hens. No real interest in them and never optimistic. Hubby wants to rehome more ex battery girls. I'd love to, but I just can't cope with them dying on me! My vet says chickens just die and to get over it. Anyone else experience such a high mortality rate? No idea what I'm doing wrong. Our remaining 4 girls are thriving. They are on half an acre paddock with a spacious hen house too
 

Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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I’m not sure who has them, I think @chunky monkey will know about ? chickens I could be wrong but I’m sure she’s mentioned them? I quite fancied some but have been put off, there’s so much to go wrong potentially. I know wally had some too.
 

Ale

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Feb 8, 2012
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I don't think you are doing anything wrong and sadly chickens are one of those animals that hide illness really well until they are very sick. You could try weighing your chickens every couple of weeks as weightloss could indicate the start of an issue alongside a really good health check. It's really gruesome (sorry) but a local college or uni may take the birds when they pass away to do a dissection if you ask, that may give you an answer as to why they passed away. We did this at my uni for our biology unit and it was really interesting, most of the ex battery hens were riddled with tumors, the pet birds had mainly had severe bumble foot and thought to be a complication from that or had just passed on from old age. Sorry for your losses though, but it sounds like your chickens have a lovely life and lots of space to roam
 

Sparky Lily

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Nov 27, 2008
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I have a mixed small flock. We bought 4 nine years ago and one of them is still alive and still laying a couple of eggs a week. Others have come and gone. Apart from the one who drowned in the ponies’ water trough, all have died naturally: some looking a little peaky for a day or two, others no warning at all. One old girl had just been “helping” my husband dig a hole, then suddenly keeled over. One was less than a year old. At least we have not had to dispatch any injured ones, so far. We now have 14: 1 Welsommer, 3 Leghorns, 2 Light Sussex, 1 Maran, 1Bluebell, 2 Columbian Blacktails and 4 HyLine Reds. Pure Breeds are generally longer living, but hybrids are more productive in a shorter timespan, so we try to have a mix of both, though our options this year were more limited. I would guess your former battery hens are hybrids, with not the best start in life, so that could account for their early demise.
Mine are completely free range and not shut in at night ( no foxes in Shetland and the otters have not bothered us so far, fingers crossed), sharing a couple of acres with the ponies.
 
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Frances144

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Dec 21, 2011
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We go thru' phases. Our lot are all the same age so there is bound to be rather similar and close-to-each-other demises. Tis the way.

Don't over think this. Get chickens. Any rescued will be given a lovely life with you which is more than most.

Chickens are fab. And ducks are too (just sayin') but they are far smellier.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
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We have had birds that lived several years (until foxed) and others than pegged out without warning. I try not to get fond of them as I know they are liable to keel over.
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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Unlikely you are doing anything wrong. As others have said some make a good age, others just get ill. Ive generally have had point of lay chickens. Some have not lasted long others have gone on for years. Theres nothing wrong with rehoming battery hens but i think it takes its toll on them. But then some just cant adjust to there new found freedom.

I acquired two a few years ago from friends who having got them decided to then move and it was no pets allowed. They did us well. We got two other point of lay to go with them after about two years and the one just upd and died after only a month. The other lasted about 6 months then just died. So even having younger ones doesnt always go to plan.

The two i rehomed i had for a number of years until something got in and killed them. Likely a fox but could have been next doors cats.

Generally chickens dont like to be mixed. There never so happy if you try adding to the flock with replacements.

Im looking at getting some more soon but need to sort out new fencing to go round the garden plot. I cant have completely free range as there are two many foxes, and dog walkers who let the dogs run loose into my garden. Was looking at getting some more electric flexi netting. Checked the coup at the weekend when i was mowing the lawn and unfortunately it has gone rotten not having been used for a couple of years, so that will be finding a bonfire. So need to look at a new coup as well now.
 
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AmirPelavin01

Uphere Amirr
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I never got to experience raising chickens. My dad once tried a startup and we were all excited. They were all stolen one night and we never tried again because of the cost.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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have had hens for over 20 years. Tried ex battery but they died so soon, most i managed to keep them for was 1 year, they were so done by the time you got them. Have had loads of pure breed rare varieties, rubbish egg layers but decorative and very nice personalities. Fox killed them all 28 or so in one go after them living there for 10 plus years. Often they would go on for years, up to 10-12. Currently have 3 pure breeds had six but three have died off, they are around 6. Got 5 new ones in spring meant to be 4 girls 1 boy were 4 boys 1 girl, kept 2 of the boys and rehomed the other two boys and then bought 3 hybrids. At our previous place we built chicken colditz which was completely fox proof, cost £1500. We used to have them here in a lovely orchard but fox and badger kllled them all so now they have a double stable leanto with wired front, and then a concrete and gravel yard same length as stable plus two other stable widths so a large area. I fence it with Heras panels turned upside down and that has worked. I tried electric fencing, it kept shorting and the badgers and foxes walked through it. only thing that works it 12ft high, buried underground, with sleepers around the edge plus 3 wires one at ground 1 2ft feet and one up top on mains voltage that kept the buggers out. Battery and net fencing just doesn't work for me, never used it successfully. i would love them to be in a paddock like they were but they just die there. I have over the years spent a fortune on trying to fix hens and never succeeded, even had a Brahma with a tumour and got it taken off, died anyway. I find that they just aren't very resilient and once they start to go usually nothing you do works and vets are pretty useless with them. I might get a couple of ex battery ones but wouldn't have them as the main flock, as the mortality rate is so bad. If you look in fresh start for hens a lot die almost immediately, very few get beyond a year. It is an inditement on how they are managed, and bred to basically lay for one season then go for slaughter as they are totally done in by then. It breaks my heart to see the state they arrive in, with their beaks trimmed and totally nude. Horrible.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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May have to dispose of one of the boys, he has started attacking me....little bastard. We've had loads of boys and none of them have been aggressive. Will grab him and cuddle him and see if that helps but he has cut my hand with his spurs.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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You're a veteran chicken keeper @diplomaticandtactful ! Which were your favourite pure breeds? Are you a big fluffy footed liker or a sleek elegant chickenophile? I go for the sleek and elegant every time, but I'm very partial to the Polish birds with mad headpieces. I've never had pure breeds though, they are too vulnerable where we are to Mr Fox.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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You're a veteran chicken keeper @diplomaticandtactful ! Which were your favourite pure breeds? Are you a big fluffy footed liker or a sleek elegant chickenophile? I go for the sleek and elegant every time, but I'm very partial to the Polish birds with mad headpieces. I've never had pure breeds though, they are too vulnerable where we are to Mr Fox.
We had Brahmas (gorgeous big lumps prone to bumble foot), light sussex, Marans, buff orpingtons (loved them), pekins (6 boys), guinea fowl, hamburgs (lovely but flighty), black rocks, barbu d'oucle (millie, absolutely my favourite), can;t remember the rest. I loved the Brahmas, huge but so sweet, ours roosted and jumped down and kept getting foot abscesses landing their great lumps onto the ground. Ginny the Ginny was an rspca rescue, she was gorgeous, the hamburgs were gold pencilled and stunning birds, Millie was a tiny belgian quail who walked like charlie chaplin, she was my favourite.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Apr 30, 2010
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We had Brahmas (gorgeous big lumps prone to bumble foot), light sussex, Marans, buff orpingtons (loved them), pekins (6 boys), guinea fowl, hamburgs (lovely but flighty), black rocks, barbu d'oucle (millie, absolutely my favourite), can;t remember the rest. I loved the Brahmas, huge but so sweet, ours roosted and jumped down and kept getting foot abscesses landing their great lumps onto the ground. Ginny the Ginny was an rspca rescue, she was gorgeous, the hamburgs were gold pencilled and stunning birds, Millie was a tiny belgian quail who walked like charlie chaplin, she was my favourite.
Oh lucky you! You do like the big fluffy ones! It's the Hamburgs for me every time, they are so beautiful. The nearest I have got was a white Leghorn layer, who was, as you say, lovely buy flighty. Mr Fox got her. So no more classy birds for me.
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Oh lucky you! You do like the big fluffy ones! It's the Hamburgs for me every time, they are so beautiful. The nearest I have got was a white Leghorn layer, who was, as you say, lovely buy flighty. Mr Fox got her. So no more classy birds for me.
we used to go to agricultural shows with aimee donkey and generally came home with a couple of hens in a box
 
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eventerbabe

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Dec 16, 2004
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I love bluebells. That's why we had 2 in our original flock. Friendly, characterful and beautiful to look at. We still have one, known as Grumpy because that's how she behaves! Touch wood, our 4 remaining girls have soldiered on and are currently not enjoying the lockdown due to avian flu and government requirements. Was chatting to the vet about them when he was out seeing Toby and he said similar to his colleague. They will just die on you no matter how much you pamper them
 

diplomaticandtactful

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Apr 25, 2003
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There was someone selling young brahmas when we looked but they couldn'#t be sure on the sex so we walked away as we already had 2 boys and really wanted only girls. Will get one sometime as they are lovely, very prehistoric. My belgian quail millie was the sweetest little hen a miniature charlie chaplin. she had fluffy legs and walked like him.
 

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