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Should I have ex-batts or buy from market?

(16 Posts)
TOMOLBEN Tue 05-Jul-11 11:04:31

Hi all,

DH and I have decided to have chickens. I think it will be great for us and our 4 children. We have built the hen house and have an area fenced off for a run. So we are ready and now its time to get the chickens.

My friend started out with her chickens about 3 weeks ago so I have been learning from her some of the do's and dont's. She had 4 ex-battery hens and gave me the number to get mine from the same place.

My question is should I go with ex-batts as she did or should i go to the local farmers market and buy them from there. The ex-batts are 14 months old. She has had hers 3 weeks now and they havent laid at all. Is this normal? Or are ex-batts slowing down in how many eggs they produce, therefore making younger hens from the market better?

Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you x

tigana Tue 05-Jul-11 11:09:30

we have ex batts.
The reason the battery farm gets rid of them to the rehomers is because they are laying less than the farmer wants (which is more than a normal chook wants to lay anyway....they alter light levels etc to increase laying)

We have 4 ex batts, 3 of which have been 'free' for about 2 to 3 weeks now, one for a year, and we get about 2 eggs a day at the moment.
How many eggs do you get through at the moment? We almost always have a fridge full unless DHhas eggs for breakfast or lunch daily!!

Ex batts also give you the warm feeling inside for giving them a second chance.

TOMOLBEN Tue 05-Jul-11 12:33:51

Thank you for your reply.

Yes I would imagine that watching the ex-batts thrive is very rewarding and a couple of eggs a day will be great. So I think I am swaying to them. I was just conserned she has had hers 3 weeks and not a single egg. xx

tigana Tue 05-Jul-11 14:18:41

Yeah, there is no guarantee they will lay.
Has your friend tried poultry spice? Its a mix of all sorts of nutrients and smells of aniseed. You add it to their food, gives them extra pep and zing !!

Stress impacts on laying - the move from small stinky cages to a decent life outdoors can be fairly stressing (ours newbies did not do well with the car journey from rehoming farm to our house either - I was convinced one of them was going to pop her chooky clogs...but she's still standing)
Older one has been off lay recently, which we have put down to adding the new ones into her life!

Diet matters too - Our older chook lays best on a diet of mixed corn, ex-batt crumb and green stuff as desired. New ones are just starting to try to work out how to get a large dandeliion leaf down their gullets! they keep picking them up in their beaks then putting them back down again!

nickelbabe Tue 05-Jul-11 15:42:23

I personally wouldn't start with ex-batts.

The first lot of chickens I gto were POL (point of lay, so with hybrids around 16 weeks and within a couple of weeks of starting to lay)
then I had ex-batts after that.
They were really hard work, and it was so upsetting seeing what they looked like and how they smelled to start with.
Yes, it was amazingly rewarding getting them to the stage of normal chickens, but I felt glad that i'd had the experience of normal chickens first, just because i knew what problems there might be and i felt more experienced.

I will have ex-batts again. definitely.
this time, though, I've gone for POLs again, mainly because DH has never had chickens before, and I wanted him to gain the experience of husbandry first.

I think starting off with ex-batts is like jumping in at the deep end.
not saying it shouldn't be done, just saying I personally wouldn't.

nickelbabe Tue 05-Jul-11 15:46:52

normally they do lay straight away.
ours both laid immediately.
but like tigana said - there will be a lot of stress coming out of prison and getting to know a new home.
that can stop laying.
and all hens lay most eggs in their first year of laying.
after that it drops off (that why the farmers get rid of them).

plus, after the very odd upbringing they've had, their bodies are stressed from laying, so they're more likely to lay eggs with soft shells, or get eggbound.
after about a year, neither of mine were laying.
sandra just stopped, with no problems, but Rita laid soft shells or no shells for a long while, and was egg bound, and had to have an egg removed by the vet. they just weren't forming properly.
thankfully, she stopped making eggs (or laying them at least), and she was so much brighter afterwards. It cost a lot on vets' bills, yes, but the main problem was worrying about her laying killing her.

TOMOLBEN Tue 05-Jul-11 15:47:32

I think I may go to the farmers market and get some POL hens, then next year add some ex-batts if I wanted some more.

Thank you both for your advise. I hope I know what I am doing!! I am sure I will be back on here soon after having them seeking further advise smile

nickelbabe Tue 05-Jul-11 15:48:47

with pictures.
don't forget the pictures smile

TOMOLBEN Tue 05-Jul-11 16:44:12

I didnt realise you can add pictures. I have only been a member for 2 days and am not very computer friendly!! I shall attempt to put pictures on when I have bought the hens. Thank you both again x

Dazmum Tue 05-Jul-11 17:10:12

I agree completely with Nickelbabe too, ex-batts can be tricky if you haven't kept hens before. They don't always get on together, we only had two and they took a dislike to each other! We did integrate them eventually, but they are so very pitiful that we just didn't want to add to their stress. When we got them we too thought one would die the next day, but with some spoiling she came through, and eventually stopped looking like an oven ready. It is of course rewarding, but you'll have enough to be going on with having healthy new ones. Good luck, you'll be hooked!

TOMOLBEN Tue 05-Jul-11 17:18:12

I am looking forward to getting them now. Would any of you recommended any particular breed. I have looked at a lot of threads on here but am still confused as to which type to get.

nickelbabe Tue 05-Jul-11 17:27:35

Dazmum grin to that!!

we got two - we already had 2 hens.
we knew we had to keep the oldies and the newbies separate, so we'd built a little coop and run inside the run.
within 2 days of the newbies being put in their own little run, it became clear that we'd have to split that run and coop down the middle!
they couldn't even be together when it was bedtime!
It was mainly Rita's fault, but she would attack any of the others with no regard.
god, did that take a long time to get them integrated.

Dazmum Wed 06-Jul-11 17:06:16

grin You expect them to be timid and grateful don't you! Our smaller one was round and bald with a scraggy neck and a mangy feather duster for a tail and she was a real bully to all of the others when put in with them. She looked liked a very ugly round teapot! We'd just got the whole lot together after several months when a fox got in and took four of them including the two ex batts. It was the most horrible thing I had ever experienced, but at least they had a bit of a nice life.

Sorry Tomolben I got distracted! We've had a few different breeds, and the least complicated have been Warrens, good old bulk standard egg layers with few problems. They are very nice and don't go broody. They lay loads of eggs too. We also had Light Sussex bantams ( white with black speckly necks) but they were a bit broody, hatched out some gorgeous chicks with one though. Pekin bantams are my favourites, with the fluffy feet and very characterful. Only little eggs though. The one we have now is a Blue Haze called Marmite, and she is quite big, lays every day and thinks she's a dog. Follows DH round the garden and jumps up on to his arm like a falcon when he's got food!

TOMOLBEN Thu 07-Jul-11 09:26:11

Lol, I didnt realise they had so much character!! The children are looking forward to getting them. So I shall go to the farmers market (never been before) and see what I can get, using your advise. Thank you everyone for being so helpful x

beachyhead Thu 07-Jul-11 09:33:37

Pekins are great for kids - easier to handle and catch for cuddles. We have two pekins and four hybrids (and three chicks which Megan hatched!)....

nickelbabe Thu 07-Jul-11 10:33:18

One thing that surprised me was how they could be complete bastards towards the other hens, but to humans, they're cuddly and affectionate.

so, basically, they punish their fellow inmates and make friends with their persecutors! confused

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