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#71082 - 01/24/07 02:14 AM What makes a GOOD hen?
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
I have a RIR hen called Pickle which I reared under a foster mum in January 2006. She is now just over a year old, and first started to lay in late May last year. She has not yet reached 100 eggs, mostly because she would lay about 10 eggs and immediately go clucky. I battled with her through the spring, "breaking" her clucky cycle three times before I finally put the five chicks from my first incubation hatch under her. That was almost 12 weeks ago. She is only just starting to change her chatter to an egg laying song. She is a very poor layer by RIR standards, yet I can't complain. She has been a wonderful dedicated mother and her chickens are every bit as quiet as she is, standing on my feet while I mix their dinner. By contrast, Oprah an SLW, who was reared under a lamp, and came to me at 6 weeks, has layed well and has been a good mother despite the trauma of the dog killing some of her chickens. She has never been friendly and by SLW standards is very flighty. Her chickens are also flighty, infact I would say stupid, (even before the dog attack)They also hide when it's bedtime so I guess her nature has been instilled in them even though none of the chicks were from her own eggs. I'm likely to keep Oprah laying in future, and let Pickle do the brooding. So, What makes a good hen?

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#71083 - 01/24/07 04:52 AM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
A good hen, in my mind:
~ Isn't flighty
~ Lets me take eggs from under her without taking a chunk of skin off my hand
~ Doesn't eat eggs
~ Doesn't pick on others
~ If broody, she tolerates me moving her to a different location and hangs in there
~ Of course, lays well, and lays IN the nest box!

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#71084 - 01/24/07 08:04 AM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
CJR Online   content
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8483
Loc: Montana
I have two hens that are now 5 years old, that layed about 35 eggs before they set, now lay about 15 before they set. They are GOOD hens, reliable setters (I raise the chicks, but I am sure they would be good mothers, if I had room to let the hens raise their hatches.)

I have two hens that never set, lay intermittantly all year. I know their pattern, and they are GOOD hens.

Most of my hens are selected for their breed qualities. And some are sold at a year or a little more, laid well during that time. Their eggs were hatched by others because they produce great offspring. Some are kept, right now, I have one that wil be 10 years old this year, and I have a daughter of hers, special variety, seldom hatch their eggs. They are GOOD hens.

Guess it just depends upon what you expect
and want. Actually, I think all of my hens are good hens, though they are quite different individually. No two are just alike, even sisters. The only ones I never keep are the very rare "wild" ones. They can stir up others, and I like nice contented birds. (I have 12 GOOD roosters, also.) CJR

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#71085 - 01/24/07 07:16 PM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Chicken Mania Offline
Bantam

Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 62
Loc: Oregon
I personnally like the ones who will come when you call for them, eat out of your hand, and I have to agree about letting you get the eggs from underneith her without pecking. To me those are my priorities because they are my pets.

However, if your goal or purpose in having layers, not pets, then there are a few breeds that lay very well, frequent, often, and seldom go broody. Rhode Island REd, Australops, and of course Leghorns. So what is your plan for the hen? Pet? Brooder? Breeder? Layer?

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#71086 - 01/24/07 07:36 PM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
A "good" hen keeps a neat hen house, meets the rooster at the door each evening with a drink in her hand, kisses him on the cheek and asks about his day. Then there are the rest of us old birds.... smile

I have a henhouseful of Dark Brahma X Australorp. I love the way they look, round plump bodies and neat little heads with small, tight combs. They are such tidy looking hens. Their laying seems to go in surges, heavy for a while and then a slow down. They do not produce like the production birds, but have a much more relaxed demeanor than the production layers. I expect to get fewer eggs but am hoping for a longer shelf life from these hens. Those heavy producers seem prone to burn out. As CJR said, good is in the eye of the beholder. Before you can judge a hen good or bad, you have to know your own priorities and judge from there.

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#71087 - 02/08/07 06:15 PM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


The way i see it if a hen lets you move her nest and keeps it and doesn't peck or put up any sort of fight then they usually wont try to fight off predators or protect thier eggs or chicks. To me a good hen posses the following qaulities:
~lays very well
~doesn't fight others for no reason
~very calm and non-flighty
~puts up a good fight for eggs and chicks
~comes when called
~keeps clean
~roosts on roost poles with others
NOT in nest boxes
~doesn't try to resist when the rooster tries to breed

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#71088 - 02/11/07 07:44 AM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Ridekool Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 01/24/05
Posts: 313
Loc: Canada
I like an aggressive hen. Not one that picks fights for the sake of fighting, but one who stands her ground if she's broody or has chicks. My hen Rip (named for her blood thristy nature :rolleyes: ) is very aggressive when she's broody, she has no qualms about going for blood (mine mostly) if I need to disturd her eggs or chicks. Her 5 times grandmother Peep was identical in nature, she'd put roo's to shame when it came to defending her own. It's odd, but none of Peeps grandsons were aggressive, her granddaughters where the one's who took after her.

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#71089 - 02/11/07 07:54 AM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


I'm going to disagree that a hen needs to try to rip skin off your hand in order to prove they will defend a brood. A chicken can recognize up to 200 individual chickens, even if they are all the same breed and color. I know my own birds know one dog from another and one cat from another. How they interact with me has nothing to do with how they'll react to a potential predator.

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#71090 - 02/11/07 05:19 PM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Sunni Ten Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 341
Loc: Colorado
I have to agree with some of the above. Two big ones: Sleeps in the roost, not in the nests or out on the fence or trees. Lays in the nests, not elsewhere. Those 2 habits are really annoying and hard to break.

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#71091 - 03/27/07 07:40 AM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Anonymous
Unregistered


uno,


posted January 24, 2007 07:36 PM
"A "good" hen keeps a neat hen house, meets the rooster at the door each evening with a drink in her hand, kisses him on the cheek and asks about his day. Then there are the rest of us old birds.... " wink

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#71092 - 03/29/07 10:04 PM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
When I first posted this question,(What makes a good Hen?) my RIR pullet, Pickle, had been rearing chicks for 12 weeks. If you add the 4 weeks she was sitting on golf balls before I put chicks under her, that makes 16 weeks and now add another 8 weeks to the total making it 24 weeks since she stopped laying and went clucky, (She has long since given up "mothering" those chicks, but despite looking in good health with a nice bright red comb, squatting when I walk past her and eating exceptionally well, (though she's not fat)) she still has not recommenced laying!!! confused Now I KNOW that sulphate of ammonia or flowers of potash won't make her produce fruit/flowers like it will for plants, but does anyone know a good tonic for a hen to trigger laying again? Save sitting down beside her with the machete in my hand while I discuss the facts of life with her, I don't know how to get her laying. wink I'm beginning to think she likes being decorative in the backyard. The other hens don't like her very much, so I think they sense she's different, but she made such a good job of rearing those chicks I'd certainly like to get her productive again, even if to rear more chicks. Any suggestions? frown

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#71093 - 03/30/07 07:34 AM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
Did she lose a lot of weight during her clucky phase? I'm wondering if it's just her body needing to gain some weight and strength before the reproductive system kicks back into gear?

Not sure, because I have too many hens to monitor one if she is in with the flock, so I'm not too sure how long it takes my broodies to get back in gear. I usually assume they are laying again if they have a bright red comb and I spot them in a nest box. That's about all I have to go on.

Have you done a vent check? Is she dry?

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#71094 - 03/30/07 07:33 PM Re: What makes a GOOD hen?
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
Everything is normal. Other broodies I have had have returned to laying in about 8-10 weeks. Most of them though layed through their pullet year and didn't cluck until either the end of first lay, or the beginning of second lay. Pickle has never been a steady layer. Most eggs I ever got from her in a month was 16, then she promptly went broody again. She's never been a fat chook, but then not thin either for her big frame. I've just switched over to my winter feeding grain which is 50/50 cracked corn and barley, mixed with molasis. They get layers mash as well. It puts weight on them and has triggered Blackie back into laying. Hoping it will do the same for Pickle.

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