Congratulations on adopting your beautiful hen’s into your loving family, we so appreciate that you chose to adopt from ‘Til The Cows Come Home and not shop. You are helping our vision come alive by allowing us to make your everyday home a furever sanctuary for your new hen.
Today we are bringing you our hen care guide! This guide will cover all the hen care information you need to know to ensure your hens remains healthy and happy in your loving home.
How Are Your Hen’s Going Before Meeting You?
We are happy to inform you that before you pick up your new family members our amazing team will have ensured that your hens are in great health and ready to start their new chapter in your loving home. All hens upon arriving at our holding stations and foster homes receive all the vet care each hen requires for a healthy start to their new life with you.
Your Hen’s Home:
As you have already had your hen’s home approved before adopting from us, we won’t go into too much detail in this section. As you would already know your hen’s home will become their safe, quiet and dry sanctuary, that has places for them to hide, perch, nest, peck and drink before you make it out of bed in the morning to let them out of their shelter to free roam throughout the day.
On your hen’s first day in your home, you need to show her where the water is. You can do this by splashing your hand in her water feeder.
Your hen’s must have access to dirt. Did you know hen’s love a dust bath? Your hen’s also loves to eat grass, so they need grass and dirt both inside and outside their coop.
In addition to all of the above, it is vital that your hen’s coop and run is 100% fox (predator) proof always. . You will need to ensure that a fox cannot dig under and climb over to reach your hen.This is something you will need to check on regularly to keep your hen’s protected.
Remember your hen’s first day in their new home may be an overwhelming experience for them. So, try and give them time to settle into their new surroundings. Once a few days have gone by, slowly, and carefully, you can start to get closer to them and handle them.
You Must Provide Your Hen’s With A Perch:
To provide your hen’s with the basic fundamentals of a good home you must have a perch for them. It is a natural instinct for your hen’s to want to be up high, as it allows them to feel safe and protected while they sleep. Therefore, making sure your hen’s have a perch is essential.
It’s your hen’s first feeding time with you and you might not be sure what exactly to feed her? We have you covered! We recommend buying the organic, vegetarian coarse mix feed, which is available at all rural supply stores. This feed can be given to your hen along with your family’s daily scraps.
Scraps that are good for your hen’s includes berries, melons, seeds and corns. Food scraps we urge you to avoid feeding your hen’s include meat, dairy, avocado skin or the pit, onion, potato, apple seeds, citrus, tomato, eggplant, rice, beans, salt and chocolate.
Always make sure you are providing you hen’s with clean water and a cruelty free grit (this can be their own egg shells crumpled up and fed back to them and/or limestone grit from the rural store).
Tip: We highly recommend that you feed the eggs of your hen back to them daily in order to replace the depleted nutrients from producing too many eggs in their former life. Your hen’s have likely been bred, fed and kept in ways to produce far more eggs than their bodies are designed for, therefore giving their eggs will help them.
Symptoms of Illness:
It is essential that you familiarise yourself of what a healthy hen behaves like, so you know when one is unwell.
Commercial laying hens may suffer from egg yolk peritonitis, vitamin and mineral deficiency (calcium usually), respiratory disease and assorted infections.
Closed eyes, standing hunched, not eating, sluggish and not running for food are all worth noting and being aware of. Additionally, look out for when their crop feels full of liquid and squishy or full and hard.
If their crop is full of liquid and squishy then it may be sour crop or another underlying issue. A hen suffering from sour crop will consume water frantically as they are wanting their digestive system to work again, so watch out for this sign. If their crop is full and hard then it may be impacted crop.
If your hen is suffering from coccidiosis she will have diarrhea with blood present, will be tired and hunched up.
If your hen has a respiratory disease, she will be sneezing and may have discharge coming from her nose and eyes.
Egg Yolk Peritonitis, is an infection caused by the presence of an ectopic yolk within your hens main body cavity. This infection occurs due to the demand your hen would have been under to lay a financially viable number of eggs in her past life before meeting you. You can tell if this is happening to a hen if her torso looks very puffy and swollen, and she will feel much heavier than usual. Let your farmed animal friendly vet know if your hen is experiencing this.
If you are ever concerned or unsure, you are welcome to contact us but most importantly make sure you seek vet advice if your hen is unwell.
Have You Checked Your Hen’s Eggs?
Did you know there are different ways to read the health of your hen by looking at their eggs?
Has your hen laid an egg that is wrinkled or checked in appearance? This is called a body-checked egg. If your hen has laid one of these eggs, it is most likely due to the egg being previously damaged while in the shell gland pouch, often from stress or pressure put on the egg. The egg will often be repaired prior to lay, which is what gives the egg it’s slightly rippled appearance.
Has your hen laid a shell-less or thin-shelled egg? This is a common occurrence, especially in young layers, as their systems are still warming up to the laying process and their shell gland is still maturing. If shell-less eggs are occurring in your older hen, it may be a sign of calcium deficiency and overall poor nutrition, stress, infectious bronchitis or egg drop syndrome. If this becomes a repeat issue, make sure your hen is comfortable and is eating a well-balanced, calcium rich diet. A quick trip to the vet is also recommended.
Has your hen laid a somewhat flattened side egg with wrinkled edging? This could be from the egg being kept too long in the shell gland, or in some cases when a mis-timed egg proceeds down the oviduct and ends up resting alongside it.
If your hen egg has small bead like growths on it, this is known as calcified material and can be a result of excess calcium intake, disease, or defective shell glands. However, if these types of eggs are found infrequently there is no cause for alarm.
If your hen has laid an uneven shell colouring egg this may simply be the result of uneven pigmentation while in the shell gland pouch and is again no cause for alarm.
Has your hen laid an egg within an egg? This is a rare occurrence known as counter-peristalsis contraction. This does not in any way mean your chicken is unhealthy and is nothing to worry about.
We believe it is important for anyone with hens to learn more about this.
Your hen’s can lose feathers if they are ill or if they have been pecked by other hens, but often it is due to Moulting.
During their moulting period, your hen’s needs to eat all their eggs they have laid. This is your hen’s special time to be eating her own eggs. She’ll also need access to roaming gardens and compost scraps in order to find foods such as worms which have higher protein meals for her than grains, fruit and vegetables.
My Hen Has Lice! What Should I Do?
We use Diatomaceous Earth for lice treatment. We use the product by massaging it into a hen’s feathers. You can sprinkle the DE treatment on generously twice a year into their nesting box, coop, feed, and water to keep lice, mites and worms away. DE offers immediate relief.
We know, hens are so cute! But there are so many hens out there suffering and in need of good homes and love. We see hundreds and thousands of hens needing to be rehomed every week. If you want more hens then consider giving a hen in need a home instead of breeding your hen. There are around 20 billion hens in the world today, please don’t breed more.
We thank you with all our hearts for choosing to adopt not shop. It means life to these deserving girls.
If you don’t have space for a hen, you can still support our mission by donating here: https://ttcch-general-appeal.raisely.com/
If you have any questions remember all our adoptees receive lifetime support from us. You can contact us any time for tips, tricks, education, advice and help through our Facebook page at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/tilthecowscomehomeau
By Luella Botteon