Everyone who has rescued one of our girls today please remember they will need putting to bed safely tonight as they will not know how to do that ... It is very important that you ensure your new girls eat and drink and you must check that they do so. ... Anyone who has rescued and has existing girls please also remember that the pecking order will need to be re established in the next few days so a few tips - ... Vaseline/Sudocrem or Germolene on the combs will help to stop them grabbing each other by the comb as their beaks will slip off and they won’t like the taste ! Plenty of distractions like hanging up cabbage or corn on the cob, extra food and water dotted around to ensure they all get enough food and water. The new girls will only know to eat layers mash but will soon get a taste for other things. Clapping and distracting them if they have a set to stops them in their tracks! Water pistols work too if they get a bit too nasty with each other. It’s really important to ensure they all eat and drink in these first few days. Any blood must be cleaned up immediately. Remember that there is always a member of admin checking our facebook page if you need help, or if its urgent you can text Alison on 07888 730763 and she will get back to you as soon as possible. ... Finally thank you for giving these amazing girls a loving forever home from all of us at LuckyHens Rescue xx
Keep a watchful eye in the first few days to ensure your hen is eating and drinking. If she is particularly quiet she may be suffering with shock, thirst, hunger and or exhaustion.
Dissolve 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar or honey into roughly 100mls of boiling water, leave to cool and syringe 10 mls slowly bit by bit into her mouth, it is vitally important to ensure the liquid is inserted well past the small hole at the base of the tongue that leads to the hen’s lungs always remembering to allow her to swallow after each drop. This will give her an energy kick start and tends to get them up and eating.
When your new hens arrive they may be in quite poor condition. But with lots of TLC they’ll soon start to improve.
They may have feathers missing and bald patches. The feathers will grow back eventually. But if the other hens start to peck the bald patches you can spray antiseptic spray on them available from animal/horse feed supplies or pet shops.
Their comb may be very pale & large. This will redden again and shrink.
Toenails are often long because of being confined to a cage. When your hens start to scratch about in the ground they’ll soon wear them down but if they can’t stand properly they can be trimmed with toenail clippers used for dogs (don’t go too short as you take the risk of nipping the vein).
Sometimes their legs are weak and they may find it difficult to walk but as they get used to having more space they’ll soon build up their strength.
In the first couple of weeks keep the hens inside the hen house/run leaving the door open during the day so they can investigate the outside world if they want. They might not move around much to begin with. Remember these poor girls have never seen daylight for long before, if ever.
You will find your girls will lay eggs anywhere on the floor at first. They do normally adjust to laying in the nests. If not you could try putting a plastic egg in there for a bit of encouragement.
There are plenty of hen houses available on the internet / pet shops / Garden centres but converting a standard garden shed will be a perfectly acceptable hen house. 6’ x 4’ will be enough for around 12 chickens.
At first the hens won’t be strong enough to jump onto the perch to roost so you may have to provide them with a box on the floor or a ramp to walk up.
The perch should be about roughly 12”off the floor.
Make sure the shed is secure from predators so that they can be locked away safely in the evening.
Wood shavings or sawdust are good for the floor and straw for the bed .Hay should be avoided as it can encourage mites. Sawdust that you get free from wood yards can be used but I would recommend that is sprayed slightly to dampen it to keep the dust down. Add tea tree and lavender to the water spray to give your hens a nice smelling and relaxing place to live.
It is a good idea to feed your hens layers mash for a few weeks as they probably won’t eat anything else to start with as this is all they have ever known .You can gradually introduce other foods such as layers pellets and mixed corn. You could also try tying up cabbage leaves around the run to occupy them.
Food & water bowls need to be deeper because the hens have usually been debeaked and they’ll find it easier to scoop the food and water up.
The hen house is best kept on top of daily by removal of droppings and soiled straw (this makes fab compost) then top up with clean straw. Give the house a thorough clean monthly ensuring the corners including the roof corners and perches (especially the perch ends) are cleaned. Diatom DE (smite) is best sprinkled on top of the fresh layer of straw. Health
We will never knowingly allow a hen to go to a new home with health problems.
When the hens first go into the cages they will have had a long list of vaccinations to protect the farmer against large losses. These are usually administered through spray misting the chicks or in the drinking water.
The most common diseases vaccinated against are Marek’s disease, Infectious bronchitis, Salmonella, Newcastle disease, Gumbaro disease and epidemic tumour.
One of the most common problems with Ex-Caged/Barn Hens is bruising, often to the leg and sometimes to the wings. This usually occurs when they are removed from their cages and can be so painful she can’t stand. If you look, you will see dark bruising under the skin, Arnica cream works wonders. As long as she gets food and water, a bruised hen will recover within 7 – 14 days with no lasting effects. (If possible do not separate her from the other hens as when you return her she will seem like an outsider and be bullied).
Still expect some punch ups. They’ll have a go at each other quite readily, but this settles very quickly. This is as the saying goes “The Pecking Order”.
Expect a few for the first couple of days then non for quite a few whilst they adapt.
Keep the girls separate from a cockerel for at least a month.
They’ve never seen a cockerel and it’s a pretty scary experience when they do.
If he’s big and keen he may do damage by jumping on a hen with weak legs and/or bald backs. Allow the hen’s time to build up confidence and strength.
Bugs & parasites
The most common problem can be red mite. This is a tiny mite that feeds on the hens at night and then during the day lives in the coop/shed usually under perches or in the nesting area or simply in the cracks and joints in the house.
It is something that can be controlled with many products on the market and, like fleas, will flare up in the warmer weather and die down during the winter months. It does not usually prove fatal to hens although in extreme cases if left untreated can cause death!
A good idea is to use a child’s sand pit or make one maybe with 4 boards. Old scaffold boards are fine. Fill with sand, dry earth and ashes sprinkled with diatom and orange peel oil. This will suffocate lice and other parasites also keeping numbers down when the hen dust bathes.
Dust your coop with flea / mite powder once a month especially in the nest boxes, again there are plenty of products available on the market. You could also add garlic to their feed and apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a general health tonic and de wormer to keep on top of things
I would recommend worming your hen at least twice a year, because they are free to venture out now, they are likely to pick a few up from wild birds and insects. There are non-chemical/organic herbal feeds available with wormer in to give them once a month.
WE HOPE YOU ENJOY GIVING YOUR RESCUED EX-CAGED/ BARN HENS A NEW HOME AND A CHANCE OF FREEDOM THAT SHE SO RIGHTLY DESERVES.
Thank You Alison.
LuckyHens Rescue North West Amberswood Common Manchester Road Ince Wigan WN23DR