What is a pullet?
A female fowl, that is less than one year old.

How long do hens live for?
Normally around six years, but some can live over ten years.

How do I tell if my hens are broody?
The hen will be protective of eggs and will not leave the nest box. They will have hot, ruffled feathers and will peck and cluck at you when picking up the eggs.

How can I stop my hen from going broody?
Isolate the bird in a temporary run, in cooler conditions.

How much should my hens eat in a day?
Basically 125 gms. (4 oz.) per day.

What should I feed my hens?
Layers Pellets or mash. It is a “complete” balanced diet, including calcium/grit.

What should I not feed my hens?
Chocolate, meat, raw potato peelings, (mouldy scraps) anything containing salt or sugar.

Can I feed my hens leftovers?
Yes, as long as it contains no meat or excess salt and you are not selling eggs

What is true free range?
The hens must have continuous access to open air runs. Spacing 100 birds to one acre.

What causes blood spots in my hens eggs?
Occasionally tiny spot released by the ovarian follicle. Sometimes pullets, but more likely  older hens. Bright spot signifies fresh egg, as the spot becomes paler as egg ages.

What causes a double yolk?
 A “mistake” in the reproductive system. More than one yolk being released at one time. Normally as an egg is laid, the cycle of the next yolk travelling down the ovary begins again. In pullets this occasionally goes wrong, but it can also be a hereditary trait.

Why are my hens laying eggs with soft shells?
This is likely to occur with young birds coming into lay for the first time. When a pullet reaches 16 weeks it must graduate to layers feed. For at least three months, no extra grit, or “treats” must be given.

My hens eggs are not perfectly smooth but bumpy, why?
Bumpy and wrinkled eggs are caused usually by hens as they get older and coming to end of lay. The cause is likely to be poor muscle tone.

Do hens need a cockerel to lay eggs?
No. A cockerel is only required if you need fertile eggs to hatch.

How can I tell if my hens chicks are going to be male or female?
Day old chicks, depending on the breed, can be sexed by feather colour and formation.. Vent checking, is carried out by trained experts. As your birds reach 12 weeks, the males have big bright read cocky combs and the females very small pale coloured combs.

What diseases should I look out for in my hens?
Prevention is better than cure. Buy healthy, vaccinated  hens from an established source, combined with good husbandry and a nutritional balanced diet is where to start. Get to know your birds, by handling them daily. This is the best time to keep a look out for birds that appear unwell. Head down, listless, runny motions, watery eyes, breathing problems can all be symptoms of sickness.

Should I vaccinate my hens?
Although a few poultry people might say no, the majority, like ourselves would say yes. The purpose of the vaccination is to allow your birds to develop immunity to pathogens (bacteria and other viruses)  Mareks, Newcastle infections, Bronchitis Gumboro are diseases caused by viral pathogens. Vaccinations prevents these main diseases.

Do hens make good pets?
Hens make great pets and this is why they are described as “Productive Pets”. The more they are handled the friendlier they become.

My hens have stopped laying, why?
The most likely reason is, reduced daylight hours. A hen requires 14 hours of sunshine within a 24 hour cycle to continue to lay eggs  Hybrids are developed to continue to lay throughout the winter months. If your hen appears to stop laying suddenly in  the period of Spring/Summer these following reasons may apply…nutrition, (too many treats, don’t forget the lay pellets) not enough fresh water, illness and disease, a lack of grit. Are your hens getting too old, stressed, eggs being eaten, (other hens or predators)….eggs being hidden. In the winter time they can slow down or stop due to the lack of sunlight. Simply provide a light in the coop when it gets dark and turn it off before you go to bed. It helps. 

Do hens get along with other pets? (Cats and Dogs)
Generally this is not a problem, (we have a zoo!) and many, many animal lovers have a range of animals in greater number that live in total harmony with their poultry. As a general rule if you are at ease with all your pets, the animals in your care, will see no threat and follow your lead, Some terrier type hunting dogs may see the hens as fair game, and likewise a cat amongst baby chicks ( though ours tend to try to sleep with them). Beware of visiting animals.

Why do foxes kill all the hens and not just one or two?
The foxes (and other predators) main reason for entering the henhouse area is to take advantage of “easy food” for herself and young litter. If the fox has an opportunity to access a henhouse it is possible two things occur, firstly, all the hens will go into a total panic, clucking, squalling, fluttering, which turns the “quiet kill” into a “killing frenzy”. Foxes take their kill miles away to eat and bury at a later time. This means the fox has the intention of coming back for the other dead hens.

Will badgers kill and eat my hens?
Yes badgers are not only aggressive they are powerful, with very strong teeth and can easily chew their way through weak metal fencing.

How do I introduce new hens to my existing ones?
Introduce your new hens when it is dark, by gently and quietly placing them on the perch beside the established flock. At the same time add an extra feeder and drinker (or two). Check early morning that all is well. If any bird is being bullied, remove and start process again. A “pecking order” is a “pecking order” and that is ok. If the pecking results in a small wound that bleeds, all the other birds will turn on this bird. It must be moved.

Do I have to bathe my chicken?
Bathing your chicken is  not necessary. They preen themselves on a regular basis, and also enjoy the occasional dust bath in some dirt. No worries, they are low maintenance when it comes to hygiene. 

Will my chicken do alright with the heat in the summer?
Because of where we live it gets extremely hot during the summer months. Even if a specific breed of chicken is known for doing well in the heat, it's always best to go out of your way to make sure that they do not overheat. We recommend using a misting system, having some sort of air circulation(fans, portable swamp coolers, etc), and occasionally putting ice in their waterers when it's very hot. Easy access to plenty of shade is a must, and remember they will run out of water faster when it is hot. 

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