INTRODUCING NEW HENS TO YOUR FLOCK
Often when new hens/pullets are brought into an existing flock there can be problems with
- over domination or
this is natural hen behaviour which may result in
- death or
- retarded sexual maturity resulting in few or no eggs
In an effort to avoid these problems your new hens/pullets should be sectioned off in their new hen house for 3-5 days allowing them to become orientated prior to physical contact with your older/existing hens that have an established pecking order.
WHEN HENS BEGIN MOULTING
After about 10-12 months of laying you may notice some changes in your hens & their eggs -
*Shells may be thinner, white shell or feel chalky & break easily
*Hens look a bit shabby - feathersfall out from around the neck & tail area which may cause other hens to peck at them
This is a natural process indicating that your hens need a spell from laying (a once yearly necessity). The moult takes about 8 weeks for each hen; they may not all moult together.
Tips for managing this important stage -
*Collect eggs early each day & often to avoid breakages & prevent egg-eating due to the thin shells
*To help hens thru this you can confine the hens to their shed or enclosure, take away the layers diet & feed only whole oats for 1 week to reduce stress & hen arguments (they will all stop laying together). Then return the high protein layers diet to enable hens to rejuvenate bones, skin & eye pigments and grow new feathers to make ready for another season of laying
*Hens may have a reduced lay rate, down to about 75% lay in their 2nd season & expect them to have all the eggs possible by the end of the 3rd season
Some people buy new hens at this time to maintain egg numbers - read notes above to ensure a hassle-free introduction.