Keeping ex-battery hens in their retirement years is a really rewarding thing to do. Seeing them step out into their new spacious coop and scratching for bugs for the first time is a reward in its self given the months of service they’ve given to provide humans with food.
We take in rescued hens and there’s no better feeling than seeing them absolutely loving life!
The reason that ex-battery hens are re-homed are so they can live the rest of their lives in peace and happiness, but do ex-battery hens continue to lay eggs and should you expect them to?
In short, yes most ex-battery hens will continue to lay eggs once they go into retirement and many will continue to produce a high yield of eggs for some time. Although they may not lay eggs regularly at first while they adjust to their new life and surroundings.
Ex-battery hens are released to re-homing charities and programs when they’re around 18 months old and either moulting or due to moult. At this point, they are deemed by commercial farms as unproductive because there’s a risk they can go off the lay when they moult and they will be feeding potentially unproductive chickens.
Most ex-battery re-homers adopt the hens with the view that it’s just nice to see them getting a chance of a better life and any eggs they lay is really just a bonus.
Read on to find out more about ex-battery chickens eggs and what you can expect if you’re looking to re-home rescue hens.
Ex-battery hen egg production after they’re re-homed
When we first got our ex-battery hens we were advised by the re-homing charity that it’s common for the hens to lay in the first few days of being re-homed and then to go off the lay for a while.
So far in their little lives, they’ve lived in a cramped and unnatural environment where eating from a feeder and laying eggs is all they know. When they’re re-homed they have to get used to a whole new environment and way of life which can be a little scary at first.
We found that our hens carried on laying from the day we got them, although they were not all laying every day for the first week or so after they came to us.
Since then they’ve gone on to be regular layers and it also helped our existing young chickens to start laying too.
Although most ex-battery hens to continue to produce a good number of eggs, be prepared for the fact that some hens may never lay again once they’re re-homed and will just go into a peaceful retirement where they can behave as a chicken should.
It’s for this reason that ex-battery hens should be re-homed with a view of providing them with a better life and a forever home whether they lay eggs or not.
Ex-battery hen egg-laying FAQ’s
Will ex-battery hens lay in a nest box?
When battery hens are kept in cages they don’t have nest boxes and in most cases, they just lay where they stand.
For this reason, the hens may not lay in nest boxes when you first get them and you might find eggs on the coop or run floor while they get used to their new home.
Hens will generally lay in the morning, so it’s good to check the coop after this time to avoid the eggs getting kicked around and broken.
We found that our hens quickly got used to the nest boxes and they enjoyed getting cosy in them in the early days.
How long do ex-battery hens lay eggs for?
How long an ex-battery hen will continue to lay eggs for is really down to the individual hen, but they could carry on until they’re around three or four years old to some degree and until they stop completely.
Non-battery hens can carry on laying until they’re four or five years old, but sadly in many ex-battery hens don’t tend to live as long due to the tough lives they experience during their time spent in the farm.
Egg production can slow down to three or four per week as they get older and until they stop laying completely.
The most important thing is that they can experience a happy life during their remaining months or years of retirement.
What colour are ex-battery hen eggs?
The colour of an ex-battery hen egg will depend on the breed of the hen. Most commercial laying hens are hybrid breeds which are used for their high egg yield and these are usually red chickens which produce a light brown or beige egg.
Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article that was first published on October 10, 2020.
In some cases, white breeds are used (we have a white ex-battery Leghorn) which produce large white eggs.
Are ex-battery hen eggs ok to eat when you first get them?
Ex-battery hen eggs are perfectly fine to eat when you first get them. You will probably find they produce what I call a ‘supermarket egg’ where you can tell the egg is pale and hasn’t been laid by a happy hen.
Once your hens start living their new and improved lives you will notice an improvement to the quality of the egg, especially if they can graze for natural food such as insects, garden greens and worms.
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This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on October 10, 2020.