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Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:56 pm
by Scotness
About 2 weeks ago my wife and I bought 11 battery hens from a local farmer. We sold 3 to a friend and kept 8 for ourselves.

The poor animals looked wretched but within a day we noticed an improvement. They were all missing neck feathers, and feathers on their lower back, and most of them had red inflamed skin on their back.

The skin is settling down and the feathers are starting to grow back -- but does anyone have any idea how long the whole process takes - we were thinking maybe 3 months.

Also socially they are quite a disaster - it's like 8 misfits in the one pen - there is little normal social interaction or pecking order - except for all 7 of them against 1 which is permanently scared and obviously very damaged from the whole cage experience -- although I must say the mad chook (as my kids call it) is settling down a little - but it lets out the most awful whelps when the others have a go at it -- but the incidence of that happening now too is reducing.

We were thinking of separating it, but the situation seems to be slowly getting better.

Anyway any advice from someone who's rehabilitated battery chooks would good


Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:06 pm
by Thomzo
Sadly, this is absolutely normal. They will settle down eventually but do keep an eye on the one that is getting beaten up. If you see blood, separate her immediately as that will attract more pecking. If possible, find somewhere you can put her where she can still see the others and they can see her. That way they'll get used to her while she heals up.

I used an old shopping trolley alongside the main pen. It's big enough for a few days and they could talk to each other.

Unfortunately, some ex-bats never quite make it to 'normal'. Given their breeding and the experiences they've been through, it's not really surprising. But at least you've given her a chance.

Well done you for giving them a loving new home.

Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:50 pm
by sarahkeast
Good luck.

We got 8 ex-bats a couple of weeks ago, they seem to be settling and fortunately arent too scraggy/featherless. They are eating well [lots] altho not laying much yet, not sure if that is seasonal or adjustment ? Not sure about hierarchy etc, altho there seems to be one who prefers to stay inside by herself more, the rest are happy to be outside, altho not got the hang of scratching around much yet.

I am feeding them special ex-bat food, partly on the raised piece of gutter feeder my son made and partly on the floor amongst the veggie and fruit scraps [which they are mostly ignoring] in the hope that will help them get more into scratching around. A couple are making it up onto the perch at night, the rest just hang out on the floor [with shavings]

Would love to hear about any other ex-bats out there, how well and how long adjustment is.


Sarah :flower:

Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:28 am
by Scotness
Hi Zoe and Sarah,

Thanks for your comments - we'll watch out for blood. I'm really glad we're doing this too, even if they don't ever return to normal - at least things are better for them. I was quite shocked when we got them, but I didn't want to say anything to the farmer because he was good enough to pass them onto us (he was going to kill them).

But it just beggers belief that people can do this to animals - they have come out of a living hell. I was really touched by the response of my kids - who have only ever seen normal chooks that we've had -- when they got home from school they were speechless and visibly upset - it was really sad, but I was proud of them for reacting that way - even though it was sad.

Funny thing about ours Sarah is they have been extremely inquisitive about everything and are readily eating scraps. We're giving them scraps plus laying mash - and out of 8 chooks we're getting 3 to 5 eggs a day. They're about 2 years old, so this isn't a bad turnover I guess.


Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:50 am
by bonniethomas06

It is indeed about three months 'till the feathers grow back completely. I can't remember when mine started acting like normal chickens again, but one year on and you wouldn't know that they had ever been through such a horrible experience - they are glossy feathered and lovely, and exactly as pernacious as the rare breeds we already had.

The ex-batt food is a good idea - if you want any more advice check out the Battery Hen Welfare Trust website - (I think).

Well done you though, it is a lovely thing to do and you should have plenty of eggs - mine lay 7 a day between 11 of them.

Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:57 am
by Gert
It's really good to see so many people taking on ex-battery hens, well done folks, keep up the good work. :mrgreen: In my experience they will generally all make it back to normal health physically and mentally.

If there are one or two who don't, then the time they've had with people looking after them properly, has to be better than what happened to the ones that didn't get rescued.

Keep on rescuing :cheers:

Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:26 pm
by ADG
if you have a victim bird the best thing to do is hang a cauliflower up so it is swinging freely and at a height where the birds have to stretch their necks to reach, this occupies them leaving the hen to recover, they wont lay unless they have been throught their moult if the feathers are growing back , this is the moult, their skin will now be sore so a little sunflower oil in their feed helps the pins come through more easily, the current increasing day length at the moment will be helping as well, there is no reason why they shouldnt be normal, every breed and strain has its own little quirks.Their bodies will be going through a lot of stress even though they look happier , so dont forget plenty of oyster shell

Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:13 pm
by shell
got my 4 ex batts october time,they were bald and straggly,white combes etc,now you wouldn`t tell the difference between them and the ones i had already from the poultry fairs,they mix well now although have their own pen,they didnt at first but after a while they started to follow the other hens from the next pen when i let them all out to roam,at night i cant tell the difference between them and so long as i have 6 hens in one hut and 5 plus one rooster in the other its fine,they take themselves to bed when it gets dark,i thought it would never happen as they seemed quite mad,didnt like puting their feet on the ground,didnt like eating from the bowls,just kept shaking their heads in a really odd way,pecked each other when they invaded the space but it soon stopped.:flower:

Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:51 am
by Scotness
Hi everyone - thanks for the advice - things are going well and the one that was always pecked on is probably now only pecked on about a third as much as it was before. It's general condition is improving, but it lags behind the others - still I'd say the outlook is positive for it and the others.


Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:18 am
by sortanormalish
My four crazies weren't from a horrid bat, well not a battery anyway. They also had no clue how to forage. This worked for us. I assume they are eating from the feeder. Add food srapes to the feeder, just a little at first, until they are eating it. Then around the feeder, gradually working the distance out until you notice them foraging. Took my girls two weeks.

Re: Rehabilitiating Battery Hens

Posted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:30 pm
by Thomzo
If you have the guts for it, withhold food so they have to eat the scraps. It seems a bit mean but it only takes a day or so and they soon learn and love the scraps. Probably best to wait until they have settled in and are looking more healthy, so as not to add any more stress.

Be aware, though, that more scraps = less eggs.