Can hens Run and fly
yes is the simple answer, not very well of course, they can fly an average of 12 feet and approx 5-6 feet high. watching them run when I put their feed down is funny, they can run faster than a dog but slower than a cat at a speed of 9 miles per hour. (But just try catching one for a lice/mite check ha.) You can clip a hens flight feathers so she cannot scale an adjoining fence and eat your neighbours lush greens, on the downside if you live in an are visited by a prowling fox then your hen cannot simply escape her predator by simply flying six feet up on that face and out of harms way. This choice is down to the individual keeper. Please note, if you intend to cut your hens flight feathers be sure to cut either the left OR the right side, thus keeping your hen off balance, and yearly as they grow back after the moult, and taking care not to cut to far down the shaft of the feather so as to draw blood.
How to age a hen/rooster/ life-span
to give an idea of the age of a rooster the length of the spur is usually a good indicator, where a 6 month old bird would have a spur length of a centimetre long, a more mature bird would have a spur length of 3-4 centimetres. To give some indication of the age of a hen the size of the foot is usually a good indicator, where a pullet would have much smaller feet than an older hen. while the life span of both the rooster and the hen can vary an approximation can be made of 6-8 years, and for pure breeds it can be between 6-10 years old, a contributing factor to their longevity can be determined by the care you lavish on your hens and the quality of care lavished on them. I currently have 1 hen left out of a cree full of 12 blue buff Orpington hens that have long since past (Sylvia is 7 years old this year) and is the only one of my hens I have given a name too, being the oldest she has earned that right. She is the only hen left from that particular breed and her eggs (2 per week) she lays are huge, this old girl is still going strong. She's the one top middle photo inset. These were pure breed blue buff Orpington hens. My brown gold-lines don't fair as well despite being treated equally, the goldlines lay more eggs per year but less later on in life, my buff Orpingtons were laying into their 6th year and my final lady laying well into her second year. Keeping your hens happy and healthy is key to your hens longevity...
BONDING WITH YOUR HENS
Bonding with your hens is relatively easy, it is crucial in forming a trusting relationship that you make eye contact and talk to your girls each time you enter the Cree if this is possible. if all your hens see are your shoes and ankles then no bond will be formed. like a dog you can train your hens, personally I click with my tongue, some people I know use whistles while another uses a flashlight or a clicker. This has turned out to be very useful on numerous occasions. Like on the cold dark winter days when you enter the Cree and one sneaks past you, or when locking your girls safely away for the night. I simply crouch/squat down and open my arms wide I then click with my tongue and my lady comes right back to me. It is important to make direct eye contact with your hen, hens can recognise up to 100 faces and for up to two weeks in their chicken memory. not only talking but I often hum or sing when I'm feeding my girls. And what better way than to de-stress after a particularly bad day at work than talking your problem over with a chicken, their great listeners and are not judgemental.
ARE HENS SOCIAL
Hens are endowend with memory and emotion and have a keenly developed consciousness of one and another and their surroundings. Chickens form memories that influence their social behaviour and their ability to distinguish between a threat and danger from a predator as opposed to myself who presents no danger. This is reflected in their actions (protection) when raising young. A hen with young will put herself inbetween her chicks and a predator and display her annoyance by a showping signs of aggression In the form of hissing, wing flapping and charging toward the bpredator.. research has recently been done on the hens social Order. A hen removed from its group over the course of 3 weeks and then re-introduced was welcomed back into the fold with relative ease, thus showing that a hens can recognise another hen facially. With a little pecking at first maybe but that is just to say, hey where have you been, I've missed you, welcome back it's great to see you, this pecking stiles down in a very short time. Re-introduced back to the flock your hen will be overwhelmed and surrounded by her Cree mates and they Chatter as though asking them where have you been we've missed you, and by day 1-2 will happily be pecking away at grubs and worms with the rest of the flock as though she had never been away.
DO HENS URINATE
For quite sometime it was assumed that hens did not pee. This myth has been dispelled. The urine tract and the large intestine are joined at the clocoa where the two (urine and faeces) meet and are passed through the clocoa Together. Depending on what you feed your girls, a hens poo is a brownish green in colour.mthe white substance found at the top of the faeces is the urine. hens perform this function between 30-50 times daily so good henhouse management skills are required, that's posh jargon for please clean out your hens living accommodation weekly to lessen the build up of ammonia and moisture which are responsible for your hens respiratory infections.
A HENS LIFESPAN
The average age of a hen varies it depends on the individual hen and the care lavished on her. While some hens can live to 10 years the same hens can also die within 2-3 years, as a rule of thumb it is between 6-8 years, it is a very small number that live 8-10 years and those that do make it to that age lay very few eggs A year. The oldest recorded living hen was 16 years old and had stopped laying around 6 years earlier.. currently have only 1 of my original blue Buff Orpington hens Left out of my original 12, as the last surviving one she is still laying me 2 huge eggs a week and this spring she will see her seventh birthday. However If like me you have also taken hens from a rescue centre these are ultimately rescued from battery farms, these hens are rescued at 72 weeks approx are geared up to lay one egg every 25 hours continuously in their controlled enviroment and the effect is a reduced life span, approximately 2 years is knocked off their lives with this forced routine. My rescue hens are almost four years old and out of my original 12 ladies rescued I still have 11 Ladies free ranging and I currently am getting 6-8 eggs daily from them. They live with and are protected by Brutus their guardian cockerel.
A HENS SENSE OF (SMELL)
The hens sense of smell is not one of their better senses, however they can in fact smell and from an early age too, they are known to smell from inside the shell, once out of the shell they quickly learn to detect a predators scent through its faeces. A hen rejects a change in diet initially and it was thought that they could smell the sugars in food the same as humans do, this has now scientifically been dispelled as an incorrect fact.
A HENS SENSE OF (SIGHT)
One of a hens better senses, as chickens actually have pretty good eyesight, even better than a human Ps infact. Hens can see in colour the same as we do. Whilst a human can see In red, blue and green a hen has a wider range of colour and can also detect ultraviolet. This enables them to detect motion which lets them see the smallest of bugs moving in the soil. Whilst their day time eyesight is excellent they have really poor night vision Making them most vulnerable to predators which is why I close off my girls run each evening and put them to bed before dark as they can't see to roost in the dark and may have accidents attempting to roost and perch.
A HENS DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
The hens ability to digest and and pass food through its system is a speedy process, it takes a hen approx 2 hours to digest a pellet and pass it out in the form of manure, this allows the hen to get the nutrients from its food quicker. What is more a hen cannot over eat, a hen can only take so mush feed at a time in its crop area where it slowly passes food down to its gizzard, ( a hens first stomach) she then digests this food by grinding it up in her gizzard by contracting her stomach muscles using a mix of some grit and amounts of oyster shell. she does this grinding action as she wanders about mixing with the rest of her flock, she will take some water fresh clean and preferably cold water to aid her digestion and when her crop is empty she will refill it ready to pass it down to her gizzard (her first stomach) once this has been digested A hen will repeat this process. Your hen will also have between 30-50 poops a day, excellent if like me you are a keen organic gardener. The money I now save on chicken manure pellets for the garden is a nice tidy amount.
FEEDING YOUR HENS
A point of lay hen, the term given to an egg laying hen of around 23-26 weeks old will eat between 100-130 grams of pellets per day, it's better to put out more feed in than your hen requires. Hens will naturally starve if their is not enough to eat, but cannot overeat, a laying hen will not over eat she will take what she needs. Meat birds and dual purpose birds (birds bred for both meat and eggs) will eat slightly more. You can make up to 20% of their daily diet with scraps, my hens will eat beetroot tops, Brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard, cabbage, cauliflower leaves, chickory mustard seed and potato peelings (well boiled) Pretty much anything they can get into on the garden, with the compost heap being their favourite. At the end of the season (sept/October) I open the garden to the hens to finish off what I haven't pulled up and they have access to all my beds until Feb when they have cleared and well manured them in readiness for springs new seedlings.
A HENS SENSES OF (TASTE)
a human being has approximately 10,000 taste buds on their tongue, a cow has 25,000 tasye buds whilst a hen has approximately 24 taste buds. With a hens taste buds set so far back on their tongues that by the time they've tasted it and decided if they like it or not they are already committed to swallowing it. They do not spit food back out and they won't eat mouldy or rotten foods.. But neither do we, if I wouldn't eat it myself, I would,nt expect my girls to either. There are some exceptions to what a hen will and will not eat and I shall cover these do,s and don't,s of food under a selerats heading later on. The fact a hens taste buds are so far back I find really useful when I administer their home made organic wormer. Namely scotch bonnet chilli peppers, the peppers are a natural wormer as the heat generated inside a hens digestive system is enough to dissolve the worms in th hens gut.