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layer health tips

 
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Two things popped up on my radar recently:

Tips for visually telling the difference between a productive layer and a hen that is looking at retirement: http://citnews.unl.edu/pase/ppt/Judging_Laying_Hens_files/frame.htm

What healthy poop looks like and what unhealthy poop looks like: http://pluckandfeather.com/chicken-poo-chart-graphic.html


 
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That presentation on good vs poor layers was incredibly helpful.

The chicken poop one - I think I would need lots more examples of "healthy" before I could identify "problem" examples.
 
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I would like to point out that the 'bleaching' of the yellow is easy to gauge on yellow skinned hens, but not so easy on white skinned hens.

The bleaching is caused by the hen using her natural yellow pigmentation to help 'color' the yolks. The more eggs she has produced, the more of her natural pigmentation she has consumed.

An even better tutorial can be found here:

http://www.poultry.msstate.edu/extension/pdf/culling.pdf

The people I worked with in South America would typically cull about 9,000 hens per year (1/3 of their flock). I once accompanied the owner on a 2,000 bird culling. As we walked through the hen houses, he would just point to a bird, and the helpers would put her in a holding pen, ready for sale/slaughter. After culling 2,000 hens, his egg production for the entire next week was down about 200 eggs. He certainly had an "eye" for it. His only comment was "I should have done it a few weeks ago."
 
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Whoa, that is an awesome resource. Thank you! I haven't gotten to the point of removing unproductive hens, but this will help me when I get there, awesome.
 
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That poop one was fascinating, I've kept hens for 4 years and am embarrassed to say that most of those healthy ones I thought were questionable. The shed intestinal lining one was particularly interesting, I've seen that just this week and have put them on Flubenvet.

I always thought I was doing a crap job of looking after my girls, I'll be sure to tell them how lucky they are in the morning

Hello by the way!
 
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