Raising adult chickens is an option for starting a flock of your own, especially if you don’t want to start out with the complications of Artificial Incubation Methods or Raising Baby Chickens. Adult chickens can be more practical, easier to care for and a lot of fun. See after reading this if adult chickens aren’t the better choice for your homestead.
Adult Chickens on Your Homestead
Finding Adult Chickens
Most mail-order suppliers do not sell adult chickens, only eggs or chicks. Fortunately, people seem to get rid of chickens all the time. Therefore, it is fairly easy to find adult chickens, especially if you are willing to look for them. Sometimes people lose interest in raising chickens, they can’t afford them, or they just don’t want them.
Some suggestions to start your search when wanting adult chickens may include;
- asking your local veterinarian
- looking in the classifieds of your local newspaper
- a local phone book
- signs along the side of the road.
Risks and What to Watch For
There are certain risks to buying adult chickens that you may know nothing about as well as things you should certainly watch out for. The very people you are purchasing the chickens from may be getting rid of them because they may be sick or have parasites. These illnesses and parasites can be transferred to your flock, which could prove to be deadly.
The chickens may have bad temperaments toward other chickens, which would not be rewarding to your existing flock. They may also be too old to lay and therefore useless to the person selling them and you. It is worth you taking the time to investigate each bird to determine if each is a good choice or not.
Characteristics of Healthy Adult Chickens
The most important part of purchasing adult chickens is to make sure a few things are checked before buying them. Use the list below to double-check each chicken you may be buying to make sure you receive the healthiest chickens possible.
Healthy and happy chickens should have the following characteristics:
- Their eyes should be bright.
- Feathers should be shiny and look healthy.
- Their legs should appear smooth and clean.
- The comb should be full and waxy-looking.
Two important things to look at after inspecting your chickens for the characteristics mentioned above are checking for parasites and if they are laying.
Parasites can be internal and external. External parasites are fairly easily found. Pick up the chicken and cradle it on it’s back. Now check the area around the vent and the underside of the wings. Look for tiny insects that will be crawling around. These are parasites, which will spread to your existing flock.
Internal parasites are somewhat harder to detect, however, feathers that are stuck to the bird’s rump, or runny feces could be a sign of worms and various other internal parasites. Even though these parasites can be treated, the chance should not be taken, especially with the abundance of chickens available. The last thing you want is for the rest of your flock to be treated for parasites because of one adult chicken.
Characteristics of Laying Hens
In trying to figure out whether a chicken is laying, the following characteristics can be looked for.
- The vent should be oval-shaped and should appear moist, which is a sign that she laid recently.
- The underbelly, the area of fluffy feathers, should be soft and mushy, a sign she is ready to or already has laid eggs.
- The pubic bones, which stick up at the vent, are wider and are soft and pliable.
- The space between the keel bone and the vent will appear bigger on a laying hen, look for a width of four fingers on average.
- Their skin color, which is usually a yellowish color, should be faded while the hen is laying. The pigment will return as they stop laying.
The Bleaching Sequence Chart
Using the chart below, you can make a close determination of the number of eggs that have been laid by your chickens, therefore having a better estimate of how old they are.
Raising adult chickens can be an easier and less stressful way to start your flock on your homestead. Using common sense and thoroughly inspecting any chickens you intend to purchase can save you time, money, and losses. Raising adult chickens is a fun venture so go ahead and start looking for some chickens today!
Do you feel it is best to start raising baby chicks or would you rather simply start raising adult chickens? Tell me why in the comments below!
Another great resource for chickens…Getting Started With Chickens: The Ultimate Guide by Abundant Permaculture.
Read Next: Feeding Chickens on Your Homestead.
This post has been updated from its original publish date of October 2016.