Hen Up™ Articles

There’s no happy like hen happy: 5 signs of chicken contentment

Here’s a Hen Up™ Fun Fact for you: There are roughly 30 distinct vocal sounds that chickens use to communicate with each other.

Unfortunately, they can’t use any of those sounds to communicate with us — at least not in a way we can easily understand. So how can you tell if your feathered friends are happy and healthy? Here are five signs to look for:

  1. Big Hen Energy
    Endlessly curious and perpetually social, chickens are always on the move, exploring their surroundings and playing around with others in the flock in a way that’s just plain fun to watch. A healthy, happy hen’s got a spring in her step and struts her stuff like a supermodel with feathers. On the flip side, a hen who’s sluggish, hangs her head low or just seems bummed out may have some issues.
     
  2. Pretty Plumage
    Speaking of feathers, a healthy hen will literally shine. Unless they’re in molt, hen’s feathers will be strong and vibrant, and have a slick sheen to them. This is important because feathers don’t just make your biddies look their best — they provide essential protection from the elements.
  1. Full-Color Comb
    When a hen matures (around 16 weeks of age) and starts laying eggs, you’ll see her comb and wattles get larger and turn a darker red color due to increased blood flow. When your hens molt or stop laying eggs, their combs and wattles will fade and shrink. But they should return to full size and color after a molt.

    4. Eggs On The Regular
    How many eggs a week a hen produces can vary greatly by breed. But 5-6 eggs per week is on the higher end of the average for most breeds in the prime of their laying careers. You can expect to get the most eggs during a hen’s first year, with production decreasing year by year as she ages. Long story short, getting 5-6 eggs a week from a young hen is one sign that she’s thriving. But low egg production, especially a sudden drop, can be a sign that something’s amiss.
     
  2. Strong Shells
    Egg shells are nature’s most perfect package. They protect the all-important inside of the egg from bacteria and other dangers. A strong-shelled egg will typically crack with a crisp clean line, not crumble. Eggs with strong shells are another sure sign that your hens are healthy, eating right and getting all the calcium they need.

Chances are that your birds check all of these boxes. But if they don’t, let’s talk about what the issues might be, and how to get past them.

When it comes to keeping your girls happy and healthy, there’s nothing more important than what they eat. For laying hens, a feed that provides balanced nutrition like Hen Up™ Layer Mash or Pellets has everything you need in one bag, including the right amounts of protein, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals to keep your active backyard brood’s feathers shiny and help them produce wholesome eggs. Plus all the calcium they need to lay eggs with strong shells. 

Quick reminder: Chicks have very different dietary needs than full-grown hens. For the first 16 weeks of life, feed them Hen Up™ Starter Grower Crumbles, which is formulated specifically to meet the nutritional requirements of growing birds. 

You can also help your hens keep their feathers clean, shiny and strong by adding a dust bath with a peat moss base to the coop. Yes, a dust bath helps keep hens clean. Nature’s funny sometimes.

Other potential factors in hen health include stress sources like the presence of predators. As the days get shorter, the lack of sunlight can throw them off as well — see our tips to help your hens lay better eggs for more on that.

Both illness and over-treatment can adversely impact the health of your hens. If you’re doing everything else right, talk with your vet about what might be going on and how you can address it.

Got a chicken question? Send it our way!