Question: Question asked by Chris Cooper, Stoke on Trent.
I have 12 spare hens. Do you now of a good system to race them on?
Answer: Answered by Chris Knowles.
"12 Spare Hens"
To answer the question from the information available, I have made the following assumptions. The term 12 spare hens is suggesting hens that have already raced and for which there are no mates available, to race a roundabout type system. In addition it is likely that the time available for exercise and training is going to be once per day. These hens could be of mixed ages i.e. yearlings and older hens.
The biggest problem likely to be encountered is that at some point of the season these hens will be inclined to pair together therefore it will be better if the hens can be prevented from doing so by either locking them in boxes when not exercising or training or housing them in a section where they can not perch together or get together on the floor. I have personally found a nestbox each to be the best method as a celibate system can be used and you have total control of every hen at all times.
The hens are let out of the boxes for a drink before exercise andfed together on the floor after exercise. Feeding is by hand, a little at a time until they start to leave any barley in the mixture. Allow them to drink before being boxed again. This is done by the use of a stick to tap on the floor, which they will soon learn to follow as an instruction to return to their box. If only exercised once per day, they must be let out of boxes and fed and watered as you would if exercising twice per day. All other aspects of their management is normal in terms of feeding amounts etc. and the best time to exercise them is first thing in the morning, when you should find that they will clear the area and usually return after about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the weather. An alternative is to house them with your youngsters and keep them on darkness, which will prevent the pairing problem. Both ways what you benefit from is that they will be in great feather for the whole of the old bird season and will hold good through to the hens’ nationals in September, if you so wish to compete.
Best of luck and enjoy!