chicken breeds I have kept
ex battery hens
Technically ex battery hens is a label rather than a breed. It is applied to any number of commercial egg laying chicken breeds that are subjected to the battery hen management system.  But they are a distinct category and as such I have included them in this breeds list.

Internet stock photo of battery hens in cages.
Battery hens in their cages, photo courtesy of the internet.  I did not take any photos of my ex battery hens as I had them before digital cameras were readily available.
I only kept ex battery hens once but of all the chickens I have kept these were one of the most satisfying.  When I bought them directly off a battery hen farmer the chickens were in very poor condition, as much as a third of their bodies were without feathers and they were very anaemic looking with dull cones and a nervous disposition.  Plus, as they had been cooped up in cages all their lives, they literally did not know how to walk.  Their first steps around our chicken yard were like that of a new born foal.

But within just a few weeks they underwent an amazing transformation.  All their feathers returned, they put on weight and their cones took on a bright red colour, which is a sign of a healthy chicken.  And what's more they just looked incredibly happy, in fact they were the happiest chickens I have ever seen.

So why didn't I get more of them?  The simple answer is that where I live they are hard to get hold of.  Your need to buy chickens has to coincide with when the chicken farmer is clearing out his old flock.  I only got the ex battery chickens that I did get because I happen to see an add in the paper for them.  Since then that chicken farm has closed and there are no other battery hen chicken farmers in our immediate area.

The other problem with ex battery hens is that they are already over a year old when you first get them, which means in terms of egg laying capacity they have no more than two more productive years left in them.  So if you are running your chicken flock for egg production and not as pets you will have to cull them at shorter intervals then you would had you bought your chickens as young chicks or at the point of lay.

advantages/disadvantages summary

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Good to give ex battery hens a good home, they will be very grateful!
  • Reasonably good layers, especially in the first year of keeping them. 
  • Rarely go broody (good if you don't have a rooster).

  • Not readily available.
  • Shorter productive egg laying period than chickens bought at the point of lay.
  • Poor meat chicken.
  • Rarely go broody (no good if you want hens to sit on fertile eggs).