Each hen to their own. On re-homing days people often ask for hens that don’t look alike so that they can remember which is which when they get them home.
Hens are really good at changing their appearance when they feather up and features that stand out on day one (a large floppy comb or mottled feathers) will often change. Combs shrink down and redden up, feathers come back in different shades.
Within the flock, hens quickly get to know each other and even more quickly spot a newcomer! An individual hen can recognise up to 80 hens as friends. For this reason colony units don’t usually put more than 80 hens in one unit.
I can recognise my own hens by their mannerisms, the way they walk, how they interact with me and how they behave to each other but this is something that takes time to establish.
If you are a first time hen keeper, the best way to keep tracks on who’s who among your hens is to use coloured leg rings. Leg rings are easy to put on and allow you to spot different hens easily among the group. Just tell your hens it’s a nice bit of bling for them to show off.
Leg rings do need to be checked frequently as hens legs can change as they age (thicken or become scaly) Parasites such as scaly leg mites can also cause the rings to be too tight.
If you would like to ask Gaynor a hen health question please email email@example.com or call Hen Central on 01884 860084. To support our Advice Line we ask for a nominal donation to help fund this service, so that we can continue to help your hens.