Do you put leg bands on your chickens?

I’ve had chickens for less than a year. Mostly RIR with some type of production red/golden comets. I was given 3 adult hens, bought chicks last year and just ordered another group this year.

I can tell my original hens apart but the last year chicks all look the same to me. Will I need to be able to tell the different year’s chicks apart? Would it be worth it to leg band them?

They mostly free range and I just have them for eggs. Don’t plan to hatch my own chicks. RIR don’t seem to go broody too often.

Would it be necessary to tell them apart?

If you are planning to keep the flock at a certain size and cull the older ones to keep your feed conversion rate in check, then yes it would be a good idea to band them.

I don’t bother, I let them hatch eggs if they go broody, occasionally buy some chicks, and let them out to free range where a few get eaten by coyotes or hawks, and feed whoever survives until they keel over. I don’t mind if I have a few freeloaders that aren’t laying many eggs, at least they still eat bugs.


It’s really up to you.
I only have five hens and not only are they different breeds, but they all lay different coloured eggs. I find you can catch problems earlier when you can keep track of each individual.
I check for full crops most nights, and empty crops most mornings.

If you decide not to band then at the very least I would have a way of identifying a particular bird if you think there may be a problem. Or separate immediately.

Yeah, I think knowing who is who is helpful. How old was that bird you just found dead, or is that one walking around kinda sad looking the same bird that was kinda sad looking the day before. A colored zip tie lasts a loooooong time, it’s just a cheap and easy thing to do once they’re full grown.

I can’t always tell my red links apart every day but I know them individually. If I couldn’t I would likely want to. Our hens live out their lives with us.

My flock is red sex links and the only time I band a leg is if there’s a suspected sick one I want to keep an eye on. Even then, I just use a braiding band and not actual chicken-marketed leg bands.

What’s the significance of this? To make sure they are eating? This is my first year having chickens and I’m finding out there’s a lot to learn!

Yup, in the hopes to catch things early. Almost anytime a chicken gets sick the first symptom will be a digestive problem. They’re pretty stoic so they’ll peck at food and act normal until they’re at deaths door.
Unfortunately many things have a poor prognosis (cancer, internal laying, infection).
But sometimes it’s as simple as they ate some long grass and need some massaging to break up the impaction.

The Backyard Chickens website/forum is very helpful.

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I have in the past when I maintained very large flocks (several hundred birds). I don’t keep many red sexlinks so my birds are easier to distinguish from each other. But with that many, it is a lot easier to keep track of whose flight feathers were clipped when, who got dusted for mites, etc.

We now have a few tiny breeding flocks. The roosters are all very distinctive; they have names & individual personalities. The Liege Fighter boys actually answer to their names. The hens are harder to tell apart, though. So I will likely band them as time goes on for the same reasons + rotating genetics.