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wait or cull?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I have four older hens that have quit laying. I'm not for sure how old they are. I'm their third owner and I know my uncle had them for around 2 years I've had them for about one. They slowed down through the winter but have not laid any eggs for I think 3 months. They were all locked up for the winter but towards the end I let them start free ranging again. I put the four in a coop with a run about a week ago to see if they were laying and just hiding them. They have not laid any all week. They are not missing any feathers and act normal. I was wondering if it is because they are older but I dont want to cull them if there is a chance they'll start laying again.
post #2 of 6
So the minimum age they are is 3-4 years? That's the normal age they will see their first slow down in production. They won't stop laying entirely, but the gap between their cease in production in the winter and beginning again in spring will lengthen, and their eggs per week during productive seasons will go down by 1-3 eggs per bird depending on the individual and how good of layers they were in the first place.

So they will return to production, but if 3-4 eggs per hen, per week, is lower production than you're aiming for, I'd recommend culling. For reference a fresh pullet of a production breed will lay an average of 5-7 eggs per week.
Edited by QueenMisha - 4/30/16 at 10:19am

200 something birds. 8 species. ♥ Norman ♥ Norma ♥ Misha ♥ and ♥ Taylor ♥ are my babies.
Visit Norman the Rooster's Thread Here!
Breeding Sex Linked Silkies, Gamefowl, and EEs/OEs. Amateur genetics buff. Caponization practitioner/advocate.
Working at The Poultry Palace in Placerville, CA. Come see us for started pullets, chicks, Bar Ale feed, & more!

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200 something birds. 8 species. ♥ Norman ♥ Norma ♥ Misha ♥ and ♥ Taylor ♥ are my babies.
Visit Norman the Rooster's Thread Here!
Breeding Sex Linked Silkies, Gamefowl, and EEs/OEs. Amateur genetics buff. Caponization practitioner/advocate.
Working at The Poultry Palace in Placerville, CA. Come see us for started pullets, chicks, Bar Ale feed, & more!

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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Ok. Thank you. I think I am going to cull. They were good layers but it has been awhile. I also have 10 chicks and eggs in the incubator, so I really don't want to spend more on feed if I'm not going to get eggs.
post #4 of 6

Well I'm going propose you keep them one more summer....You have already fed these birds all winter with little or no egg production. The likelihood is that they will recommence laying soon and lay you a few eggs over the summer, so I would be inclined to keep them until the autumn when they go into moult and stop laying and cull them then, by which time your chicks will be getting close to laying and hopefully take over egg production.

 

Of course, if these old hens have still not started laying in another few weeks, then it's maybe time now. Can you be sure that they are not eating their eggs or something else is taking them.... rats etc? .

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Haha I was thinking of waiting longer. Its such a hard decision. They've never ate the eggs before and always got what i was suppose to with the other chickens. I have been checking obsessively the past week. They were laying everyday before so it makes me not want to just incase and thats the reason I put them in the coop with the run instead of free ranging. Its such a hard decision.
post #6 of 6

In a production setting any hen who only lays 5 times per week is a cull.  All hens will slow down or even stop laying for the duration of the molt so figure 60 days of NO production.  Therefor a hen who lays 5 eggs per week is on track to lay 200 plus or minus eggs per year,  Perhaps only 100 eggs per year or less if her hormones cause her to go broody. 

 

At the minimum it requires 70,000 pounds or 35 tons of laying pellets each and EVERY week to keep 40,000 hens in groceries, regardless if they lay eggs or not.

 

That amount of laying pellets isn't chicken feed and it will blast a huge hole in any chicken farmers' budget if they keep hens who are drawing Social Security instead of laying.  So be realistic about why you are keeping chickens.  Enjoyment with the presence of chickens is as good a reason as any and a better reason than most to have a backyard flock.

 

I hate to remind you folks out there but this is experience talking.  In the human animal from about 16 to 20 years of age is the salad days and after you reach the summit of Fools' Hill the road is all down hill.  Perhaps gradually at first but downhill non-the-less.  The same is true with poultry.  No hen lays for long as well as she laid when she was a pullet. 

Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
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Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
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