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How long do hens lay eggs for?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I have heard that hens only produce enough eggs to be cost effective for a year. Is this true? Do you all raise new chickens every year in order to keep the eggs coming in?

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It's time to go green. Our planet is being choked out by a consumer driven reality that serves no purpose beyond generating money that does no one any good. Make a difference in your community and begin building a greener future for tomorrow. Every bit helps and the first step is acknowledging the need for change.
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post #2 of 23

It depends on what one considers "cost effective," Nerdicus.

Except for one very aged banty, I have always gotten rid of my laying hens during their 2nd molt. This is a very common commercial practice. Personally, I've been wondering about the wisdom of me doing this. I'm just going to copy what I wrote only a few days ago:

I have a British study in front of me that shows the production of an "egg-strain domestic fowl moulted twice (at 60 weeks and 100 weeks of age)." Principles of Poultry Science, by S.P. Rose

So, these are commercial layers carried thru 3 laying periods. The study was done to determine the economics of doing this, not out of sympathy for battery hens. "Layer-fatigue" can be a problem for these birds but, obviously, not enuf of a problem to make too much difference in the research. We think of "burn out" but they didn't really burn out.

During the first laying period, production was between about 95% and 80%. The second laying period had production between about 85% and 70%. The third was between about 80% and 55% production.

Commercial operations never let their birds get to that third laying period and 140 weeks of age. Their profit margins are too small. You would have to decide if hens of that age would be valuable to you since, during their 3rd year, they are laying about one-third less than young pullets.

Steve

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post #3 of 23

thanks for  the info steve thumbsup

Mother of 3 pretty girls(mini chickenma's) DH that thinks I'm chickencrazy, humphrey the hotdog that thinks he's a chicken, and chickenma of 2 austrolops, 5 ameraucana (1 R.I.P), 2 guinee (2 R.I.P), 6 RIR (2 R.I.P), 3 buf orphingtons, 50+ quails, 1 Silkie, 1 andulasion, 1 maran, 6 muscovies, 1 bantam, 4 broilers and toulouse geese, Sebastopol geese sea bright pekingducks e 

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Mother of 3 pretty girls(mini chickenma's) DH that thinks I'm chickencrazy, humphrey the hotdog that thinks he's a chicken, and chickenma of 2 austrolops, 5 ameraucana (1 R.I.P), 2 guinee (2 R.I.P), 6 RIR (2 R.I.P), 3 buf orphingtons, 50+ quails, 1 Silkie, 1 andulasion, 1 maran, 6 muscovies, 1 bantam, 4 broilers and toulouse geese, Sebastopol geese sea bright pekingducks e 

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post #4 of 23

If you do a search here on BYC you'll see that some people have 8, 9 and 10 year old hens still laying an occasional egg. 
I believe the general consesus is that a hen laying beyond her third season is past her prime, but they will still lay eggs. 
Whether it's worth it to keep your chickens longer than 2 or 3 years is a personal choice, based on your finances and other issues.
I'll be keeping my chickens that I am quite fond of their whole lives.  Depending on the demand for my selling eggs I may trade the others out. 
I'm in the position where the cost of their feed is not an issue.  I have to feed two dogs and a cat anyhow, so a couple more bags of feed in the car on market day is not a big deal to me.

If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever - Winnie the Pooh
I'll never develop a thick skin.  Thick skin leads to a hard heart and I never want to be one of those people.
A slave to LF brahmas, seramas, cochins, sebrights, and call ducks.  R.I.P. Dragon, the crossbeak.  Thank you for teaching me so much about life.

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If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever - Winnie the Pooh
I'll never develop a thick skin.  Thick skin leads to a hard heart and I never want to be one of those people.
A slave to LF brahmas, seramas, cochins, sebrights, and call ducks.  R.I.P. Dragon, the crossbeak.  Thank you for teaching me so much about life.

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post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks indeed!

So is that why everyone ends up with a fairly large flock?They don't to kill their hens every 2 years, and so end up just getting more? Do they ever stop laying all together?

We are planning on getting some laying chicks this spring and I'm doing the research. big_smile

It's time to go green. Our planet is being choked out by a consumer driven reality that serves no purpose beyond generating money that does no one any good. Make a difference in your community and begin building a greener future for tomorrow. Every bit helps and the first step is acknowledging the need for change.
http://www.storyofstuff.com
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It's time to go green. Our planet is being choked out by a consumer driven reality that serves no purpose beyond generating money that does no one any good. Make a difference in your community and begin building a greener future for tomorrow. Every bit helps and the first step is acknowledging the need for change.
http://www.storyofstuff.com
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post #6 of 23

I'm thinking of how I can get replacement pullets while still taking care of the old hens and then keeping the old hens . . . I'll have to move!
(Maybe I don't need that vacation between birds any longer old.)

There's the issue of attrition. My elderly banty only lived to be 7 and I think that a production bird that made it any past 7 would be something of a miracle hen.

If you need 24 eggs each week, you might decide that 5 hens would do the job. If we used the idea that 1/3rd of the production would be lost every 2 years, it may make sense to add 2 layers every 2 years. Backyard production might stay fairly steady at that rate of flock increase.

I really seriously doubt if one would ever have more than 10 chickens in his or her flock.

Steve

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post #7 of 23

Nerdicus,
I went back and found a couple of old threads on the subject of senior laying hens for you:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=105030

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=107325

If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever - Winnie the Pooh
I'll never develop a thick skin.  Thick skin leads to a hard heart and I never want to be one of those people.
A slave to LF brahmas, seramas, cochins, sebrights, and call ducks.  R.I.P. Dragon, the crossbeak.  Thank you for teaching me so much about life.

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If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever - Winnie the Pooh
I'll never develop a thick skin.  Thick skin leads to a hard heart and I never want to be one of those people.
A slave to LF brahmas, seramas, cochins, sebrights, and call ducks.  R.I.P. Dragon, the crossbeak.  Thank you for teaching me so much about life.

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post #8 of 23

I am beginning to wonder that to. I have noticed that 2 of my Black sexies that are heading into their 2nd winter have much smaller and less red combs right now. I get at least a half dozen eggs a day out of 10 hens which isn't real bad. I don't know for sure which of them is laying or not.

I will probably keep my first flock until their time comes to fly to that coop in the sky. The ones I got this year, I'm pretty sure I will move out

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Through time .. and space .. each faith .. and race.. let there be peace! http://www.peaceful-spirit.org/
We cannot tolerate a world in which one in three women is a victim of domestic violence. Speak Out so it stops
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post #9 of 23

I have 2 RIR/aracuanas that are 3 years old and each lay a beautiful egg for me every day.  The yolks are very big, and very yellow.  I feed them WELL.  I imagine they are just like people, if we take care of our bodies with good nutrition, we will do well far into old age.  I come from a family that many who live on farms and eat natural food live to be 90 and over 100 years old.  Those who didn't take care of their bodies died much earlier.  Does this make sense to you? I believe we are what we eat, which is also why I feed my girls well.  I give them flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, layer pellets, alfalfa pellets, spelt, oats, coconut, molasses flakes, kelp, comfrey, cayenne pepper, etc.etc., plus any kitchen offerings.  They pay ME well by producing eggs everyday, and sometimes 2 eggs per day.  Yes, you read that right-the 3 year old hens sometimes give 2 eggs per day.  I don't believe it overtaxes their body, because they are given very good nutrition.big_smile  I certainly don't classify them as old, just in their prime of life!celebrate

I truly hope this was helpful-I can't bear the thought that someone would get rid of their chickens just because they are 1 or 2 years old!!!!!   hit  Just give them good nutrition.

If you think this is just too costly, give this some thought: When I changed over to organic dog food for my dog, guess what?!  She started needing to eat far less because her nutritional needs were met.  Therefore, believe it or not, the cost of feeding her went down even though the organic food was much higher priced!!thumbsup  The same thing happened to us when we switched over to almost all organic, we found that we weren't eating as much as before, and since we don't crave all of that bad for you stuff because our nutritional needs are met, the cost of switching over was about the same amount we were spending before switching to organic!celebrate  And by the way, we still get our goodies, they just really are goodies-they are good for us!  We still use the same recipe for chocolate chip cookies, they are just made with fresh ground organic wheat and or spelt, organic choc. chips, organic evaporated cane juice, and sea salt.  Oh yeah, and we add organic coconut flakes to them.  Now that's something good-let me tell ya!! big_smile


Edited by luvmygirlsinAK - 12/7/08 at 1:21am
post #10 of 23

Except for one very aged banty, I have always gotten rid of my laying hens during their 2nd molt.  Steve


smile I love people like you, Steve who get rid of their hens WAY too early!!  I take them and make them eggseptional layers! tongue  That's how I got my 3 year old RIR/Aracaunas!!  The previous owner said she wished they produced more eggs-well-they sure do-you just can't beat an egg a day and sometimes 2 per day!! wink I'll take them off your hands! 

Seriously, I do hope you all think about what I said in my last post.  It is amazing what good nutrition will do for chickens!!!  (And humans) tongue

I:love my chickies, I can't wait to go out to the coop in the morning and greet them-they "purr" at me!!!

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