Are My Hens To Old?

marymac

Songster
11 Years
Jul 12, 2008
814
7
151
Northeast Ohio
I was given 6 hens about 2 mths ago. One lays regularly and another now and then, I think. I don't know how old they are, but am beginning to think maybe they are getting too old to lay. At first I thought It would take time for them to get familiar with the different coop and it was also wintery and cold, but now it's warming up and days are longer, and they seem settled here. I let them out sometime and they know where to go back in, have plenty of laying pellets, water and occasional treats and veggie scraps. Is there some way to know if a chicken is old just by looking at them? Any signs to look for? They won't tell me their age.
 

ranchhand

Rest in Peace 1956-2011
11 Years
Aug 25, 2008
13,295
60
291
SC
I was going to say check their teeth, like with horses, but the presence of teeth in hens is still highly debatable!
 

wohneli

Songster
11 Years
Oct 6, 2008
444
3
129
Gainesville
the egg shells will not stop egg production, but can teach the chickens to eat their own eggs. I would go buy some crushed oysyer shells (10# will last) and give them as much as they want.
Good luck!
 

PortageGirl

Songster
11 Years
Nov 8, 2008
2,511
13
181
Portage County, Ohio
Quote:Disagree with this, those rocky rolly thin hollow things are nothing like the solid round things that are in a nest. Do feed them away from the nests, but other than that, hens aren't smart enough to equate empty shells in the feed area with eggs in a nest.

Not trying to pick on you wohneli, no offense intended, but in 30 years of hen keeping, never seen them figure it out. The rare egg eater has only happened after accidental egg breakage in the nest, or the nasty hen who pecks at everything on principal. And she's got to pick pretty hard at a good solid egg. Once started, it -can- be learned by others but still usually quite rare and due to thin shells and/or extreme boredom.
 

marymac

Songster
11 Years
Jul 12, 2008
814
7
151
Northeast Ohio
Isn't the oyster shell only for producing a hard egg shell? Would lack of calcium keep chickens from laying eggs period?
 

PortageGirl

Songster
11 Years
Nov 8, 2008
2,511
13
181
Portage County, Ohio
Yes, my response was very unclear, I focused on the wrong thing and I apologize. Hens will still lay eggs if calcium is low, the shells will just be thin or weak etc...

It does sound like your hens are older, they might pick up laying a bit after the days warm up and they get more sunshine, but they should certainly be comfortable enough in their new surroundings to lay already if they are going to.

You can keep them all around as matriarchs and get some new chicks or pullets to add to the older ladies, or cull the ones who don't lay at all, keeping the ones that still lay a bit, or just start fresh. It's a grim fact of raising chickens, if you try to keep all the older ones, you'll be buying a LOT of feed.
 

jlmann

Songster
10 Years
Mar 3, 2009
216
0
119
One thing to keep in mind is chickens need 14 hours of daylight to lay, so since we still have less than that give them another month or two. My birds always seem to start out slow in the spring with an egg or two every third or fourth day but normally by mid may I am completely buried in eggs.
 

marymac

Songster
11 Years
Jul 12, 2008
814
7
151
Northeast Ohio
I am willing to give them more time. They are beautiful healthy looking birds. I had a long talk with them this morning, and OOOOH how they talked back,lol.When I told them they were on "death row" it got silent:gig
and they would only get a stay of execution if they started laying....so we'll see. Seriously , I do hope I can keep them a while and they do lay. I'd rather eat their eggs than them.
 

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