Are our girls worn out already?

RenoHuskerDu

Songster
Aug 8, 2018
335
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196
Central Texas
Most of our 9 hens are a year old now, a few are older (mix of Faverolles, Marans, RIR, Golden Comet, Sagitta, Ameraucana). We have been getting 75-80% average egg production since they matured. When summer heat hit and hurt laying, we kept up egg production by icing pellets, so they would eat better and stay cool. The cold slurry was a big hit.

Now that the weather is finally turning cooler in TX, eggs are down to about 50% - that is, only about half an egg per day per hen. I'm wondering if we should keep up the iced pellets even though the days are only up to the 80s now, or if our girls are just slowing down due to age. One is 4 years old and does not lay at all, we only keep her for sentimental reasons.

How many years on average should a hen lay?
Is this just winter doldrums starting up?
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
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Catalonia, Spain
My Coop
Most of our 9 hens are a year old now, a few are older (mix of Faverolles, Marans, RIR, Golden Comet, Sagitta, Ameraucana). We have been getting 75-80% average egg production since they matured. When summer heat hit and hurt laying, we kept up egg production by icing pellets, so they would eat better and stay cool. The cold slurry was a big hit.

Now that the weather is finally turning cooler in TX, eggs are down to about 50% - that is, only about half an egg per day per hen. I'm wondering if we should keep up the iced pellets even though the days are only up to the 80s now, or if our girls are just slowing down due to age. One is 4 years old and does not lay at all, we only keep her for sentimental reasons.

How many years on average should a hen lay?
Is this just winter doldrums starting up?
Commercial concerns usually kill their hens at two years old.
It's the first two years that hens are at their most productive.
The rate of decline is it seems largely dependent on breed and provenance.
 

chickens really

Crazy Mother of Goat Kids
Premium Feather Member
Sep 8, 2015
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The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
Generally they slow down in egg production as the days get shorter. At a year old they shouldn't be molting till a year and half old. The first season Chickens begin to lay is the most prolific time of egg laying. All birds take a break and egg production either slows down or stops depending on the birds..
 

BaaKaaawk

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Apr 4, 2011
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Huntersville, NC
What you are dealing with is pretty simple biology if you think about it-

Eggs require food and energy for production.
Heat (aka staying warm in the cold) requires food and energy as well.

You can't have them both at 100%. In the Summer a hen doesn;t need any energy for heat- so your egg production is at 100%. In the winter, your hen needs 50% or more for heat- so your egg production drops to 50% or less. If you're in a really cold area, you may see 75%/25% production.

This is also why some people will heat their coops to keep the egg production up. They're just sliding that energy scale towards the eggs vs the heat requirement.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
Heat really isn't the story here. Hens eat more to stay warm in winter, especially if there's nothing wonderful out there in the snow. BUT it's hours of light per day that actually impacts egg production most. Sixteen hours of light (can be dim) per day is what maximizes winter egg production.
Mary
 

RenoHuskerDu

Songster
Aug 8, 2018
335
667
196
Central Texas
OK, we got some new hens today and I set up lighting in the coop on a timer. I have it set for 6 - 8 AM. That would be about 13 hours of light. The CEO, my wife, says I should taper back up to 16 hours a day. Personally, I think it would be good to go right to 16 now.

What do y'all think? Should I taper back up to 16 hrs of light?
 

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