breeds/productive (egglaying) lifespan?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by MojoWorkin, Nov 21, 2008.

  1. MojoWorkin

    MojoWorkin Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 3, 2008
    Upstate NY
    Hi, I just learned that hens really produce the most eggs up until age 2 but can live to be 10.

    I am wondering if different breeds are different in this respect?

    Will a more commercial/production breed, like "sex link" red or black produce "and egg a day" early and then not much after that?

    Will "heritage" breeds produce fewer eggs upfront but maybe lay a few a week for a longer time span?

    If you have had a hen who produced a few eggs a week past age 2, what breed was she?

    What breeds have you had that consistantly produced eggs later in life?

    Thanks! :) -Kate
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  2. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I can't advise you from the basis of experience but I posted something about this subject recently on the egglaying forum and will repeat part of it here. This was research on production hens:

    "I was recently reading "Principles of Poultry Science," by Rose. He reports on a study of hens laying into their third year. During their second laying period, these production hens layed on between 90% and 70% of the days (slowly decreasing). I guess that has been my experience.

    What surprised me is that in their 3rd laying period, they kept their daily production above 60%. And, egg quality actually improved for those older hens.

    I've never kept the hens for that 3rd go-around but their 2nd year was always very nearly as good as their first."

    Rose tells us that a pullet has 3600 to 4000 miniature ova from the get-go. I don't know if we could at all expect that number of eggs - probably a good deal of them are re-absorbed.

    Hens will only produce about 270 eggs under industrial conditions. I did a rough, conservative calculation of the hens in the study (at 70% production during 112 weeks over their 140 weeks). They've produced 550 eggs . . .

    The fact that the industry only allows them 60 months of life is because the profit margins are so low. As we know, they are trying to keep the birds at a high rev for a brief period and wouldn't tolerate a 30% drop in production from an "old" hen.

    I only kept one hen around season after season. She made it to age 7 before being killed by a dog [​IMG]. She was just a little Sebright and laying even in those final seasons while running around the farm.

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Each hen only has a certain number of eggs to contribute in her lifetime, as digits has pointed out.
    Generally a commercial battery hen is kept under lights full time, causing her to lay right on thru wintertime when mother nature is telling her body to take a break from laying. Also battery hens get none of the benefits our backyard friends do, fresh air, exercise, "normal" layer rations, etc. so they do burn out early.
    IMO, if you raise your hens naturally and don't add additional light in the wintertime you're more likely to get a hen that will contribute eggs until she's older than two or three.
    I took a small sampling of who had senior hens still laying awhile back, you can read the responses here:
  4. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2007
    NE Alabama
    A lady in Canada I corresponded with had a Rapanui hen that was still laying past 20 years. Rapanui is a landrace and have long life spans. She also said she had hatched eggs from the hen past 20 years and the daughters of the hen were likewise long-lived.
  5. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    I've had my flock of RIRs since the late '70s and most of my hens lay for 5-7 years before petering out. A few have laid for 8 or more years. These are not production birds, however. They average 200+ eggs a year, year in and year out. I've noticed that production is not as high in Alabama as it was in Florida. The cold weather seems to slow them down more here.

  6. jojo54

    jojo54 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 24, 2009
    BC Canada
    Quote:I've never heard of chickens living this long and laying. [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by