Chickens only good for 2 years?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by cnlanier, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. cnlanier

    cnlanier Hatching

    Nov 23, 2010
    Long story short. Me and my fiance bought a 4 acre property and plan to start a small farm. My fiance was vegan for many years but has gradually started eating dairy, eggs and fish.
    We have been planning on getting chickens and were really excited about it, but the more research we do, the more we realize it might not be a reality.
    I am a chef, and have cooked and eaten meat my whole life. My fiance is totally against any animals being killed on our property.
    After research and talking to many farmers, there seems to be a consistence that after 2 years a chicken is pretty much not laying as many eggs, so off to slaughter they go, and in with the new batch.
    I guess we are both a little confused. Do all people who have chickens get eggs for two years and then kill them? Or do they let them just hang around and feed them even though they aren't producing eggs?
    I've read chickens can live for 7-10 years. What about when they stop producing eggs? What do you do?
    Just seems that eating eggs is just as bad as eating meat, because inevitably you are contributing to the death of an animal.
    Any help out there chicken people??????


  2. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Production breeds slow down after 2 years. Like white Leghorns or Production reds.

    Most farm breeds lay ok for several years an then they slow down but still get some eggs most of there life.
  3. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Production Breeds, such as production reds, leghorns, and sex links last a max of 2 years. Their purpose is to lay a LOT, then burn out.

    Hatchery quality breeds, such as your common neighbor's chickens, feedstore chickens, or ordered chicks, last about 5 years, then are worthless. They're also bred to lay a lot of eggs, but usually, especially if crossbred, last longer.

    Heritage breeds and Show Quality breeds last, with good production, til 6-8 years, then their egg production goes out to either nothing or about once a week or less.

    Slow growing breeds especially are good with lasting long, as they don't even finish growing until 1-2 years of age. Such breeds include (non-hatchery) Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, Javas, Jersey Giants, Delawares, American Gamefowl, Oriental Gamefowl, etc. Their point was a good dual purpose breed that offers eggs, meat, and good hardiness and fertility so you can actually live off of them without constantly ordering more each year or two. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010
  4. cnlanier

    cnlanier Hatching

    Nov 23, 2010
    Thanks for the tips. When you say (non hatchery) what do you mean. Where else would you get them besides Murray McMurray or another hatchery?

  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm not seeing how eating eggs is contributing to the death of an animal?

    Most "dual purpose" breeds you get from a hatchery or feed store start laying at about six months. Say you get day old chicks in March. About September you'll start getting eggs. They'll usually lay through the first winter and consistently until the next autum when they're 18months old. At that point they molt, and usually stop laying until the spring. When they start laying again, production will slow. Say your hen gave you six eggs a week those first months, now maybe she'll give four a week. This cycle generally repeats itself each year, with production gradually declining. Seems like 5-7 years is an average. Also, factor in loss to predators, disease, etc.

    Please note my repeatitive use of the word "usually".

    There have been many threads here about what to do with less then optimum or "spent" hens. Basically, it's a personal decision. Some people are production minded and rotate their hens out, some have "hen retirement homes". It's your choice. Chickens can be pets and just enjoyed, or everything has to earn it's keep.

    Once your hen is not laying as frequently, does not mean it has to be killed if you don't want to keep it. Many people will take older hens for free or a nominal fee. And remember, the death rate on the entire planet is 100%. "Until humans master photosynthesis, something has to die in order for us to live, even if it's a plant" loosely quoted from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

  6. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Crowing

    Jun 20, 2009
    Orange County, NY
    Quote:Private breeders, which usually have a better strain of bird than a hatchery

    And I agree wholeheartedly with donrae
  7. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA

    I for example am a breeder. We breed show quality or heritage type chickens (meaning they have not been bred in huge quantities solely for production) and sell them in chick form, like hatcheries, to locals and in egg form (for hatching with a hen or incubator) to anyone throughout the USA, no matter how far away. Most of my birds were from breeders who shipped me their eggs from across the country.

    Despite common rumors, breeders aren't just high class people who show chickens and sell them for high prices. We're often just people who breed them to actually follow by the breed standards; what the breed should look like, how much should it weigh, what color egg should it lay; etc. If it weren't for us, we wouldn't have "breeds" but simply a bunch of hybrids/mutts. But, anyway, our prices range depending on the rarity or quality of the breed, and are quite often the same or a couple dollars over hatcheries. Also, a lot of breeds we offer - hatcheries don't. For example - I breed Marans that lay a super dark reddish brown egg. Hatcheries, at best, have "Cuckoo Marans" which have a bodytype and temperament the same as the rest of theirs, and they lay a moderately dark to rather pale egg. My Marans are pretty large in size, very meaty and good dual purpose breed, and look very different, not only in color, but body type from hatchery based Marans.

    And then of course, I don't lie about Araucanas/Ameraucanas like hatcheries. I breed both of them, the true to type breed (who only lay blue eggs), while hatcheries have crossbred chickens that lay green, blue, or light brown eggs. Yet they convince their customers they're a purebred variety.

    I started with Murray McMurray hatchery just a few years ago, then learned a lot about hatcheries, and though I still have my original hens I ordered from them - Most of my flock are not from a hatchery.
  8. allieloveschickens

    allieloveschickens Songster

    May 20, 2010
    San Diego
    You can get hatching eggs, chicks, or adult hens from various breeders that sell quality (non-hatchery) birds that they breed them selves. I'm sure you could post an ad on craigslist, or do a search here on the forum for someone in you area. Good luck!! [​IMG]
    oops I see you got a much better answer while I was typing!
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  9. thecochincoop

    thecochincoop Songster

    i had a bantam cochin that layed an egg every day for at least 5 years. she was a hatchery bird

  10. bock

    bock Songster

    Oct 10, 2008
    Northern CA
    After 2 years they will slow down, but you don't HAVE to kill them. I have a 7 year old EE that pretty much stopped laying last year, but she will live here until the day she dies of natural death. [​IMG]

    Non-hatchery means that you bought them from a breeder. It is amazing how much better breeder stock is than hatchery stock. I would scroll down to the bottom of the index and look for chicks/hatching eggs. There will probably be a better selection in Spring. Good luck! [​IMG]

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