Confused newbie with age question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by joletabey, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. joletabey

    joletabey SDWD!!!!

    Apr 9, 2009
    western NC
    Help! I have looked to see if there is an answer under FAQ - I apologize if I have missed it.
    I am confused on how long a chicken will generally live, and if she will lay for her whole life, or just the first couple of years. Am I right that the heaviest egg laying period is her first two years and then she slows down?
    I went so far as to buy a chicken coop, but am starting to "chicken out" of actually getting any after reading the Predator and Pests section!
    Or that if they only live a couple of years, I will spend all my time crying. . . .
  2. montcapu

    montcapu Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2008
    laingsburg, MI
    it depends on the chickens, I have a chicken that is almost 5 years old and she lays pretty much every day, she keeps up with the younger girls.
    as for predators and pest, as long as you make a solid coop with covered top for run, and do not forgot to lock up the girls at night, being in north carolina you may still have to worry about snakes getting in, but with 1/2" welded wire or smaller that may not be an issue either.
    I've had my chickens for 3 years now and never had an issue with an type of predator, *knock on wood* but of course nothing can for sure, but with the right protection your girls owuld have the best ability to live a long life
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    They lay more eggs the first 18 months or so, but they sometimes lay for years afterwards -- less and less, as a rule, but also larger. They can live maybe 8-10 years, I'm sure much longer in some cases (seems like I read on here of their living as long as 16-18 years?) And there is a lot of individual variation.

    Commercial operations get rid of them fairly young; they only want the hens for their first good round of egg laying. So to them a chicken has a 2 year life span -- and then they get rid of them.

    Remember when reading about predators that there are -- how many -- 25,000?? people on here. So you are NOT hearing from a lot of people. And you can learn how to build fort knox here without spending the price of a new car... Snakes generally eat eggs rather than kill chickens -- it can happen, but not the usual thing. 1/2" hardware cloth ain't cheap but makes fort knox, and doesn't have to go 8' up, only 2' or so.

    Now read through the coops section, design a good coop, and enjoy your chickens!
  4. joletabey

    joletabey SDWD!!!!

    Apr 9, 2009
    western NC
    Thank you, I appreciate your answers. I get really attached to my pets, like everyone else here, and just didn't want to get into it if I was going to have the world's largest pet cemetary.
    I think I need to get a good chicken book as well as relying on the nice people here! I got my coop, and am feeling excited again!
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Beth, a well cared-for hen will give you several years of eggs. My oldest are three and a half and they lay 5-6 days a week still. Proper nutrition and a clean, safe environment plus good biosecurity go a long way toward extending a hen's productive life.
  6. GardeNerd

    GardeNerd Chillin' With My Peeps

    I remember reading that the breeds that lay more eggs a week may slow or stop production sooner than the breeds that only lay 3 or 4 a week.

    Don't chicken out of getting chickens. They bring so many interesting and funny moments to our daily lives, the rare heartaches will be worth it. My girls aren't laying yet, and even if they never did, I would still keep them.
  7. AnnesChicks

    AnnesChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 4, 2009
    Aberdeen, Washington
    I agree, pick a good coop/run design and get your chickens. We got our first flock of eight at the end of Feb, no eggs yet but boy have they been entertaining pets. We've been known to pull up chairs and just watch!

    And really they are quite easy keepers! Between my dogs, tortoises and now the chickens not much kitchen waste ends up in the compost pile.You should see em come running to the end of the run when they see us with a bowl in our hands.

    I think a secure run and nice little coop and nutritious food is all they need. And clean water, man they drink alot. You won't regret it! This site has all the information you need, this is where we got our ideas for our coop and critter proofing our run. I would recommend starting with pullets, we did and it was so much easier. They were old enough to go into the coop and not as fragile as day old chicks. The BYC members are so helpful too.

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