I'd like to raise some layers for home use (and eventually to sell) and my original plan was to buy day-old chicks in the spring. But, I found a posting from a local farm for a dozen laying hens (RIR, barred rocks) that are in their first and second year. I'm wondering if it's a good idea to start out with mature birds? I like the idea of getting eggs now but I've read that production starts decling in the second year (and moreso in the winter months.) Since these are are largely for home use, I wasn't sure if it'd be a problem... though I don't want these birds as pets per se -- they've got to earn their keep! I'd still get some chicks in the spring so I could keep a continuous supply of eggs as the older ones decline. I don't have any birds currently so I don't think I have to worry about introducing any disease (another concern of mine) but now that it's getting colder (I'm in Ontario, Canada) I'd have to keep a light and heat light on in the barn (I'd set them up in a converted pen area.) Any thoughts on if this is a "good" way for a newbie to start out? Or would it be better to raise chicks next spring? Is there anything I'm not considering?? Thanks for your help!