how can you know the age of a hen?


10 Years
Apr 18, 2009
I've always looked for this answer but could never really get good information, but hopefully someone can give me the answer. Are there any specific ways or signs that give you an approximation?
I've read on here that there really aren't, although the length of the toenails can be a clue.
yea but cant a hen cut its on toe nails by scratching? maybe size? but somtimes i see small sized hens that are 1 or 2 years old
Size depends very much on breed; yes hens are larger than pullets, but there is no size difference for a hen at 2 years versus at 5 years.

Nails can (and should) be trimmed when needed.

The vent will tell you whether a hen is laying, but if she isn;t, it could be due to molt or broodiness or general not-laying part of her cycle.
Sure they can, but if they are long and curled, the hen is probably older.

They grow to their full size during the first year, or maybe just a little longer in a few breeds. Size variations in hens can also be related to breed, whether large fowl or bantam, general health of the bird, etc. Also, individuals of the same breed will vary in size, just as people do.

If there is a way to know for sure how old a hen is, I have not heard of it.
I don't believe you can tell. That's why if you are going to buy chickens that are not chicks, you buy them at point of lay, after that it's a crap shoot.
I am not a chicken expert, but the poultry dealer at auction looks at their feet and legs. Apparently a chicken's legs can look older or younger to him.
It seems like I read somewhere that there is a chronological pattern of how the fleshtone of different parts of the chickens body fade as certain numbers of eggs are laid. If I run up on where I read it I'll post back...of course, I might have dreamed it!

great keep putting up information, i bet many people have the same question.

I found this on wiki answers if anyone could verify the information:

"There really is no good way to accurately determine the age of a chicken. In general, from hatch to feathering takes up to 12 weeks. First eggs are laid at about 5 months.
First molt (the lose and change feathers) takes place at about 12 to 14 months old depending on the breed. Egg production stops about three years old and from there the chicken can live up to 10 years old.
Every breed is different. If you are acquiring older stock a check of the vent can let you know if the hen is still in egg productive years, it will be moist, clean and pink. A dry puckered vent usually is a sign the hen has aged out and will only be good as a pet or meat stock. "

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