How do you tell which hens are still laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Brigala, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. Brigala

    Brigala In the Brooder

    Jul 2, 2011
    I think it's about time to retire a couple of our older hens to the freezer, but I don't know which ones! I've had 3 of my hens for at least 3 years, and I don't know how old they are but one of them is more or less a "pet" so she can stay as long a she wants (and she still goes broody so that's valuable even if she doesn't lay). Two of them are leghorn crosses that are 2 years old. One is a Spotted Sussex that is between a year and two years old. We're only getting a couple of eggs a day right now and I'm not sure which ones belong to which chickens. All of them, including the leghorn crosses, lay eggs of varying shades of brown but I am not sure which ones come from which hens.

    How do you figure it out? I'm sure this is a stupid newbie question but it would be great if someone could help me. You can laugh at me if you want to. I won't be offended. [​IMG]

    I just bought 5 straight run 2 month old spotted sussex chickens. Hoping for one or two roos in the bunch and the rest can take the place of our geriatric hens.
  2. Meghalu

    Meghalu Chirping

    May 2, 2011
    The Okanagan
    I saw someone suggest on here yesterday that you put a drop of different coloured food colouring just inside each hens vent, then you can tell who laid what egg. They were trying to figure out which hen laid which egg, but that should work just as well in your case I would think.

    And it's not a stupid question, I'm not sure how you figure it out otherwise unless you have the time to follow your hens around all day for a week.
  3. mkhenderson17

    mkhenderson17 Songster

    Sep 8, 2010
    I have not really had to deal with it yet and I know this sounds funny...but I have heard of people putting lipstick (different colors of course) or just on one hen, around the vent so when they lay the egg the lipstick gets on the egg lol. I know it sounds crazy but people swear it works. Any type of color would work, like breeding chalk. that would work too. Another way is to separate one out at a time but it may cause stress, the one separated may not lay but the others should.

    I have also heard their pelvis changes and you can feel that way but once again. I really dont know.

    The color may change on their combs waddles and beaks too once they stop laying.

    Like I said I have never done this but this is what I have heard of others doing
  4. ChicKat

    ChicKat Crowing Premium Member

    People with expertise have posted in byc that you can inspect the vent. Laying hen will have moist vent and non-layer will have dry vent. Also, if three finger-breadth exists between the pelvic bones on the hen's behind she is probably laying. Narrower she probably isn't.

    Hope if I remembered it wrongly someone will jump in and correct.
  5. poseygrace

    poseygrace Songster

    Apr 29, 2011
    You can also get a trap door on the nest, so when they go in to lay they can't get back out till you let them. This obviously requires you being there to let them out ASAP.
  6. Brigala

    Brigala In the Brooder

    Jul 2, 2011
    Ok, so it's not as super simple as I imagined! Maybe the best thing to do would be to set up a coop-cam and start with watching to see which hens go into the next boxes at all. [​IMG]
  7. Quote:Pretty much..

    this is how I tell if my older hens are actively laying (and if a new pullet has begun to lay)

    The vent will be open and moist in a hen that is actively laying.. dry and closed if she's not

    the spacing between the pelvic bones will widen as a hen begins laying.. a hen who has been laying for a while will have a greater spacing than a hen who has just started.. if I can get three fingers between the bones I know shes laying.. if I get only one I know an old hen is ready to be culled.

    You must also take into consideration if the hen is in moult.. a moulting hen won't lay

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