How long did you chicken lay eggs for?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by peacenique, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. peacenique

    peacenique In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2009
    All of a sudden I wondered whether I should be thinking about how long a chicken lays eggs for, as opposed to how many I can get as fast as I can.

    Since I am only going to get a couple of backyard chickens, and I plan to keep them as pets, I have been wondering what to get.
    My first instinct was to search for the chickens that lay the most. However, now I'm thinking it's more important that they continue to lay eggs
    past their 'peak production". I've read that the highest performance laying hens might 'burn out' most quickly. Since I'm hoping for
    'productive pets', I realize that how long is more important than how many ~ for me anyway.

    I'm hoping to hear from those of you who have experience in this.

    Have you had breeds that continue to lay for years?

    I know 'production' drops.

    And I know that experiences vary.

    I suppose I ought to say that I'm in southern Ontario, Canada. Therefore, I'm looking at winter-hardy boids.
    And since I am hoping to have them in town, in my backyard ~ they need to be breeds that are quiet(er) and snuggly!
    Oh, brown eggs, by the way!

    Thank you!
  2. peacenique

    peacenique In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2009

    I have found other postings similar to this, but I haven't seen anyone with long term experience...

    Do people with only a couple/few chickens in their backyard replace them every couple of years?
    Are "pet" and "egg layer" terms that do not really go together aside from two years or so?

  3. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    We have a Rhode Island Red that is 7 and is still laying a few times a week. You will definitally want to look at the larger birds for the colder weather (Think RIR, and Jersey Giants) There really is not a specific breed that lays the longest, they all just lay until they stop. Some hens will lay lay their entire lives, while other will stop at 4 or 5. Most of the time as they get older. Is their a specific number you are allowed to keep? If not, I would suggest getting the bare minimum at first(3 or 4) and then waiting 2-5 years and adding to the flock again. That way, by the time the other ones are old and egg production slows, you will have the younger ones that will be at their peak. We have 17 hens and although they can be a little loud at times, as long as they are occupied, they are quiet.

    We own:
    2 RIRs
    2 Red Stars
    2 Salmon Faverolles
    Speckled Sussex
    Silver Laced Wyandotte
    Jersey Giant
    Easter Egger
    Blue Andalusion
    Buff Orpington
    4 RIR/Aracauna mixes

    All of ours lay extra large brown eggs
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2011
  4. There is a give and take here. In other words, there is a bit more to this equation to weigh out for yourself.

    The highly productive egg layers, ie; commercial hybrids, lay a stupendous amount of eggs for the first two years, 6-7 per week, and then production does indeed fall back to a more "normal" level or 3-4 per week. The entire "burned out" expression is a bit over used.

    Steady laying common breeds also lay more their first two seasons than they will typically lay as they age. The drop off is more gradual, but it is simply a fact of life. Some particular breeds also live longer lives. It is the diversity of nature.

    A backyard keeper, who would prefer to keep hens as both pets and have steady production aren't all that fussy, perhaps. A commercial farm works on margins that are razor thin, (speaking of profits). It isn't a hobby and there are bills to pay. They simply cannot afford to feed hens that are no longer laying at peak efficiency, ie, older than 2 years. Some backyard keepers, who specialize in egg sales, pattern their flock management after a similar model.

    Think of it this way. If a year old hen eats $.50 worth of feed per week but lays 6 eggs per week, that's a good thing for the egg-centric bird keeper. If, two years later, that same bird is still eating $.50 worth of feed, but now only lays 3 eggs a week, the egg-centric flock keeper has a decision to make. Some decide they simply enjoy the bird and will keep it. Others, make a different decision based on more economic motivation. There's no "right or wrong", they are simply different.

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