How long do hens lay eggs for?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Nerdicus, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. Nerdicus

    Nerdicus Out Of The Brooder

    I have heard that hens only produce enough eggs to be cost effective for a year. Is this true? Do you all raise new chickens every year in order to keep the eggs coming in?
     
  2. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It depends on what one considers "cost effective," Nerdicus.

    Except for one very aged banty, I have always gotten rid of my laying hens during their 2nd molt. This is a very common commercial practice. Personally, I've been wondering about the wisdom of me doing this. I'm just going to copy what I wrote only a few days ago:

    I have a British study in front of me that shows the production of an "egg-strain domestic fowl moulted twice (at 60 weeks and 100 weeks of age)." Principles of Poultry Science, by S.P. Rose

    So, these are commercial layers carried thru 3 laying periods. The study was done to determine the economics of doing this, not out of sympathy for battery hens. "Layer-fatigue" can be a problem for these birds but, obviously, not enuf of a problem to make too much difference in the research. We think of "burn out" but they didn't really burn out.

    During the first laying period, production was between about 95% and 80%. The second laying period had production between about 85% and 70%. The third was between about 80% and 55% production.

    Commercial operations never let their birds get to that third laying period and 140 weeks of age. Their profit margins are too small. You would have to decide if hens of that age would be valuable to you since, during their 3rd year, they are laying about one-third less than young pullets.

    Steve
     
  3. chickenma

    chickenma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks for the info steve [​IMG]
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    If you do a search here on BYC you'll see that some people have 8, 9 and 10 year old hens still laying an occasional egg.
    I believe the general consesus is that a hen laying beyond her third season is past her prime, but they will still lay eggs.
    Whether it's worth it to keep your chickens longer than 2 or 3 years is a personal choice, based on your finances and other issues.
    I'll be keeping my chickens that I am quite fond of their whole lives. Depending on the demand for my selling eggs I may trade the others out.
    I'm in the position where the cost of their feed is not an issue. I have to feed two dogs and a cat anyhow, so a couple more bags of feed in the car on market day is not a big deal to me.
     
  5. Nerdicus

    Nerdicus Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks indeed!

    So is that why everyone ends up with a fairly large flock?They don't to kill their hens every 2 years, and so end up just getting more? Do they ever stop laying all together?

    We are planning on getting some laying chicks this spring and I'm doing the research. [​IMG]
     
  6. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm thinking of how I can get replacement pullets while still taking care of the old hens and then keeping the old hens . . . I'll have to move!
    (Maybe I don't need that vacation between birds any longer [​IMG].)

    There's the issue of attrition. My elderly banty only lived to be 7 and I think that a production bird that made it any past 7 would be something of a miracle hen.

    If you need 24 eggs each week, you might decide that 5 hens would do the job. If we used the idea that 1/3rd of the production would be lost every 2 years, it may make sense to add 2 layers every 2 years. Backyard production might stay fairly steady at that rate of flock increase.

    I really seriously doubt if one would ever have more than 10 chickens in his or her flock.

    Steve
     
  7. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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  8. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    I am beginning to wonder that to. I have noticed that 2 of my Black sexies that are heading into their 2nd winter have much smaller and less red combs right now. I get at least a half dozen eggs a day out of 10 hens which isn't real bad. I don't know for sure which of them is laying or not.

    I will probably keep my first flock until their time comes to fly to that coop in the sky. The ones I got this year, I'm pretty sure I will move out
     
  9. luvmygirlsinAK

    luvmygirlsinAK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 2 RIR/aracuanas that are 3 years old and each lay a beautiful egg for me every day. The yolks are very big, and very yellow. I feed them WELL. I imagine they are just like people, if we take care of our bodies with good nutrition, we will do well far into old age. I come from a family that many who live on farms and eat natural food live to be 90 and over 100 years old. Those who didn't take care of their bodies died much earlier. Does this make sense to you? I believe we are what we eat, which is also why I feed my girls well. I give them flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, layer pellets, alfalfa pellets, spelt, oats, coconut, molasses flakes, kelp, comfrey, cayenne pepper, etc.etc., plus any kitchen offerings. They pay ME well by producing eggs everyday, and sometimes 2 eggs per day. Yes, you read that right-the 3 year old hens sometimes give 2 eggs per day. I don't believe it overtaxes their body, because they are given very good nutrition.[​IMG] I certainly don't classify them as [​IMG], just in their prime of life![​IMG]

    I truly hope this was helpful-I can't bear the thought that someone would get rid of their chickens just because they are 1 or 2 years old!!!!! [​IMG] Just give them good nutrition.

    If you think this is just too costly, give this some thought: When I changed over to organic dog food for my dog, guess what?! She started needing to eat far less because her nutritional needs were met. Therefore, believe it or not, the cost of feeding her went down even though the organic food was much higher priced!![​IMG] The same thing happened to us when we switched over to almost all organic, we found that we weren't eating as much as before, and since we don't crave all of that bad for you stuff because our nutritional needs are met, the cost of switching over was about the same amount we were spending before switching to organic![​IMG] And by the way, we still get our goodies, they just really are goodies-they are good for us! We still use the same recipe for chocolate chip cookies, they are just made with fresh ground organic wheat and or spelt, organic choc. chips, organic evaporated cane juice, and sea salt. Oh yeah, and we add organic coconut flakes to them. Now that's something good-let me tell ya!! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2008
    3 people like this.
  10. luvmygirlsinAK

    luvmygirlsinAK Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Except for one very aged banty, I have always gotten rid of my laying hens during their 2nd molt. Steve


    [​IMG] I love people like you, Steve who get rid of their hens WAY too early!! I take them and make them eggseptional layers! [​IMG] That's how I got my 3 year old RIR/Aracaunas!! The previous owner said she wished they produced more eggs-well-they sure do-you just can't beat an egg a day and sometimes 2 per day!! [​IMG] I'll take them off your hands!

    Seriously, I do hope you all think about what I said in my last post. It is amazing what good nutrition will do for chickens!!! (And humans) [​IMG]

    I:love my chickies, I can't wait to go out to the coop in the morning and greet them-they "purr" at me!!!
     

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