How long do hens lay?

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


11 Years
Apr 27, 2008
Durant, Iowa
Wytedragon brought this up in a different post, but was really asking about what to do with hens after they can't lay. I didn't want to hijack that thread, so I thought I'd bring it up here.

How long can chickens lay? What is their overall lifespan?

Most of my hens are in the 6 month to a year range, but my ex-battery girls will be two next spring. What is the egg laying lifespan of a hen? Does it vary from breed to breed?

I'm probably one of those weenies who won't eat the hens I'm attached to, so I wonder how long I'm going to have retired hens eating on the dole?

I think I will expand their area of free range when they're done laying (right now they do get to go out, but it's not a huge area, as I want to keep them as safe as I can from predators) to include the pasture area, which would be several acres. Not that I'm trying to get them eaten, just that I wouldn't be quite as concerned if they were--sort of the circle of life, I guess. And they might surprise me, as I have llamas as livestock guardians, so maybe they would protect the chickens as well as the sheep?

So what age of chickens does everyone have that are still laying?

It depends on the breed and general health, but I've heard of hens laying for up to 10 years or more. Not steadily, but still laying on occasion. I think the general consensus is they usually lay steady for 2-3 years and then start to taper off. Commercial laying operations turn over their flock every two years, I believe.
My 6 year old hens lay about 3 days a week during the summer, and slow down to once a week during the winter. Some take the winter off. They are all different breeds, mostly dual purpose, Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red etc...

Life span is from 10-15 years, I've heard of hens as old as 18-20.

It does make a difference what breed, heavy producing breeds like Leghorns and Sex Links tend to burn out early, quit producing and have health problems. I still have one out of my original five sex link girls still around, lost the rest to reproductive cancer.

When I was starting out I thought about letting extra roosters free range until 'nature' happened. Problem with that is letting predators know you have chicken dinner available on your property can become a problem for your whole flock.

I endend up expanding my coop and keeping all my boys. They're just so darn cute!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom