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Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sammysam, Oct 12, 2009.
How long do hens lay? Is there a decline after a few years? Or do they just stop laying?
I think a lot depends on the breed, and the conditions they are kept in.
You'll get a couple of years of good production, in general. Some people swap out their laying hens yearly, or stagger it so that they are replacing layers after 2 years, replacing half the flock each year. Others keep hens into "retirement."
Commercial battery hens are usually sent to the soup factory after about 18 months.
Most backyard chickens will decline in production over time after their productive years, but will continue to lay for years after their best years are behind them. Some breeds are reported to lay for longer periods than others. There are a few breeds that are not long-lived, though.
I have read about people with 10 year old hens who still laid an egg every couple of weeks or so. Ten years is old for a chicken. I've not had mine that long, so that's second-hand information.
Hope that helps with your question!
yes it did thanks for the reply
A friend of mine had an "old" hen that laid 3 eggs a week for a month, then took a month off, then went back to laying. Weird cycle, but she laid until she died naturally at around 7 or 9 yrs (don't remember which age...but I want to say it was 9)!
ETA: She was a hatchery Barred Rock hen.
My 93 year old neighbor who still takes care of her chickens and her 3 Hereford bulls (when they aren't out in the pasture "working") recently lost her oldest hen who was 16 years old. Don't know if she still layed eggs but she did regularly go broody and sat on the eggs my neighbor put under her. She then "mama'd" the babies. The natural life cycle of hens is much longer than the 2 or 3 years some people keep them. Pity. They are such wonderful animals!