how long do you keep your chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kelliepulido, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. kelliepulido

    kelliepulido Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2008
    st.john's mi
    I have a pretty flock.I go for pretty but also have some just for laying,isa browns,sex link black and buff orp.but when I was reading about egg laying it says they only lay for 2yrs.Do most you byc members change out your flock every 2yrs.I was hoping to keep this bunch for a long time.Just using them for family and friends the eggs.And no matter how many days go by I still get a good feeling by going out and finding eggs it is so rewarding.I have a big bantam flock along with my egg layers,all my seramas are laying up a storm now.I just started getting eggs from my group they are all from this spring.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I keep mine as long as they live.

    It's a fallacy chickens stop laying after two years. Some lay as long as they live, 5 years or more, just slow down and don't lay as regularly or frequently.
  3. Taylor

    Taylor Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 14, 2008
    I buy new ones every 2 years. i usually get the Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Delawares, Black stars, just something good for eggs. then i order more and keep them for 2 years and do it all again.
  4. cottagechick

    cottagechick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2011
    Cottage Grove, Oregon
    If you don't try to force them to lay all extra lighting in it true that they will lay for more years? And how substantially does it drop after two years. If they don't start laying for 6-9 months and then only lay until they are are only getting a little over a year of laying?
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  5. kidcody

    kidcody Overrun With Chickens

    Until they die, I have 4 BRs that are 12 years old this year!! I love them so much![​IMG]
  6. kelliepulido

    kelliepulido Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2008
    st.john's mi
    do they still lay after 12yrs and if you change out your flock every 2yr for the poster above do you eat them or are they too old and tough
  7. LoreenH

    LoreenH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    My girls are only 18 weeks but they will live with us until they die a natural death, hopefully they will live to be old biddies. [​IMG] I have a friend who has a 10-year-old hen and she still pops out an egg every so often.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    We start new chicks every year, sometimes twice a year. We like having pullet flocks of differing ages. The sex links and ISAs can lay longer than two years, but their breeding is designed for a heavy first two years. The decline is real. But then, many breeds also decline by year three, but the difference isn't quite as dramatic as it with the pullets that are bred primarily for the commercial egg laying houses.

    If you only have X amount of coop space, and eggs are your primary goal, then yes, rotating your flock based on performance is not unusual and very common practice. The market for 2 year old light weight pullets isn't great as they are not known for body weight. However, the poor always need food and many folks are happy to have them. Great soup.
  9. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    With the ISA's, they lay the best around 1 year of age and then begin a slow decline. By 2 years of age they are below 70%. These are bred for commercial egglaying and perform ifferently than your feed store hybrids like RSL and BSL. But I'm guessing by 2-3 years of age there is a noticeable decline in those as well.

    ISA productivity chart for commercial conditions: Brown CS laying chart.ashx

    With other standard breeds like RIR, I used to keep them for 2-3 years, depending on the hen's performance.

    Overall, I was concerned with egglaying when I had a larger flock. So I would order the ISA's as early in the season as feasible, usually by March 1. I have gotten eggs by 18 weeks out of most of them and no later than 20 weeks. I would keep them through the first winter, re-order in Feb/Mar, and then sell off the hens in July/Aug when the new pullets started laying regular sized eggs. I never had a problem re-homing the year old hens as most people think that 70-80% is still a good outcome.

    Not being a commercial egg producer though, my numbers were never as high as the chart with regards to egg production. On the other hand, my chickens get to go outside all day, every day.
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Quote:I would say yes....each are born with all the eggs they will every produce, so they will produce them slowly over the years or forced by lighting in the winter time to produce them more quickly and thus for less years.

    I had a flock with many hens of 4,5,6 years of age that were still producing every day or every other day, depending on peak season or not. I usually process any hen that is not producing at that level . A flock in optimal health will continue to lay for you, if they are good laying-type breeds, for far more than one or two years.

    Your production blacks and BO may not last the distance but your Isa Browns should be able to go the distance easily. A few more breeds to get for sheer egg laying longevity and high production rates are Black Aussies, RIR, White Rocks, New Hamps. The best part about those breeds are that fact that they are meaty enough to give you some meat when you process them at the end.

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