How long or how many years to keep hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ruffles, Dec 11, 2011.

  1. ruffles

    ruffles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2009
    Do hens stop laying at about two years or so?/

    Some that I met sell or bring their chickens to auctions, when they are two years as they are no longer productive.

    OH, boy, we have become attached to our 7 RIR's who are two and a half, and have not laid eggs since end of Oct.

    They went thru a heavy moult, the weather remained unusually warm, like a late Spring, dipped last week, soo, I am wondering
    does one keep the chickens who are not productive and have become pets, or auction or sell them to make room for
    young chickens.
  2. Different for differing breeds. But yes, most slow down their 2nd year and almost stop completely their 3rd year. RIR's usually get into the third year though. The heavy molt, cold weather, and shorter days more than likely are the causes of the lack of eggs now. I would be willing to bet they pick back up before winter is over. Also it seems that worms for some reason have been a problem this year. I hear it from people all over the country. I recently went from 2 eggs a day to 7 after I wormed mine. Wazine is cheap and easy to find. Valbazen is better but more expensive and harder to find.
  3. terrilhb

    terrilhb Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 11, 2010
    During molt the laying does go down some. And the shorter days causes it too. Me personally my Chickens will be here until they pass on. The only time I get rid of any is if they are mean and nasty.
  4. would be a great time to get more chicks though and get them started. If you get them (lets say) on new years, you will have eggs the first part of July. I always start new chicks for my laying flock when they are in their 2nd year, that way they overlap and we never do without eggs. We slaughter when they reach 3 years old.
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    It varies really. I'm in the group who got chickens specifically for pets/eggs. Knowing that going in, I knew I'd keep my girls until they died ( by my hand). And I have the space and finances to do that...with rotating in new chicks every 2 years. I figure there's a strong chance that by my 3rd rotation, my olders girls will most likely be gone (but maybe not?).
    People who don't have the space, even if they view their birds as pets, have a delimma. Eggs or keep my older pets?
    The folks who have it easiest are the ones who bought their birds for the sole purpose of eggs/meat. No (or little) emotional attachment.
    Sounds like you're in the middle. Bought yours for eggs, but have grown attached. Know that most (not all) who buy spent layers do so with the intent of processing them. There are worse fates than feeding a family though, right? As bairo said though, most likely you'll get another load of eggs from your girls if you can hang in there through the first part of winter. I have noticed that my older girls take a LOT longer to fully recover from their molts...
  6. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

    Mar 16, 2009
    onchiota NY
    Quote:I'm with you..My girls stay to the very end-I get too attached:) I put in new hens every year as every year means I lose some to death:( Last year I had 50+ going into Winter-this year 70+ I might get 15-20 eggs a day if Im lucky..I know I have a bunch of biddies that are 5+ and havent laid an egg in over a year...The roosters don't dare go near them so they just age in beauty without feather issues-My girls lay better in Winter:)
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
  7. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    I am on the other end of the spectrum. I love my birds and all are played with and handled daily and are very friendly. They come when I call and get treats every day so when they see a human they come running. (Doesn't have to be me they aren't picky). Right now my current crews are 8 months and 4 months old and is producing fine even though it's very cold up here in Vermont. The problem for me is that I live on an acre and a half and although I have enough room for the girls and boys to free range together I don't have enough coop space to keep older hens who aren't laying eggs. Because I love them and I know that giving them to someone else will mean the stew pot for them they will not be sold once they stop laying. Instead it will be my job to process them even though it will hurt me to do so. I can't trust that a person I sell them to will process them humanely and to many people here a chicken is just a chicken so who cares. I would rather be sad and yet know that they were processed humanely than take the risk that they are treated poorly after so many years of giving everything they have to me.

    Before I will process the ones I have though I will hatch out a few batches of chicks to be the next generation of egg layers. I will have a total of three pens once I get finished building. One for my Light Brahmas, One for my egg layers and Delawares and one that is for my excess roosters so that they don't overstress the girls who are laying which tends to happen the minute they get hormones.

    I always do my own processing because I would rather do it than have someone else do it wrong and make them suffer. Just my opinion though.
  8. NottinghamChicks

    NottinghamChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Some great takes on the subject! If you do choose to cull due to lack of productivity I think doing it yourself is great. It's sad to see people advertising free chickens on Craigs List because they are no longer laying. I either keep them or cull them myself. I owe it to them to give them a home, or humanely cull them in an environment they are accustomed to. Sending them off with a stranger seems unfair...

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