How long will they live and how long do they produce eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TurkeyJohn, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. TurkeyJohn

    TurkeyJohn Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 19, 2013
    Hey Folks,

    Me again,[​IMG]

    3 Red Sex-Links from last spring, laying 3 eggs a day, even in the dead of winter.[​IMG]

    Wondering if I should supplement the flock with 3 new ones this spring, but my wife reminds me that we don't eat all the eggs we're getting now. So, wondering how long my girls will live and for how long they will produce?[​IMG] If production is soon to drop off or they're becoming middle aged, think I should get more girls sooner than later. If they will porduce for another year or 2 as they are now, it takes the pressure off.

    Let me know and thanks to all,

    TurkeyJohn
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    It can vary by hen and you have to have enough hens for the averages to mean anything, which you don’t, but hens normally lay really well when they start. Eventually they kind of burn out and need a rest. This can happen about a year after they start laying and they slow down some. Don’t be surprised to see that. It’s not that they totally quit or all do it at the same time, but expect it. Then in the fall, they totally quit laying and molt. While they are growing new feathers they generally don’t lay. Once the molt is over, and that can take a month to several months, they start laying again like gangbusters and the eggs are larger.

    They should molt again the next fall and stop laying. When they start back laying, the eggs will again be a little bigger but this time the number of eggs will drop off. This happens at each and every adult molt from their on out. In a large flock the production drops about 15% after each of these adult molts so the older they get the fewer eggs you will get.

    With larger flocks one way a lot of us handle this is that every year we bring in about half the pullets we want in our main flock. Say you want ten hens laying. Bring in 5 pullets every year. Keep the five you got the previous year over winter. But at the end of laying season when they molt and stop laying eggs, remove your 5 oldest hens. That way you have ten hens laying nice eggs in the season you are raising the replacements and you’ll get an additional 5 pullet eggs when those pullets start to lay. You’ll only carry ten chickens, the five pullets and the five younger hens, through the winter. Instead of doing half each year, some people do a third and stretch the cycle out an additional year.

    Another strategy and one that might work well for you is to bring in totally new hens every three years and replace the older hens at the end of that year’s laying cycle.

    We all have different ways we address this.
     
  3. TurkeyJohn

    TurkeyJohn Out Of The Brooder

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    That's really great info and advice. They didn't molt this past fall, will it catch up to them this fall coming?

    How long do they typically live on their own if you let them just live on?

    TJ
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, expect the molt to hit them this fall.

    I have no idea how long they can live. None of mine make it past three years, but my main goal is meat, not eggs. What do you plan to do with the older hens when you get the younger ones?
     
  5. TurkeyJohn

    TurkeyJohn Out Of The Brooder

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    When I started I was thinking fried or roasted, but now the silly little buggers are my friends.[​IMG] Happy to see me every morning, even if I don't have their favourite canned corn. Look at them as pets with benefits. Thinking that I'll just let them go to sleep some night[​IMG] and not wake up and then bury them out back. Just can't think of eating them now. I know not the right attitude, they are critters, but geez, they do get attached.

    Thanks Ridgerunner,

    TurkeyJohn
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm not questioning your attitude at all. I don't see anything wrong with you approach at all, it's just different than mine. But that might affect how soon you want to bring in new hens or how many. They won't totally quit laying for a while.
     
  7. gallusdomesticus

    gallusdomesticus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hens have been known to live past 10 years, in fact, the Guiness record is for a bantam hen that reached 16 years old. My experience has been laying hens over the age of 8 are pretty rare. The threat of predation and sickness generally ensures they don't reach double digets.

    The URL below is a good reference from the Univ of Florida vet school. In summary, a hen lays her whole life. Not being mammals, they don't go through menopause. The decrease in egg production (as shown in Fig 2) is about 10% per year but there are many variables that can accelerate this decrease. I'm sure you'll find all kind of opinions on what to do with birds that are not as productive as you would like. My birds are all pets and live out their lives wether they are productive or not.
     
  8. gallusdomesticus

    gallusdomesticus Chillin' With My Peeps

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  9. TurkeyJohn

    TurkeyJohn Out Of The Brooder

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    That's a great article with tons of useful info in it. Thanks for sharing and too bad it's not in a more easily accessable area of the forum.[​IMG]

    Thanks again,

    TurkeyJohn
     
  10. chickkrzi

    chickkrzi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not trying to take this off topic but, don't chickens molt every 18 months, not just at a certain time of year???
     

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