how often do you replace your hens?


10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
central georgia
i started raising chickens on 2009.i have added more breeds each year and have all purebreds in their own pens.
i thoroughly enjoy this and meeting all kinds of people.i have bought hatching eggs and hatched and sold chicks and eggs.i have had very good luck with my birds and have all but 3-4 original birds from 09.i hatched a few Easter/olive eggers just to see what they would be and a few under a broody just to check fertility.
of my original birds tho i have somehow forgotten to hatch my replacers.of the ones i am talking about are my Plymouth rocks-blue,silver penciled and partridge-all non-hatchery stock

i think since i have all my original birds i just never thought of doing it yet but someone said to me the other day "wow, you have had those a long time".i thought" just 3 years" so it got me thinking.

so my question is when do you start hatching replacements for egg layers?
how many do you do at a time?

i know this is relative to space and breeds but just wanted some other views.
my girls are one year old in March, I will keep them 3 years, but this year i will be adding 4 more, then no more for a year, then my girls will go off and I will acquire 5 more. except for a favorite. :)
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I keep our favorites for 3 to 4 years. The ones with names the kids would hate me for getting rid of last the 3 to 4 years. As for those that are not our favorites they don't last as long, usually 2.5 years sometimes less. Although some of our chickens have been kept for 8 years but that is unusual.
We've all got different goals and conditions. I mainly raise mine for meat. The eggs are just a side benefit. And I like hatching chicks to play with the genetics. None of mine ever make it past three years of age.

A few things to consider. Pullets will often lay through out their first winter without molting. I raise a few replacement pullets every year and have to collect eggs every day of the year, even in the dead of winter.

After their second adult molt, hens on average lay around 15% to 20% fewer eggs. What that means for most of us is that instead of a hen laying 6 eggs a week, after her second adult molt she lays 5, but after later molts that drops even more. For most of us, that difference after the first drop is not all that noticeable, but if you have a few hundred hens and depend on selling the eggs, it gets noticeable, especially if you are buying most of what they eat. So if you are keeping them for eggs, age can be important.

If you are mainly keeping them for pets, age does not really matter.
thanks for the replies guys.

i guess space will be the big factor since i don't get rid of my hens,even if they don't lay.
a friend of mine hatches replacements every year and butchers all hens at 2 years wether they lay or not.
i just didn't realize how quickly time was flying by and that ,in chicken years,3 is older for a laying bird.i let them retire and enjoy life but thats just me.i have a flock of rocks that i have had for 3yrs this april and have all original 12 -1 roo and 11 hens.they are starting to slow down on the eggs now so i think i may need to hatch some of their eggs this spring.
Where exactly do your chickens "go off" to?  Just wondering....

:frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow

The chickens go to different places once their prime laying days are over. Many people on this forum keep then as pets for life. A few like me eat them, either processing then ourselves or getting someone else to do it, either for money or part of the meat. Some sell or give them away on Craigslist, maybe through a note on the feed store bulletin board, or some other way. Most of these get eaten. A few have a friend or relative in the country where they will take the older chickens and just let them roam.

Some people have limited space and want the eggs. Some can't see buying food and not getting many eggs back. But several consider them pets and keep them until they die whether they lay or not. So yoi'll get different answers from different ones of us.

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