How old is "old" for a hen

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Lobzi, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a hen going on four years. She was still laying last I knew but she is now raising a brood of chicks (not her own but other eggs I gave her to hatch and then she took over the chicks from another hen who brooded then left them early) and has not been laying for sure for at least 3 months. She is doing her best to take care of the now going on two month old chicks but is struggling to keep up with them. She is walking slowly and sort of stooped over. She eat well when she can but I have not noticed her drinking and it has been hot here the last few days. She takes the babies to bed each night in the nest box and Im always hopeful to find her alive each morning. Im just wondering if this could be just old age getting her down. Her poo is quite normal from what I can tell and her mood is good under the circumstances. She still does her best to defend for her babies so they have access to treats I try to get to both her and her babies. The others do try to swoop in and take the food first and because mama is moving slowly and the babies are still afraid of the older birds I worry that she and her brood are not getting much of the food.

    So anyway, my question is more about what is considered old age for hens, not in laying terms but in physical ability terms and does anyone know the signs of old age for chickens. Id like to know what to look for as the older surviving members of my flock are going on 4 years this month. Is this "old" in chicken years? Should I expect them to start dying of natural causes?
  2. kellysmall87

    kellysmall87 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think it's five but not certain. Google it. :)
  3. farmerChef

    farmerChef Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 18, 2010
    Southern Georgia
    My Coop
    chickens can live 10+ years, but the egg production will drop off each year. If your birds are from a hatchery, its more like 4-6 years though, they are breed for laying eggs. Most egg "farms" dont keep hens past 2 yrs because thier egg production can drop 5-15% each year. Not that noticable if you have 10 hens, but when you have 10,000..........
  4. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Im not concerned with her egg laying but only if I need to treat her for illness, which she definitely protests me doing, or just let her live her life with her babies the best she can.
    Here she is:

    Ive tried so many time to treat sick birds and Im just short of being convinced that my "help" is such stress for them. My help is really just to help them along to their demise as they get so stressed by my trying to help them.

    Can anyone tell....does she look sick or just tired and getting old?
  5. cambriagardener

    cambriagardener Chillin' With My Peeps

    Healthy hens can live quite long (like 8 years). Unfortunately, many die of egg-laying problems long before that. Your hen looks like she might not be feeling well. Can you see her vent? I've seen old hens and they are just slow, they don't hunch over like yours. I would check her out (whether she likes it or not) to see if her back-end looks normal and her poop is normal. If they are, the best thing to do is to just keep an eye on her and make sure she is eating and drinking. Good luck to you.
  6. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    I will try and check her out later on. We just had some kind of incident that has them all riled up. Im not sure what happened but Im thinking a hawk came into the yard the way they all are cowering in the coop, run and under the bushed. Thanks so much for all the input. I do hope she is just feeling her age. She has had a very good life here with me and the others. I got her off a horse ranch that had wild chickens. She started my flock for me, she and three roosters! What a trooper.
  7. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    She does not look good, I can tell from her stooped over posture. Is she egg impacted or the beginning of EP?
  8. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Im sorry but I dont know what EP is. I just couldnt stress her today. If she is egg impacted is there anything I can do for her? I wont be able to take her to a chicken vet.
  9. Lobzi

    Lobzi Chillin' With My Peeps


    After some very rough days with no ability to stand or walk Mama Cass is much better. I got her on intensive vitamin treatment and water. Im also making sure she has access to plenty of food. She has been sleeping in a box with her babies but I think tomorrow she will try to roost with them. Tonight I noticed only one baby was in the box with her and she was standing up in the box and looking up longingly at the other babies. She doesnt quite have the strength and certainly not the balance yet. Im really hoping to see more improvement tomorrow. I just want to help her survive through the weaning process of her babies. I can tell that is what is motivating her to continue on.

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