How to get older hen to lay eggs?

bluehazard

Chirping
6 Years
Dec 20, 2013
17
0
55
Hi everyone,

I don't post often, and my last post was on this. I have a Plymouth Rock chicken, and she's at least 4.5 years old. She could be a lot older, as I got her as a rescue, and she was already laying. The problem with her is that she's sitting often and not laying eggs. She may have arthritis, as she's really big. She lays about two big brown eggs every month.

She's free range. I just started adding more ground oyster shell to her food.

Has anyone else had luck in increasing egg laying with chickens this age?

Thanks.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,528
79,432
1,462
Wisconsin
Don't force feed calcium, they will eat it as necessary and should always be in a separate dish. Many hens at that age are mostly done laying. You could try feeding a higher protein ration as it sometimes help them produce a few more eggs. She shouldn't be on a layer ration since that for hens that are actively laying and can cause troubles for those that aren't with the extra calcium. I have found my birds live longer and produce longer being fed a ration like an all flock, and the oyster shells on the side.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,200
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
I don't understand what you meant when you said "she's really big" If you mean that she is fat, about all that can be done is to put her on a diet and maybe give her some hand exercises like flits or flies. I have had some luck getting older hens to lay eggs for hatching but the hens were kept in fly pens that encouraged them to fly SOME and there was a flooring of either shredded corn shucks or wheat straw to encourage these hens to get a real work out scratching in the litter for their food. The real problem is that a hen as old as the one that you mentioned will not lay enough eggs to make a pound cake, at least before she starts to set again..
 

bluehazard

Chirping
6 Years
Dec 20, 2013
17
0
55
Old hen, I'm not force feeding her calcium. I wonder if she has arthritis though, because she sits more than she used to.

So, chickengerogeto, what did you do to get more eggs from old hens? I think she is fat, but in general, Plymouth rocks are a big breed. She just looks like a big, stern, granny. I just want her to lay more. She's laid dwarf eggs too and fragile shell eggs. In general, she does lay two big eggs a month that are normal.

I tried feeding her fermented foods. Sometimes she eats. Sometimes she doesn't.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,528
79,432
1,462
Wisconsin
Old hen, I'm not force feeding her calcium. I wonder if she has arthritis though, because she sits more than she used to.

So, chickengerogeto, what did you do to get more eggs from old hens? I think she is fat, but in general, Plymouth rocks are a big breed. She just looks like a big, stern, granny. I just want her to lay more. She's laid dwarf eggs too and fragile shell eggs. In general, she does lay two big eggs a month that are normal.

I tried feeding her fermented foods. Sometimes she eats. Sometimes she doesn't.
I have a few older arthritic hens, their feet are slightly enlarged. I would agree it will help to make sure she's not too fat which will interfere with laying, but from your description of her I think her laying days are mostly over. It's a rare hen that lays regularly when over 5 years of age, many that do lay do it as yours is doing, sporadically with poor egg quality. You would be better off getting another young hen, and either culling the old hen or let her retire.
 

Ljc01

Songster
Jun 5, 2016
217
152
126
Nipomo, Ca
We have an old BR, somewhere between 4 and 5. We get a few eggs a month from her. Must have blood or meat spots, so I cook them and feed them back to the chickens.
I keep her around because she is from my first flock. She is grandma hen to the younger ones. Glad I have the room to keep her.
I gave away my 3 year old Leghorns when they stopped laying.
So, keep her around if you want to, but don't expect a lot of quality eggs from her.
 

TalkALittle

Songster
5 Years
Dec 15, 2014
1,661
725
191
Massachusetts
@bluehazard you are force feeding her calcium in a manner of speaking. You aren't shoving it down her throat, but when you put ground calcium in with the food it coats the food and the bird is forced to ingest a certain amount of the calcium along with the food. The generally accepted best practice for insuring appropriate calcium levels in their diet is to offer soluble grit separate from the feed so the birds can self-regulate their intake. Only if you know that the birds are calcium deficient or if the feed itself does not have adequate calcium in it already would you want to add calcium to the feed directly.
 

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