How to tell when chickens quit laying because of age?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AllChookUp, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. AllChookUp

    AllChookUp Will Shut Up for Chocolate

    May 7, 2008
    Frozen Lake, MN
    I have a mixed flock - Some chickens are +3 years old, some are in their second year, and about 7 will be laying their first eggs in November.

    My issue is that being it's a mixed flock, I'm unsure how to tell which hens have laid their last egg (and therefore have the uneviable position of becoming stock for soups and stews. I am attached to all my chickens, but I can see spending money on feed if they are not producing anymore - AND making them go through a strong Minnesota winter as they age.

    So, other than spending all day watching them, does anyone have a good process for identifying which chickens are and are not laying eggs? I know the 5-6 chickens which are suspect for not laying any more, but need help with a good process.


    Thanks!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I have mixed flocks and can tell most by the color and shape of eggs.
    Unless you have older production breeds which kick out most of them the first couple years, they can lay for many years - the eggs just get fewer and farther between.
    In your situation it's probably just a good practice to pick an age to cull and do it.
    I cull at the second or third moult depending on the breed.
     
  3. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:It`s easy to tell which hens are not laying. Hold one under your left arm and feel the bones UNDER the vent. They are like pelvic bones. If you can only lay one fingertip between the bones, she isn`t laying. Two or more and she is. You have to consider the size of the hen and the size egg expected, but that is also easy. Now for age, there is no way to tell what age a hen will stop laying. I`ve had hens lay well into their teens, but they do slow somewhat after a year or two and even more as they get older.......Pop
     
  4. rungirl

    rungirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could try putting food coloring in their vent. [​IMG]
     
  5. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:[​IMG]
     
  6. AllChookUp

    AllChookUp Will Shut Up for Chocolate

    May 7, 2008
    Frozen Lake, MN
    It`s easy to tell which hens are not laying. Hold one under your left arm and feel the bones UNDER the vent. They are like pelvic bones. If you can only lay one fingertip between the bones, she isn`t laying. Two or more and she is. You have to consider the size of the hen and the size egg expected, but that is also easy. Now for age, there is no way to tell what age a hen will stop laying. I've had hens lay well into their teens, but they do slow somewhat after a year or two and even more as they get older.......Pop

    Now that's a tip, lollipop! Thanks so much - I will give it a try.


    And as to rungirl's suggestion of putting food coloring into their vents.... Well, I'm not sure if you're joking or not. If I were a hen and someone did that to me, I'd think I'd stop laying just because of that. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  7. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The food coloring tip is serious. It works for about a week if the hen is laying.
    We keep track of production in our mixed flock using Steve's Chickentracker ( search BYC for it.) That is how we know that Cleo'sFriend has laid for a whole two months this past year. She won't last into the winter.
    We thought about using the food coloring on Blue Orp but we know she is 3 1/2 and even though her comb is bright red, we have not seen her go into the nests in over a year. And she is nasty to the younger birds. Enough said. We need room for the younger pullets.
     
  8. AllChookUp

    AllChookUp Will Shut Up for Chocolate

    May 7, 2008
    Frozen Lake, MN
    Thanks for the insights, they'reHISchickens!
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  9. upcdayz

    upcdayz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A game cam pointed at the nests.
     

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