Life of Egglaying


8 Years
Jan 12, 2012
I have 5 Rhode Island Red hens and one rooster. Can anyone tell me how long I can expect them to lay eggs?
Well, I wouldn't expect too much from the rooster.
Your RIRs will give you a wonderful egg supply for the first year, tapering off slightly the next, and perhaps precipitously in years after.

I promise mine a life commitment (their life, laying or not) so I'll be housing "freeloaders" until I'm 80!
Sometimes those straight lines are hard to resist. But since Devora could not resist, I'll try to.

Hens will often lay throughout their first winter without molting or stopping egg production until they molt the following fall.winter. Not all do this, but a lot do.

After their first adult molt, they continue to lay really well. Eggs are larger too.

After their second adult molt and every adult molt after that, hens will, on average, decrease laying by about 15% to 20% each molt. This is an average for a flock. You can find exceptions to this if you look at specific hens. You have to have enough hens for the average to mean much.

The other problem with coming up with hard and fast numbers is that their ancestry plays a part too. Some people specifically pick their breeding flock to select hens that lay well during their first few year while others specifically breed to have hens that lay pretty well later in life.

Not as specific an answer as I think you wanted, but maybe this will help some.
Thanks for the great info! I helped my parents raise chickens when I was between the age of 8 to 12 yrs old. I have forgotten a lot of what they taught me. My wife and I are just getting started. We were blessed to receive this flock from a friend I work with. His wife was caring for her mother and they no longer had the time to care for the chickens, so they gave them to us. Presently, they are laying one or two eggs a day, but I realize this is normal during the winter months. I would like to let them hatch more chicks before they stop laying. They appear to be faily young in age. I do not know for sure how old they are. I am guessing 2 to 3 yrs. Is it best to use an incubator or allow the hens to sit the eggs during reproduction?
As others mentioned, a firm number is impossible. My RIR are first year birds. Their rates and egg size are not as good as my friends' RIR from a different breeder. My BR is the laying champ. My EE is "hibernating", while other people’s EE have continued thru winter.

I guess that is an advantage of have a mix bag... no feast or famine.
The production will slow down after two years.

devora: No, so far they will leave their eggs in the nest. When they do become broody, do you recommend allowing them to sit the eggs until they hatch, or use an incubator?
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A hen will decrease her egg laying after the first year at a rather constant 10%/year i.e. a five year old hen will lay about half of what she did her first year. Hens will lay throughout their menopause for the girls. A RIR is a good egg laying breed, you can expect about 220-240 eggs her first year.
devora: No, so far they will leave their eggs in the nest. When they do become broody, do you recommend allowing them to sit the eggs until they hatch, or use an incubator?

You may get differing opinions but I definitely prefer to let the broody hen do the work. In my experience, the hen had a better hatch rate, plus I didn't have to run an incubator, manually turn eggs multiple times a day, set up a brooder, fiddle with lights/heat for the brooder, change out brooder bedding, transition them to outside and so on and so on. Also, the broody hen's chicks integrated seamlessly into the flock, whereas brooder raised chicks can be difficult to integrate.

The one advantage I can think of to raising chicks yourself is that they imprint better on the people and are more easily handled. My broody raised chicks are much more wary of me than those I've hatched myself. That said, they do come close and take treats from me and if I needed to handle one, for a medical treatment, it would be doable.

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