Lifespan of a hen versus good laying years...what do you do?


7 Years
May 12, 2012
Placerville, CA
Hi Everyone,

I don't have any hens yet; I am still doing research and looking into it. I recently read a book about raising chickens where the author recommended replacing the entire flock of hens every two years, as hens have about two years of good egg-laying in them.

I would like to know what you do when your hens mature and no longer are good layers? Do any of you keep your hens as pets after their egg-laying years are over? If you do, do you introduce younger hens so that you can have eggs? I read it's not recommended to introduce new hens into an existing flock.

Anyway, I was very dismayed by what I read. I cannot imagine getting attached to my hens, only to "replace" them every two years (replace them meaning what, killing them myself or sending them away to be used as meat hens?)

Thank you!

Placerville, CA
Hello and :welcome

Our hens have laid for two years each before totally stopping. We have bought a couple of new chicks every two years because of this, but now we're running into a dilemma because, like you said, we haven't the heart to kill them and now there are a bunch of old hens in the garden eating expensive food and not producing any eggs. :lau
One died naturally, but we've still got a few more. We've tossed around some ideas, but have just decided to keep them and buy free range eggs from now on. We might end up giving them away, who knows.
I still have 2 of my original hens, they will be 6 years old They still lay but not every day However they go broody all the time and are the best mothers Right now they are both new mommas Doodle has a month old chick and Isis just hatched out 2 so far ( she is on 12 eggs. I dont remove them as they are fine in with the flock. They are large fowl cochins
Welcome to the forum from Sunny Floirda
Hello and welcome to BYC! I've introduced new chickens to my flock many times with no problems. Throw away the book and read BYC instead.
Great question, we've been researching this as well. I have friends that have raised birds for years and tell me that they only lay for a couple years, then the hens get eaten once they no longer lay. Then we've read that some will lay for 5-6 years or more and live several years beyond that. My girls became attached to these birds the moment they came home. There's no way these hens will ever be eaten, so I suppose we will end up with hens that lay and hens that don't. They will live long happy chicken lives at our place.
I agree with the other posters. I researched a lot before I first got birds. I started out with 6 pullets and now I have over 300 of different ages. I do put younger birds in with the older ones when they are about the same size. The older birds do chase the younger birds at first but I have plenty of room for them to run around. I have a chick coop that I raise the chicks in until they are big enough to go out with the older birds. I do either process the older birds when they don't lay well any more or sell them but I am in the egg business and I really can't afford to keep the non layers as pets. I also have a breeding program which keeps my flocks growing. Since my hatch ratio is about 50% male and 50% female I also sell the excess males. It really boils down to getting the experience. Start out with a few of the breed or breeds you are interested in. I had a lot of worries and fears too when I first got birds but over the years I found what works best for me.
Hi and :welcome from Ohio. So glad you joined. I usually keep them for four years then we process them. I cannot afford the space or feed for chickens that aren't producing. But, that is why my chickens are treated with the upmost care. I even grow their own salad greens. :thumbsup

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