Longevity - what happens in the end?

Bodhisan

Chirping
Jul 11, 2020
61
91
76
Seattle area
We have three hens (our ordinance allows 6), and they are coming up on six months old. We were told they were a cross between RIR and Leghorn, but when I posted photos a a few weeks back, I was told that was not the case. Anyway, In looking on down the road, I've gathered that our girls will slow down and possibly stop laying around 5-6 years of age. My thought was to get three more in about three-four years, which would keep us in the eggs, while allowing the three mature hens to wind things up. Or should we wait 4-5 years? We don't mind having three "free loaders" in the future, so the plan is to let them "go naturally."

So, what could that look like? Assuming they don't get some disease or develop other problems, will we wake up one day and find a hen laying down, passed?

Also, when we do get three more hens, will the three originals, who will then be 3-4 years old (or 4-5 years old), be alpha, or will they be "weaker?" Just curious.
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
9 Years
Sep 22, 2012
7,287
26,745
932
Germany
Unless you have a crystal ball and are able to read it right, there will be no way to tell so many years in advance.
Just like the rest of us, you will just have to wait and see how things develop and then go and decide from there.
Some behavioural traits will come with the specific breeds you select, others will be individual.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,044
22,696
907
Southeast Louisiana
So, what could that look like?

You do not know what it will look like. As hard as we try, some die from predators. Those can come in all shapes and sizes. If we could predict it we could stop it but we often can't.

The older a chicken gets the more likely it is to die from a disease. Some parasites can cause problems. Some have strokes or heart attacks.

Sometimes they have accidents. If they are startled they may panic and fly into something, breaking their neck. Or cut themselves on something totally unexpected. Maybe they eat a tack or screw that punctures their gizzard when they try to grind it up and get an internal infection. Or maybe laying problems or an impacted crop or gizzard. Something can happen that either kills them or destroys their quality of life to the point that it is a kindness to put them down.

Some just die peacefully of old age. They go to sleep and never wake up.

No one can tell you how they will go or at what age.

Also, when we do get three more hens, will the three originals, who will then be 3-4 years old (or 4-5 years old), be alpha, or will they be "weaker?"

I have no idea. Sometimes the older ones keep the younger in line. Sometimes they get pushed aside. Each chicken has its own personality, you cannot predict how any specific one will behave.
 

Chickassan

Wattle Fondler
May 23, 2017
15,570
78,148
1,327
Greenville S.C, formerly Noneya U.S.A
They're like people in the respect there are some things that you just don't know until you do. ;)
I can share my experience though!
My older hens are nearly always the judge,jury and executioner when new birds are added.
They get the best of everything, they're teachers by hard knocks.
When they pass iv'e noticed it happens at night normally, they fall off the roost in their sleep.
Iv'e had a few go cartoon style flat on their back, toes up but facially they looked very peaceful.
 
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Bodhisan

Chirping
Jul 11, 2020
61
91
76
Seattle area
This is all helpful - really. Being new with this, all of my research and thread-reading has been on the "beginning." The thought of one or more being startled and then flying/crashing into something and injuring or killing themselves has already almost happened. Our chickens are so skittish, that even if I softly toss some scratch near them in their run, they've freaked out and flew into the sides, crashing around. So, of course, I don't do that anymore.
 

Chickassan

Wattle Fondler
May 23, 2017
15,570
78,148
1,327
Greenville S.C, formerly Noneya U.S.A
If you"d like your next ones to be calm I suggest day olds and have them around you and yours as much as possible at least the first 6 weeks.
Use a puppy playpen with mesh sides on ground level to brood in.
Sounds crazy, 100% works though.
Almost forgot when your hens hit 3 years old is a good time to add kids.
My experience has been late summer/early fall chicks are more calm than spring/early summer kiddos.:)
This is all helpful - really. Being new with this, all of my research and thread-reading has been on the "beginning." The thought of one or more being startled and then flying/crashing into something and injuring or killing themselves has already almost happened. Our chickens are so skittish, that even if I softly toss some scratch near them in their run, they've freaked out and flew into the sides, crashing around. So, of course, I don't do that anymore.
 

Bodhisan

Chirping
Jul 11, 2020
61
91
76
Seattle area
If you"d like your next ones to be calm I suggest day olds and have them around you and yours as much as possible at least the first 6 weeks.
Use a puppy playpen with mesh sides on ground level to brood in.
Sounds crazy, 100% works though.
Almost forgot when your hens hit 3 years old is a good time to add kids.
My experience has been late summer/early fall chicks are more calm than spring/early summer kiddos.:)


And, you know, we got these chickens when they were 3-4 weeks old, and while we attempted to befriend them, it didn't go real well, so we abandoned even trying - it seemed to stress them too much (they were born in June). I like your idea of the playpen, though I am leaning towards wanting to integrate a "brooder" (with heating pad) inside the coop somehow, but was planning on spending lots of time with them on a daily basis so that they aren't scared of my wife and me.

I meant to tell you, too, that I liked hearing that most of yours have been discovered in the morning, haven "fallen" from the roost...but isn't that how we all want to go?
 

Chickie friend

Songster
Aug 9, 2020
313
866
206
Central TX
What breed(s) are they?

Some breeds are quite volatile and may get nervous being kept in a (tight) run space where they may not be able to live their innate trait for roaming widely. Vitamin deficiency (i.e. B vitamins) can also lead to nervous behaviour as well as inbreeding.
RIR x leghorn is what the OP was told
 

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