"Old" hens: production in yrs. 2, 3 and on...?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chickenmaven, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. Chickenmaven

    Chickenmaven Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 6, 2009
    I have birds that are 6 months old and 1.5 to 2 years. The older hens are molting; the young ones not yet laying and overall production is wayyyy down. When the oldsters come out of this slump, will they go back to their previous high levels of production?

    I have heard that "old" hens do not lay "as much". What can I expect?
  2. GrannySue

    GrannySue Chillin' With My Peeps

    My old girls are about 3 1/2 yrs now and only 1 is laying, every 3 days or so. They're Hyline/production chickens, designed to lay fast and furious and then stop. Poor things are quite unnatural, they've never molted and none has ever gone broody. They won't be culled because I just keep them as a hobby.
    I have a couple of mutts, one is molting right now (she looks pathetic, poor thing) so isn't laying. Her friend hasn't produced lately either.
    My Buff Orp has just started her molt - no eggs.
    2 Australorps are still pumping out one a day but I expect that will slow down as winter approaches.

    I also attribute the lack of eggs to lack of light. No electricity to the henhouse and it's dark by 4:15 these days. I live in the shadow of a high hill so it gets dark even before dark!
  3. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    I keep a mix of hybrid layers and RIRs / RIR-mutts. The hybrids start laying earlier, lay large eggs sooner, and lay an egg a day ... but they trail off earlier in life. The RIRs are not as productive in the short run, but lay over a longer span. Haven't been at this long enough to say how many years you could expect, though.

    Based on my limited experience, you should get back to about 80% production after the first molt as a rough guess, though I expect it's very breed/line specific.
  4. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I made some notes on a British study that showed the production of an "egg-strain domestic fowl moulted twice (at 60 weeks and 100 weeks of age)" from Principles of Poultry Science, by S.P. Rose.

    These were commercial layers carried thru 3 laying periods. The study was done to determine the economics of keeping hens this long, not out of sympathy for battery hens. "Layer-fatigue" can be a problem for these birds but, obviously, not enuf of a problem to make too much difference in the research.

    During the first laying period, production thru the months was between about 95% and 80%.
    The second laying period had production between about 85% and 70%.
    The third was between about 80% and 55% production.

    Commercial operations never let their birds get to that third laying period or have birds that are 140 weeks of age. Their profit margins are too small. You would have to decide if hens of that age would be valuable to you since, during their 3rd year, they are laying about one-third less eggs than young pullets. And remember, these were production layers and I bet the flock was culled carefully to eliminate, as best as could be determined, the birds that were not laying.

    And I've gotta be honest with you: I've never kept a hen (except 1 pet) that long either but I may do so with the current little flock.

  5. urban dreamer

    urban dreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2009
    Sherwood, AR
    My first hens were 2 years old when I bought them. I have been kinda wondering how thier production will look like later on too. I decided to get older hens because I wasn't confinent enough to raise chicks. Now I have an additional one year old and my first pullett. I really look forward to the spring and all the eggs everyone says I can expect!

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