Older chickens not laying - when do they stop completely?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 4urbanchicks, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. 4urbanchicks

    4urbanchicks Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2010
    We have 3 hens that are between 21 months to 23 months in age. The first winter we had them they slowed down in egg production but still layer through the winter months, with no supplemental lighting. This time they stopped laying in November, and as of today (Feb 11) we have had no eggs. Two of the hens molted in November, but seem to be back to fully feathered and looking normal. We feel organic layer feed and supplement with corn scratch (just started doing that one week ago). The breeds we have are Welsummer, Americana and Silkie/Cochin Bantam. Have our hens just gotten too old to lay, and should we expect that maybe in spring they will start again? At what age do hens usually completely stop laying? Are they maybe to this point and that's why they stopped?

    We have them housed in a chicken tractor with a supplemental run, so they have access to grass and exercise! However, we got them for egg production, so this egg strike has been really frustrating!

    Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated!
  2. allpeepedout

    allpeepedout Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2011
    Southern Indiana
    I think they will resume laying sometime soon but at a reduced rate than last year. I'm reading they drop 12% in laying each year from previous, but seems each strain and individual can vary greatly. My resumed laying a lot in just the last few days. Good luck.
  3. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2008
    You only have 3 hens so the law of averages doesn't really work for you. However it is unlikely that you would get a bum hen in three different breeds.
    If the hens are looking good, their combs are red, and it's been months, I'd say it's time to experiment. Try the cayenne pepper method. Mix enough cayenne pepper into their feed until it looks a bit rusty. You can't hurt them and it may speed up their metabolism and make eggs.
    Then again, it might not. Your mileage may vary.
  4. 4urbanchicks

    4urbanchicks Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2010
    they actually look incredibly healthy, which just makes it that much more of a ??? that they are not back laying again. Nice red combs, glossy feathers, running around all happy. Has anyone else tried the Cayenne pepper? My boss suggested give them corn scratch because it is a "hot" food and would help them start laying. I know that some foods can speed up your metabolism in humans, like green tea, etc., but I don't know much about chicken metabolism so I am counting on other chicken experts on this site to help me out!
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    They'll almost all return to laying in spring when the days lengthen and their hormones respond. 2-3 year old hens are not THAT old. Sure, their production usually drops a bit each year, as they age, but most breeds lay OK through year 3. I believe you've got a good laying season coming up.

    That said, you'd be very wise to consider a bunch of "spring chicks" to assure a good laying season next fall and winter. First year pullets are the winter layers. This is how those who have an egg business keep going and keep supplying their customers. We are such folks, and we always have such pullets coming "on line". Older hens are nice, but are very unreliable in the out-years for winter eggs.
  6. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Great post!

    I agree completely.
  7. 4urbanchicks

    4urbanchicks Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2010
    We can't really add any additional hens to our flock. We live on a city lot, and the tractor we have really can't accommodate more than 3 hens without being over crowded. We'd have to give up some of the hens we already have, and since we just have the three that we raised from chicks, we're very attached to them. My daughters would never agree to it! At some point we'll have to probably give them up, when they are too old to lay at all, but I was hoping we were not to that point yet! And when we do get to that point, we'll have to find an "old folks chicken home" to take them to! lol But, I'm still up for suggestions!
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Realistically, most keepers of hens face this same predicament. With all the chicks that people oogle over, the fact is? Chickens grow old. Not everyone will keep adding and adding as well as sponsor an old chicken's home. Pets are one thing, but people like their own pets, not someone else's nearly as much.

    If old hens are given away, the odds are great they will be eaten Just the reality.
  9. StarLover21

    StarLover21 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2011
    My six year old hen lays 5 eggs a week! They'll start again, don't worry.

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