Older Chickens That Stop Laying / Slow Down Laying Eggs

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Nifty-Chicken, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    Hey All,

    Questions about chickens as they get older:

    1) Is there a name for this? Seems like there is a name / term for everything? Is it just called "old age" and "fewer eggs"?
    2) In general (I know it varies by breed) but what ages do chickens slow down / stop laying eggs?
    3) Do you keep your egg layers forever / until they die naturally, or do you cull them for younger chickens who produce more eggs? 4) If you do cull them, at what age do you do so?

    My girls are all a few years away from me even considering this, but I was thinking about it and thought I'd ask the group.

  2. ncboman

    ncboman In the Brooder

    Feb 14, 2007
    that's twice I've written a reply and it got lost in cyberspace and didn't post. :mad:

    I once killed an older hen I thought was moochin and when I dressed her there were oogles of eggs on the way. Gave me pause from then on. [​IMG]

    I don't know the term if there is one.

  3. 'Spent layer' is the term for a hen past the prime of egg laying. Generally it's the first 2 cycles of lay that are the best. By the time they molt for the 3rd time they are slowing up. It is as individual as it is breed dependant however, at least for my flock.

    So if your going to cull for soup (and old hens are the strongest for broth they say) you want to do it when the hen is in good weight late in the lay cycle. Some do the 2nd cycle some do the third. Some hens here will be pets forever, some will not. I have had hens that never set into lay by that winter and I processed them with the excess roos. While they may well have come into lay really late that is not a tendancy that I wish to have passed on.
  4. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    'Spent layer'... perfect! Thanks for that April and all your other info. I guess that half of my girls are technically going into their 3rd cycle. I think if the egg drop off is noticeable I'll start thinking about trading up. [​IMG]

    How long do other members let their girls go? I'd love to get a plethora of opinions.
  5. jimnjay

    jimnjay Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Bryant Alabama
    It is just my husband and myself so lots of eggs are not critical to us. I do pass them along to my sons and their families. Two hens who laid 4 eggs per week each would take care of our egg needs but I love to have a varied flock and I do feed my chickens eggs for extra protein and animal fat. With that being said, I hatch replacement layers each year. At least that is the excuse I am using. LOL. I don't necessarily replace the ones I have but I try to keep fresh hens each year. If one of my hens is prone to being nasty to the young ones, she goes. If they are nice and accomodating to the new ones, then they can stay. It sounds cruel but my layers are not my pets, those are the Silkies and Sizzles. I currently have 25 chickens all different ages so we have plenty of eggs to share. There are lots of hungry people who live nearby and I donate to the food bank and DH has some people he works with that are really struggling and they appreciate the eggs.

    Having fresh food is the main reason I got the chickens to start with, all the rest of the crazy addiction has developed since I got discovered BYC. I still try to maintain a realistic outlook regarding the poultry. DH will not eat a chicken that we raised from a baby or one that he knows lived here. He never had a problem shooting geese, doves and ducks and eating them, go figure! Because of his aversion, I don't process the spent or culled layers or extra roosters but that would be my first choice. We always had fresh home grown chicken at my grandparents farm when I was growing up and I remember how good it was. That was the only chicken I would eat for years.

    I raise the bantams to sell eggs for hatching and I feel I have make enough to feed them. Of course it does not include meds, feeders, coops and all the other things, that is just part of the hobby. As with any hobby, there is always an expense but the therapy value is what count. I also quilt and the chickens are still cheaper and much easier. I have replaced some of my little hens but they found very nice homes and I usualy have some extra young ones each year that I give awayor sell as they don't fit my goals in breeding. These little ones earn their keep incubating the eggs I want to hatch for layer replacements or the bantam breeders.

    Having fresh food has become a bonus to a very rewarding hobby. I love the work, I love the birds and I spend lots of time each day with my chickens. I hate to loose one or to part with any of them but learning to keep a balance with this addiction is an important part of this wonderful pastime.

    I am not sure if all this information is what you were looking for, Nifty, but I hope it helps its just one womans approach to owning chickens.
  6. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    Thanks Jaynie, I appreciate your comments. I want to hear a bunch of member's thoughts since this is usually something that has to be considered at one point or another.

    Part of me thinks, "Cull them once they really slow down." The other part of me says, "Hold on to them until they die naturally."

    Anybody else have this conflict?
  7. allen wranch

    allen wranch Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    San Marcos, TX
    Big conflict for me.

    Half of my flock are my original birds and they are four years old. Of course I am getting fewer eggs from them, but I don't eat my birds so I guess I am running a retirement home for "spent" layers. I do add a few new birds ever year so my flock age varies. A good example is my almost blind four year old Polish hen. I think she laid one egg in the last six months, but I could never get rid of goofy Phyllis Diller !
  8. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  9. Ms E

    Ms E In the Brooder

    Jan 11, 2007
    I'm kinda like Carla. While I no longer have my original 4 girls, I do have 2 of the 3 of the first I raised by hand - 3-4 years old. They still lay some and are fantastic broodies and the very best Moms. Each year I also hatch a few new ones to keep the laying up. I've sent some of the excess roosters for processing and will trade out a couple more extra boys this spring. Otherwise they live a 'retired' life of comfort.

  10. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    First off, my birds are my pets...so they're gonna go naturally. Hopefully in their sleep or if not, then with a full gizzard of whatever their fave treat is.
    Obelisk will be 4 in May. She laid last year from the first week of February until the last week of June and nothing since. She moulted which took forever too.

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