Older hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by OHbluecoop, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. OHbluecoop

    OHbluecoop Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok I have some older hens in individual pens to see if they are still laying. Do they have to have a nesting box in there to lay and how many days would you give them before you culled them?
    Not to be cruel but I cant afford to keep feeding if they arent producing....
     
  2. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow, it really depends on how much stress they underwent to get them into the pens. I would put a nest box similar to what they're supposed to have been laying in inside the pen with them. It may make sense to actually give them less time--something like a few days--because the stress may not have had a direct impact on egg laying yet. Often hens that have just moved homes will lay a few days, then quit for a little while because of the stress. So give them maybe a week, then cull. IMO. I cull everyone over 3yrs unless they pass this pen test (my version is a little different, I just sit and stare for hours until I either watch her enter the box and lay an egg or not) or they prove useful in some other way.
     
  3. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    I would put a nesting box in there just because it makes them happier. How old are the hens? Remember upsetting them can make them stop laying even if they were, so they may stop laying just because you moved them, especially this time of year a lot of hens will quit or slow down anyhow because of molting and the shortening daylight.
     
  4. OHbluecoop

    OHbluecoop Out Of The Brooder

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    They are two years old born March of 2011, all my chickens are cage free, free range and have wood nesting boxes hung on the wall of my coop. There is a roost in the coop and they come in at night and I usually close the coop at night, so in the morning I just come out and catch which hens I want to check and see if she is laying, so some stress to catch, and I have some large individual pens in the coop. I wont be able to put the exact nesting boxes in there because my nesting boxes are wood in a row, not individual ones.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  5. CinnamonQueen

    CinnamonQueen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Two years old sounds awful early to cull to me... Not that I've had any experience with this, but still...
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Anything can work for a nest box. Mine are Rubbermaid tubs, milk crates, an old plastic tub from my kids' toys, things like that.
     
  7. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    How many hens do you have? What I often do if I want to see what pullets are laying (usually to see if EEs are laying green eggs) if I am home I check the nesting boxes often and put anybody I catch in them into a crate/pen with a nesting box and wait until they lay an egg, then I note the chicken (mine are wing banded, but you could just mark your someway). If I don't have time for that I will put them in separate cages the night before, but it does upset some of them. With the commercial birds they seem to expect about 90% lay at a year and 70% at two years (% of birds that will lay an egg for the day in a large flock), and it keeps going down as they get older. Any of yours that are going into molt will not lay for a couple of months, possibly until spring if you don't have additional lighting, pullets usually keep laying without extra light their first winter.
     
  8. ronott1

    ronott1 Daily Digest Guru Premium Member

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    Unless they have Mareks or some other type of illness, they will keep laying well past two years. They may be molting which all chickens do in the Fall after the first year. If you get real hungry you could cull one and make chicken and Dumplings but I would not cull any of them in the Fall. Wait until Spring time of their third year to do the pen test to see if they are laying or not.
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    But then you have to feed a non-producing bird all winter.

    I agree, hens lay well past their 2nd year, but for a lot of folks it's time to cull in the fall. Many of us either can't or choose not to feed non-producing birds over the winter. I've had older birds that lay fairly well, but they never reach production of that first year or two.
     
  10. ronott1

    ronott1 Daily Digest Guru Premium Member

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    Molting lasts about 4 weeks and then they start laying again. If they are not Winter layers, then give them supplemental light and they will lay all winter.

    Two year old hens are too young to cull.
     

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