Productivity drop upon aging?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tulie13, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. tulie13

    tulie13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2009
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    I have a mixture of BO and EE's mostly, with one Speckled Sussex. I got the first batch in 2009 so they are about 2-1/2 years old now. 12 hens, 6 BO, 5 EE and 1 SS.

    I got some more in 2010, in two separate batches, Spring and Fall - total 8 EE and 1 BO from these two batches.

    So my mature "laying" hens total 21. I have been getting ZERO eggs for a long time, just recently started getting 3-4 a day again, most of them green so it's the EE's who are laying. I see mostly my newest EE's going into the boxes to lay, at least when I catch someone in the box it seems like it's mostly them.

    So basically all of my BO's are not laying for almost 3 months now, I think. They all did molt but they are WELL past that and all fully feathered in, looking good. I did feed some extra protein now and then while they were molting, not every day but occasionally.

    I chose BO's because they are "dual purpose" birds, but I intended to keep them laying for as long as possible before having to get rid of slackers. I knew that hens lay "the best" in their first two years, usually "an egg a day most days", and then production can drop off some. I had heard that RIR lay like CRAZY the first couple of years and then stop, so I got the BO's and EE's because I didn't want to be into production mode of having to raise new chicks every year or two and replace my older layers (who would only be 2 years old!!!!!).

    But it seems like my BO's are done, at least the 2-1/2 year old ones. I get ONE brown egg about every 8-10 days lately, and I think it's from the Spring 2010 BO.

    Are my 2-1/2 year old hens DONE???

    I feed them standard laying pellets, try to keep oyster shell grit available (sometimes I don't keep it full but usually there is some). I also feed them occasional treats of leaves/greens because they can't really free range. But 90+% of what they eat is regular chicken food, not table scraps or stale bread, but commercially-formulated regular LAYING PELLETS.

    Any ideas? PLEASE SOMEONE TELL ME - am I just going through a long molt and need to be patient, or ARE THEY DONE? [​IMG] I don't wanna whack my older girls but I can't afford to feed them if they will never lay again!!!!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If feeding a rather large group of older hens without getting eggs is a struggle, you could add additional, supplemental lighting. Don't believe you mentioned that. First year pullets lay fairly well without it, but as the hen ages, she's much more likely to be photo reactive and slow way, way down in the late fall and early winter.

    Older hens slow down and often take longer to come out of moult. Sounds like you are feeding them well. The choice is completely yours as to cull or continue with them another year. Supplement light or not. Flock management involves choices and decisions.
     
  3. tulie13

    tulie13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Fred's Hens :

    If feeding a rather large group of older hens without getting eggs is a struggle, you could add additional, supplemental lighting. Don't believe you mentioned that. First year pullets lay fairly well without it, but as the hen ages, she's much more likely to be photo reactive and slow way, way down in the late fall and early winter.

    Older hens slow down and often take longer to come out of moult. Sounds like you are feeding them well. The choice is completely yours as to cull or continue with them another year. Supplement light or not. Flock management involves choices and decisions.

    If I don't supplement light, shouldn't they at least lay ONE egg every 2-3 days? I'm not worried about pushing them for the fabled 1 hen x 1 day = 1 egg, but without supplemental lighting, can I expect to get ANY eggs again from them?​
     
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    My four older girls are the same age as yours, and I'm getting no eggs either (one is a BO). Mine have not recovered from their molts though, and it takes longer and longer for that recovery as they age. I fully expect them to lay again, but I know it'll be a while. Their first year they laid great through the cold, short days, because they were new layers. Last winter, they laid really well, but did take a month or 6 weeks off during their molts. This year, I fully expect them to take up to three months off due to their age and the short days. My one bird (a normally great laying BR) is mostly recovered from her molt, which has taken at least a month and a half so far, and I expect her to be out of commission for a few more weeks. The other mature girls I don't expect to lay again until Jan. or so... But by spring, I think I'll still get an egg every other day or so from each of them.
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Perhaps not.

    We've had older hens not lay again until March. Again, lighting is a choice. Hens raised near the equator never experience the dramatic shifts of long days to short days that experience in the northern hemisphere. If you choose to add supplemental lighting, I'd suggest you use a timer, adding a half hour a day until you have it come on at 5 am. Within two weeks, you should see some result. Or, you could just wait until spring and let nature take its course.
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    BO and EE's mostly, with one Speckled Sussex.

    This is your primary problem. Neither of the first two breeds listed are known for high productivity or longevity of lay. You might try RIRs, Black Aussies, White Rocks, Barred Rocks, New Hampshires or similar breeds that are both dual purpose and known for the traits you desire.

    The BOs and EEs I had were among the first culled from my existing working flock....the rest of the breeds I mentioned are in their 5th year of laying and are laying every day or every other day in peak laying seasons.​
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Southern Oregon
    I don't expect my hens that age to lay again until spring. They usually lay through that first winter then take the winters off, in my experience with no supp lighting. They lay great the next spring and summer, maybe a little less than that first year but probably five eggs a week each. They quit again the next winter, then start the next spring.
     
  8. SkyWarrior

    SkyWarrior Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Wilds of Montana
    11 of my hens (EE, RIR, BR, BLCM and BO) are 1 1/2 years old and many are in molt. I have 4 Barnevelders who lay every 2-3 days. The rest are pullets too young to lay. I'm getting 1-2 eggs a day, if lucky. Occasionally, I might get 3-4 or zero.

    I have lighting on 24x7. The drop in production came with the drop in temperatures. I suspect this is normal. [​IMG]

    Man, I'm going to be glad to have the pullets laying soon. This month, I figure. [​IMG]
     
  9. tulie13

    tulie13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:This is your primary problem. Neither of the first two breeds listed are known for high productivity or longevity of lay. You might try RIRs, Black Aussies, White Rocks, Barred Rocks, New Hampshires or similar breeds that are both dual purpose and known for the traits you desire.

    The BOs and EEs I had were among the first culled from my existing working flock....the rest of the breeds I mentioned are in their 5th year of laying and are laying every day or every other day in peak laying seasons.

    I have heard that RIR's are good for productivity but not longevity of lay - is that the case or am I misinformed? I did get some RIR's this year, but they are only 2 months old and not laying yet. You think I can expect better LONG TERM results from them?

    I'm not shooting for 1 egg a day from everyone or they're going to get whacked. But if they quit laying eggs TOTALLY after 2 years, I don't want to keep them, can't afford to! I'm OK with even a 3-4 month slowdown, as long as I can expect them to come back on line at some point. And again, I don't expect a 3-year-old hen to lay an egg a day. But I would like to know more about what I might expect.

    I am OK with being patient for another month, I love my little fluffy-butts, and I DON'T want to get rid of them. But if I can't expect to get ANY more eggs from them, I can't afford to keep them. If I have to wait another month (it's been 2-1/2 to 3 months since production dropped off!!) and then I can only expect 1 egg every 2 days, I can live with that. I'm just worried. [​IMG]

    THANKS everyone for the feedback!!! [​IMG]
     
  10. tulie13

    tulie13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Found a sticky post at the top with a GOOD CHART in it - it shows first year production as "100%", second year down to 80%, third year at around 60%, declining more slowly after that. If that's typical, I'm fine with hanging onto my girls for several years - I am OK with 40-60% production because I like them. [​IMG]
     

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