questions about egg laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ccabal, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. ccabal

    ccabal Out Of The Brooder

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    I finally have my 4 hens laying now. I got them this spring, and 2 were laying first but the next 2 finally got going recently. I had put some lights to extend the daylight and I think that helped get them started. I've been getting on the average 3 eggs a day, with 4 occasionally.

    Recently I started reading about egg laying and hen lifespan, and how hens will lay good their first 2 or 3 years then slow down a lot, and how chickens pretty much will lay around 1000 or so eggs in their life, and how chickens can live up to 8 years easily.

    So thinking down the road... my kids and I love our hens and it would be VERY HARD for us to eat them once they quit laying. So they would basically be only pets then.
    So I have concluded that I would rather be able to extend their egg-laying life so that I can spread out the duration of the time I am getting eggs from them. Where I live we have a 4 hen limit, so getting more hens is not possible.

    So yesterday I took down the lights, so that maybe that will slow down their egg laying. I would be OK with 2 eggs a day average is that meant their "egg-lifetime" would be extended.

    But I was also wondering... is the "lay-pellet" food I am getting, is that also promoting them to lay more?
    What if I took them off of that? Would it slow them down? Any other tips for slowing down the egg production?

    Thanks,

    Christian
     
  2. hosspak

    hosspak Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The egg laying process is what they were bred for. Yes, we all love our chickens, because we made the mistake of naming them. lol Their nature is to lay eggs, eat, poop, then do it over and over again. They will lay eggs anyway and the lay pellets will provide what their bodies need as their bodies mature. If you don't feed them what their bodies need, they will eventually get malnourished and sick. You should also be giving them free-choice oyster/egg shells ground up to replenish what their bodies use during the egg making process. Chickens will seek out sources of nutrients that their bodies need (I know it's weird) calcium, protein, whatever. Feathers are high protein so chickens might start plucking each other just to get the protein they need, eggs are high in calcium, the girls could resort to eating each others eggs for the calcium. Lay pellets, scratch feed, foraging and other treats will provide everything that your mini-flock needs to be healthy and happy. Sadly, at some point our pets will die, that's nature, it happens so in a few years you will have to decide when the time comes to replace your chickens with younger egg layers or wait for the day that you find them dead inside the coop. I would like to think that when that time comes I can choose to have them processed for our dinner table.... We will see...
     
  3. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, you are correct regarding egg-laying and the longevity of the bird, and light can certainly cause them to speed up that cycle. Taking the light out will dip their production and should extend their laying. A rule of thumb to note is that every year most chickens will lay less eggs. The first years aren't really noticeable, but for example, a four year old hen will show age by laying twice a week on average. Your question, however, is really answered by the breed. There are a bunch of chicken breeds, and many of the heritage breeds will lay basically until their final days. Some chickens stop laying the year they die. Rhode Island Reds are a great example of a bird who spaces out their laying cycle with age. Hybrids and Sex Links on the other hand are strictly bred for laying eggs, and they have much shorter life spans than a heritage breed (usually). A hybrid can produce up to 300 eggs a year for 2-3 years, and then they really wind down, and most succumb to health problems. Eventually, what you will have to decide when you get more chickens is do you want a bird that will lay for more years at a lower rate, or do you want a bird that will lay eggs like a machine but have a shorter life and not be a great pet. I would say the production hens are more suitable, since you can only have 4 hens, so you will need output from the birds you own.
     
  4. ccabal

    ccabal Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the replies.
    I have a black sex-link, a RIR, a white EasterEgger, and an Americauna.

    So it seems I can expect my RIR to lay for a longer time, and my BSL will lay more often but have a shorter life?
    What about the Americauna and EE'ger ? What are they like?
     
  5. hosspak

    hosspak Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just a heads up, someone will expand on my opinion but check your spelling of Americauna. These could be the same as EE's and different from Ameraucanas.... There appears to be some confusion about this name.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    You might want to do some research on suddenly stopping your light for the girls. I'm not sure, but it might send them into a molt. Someone more knowledgeable than me needs to answer this question.
     
  7. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

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    I am not sure that the 1000 eggs in a lifetime is correct. I would think hens, like humans are hatched with a lot more eggs than that. It keeps getting repeated, but I'm not sure it's a fact.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Chickens are born with hundreds of thousands of ova that can be laid as an egg for your breakfast.
    Using supplemental light during winter will not make them 'run out of eggs' at a younger age.
    First year layers will likely lay thru winter without extra light, but older birds will probably not.
    Age alone can slow down the number of eggs laid each week, regardless of extra light or not, as can molting when they get past 18 months, depends on the individual chicken.

    You now have chickens, you will have to decide if you want to feed pets that don't produce, because eventually it will happen.

    Here's great article by an avian vet about supplemental lighting.
     
  9. ccabal

    ccabal Out Of The Brooder

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    aart,
    Thanks for posting that article. Its got some great information!!

    Just wanted to get a sense from people out there...
    How drastic is the drop-off in eggs once the hens hit 3 years? 4 years?
    What's the oldest hen that still layed at least 2 or 3 eggs a week?
     
  10. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Cindy,

    A lot of people use the 1000 egg marker as a estimate. Nobody in the conversation has stated this as a scientific fact. It is an easier number to latch on for most. Some will lay less than 1000, some will lay more, but when somebody uses this phrases, they do not mean that the chicken will stop at egg 1000.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013

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