Silkie hens - when are they "over the hill".

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TreeHugger, Jul 26, 2008.

  1. TreeHugger

    TreeHugger Songster

    Apr 7, 2008
    I have a small flock of Silkies. I’m going through my spring chicks & picking out who stays & who goes. The problem is for every young pullet that stays one of my older hens needs to go. Some of my Silkie hens are 3 to 4 years old but are still beauties. How old are they before they are no longer beneficial to the flock (egg-laying & sitting)? I know that some of the egg producing breeds are only good for a few years, are Silkies the same?
  2. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    when are they "over the hill".

    When they're under it...

    But that's just me...

    Egg production goes way down after the first couple of years. But my 5 year old Leghorn still lays from March to July every year.

    Miss MoneyPenny was only around 2 years old when I lost her, so I can't really say about how Silkies go.​
  3. emeraldquill

    emeraldquill In the Brooder

    Apr 15, 2008
    My 4 silkie girls are pets first and foremost so for me the selection of 'who isn't any use now' will never take place.
    Mine lay on and off when they feel like it and to be honest setting up the run/coup etc and the feed isn't cheap.If all I wanted was the eggs with no attachment to the birds themselves....why keep them?.....just buy free range eggs from somewhere else!
    I could never discard any animal just because it wasn't producing something beneficial to me....they always 'give something back' despite being old or needing more care.
    Guess thats why I could never deal with animals on a 'business' level!
    Just my view on keeping animals of course.... for what it's worth.
    Glad I didn't marry a farmer [​IMG]
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    I find my silkies rather "useless" in the egg production department because they just keep on thinking rocks will hatch. Like other birds though, they'll start to slow down in production at 2-3 years of laying, but rarely will totally stop till they get a bit older. Since every individual is different, see if you can't evaluate them as such. An older one who doesn't raise chicks well or has ceased to lay might be first to go, unless of course she's that lawn ornament you just can't part with. Usefulness is in the eye of the beholder really so how each manages their flock is up to them.
  5. priszilla

    priszilla Songster

    Jan 12, 2008
    easley sc
    I don't know- my oldest silkies are 3- and still lay. But they are not layers per se. I have a 4 year old EE/game mix that lays very consistently.
  6. Blisschick

    Blisschick not rusty

    Feb 20, 2007
    Shepherd, Texas
    Quote:Tell me about it! [​IMG]

    My theory is maybe mine will lay longer since they've been storing up those eggs for so long! [​IMG]
  7. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    my three are about six or seven years old and the last few weeks I have been getting three eggs a day out of three girls. One seems to be thinking about going broody, so I am down one egg a day. I like the smaller eggs because they are just about right to chop up and put in my finch flights, no waste. I also give extras to the low income people I see from my work and they are greatly appreciated. I mostly want the silkies to set copper black marans eggs, so for me, the broodier the better come fall. Bring on the broodies! I pamper them like little racehorses when they are setting the eggs so they don't lose condidion and always feel comfortable and safe.
  8. silkieluver_07

    silkieluver_07 Songster

    Jan 31, 2008
    Since silkies arent a production breed, I would only get rid of the ones that arent good broodies. But IMHO no one can ever have too many silkies!
  9. Windy Ridge

    Windy Ridge Songster

    Oct 3, 2007
    Something to consider, too, is what you want to breed into your flock. (Are you breeding...?)

    For me, I would much rather keep an old hen who has slowed down in her laying but who is friendly to her humans and gets along with the reat of the flock without fussiness. I'd love to continue to hatch her eggs, even if they are fewer than when she was young. Or she may have been a survivor of an infection that killed some of your other layers; perhaps she has some inborn immunity.

    Just the fact that she has remained healthy for so long counts for something. When you cull out hens as soon as they reach a few years old because you're afraid they may slow down, you never get to see if they actually do. You can choose to breed hens that have a greater long term production if you are patient. Chickens can continue to lay (at reduced rates) for a very, very long time.

    I agree with Silkie Chicken: treat each as an individual, but also think of what she can bring to your flock (and your life) in the future.
  10. tnkinhunting

    tnkinhunting Songster

    Feb 7, 2008
    East Tennessee
    Very well put Windy Ridge! I agree completely.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: