So many questions...


6 Years
Apr 26, 2013
I have a flock of 7 chickens. One Rhode Island Red, four Isa Brown, one Amber Link and a Seabright Bantam. I got them all at the same time and they've all been together. They are 1 1/2 years old. Last fall they began eating their own eggs. This we made it so the eggs exited the coop and they couldn't do it anymore. Now I notice I'm getting a deformed egg each day, they shell is soft and easily breakable on one side. I also get one with a meat spot everyday. I have no idea who is laying these but I suspect the Isa Browns. They went through a rough winter last year but all survived. I wonder if this shortened their laying span. What to do with these birds? What does everyone do in the long-term with their hens when they aren't laying well anymore? How long do they usually lay in their life? Thanks!
You have a multitude of choices: Open a geriatric wing on your coop. Or you could give them away. They will be non-productive birds in someone elses flock, or end up in their stew pot. Or you could eat them. Sounds crass, but, that's just an other aspect of keeping chickens. Some people are not comfortable with that, and I can understand why. Every hen is different. some of the production birds are done at 18-24 months, others may lay for 3 years... perhaps a bit longer, but at a reduced productivity rate. Heritage birds will give you slightly fewer eggs/year, spread out over more years than the production birds will... statistically speaking. This is why a lot of chicken keepers renew a portion of their flock every year, to keep productivity up.

I agree with Lazy Gardener. It depends on what kind of chickens you have. Do you have pet chickens, who will be living there into their retirement? Do you have enough room or the financial resources to feed non or poorly producing birds for potentially 6-8 years? Or, do you have chickens that are livestock, and need to be producing to justify the expense of keeping them? Here, the hens get butchered and pressure-canned. Others will keep them until they die "naturally" (or of some disease or deformity that comes with age for chickens) It really depends on your goals for your flock.

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