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Starting out with egglayers, question?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HokieBird, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. HokieBird

    HokieBird In the Brooder

    Jan 27, 2009
    Waxhaw NC
    I am planning my first small flock and getting pretty excited. My question is, if I start with 3-6 hens as egglayers and family pets, how often do you think I will need to add to the flock as they age/die? What is your experience over time. Do you add to the flock and keep for life, or sell off as they age?
    I am not going into this adventure for meat, just eggs and for the fun of having chickens, but would like a couple dozen eggs per week on average.
    Thanks for all your help and advice!

  2. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    I keep my layers 2 or 3 years at the most, and then sale them. Replacing them with younger birds I raise. [​IMG]
  3. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I keep my girls for their life. I have started with chicks. It's so much fun to watch them grow and develop their personalities. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. FractalFarmer

    FractalFarmer Songster

    Oct 31, 2008
    SF Bay area CA
    I wondered the same thing. I will definitely keep my birds for their lifespan, but early on I was thinking that I would need to add new birds every couple of years to maintain a productive flock. Then I realized that I probably won't be able to stop myself from adding new chicks at least yearly. So my question went from "how many birds do I need to add to replace the layers", to "how many birds can I possibly keep in my backyard?" [​IMG]

    I'm still interested in the answer, just academically. How much does laying diminish after the second year? Can three older layers produce as much as (say) two young 'uns? Or is it more like half or less?
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    It's all a personal choice. My oldest hens are over three years old and every one is still laying several eggs each week. I have varying ages, down to eight months old, about 42 hens/pullets. We are getting, without light to keep them laying in winter, about 28 eggs every day, way more than we need for ourselves. My older girls will just be with me till they are ready for the Old Hens' Home, though some people would have sold them off already, but mine are pets, not just livestock. Yes, they'll lay fewer and fewer eggs as they age, but keeping them in tip-top shape will be insurance that they'll keep on for years, IMO, albeit at a reduced rate of lay.
  6. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady

    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    We keep our faithful hens for life but are always going to buy more pullets as the others age. In 10 years we may have expanded to let them roam over on the neighbor's land. [​IMG]
  7. Pinky

    Pinky Songster

    Nov 15, 2008
    South GA
    I still have my first hens which are 4 years old now and they still lay as if I just got them.I still added alot to my flocks,but never got rid of any hens.

  8. gardener

    gardener Songster

    Oct 8, 2007
    Willamette Valley
    The key word here in your post is "family pets" If you have small children it might be hard to explain why you are selling off buffy and tweetie. They will lay for most of their life it just gets less and less as the years go by.
    I would add a few new hens every 4 or so years to keep you with plenty of eggs.
    Dont forget, although the egg production goes down. They still make good composters and bug eaters and fertilizer makers and very nice yard decorations.
  9. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    Go with what Cyn said.

    For just a few hens as you intend, there arent many really hard and fast rules. "Get em going and get to know them" is probably the best advice.

    For most people who are into serious egg laying flocks, however, it's commonly recommended that you plan to refresh your flock starting in the 2nd season. This is done by culling the poorly producing hens and adding the best pullets from the current year. This requires you to maintain two flocks, the ongoing one and the "New Crew."

    It's all very precise and stringent to do all this, when what you really want are just a few yard birds.
  10. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    [​IMG] David, you're back! Glad to see you again.

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