Tell me about you older hens, please

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by horsewishr, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. horsewishr

    horsewishr Songster

    Jul 7, 2007
    West Michigan
    As a spin-off about my "long-term planning" post, I was wondering if the more experienced chicken wranglers out there can tell me about their older hens. Specifically, how old are your girls, and how frequently do they lay. I've read that laying slows down after two years--but how drastically? And does two years mean 2 years of age, or two years of laying??

    Do the girls that live longer tend to lay longer, too? Or could I wind up with a 15 year old hen that hasn't layed in 13 years!?! [​IMG]

    Color me confused [​IMG]
  2. Smoky73

    Smoky73 Lyon Master

    Feb 8, 2007
    The oldest hens I have are about 5 years old. I am not getting many eggs out of them. I have one white egg layer and 4 brown layers that are about 5 and one brown that is 2 years old. I get a few eggs a week from the white layer, (probably about 2 or 3, but its hot right now too) and a few brown. I see my large cochins in the nest boxes, so I am sure that they are laying still and they still brood quite well! I dont think I have gotten a egg from my light brahma hen in quite some time. She is called "grandma" and she wheezes alot in this heat.
    I get enough eggs to keep me in supply though.
  3. horsewishr

    horsewishr Songster

    Jul 7, 2007
    West Michigan
    Are your oldest hens 5 because you got your first hens five years ago? Or are they not living past age 5? I've heard 4-7 is "average," but I have no idea how wide the range is. Somebody told me the other day that chickens can live to be 25--but I'm not sure I believe him.
  4. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    The oldest chicken I actually know of was 18, and she raised a batch of babies every spring.
    The oldest hen I personally have owned was 11 when she died. Up until she got sick, she still laid about every other day or so, although she was an Australorp, and they do lay well. I have had other hens of various ages, and I've never had a hen totally stop laying unless it was ill or in moult.
    Commercial laying operations will cull after the first season, because they don't want to feed the birds during the unproductive moulting time.
    Many breeders prefer to breed from older hens, as they have shown that they are genetically able to fight disease and are survivors.
    Currently the best layer in my little flock is a four year old NHR. She lays about every 20 hours or so, the poor little girl! I wish she'd give herself a break!
    I keep everybody; even if they aren't laying as well as I might like, they still eat lots of bugs, and doing chicken chores keeps me out of trouble! [​IMG]
  5. chickiebird

    chickiebird In the Brooder

    Jun 16, 2007
    Annapolis Valley
    My sister had a flock of chickens that came to her hwhen they were at least 5-6 years old, and she had some of them for 10 years. They kept laying right up until the end. They were no particular breed, just "mutt" chickens!
  6. I have 2 Barred Rock hens left from the girls that came with me when I married and moved from GA to SC --- one is 11 and one is 12 (I used to be able to tell which was which, but they are just 'the old girls' now).
    This spring they were laying 3 JUMBO eggs each weekly, not laying at all right now.
    I can tell they aren't as spritely lately. Some mornings they sit in the coop on the roost working up enthusiam just to jump down (I think the jump down must hurt their old legs).
    I hope they both live another 10 years --- doesn't matter to me if they never lay another egg [​IMG]
    I didn't think to keep track of when their laying started to decline. They were laying 5-ish eggs each a week up til they were 8 / 9 .
    Good luck with your hens [​IMG]

  7. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    wow, Lisa, that is awesome! A testimony to how well your girls are cared for.
  8. horsewishr

    horsewishr Songster

    Jul 7, 2007
    West Michigan
    Wonderful! I'm so encouraged to hear these replies, since we plan on keeping our girls forever.

    My RIR is starting to get redder in the comb, and is developing some wattles. So I'm hoping to see our first egg soon.

    My husband, who was not excited about getting hens, is now asking me to order him a book on chicken-keeping. He's smitten! [​IMG]
  9. [​IMG] More of a testimony to what super birds they are, that they thrived thru it all
    Watching a flock of Barred Rocks is like watching a herd of Zebras, or something equally exotic --- nearly hypnotizing.
  10. Frozen Feathers

    Frozen Feathers Songster

    May 4, 2007
    My oldest is a 6 year old Japanese Bantam. She lays probably 2 or 3 eggs a week and is a live wire! Completely phyco, very vocal and has no problem putting the bigger hens in their place. I don't see her slowing down any time soon. [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: