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"They don't lay as much after year 3." What?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BayCityBabe, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. BayCityBabe

    BayCityBabe Songster

    May 1, 2008
    There are many comments on this forum about how hens only have X number of eggs to lay in their lives; how some evil production facilities (and some farmers) only keep birds for a year or so; and how hens live and lay **some** eggs for years and years.

    What can a backyard flockster really, really expect? Do hens lay 50% or 60% of their eggs in the first year? First 18 months??? My birds are a couple years old and between their molt & these age related declines, I have seen productivity dive. I know that we are all supposed to value these girls as pets first, right? Okay, I am down with that. But I want to know if anyone has tracked age related declines in productivity. Whether anyone has the objectivity to state that X number of hens laid this # of eggs in year one and year two, yet in year 4 or 5 or whatever, the hens were basically freeloaders.

    C'mon experts, chime in!!!! [​IMG]


  2. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Here's a link to some info about the decrease in eggs over a hens lifetime.


    OK the link doesn't work, but can be pasted into your browser.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I've never kept a hen (except 1 pet) past 2 years. I may change that schedule with my current flock. At least some of them are doing great in their 2nd laying period and I now have reason to think that may continue.

    Imp, I've seen just about that same information in Principles of Poultry Science, by S. P. Rose. I made some notes on a British study cited and the charts on production looked, more or less, the same.

    - During the first laying period, daily production thru the months was between about 95% and 80%.
    - The second laying period had daily production between about 85% and 70%.
    - The third, production was between about 80% and 55%.

    Commercial operations never allow their birds get to that third laying period. Their profit margins are too small. Hens, during their 3rd year, are laying about one-third less eggs than young pullets. And remember, these were production layers and I bet the flock was culled carefully to eliminate, as best as could be determined, the birds that were not laying.


    edited to add: A female chick hatchs with what is essentially "infinite" potential to lay eggs. I say infinite because she will never live long enough to lay out the 500,000 or so immature ova that have been counted in a chick's ovary. She will stop laying at some time if she lives long enough. That she has become unproductive has to do with something other than that she has "run out of eggs," however. Probably, her hormonal responses that prompt egg development just do not last all that many years.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
  4. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Quote:That was a real interesting read. Thanks
  5. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I have some four year old hens, a miracle, really since about half of my hatchery hens have died from internal laying and ovarian infections. They still lay several times a week when not molting, I'd say 3-4 times each week. Alot depends on the breed and the overall health of your flock.
  6. gsim

    gsim Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Have heard of the lasting up to 8 years, but at that time, egg production is often almost nil. We want all of ours to be lifers so we hope that they are always layers to some degree. Reader's' Digest book about how to do all kinds of practical things has a page on poultry and says for max efficiency, butcher hens 3rd year after molt begins or possible wintertime slowdown.
  7. cybercat

    cybercat Songster

    May 22, 2007
    Greeneville, Tn
    Your non production line will last the longest. What some called heritage stock which is the older line stock. Other call them non show breeder stock. Show stock will have really bad production as it is mostly bred out of them. What you end up with in these lines is chickens that will not lay a huge amount the first year but will lay for many years after. Those that lay alot of eggs the first year go thru burn out.

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