Thanks SOO much Dianna!! That little black cochin is sure pretty, but she has attitude, it's pretty funny... she spars with everyone who comes by the little pen I have her in to get aquainted and keep her seperate for a bit... That quote from cynthia is right.. chickens will lay for several years, just a little less all the time... but I had a Leghorn and Plymouth Rock and RIR that laid right up till they died of old age... so I guess it just depends on what is important to you... I also know that hatchery stock may not lay as long as a heritage breed, or chickens you get from a breeder, because hatchery stock is bred usually for egg-laying, not longevity... If you don't put the lights on them it does give them a break and they may lay longer... kind of like us women... they say if w get a break from ovulating from pregnancy/nursing, it's better for your long-term reporductive system health=) I LOVE broodies... I'd much rather let them do the work!!