What age to "retire" laying hens?

bills

Songster
12 Years
Jan 4, 2008
475
7
141
vancouver island
My sex-link hens are 28 months old now, and their egg production has really dropped off. Sure the eggs are bigger, but with feed costs going up, and even after raising the price per dozen, I'm thinking these birds may be ready for retirement.. I can't afford to keep non-productive birds, as well, the coop isn't big enough for new pullets and the old birds.

What have you done with your older birds, sell them off as pets, eat them, or ??
 

1stepcloser

Poultry In Motion
10 Years
Sep 16, 2009
812
11
141
Dover, TN
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GREAT question.
 

babyblue

Songster
10 Years
Sep 23, 2009
697
9
129
I might give away/sell them cheaply, just as long as I told the new owners that they are still laying, just not as much. my dh would eat them or sell them to be eaten as we try not to get too attached to chickens as pets. in this economy there are plenty of people that need food for either eggs or meat and for me personally I would feel good about helping others to feed their familys a little bit better without the huge expense.
 

joedie

Songster
10 Years
Mar 17, 2009
1,492
10
161
SW Indiana
I would wait until warmer weather and the daylight hours extend. At 28 months they certainly shouldn't be "burnt out". Mine are just now resuming heavy production after the winter.
 

ChickenWisperer

Songster
11 Years
Jun 30, 2008
2,525
18
193
KY
Quite personally, I DON'T retire my hens.

I have a australorp - she's THREE years old now. She lays me (usually) an egg a day, stilll.

I personally think it's wrong to use the hens, then throw them away like that. Don't they deserve to be able to live out the rest of their lives somewere safe, and being happy? Feed may be rising, but they are cheap alternative brands, and they DO still lay. And them being sexlinks, they should be laying better than my old gal.

Have you thought about selling chicks, or hatching eggs?
 

ChickenWisperer

Songster
11 Years
Jun 30, 2008
2,525
18
193
KY
Quote:
I agree. My girls aren't productions or sexlinks, and they layed heavy throughout the winter. We're at about 50-60% laying capacity right now, but it's been getting better.
 

Knight Hawk Ranch

Songster
12 Years
Oct 19, 2007
438
26
164
Labelle, Florida
I have production rir and most of my laying flock are a bit over 2 years old now. They do slack off to molt, but not all of them at the same time. I currently have about 16 girls and about 4 are 1 year layers. During their down time, I was still getting 5-8 eggs daily and now they have all picked back up. I am getting 12-15 eggs daily. I have no problem selling my eggs for $3.00 a dozen to the ladies I work with.

Right now, my girls are paying for their own feed, plus feed for my breeders (marans and barred rocks).
 

Colored Egg Farmer

Chicken overload
12 Years
Apr 30, 2008
2,177
43
276
North Eastern Pa... Near NY
I had the same problem with my chickens I'm not able to keep a new flock and an old flock at the same time. It would be nice to but i just don't have the room and i'm not fixing another section of the building just for them because it is not worth it. I sold my chickens for 1 doller each they were a year and a half old. they were barely keeping up with the price of feed so i had to let them go.
 

bills

Songster
12 Years
Jan 4, 2008
475
7
141
vancouver island
I guess I'll give them some more time and see if production picks up again. I owe them that much, as they were really good layers until the last six months, and then production started to drop off pretty bad. I use artificial light during our shorter days, so I don't think it's the winter doldrums..

I thought about eating them, but they are not dual purpose birds, and tend to be less meaty then some hens. I guess they would be good for a stew, or a perhaps curry dish..
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Perhaps a pet-less family with young kids could enjoy them. Someone who is already economically handicapped, paying for feed for few eggs in return would not be cost effective for them.

Chicken Whisperer, I know how you feel, but I never considered our hens as true pets, as many do. We already have a dog and a cat for that. The hens have been treated like royalty, so I never considered them as "being used" lol..as far as "throwing them away", it's not like I was planning on simply dumping them in a ditch to fend for themselves. That's why I asked what others have done with their older birds..
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I don't have any rooster so hatching/raising chicks is out of the question, besides sex links aren't the broody type most of the time.
 

MANNA-PRO

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