Hi BYC, I'm feeling a little frustrated with the low level of egg laying I'm experiencing out of this current batch of chickens. In the scheme of things, I'm pretty new to chicken keeping. I've raised two batches of chickens, so I wouldn't say I'm an expert on breeds and what's fair to expect. I know that what I'm going through right now isn't uncommon at all, but my neighbors aren't sharing the same experiences so it can be frustrating. My first batch of chickens was a RIR, BO, and Barred Rock. I still have the Barred Rock, but the BO was eaten by a raccoon and the RIR just up and died one day, with no obvious cause (and I didn't investigate too closely). A chicken expert friend told me sometimes they just are such good layers that they lay themselves to death at a young age. My Barred Rock is my favorite hen ever, so sweet and sociable, so even though she's too old to expect production from, I won't get rid of her. She's my bud. The first few years, I got eggs all through the winter. I got the suspicion that maybe that's what caused my RIR to lose steam and die so young (about 3 years old). My second batch is what's listed in my signature line: the same Barred Rock (mostly retired and living the good life), a Light Brahma, a Gold-Laced Wyandotte, and a Silver-Laced Wyandotte. I knew when getting them that they weren't rated to be top layers, but I wanted longevity, not necessarily high production. I was willing to sacrifice daily production through the winter to have birds who live longer. This is the same reason I don't want to put artificial light on them: I know they only have so many eggs in their body (just like I do) and that if I ramp up winter production artificially then I am shortening their production life. But I didn't expect the extremely low results I got: These hens are about 2 years old and they quit laying last year from about October till....I don't know, March or April??? I mean, they go on 100% strike. I get exactly zero eggs for six months! From four ladies, one of whom might still lay occasionally, I think this is abysmal. Am I over-reacting? I purposefully chose my breeds because I wanted heritage breeds that would follow a more biologically appropriate production schedule. So if this is normal, then maybe I need to reconsider my chicken strategy. If this isn't normal, then these birds are duds. I know that people's laying concerns have probably been covered ad nauseum on this forum. I found several threads myself. But none that really seemed to answer my questions. My neighbor who has a run of 3 first-year pullets is getting eggs. My other neighbor with 8 hens is getting a few a day. I don't remember what breeds they all have, but it's a mix. We all live in Portland and none of us puts light on our hens in the winter. We all feed layer feed and mine probably get the most free-ranging time and space of all. So what gives? I need to decide whether to get rid of this batch, take a break from chickens, and start up again with a new list of breeds. I don't really want to do that, given the investment I've put into them so far (not to mention feeding a bunch of duds all winter), and given the fact that I don't want to get rid of my favorite henny. And I don't want her to be lonely if I get rid of the other 3.