When Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by adcockfarm, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. adcockfarm

    adcockfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have three chickens, turning three somewhere around early April, and 1 of our chickens hasn't laid eggs in a long time. the other two just recently started back up after this winter (we live in southern california, so i don't know why they stopped in the first place) so is she just late? i thought chickens laid eggs until about 4. is this not true? thanks for the help!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    What breeds? Most of mine will lay up to 4-7 years at a decreased rate. Some only lay for a few months a year.
     
  3. adcockfarm

    adcockfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have a Welsummer, a Blue Wyandotte, and a Americana/maybe an easter egger
     
  4. adcockfarm

    adcockfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And two chicks, a cuckoo maran, and a RIR
     
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    What you need to realise is that hens (females over a year old) naturally take a break in autumn to moult and come back into laying condition. Some chickens moult slowly so you hardly notice but they sometimes take longer to come back into lay whilst others have a really noticeable hard moult with quite shocking bare patches or even near total nakedness. Moulting takes condition out of their bodies and the protein in their feed normally used to produce eggs, goes into producing feathers instead. As hens get older the period of down time usually increases and some will take the whole winter off and not restart until the spring.

    Many, many people seem to think that chickens are egg laying machines, rather than the seasonally affected creatures that they are. Eggs are seasonal produce, we are just so used to being able to buy them throughout the year that we have forgotten that. In olden days, when there were no egg farms, hybrids, artificial lighting and high protein chicken feeds, eggs were preserved by encasing in tallow or water glass in the summer when there was a glut so that they had a supply through the winter when the birds were unproductive.

    I'm of the opinion that it is good for their system to have this down time, to rejuvenate but some people want as many eggs as possible over the shortest period of time and they use artificial lighting (it is the shortening of the days that triggers moulting) to keep their birds laying. Lighting really needs to be kept quite constant throughout the year to keep them laying, so it is probably not worth while starting with artificial lighting now that the days are getting longer. Nearly half of my hens have started back up now but some of the older girls may not start up again until spring and I have a couple that seem to think they have some sort of retirement plan!

    Basically I think the problem is that your expectation of production from your hens is too high. Commercial egg producers usually cull and replace their whole flock at 18 months as it is not economically viable to keep them for several months whilst they are out of production. They arrange it so that they have a new flock of pullets coming into lay to replace the ones they cull. If you want eggs throughout the year then you need to introduce new pullets into the flock each year, as pullets (females under a year old) will usually lay through their first winter.

    Best wishes

    Barbara
     
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  6. adcockfarm

    adcockfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the responses! we keep ours in the garage because the neighbors complained about the noise, light can get in but not as much. would that change anything?
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Less light will slow down production as well as the start of it in early spring. Most of your breeds aren't the best of layer. Most hens lay the best during their first year than production drops off each year.

    Keeping hens on a higher protein feed, 18-22%, can help optimize production. If you are feeding layer ration they might not get enough.
     
  8. adcockfarm

    adcockfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks a lot we will look into the food any ideas on optimizing the light? yeah, we started with 6 chickens, used to have batter layers
     
  9. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Daylight is now increasing which will trigger hormones which should fire up the laying system in the next few months. So access to natural light is important, either directly by being outside or through some windows, though going outside is best.
     
  10. adcockfarm

    adcockfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Would letting them out at night work?
     

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