When do older hens stop laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by farmer geek, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. farmer geek

    farmer geek In the Brooder

    Jul 7, 2010
    My Buff Orpington is 2 years 3 months. She stopped laying last December. Is this normal? When do they usually stop?
  2. CalebtheChicken

    CalebtheChicken Songster

    Jun 5, 2010
    Jeremiah, Ky.
    Chickens should NEVER stop laying completely. She might have mites that are keeping her from laying.
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:I agree. Sounds like there's something troubling her that's keeping her from laying. Either that or she's free ranging and hiding nests from you?
  4. Lollipop

    Lollipop Songster 9 Years

    I gotta throw my 2 cents into this conversation. Sometimes they do stop laying and seemingly for no good reason, like mites, sickness, etc. I had a hen stop for over a year, with no appearant reason. A friend wanted to try and get her started again, so he took her. Three months later, she started laying. Guess what??? She laid 2 eggs and a coon killed her.

    Now, having told you my tale of woe, some times they do take a break. A lot depends on the breed, but changes in their routine, like food, water, predators, etc. can all make them stop and that`s even those that never get broody. Sooo, keep her or cull her, it`s up to you.

    One last story. When I was a kid, I rescued a Leghorn hen from an egg farm. She wasn`t laying and had outlived her usefulness. I kept her for 3 months and she never layed. I decided to butcher her and make soup, as I was sure she was too tough for anything else. That hen was full of eggs. She had an egg pouch as big as a silver dollar and would have been laying within a week. Now give that some thought.

    OK, something else. Hens usually just slow down as they age, but it`s not unusual for an 8-10 year old hen to lay a few eggs............Pop
  5. woodmort

    woodmort Songster

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Typically a hen will go into moult about a year or so after she starts and then repeat annually, during this time she won't lay. Also temperature has a lot to do with how often they will lay--too hot or cold will throw off some breeds more than others. My Black Stars lay continuously all winter but my anaucaras quit when the weather gets too cold. Finally, just how the hen feels will determine if she lays as well. Remember they don't lay eggs for you, they lay for reproduction purposes, occasionally Mother Nature(repressed instinct) will kick in and they will decide it just isn't a good time.

    BTW, it is my understanding of female reproduction that females are born with a predetermined number of ovaries. This would mean that, eventually, a hen would outlive her reproductive life and be unable to produce an egg. I suspect as a result of domestication and selective breeding we've extended this but, in theory at least, there should be a limit.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    It is normal for hens to take a break from laying, especially when they are molting. Most adult chickens molt in the fall when the days get shorter and spend their energy growing new feathers instead of laying eggs. Sometimes the molt only lasts a couple of months but sometimes chickens take 4 to 5 months to complete the molt. Some hens will occasionally lay an egg during a molt but most seem to completely stop. Pullets less than one year old often lay through their first winter but not always.

    It will vary by the individual, but the average hen will lay about 15% fewer eggs after each adult molt but the eggs tend to be a little bigger after each adult molt. If you are talking about one individual hen, the averages don't mean much, but they hold true if you have a lot of hens.

    If she stopped laying in December and went through a molt, she should have started laying again by now. She might be one of those that are not average, but I'd suspect she is laying and hiding them from you like Gritsar said. It is also possible that something else is at work here. Many things can cause a molt, not just the days getting shorter. She may have completed one molt then started another if she got stressed out. Heat or cold will also slow them down but should not totally stop them from laying. Disease or parasites can also cause a problem. It is hard to say exactly what the problem is since it can be many different things.
  7. farmer geek

    farmer geek In the Brooder

    Jul 7, 2010
    Yeah, she might be hiding a nest. I will look around. Thanks for the help!!!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: