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When Purchasing egg-laying hens..

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WilsonFarm, Oct 11, 2015.

  1. WilsonFarm

    WilsonFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 9, 2015
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    I have seen many advertisements for egg laying hens, usually around 2 years old. The description usually mentions the advertiser is making room for new chickens -- so I wonder, when do chickens typically stop laying reliably?

    I want to replace 4 of our flock that turned out to be roos, but would it be wiser and more beneficial to wait until Spring to raise chicks another season? I'd hate to purchase laying hens only to get a short time out of them production-wise.

    Currently, my pullets (and one cockerel) are 20-21 weeks old. (No one's laying yet!) The hens I am thinking of purchasing are 2 years. I would be adding 4 hens to 5 pullets and 1 20-wk old Roo. I haven't seen any pattern as far as a "pecking order" being established. They're all quite docile, including Roo, and they squeeze together on the top roost.

    How's that sound for integrating?
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2015
  2. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What breed are the proposed hens?

    Some are pretty well slowed down by then, since they have been laying an egg a day for the last two years! Others will lay for 6-10 years, but only 2-4 eggs a week ... Their body can only handle so much!

    Generally sex-links and production type layers will lay all out their first two years, then it's not worth keeping them and feeding them, if your only in it for the eggs, if you want pets ... They will not just keel over and die! ;)

    If they are dual purpose heritage breeds, they should keep laying good the first five or more years, with eggs getting bigger after each molt ...
     
  3. WilsonFarm

    WilsonFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi! Thanks for the info! I'm really glad I asked.

    The chickens I'm interested in are Easter Egger crosses and White Brahma crosses
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

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    the reason folks are clearing hens out this time of year is because they're molting and going to take a break from laying for the winter. My experience is they continue to lay until 5+ years of age, but the number of eggs per week decreases each year, and they take a good 4ish months off to molt, regrow feathers and recharge for the next laying season. So, my thought is buying older hens this time of year will give you eggs in March, but until then you're just shelling out feed.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    I would wait and get more chicks/chickens in the spring...getting thru that first winter can be trying.

    Bringing in older chickens that may not be productive and probably should be quarantined for disease/pests,
    can be highly problematic for a beginning chicken keeper.

    Take the winter to plan how to house and integrate additions to your flock,
    you may need to add some separated coop and run space to make integration more enjoyable.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. WilsonFarm

    WilsonFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 9, 2015
    New Hampshire
    Thank you. :) I'm very much reconsidering this purchase - I thought bringing in older hens while mine were young would be easier than integrating new ones in the Spring, but I didn't realize the extent of it! Thank goodness for all of you fine people on this forum.
     
  7. WilsonFarm

    WilsonFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Aha, thanks! I was hoping they might "show" my girls what to do with the nesting boxes -- but this time of year wouldn't be so great for that.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Nov 27, 2012
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    Integration is about territory and resources(food, water, roost space).
    Your existing chickens will not be happy about any newcomers and more than likely will want to attack them.



    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.


    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders.

    If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.


    The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
     

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