When to replace layers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Afterburner, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Afterburner

    Afterburner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My PR, Jersey Giant and EE took a long, extended winter break. So long that I thought their days as layers were close to an ende, so I began preparing for baby chicks. Now they are back to laying with some regularity, seven to nine eggs a week. I haven't bought any chicks. But I live in a suburban lot, so I really don't have the space to separate the babies and have two flocks until the chicks are old enough to be pullets and integrate with my older hens.

    From your folks' personal experience with hens, do you think the older ladies have enough laying left in them that they will lay for the rest of the year? Of this flock, I have already had one hen die of natural causes (a PR at 2.5 years). Will my chances of mortality rapidly increase after three years?

    Though I like my hens, I want to make rational decision with my head. Please help.
     
  2. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There is no hard and fast rule as i found. My EE took the winter off while other <1YO continued. My 3YO are slowing down with one laying softshells.

    The farmers I know stay with a breed from a known breeder. Keep them for 1 year of production then sell them.
     
  3. Chickety Charcoal

    Chickety Charcoal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I also have no definite answer. I decided to stagger my hens. I have 2 hens at 2 years old and two at one year. They also took a long winter's break but are now back to it. Between them I get enough eggs for now. I decided to hatch out a few chicks in January and I am keeping them in the house till they are ready to go outside. You can try that if you have a basement or even a garage that you can spare a few square feet of space. It can get a little messy but as long as it is separate from living space it's manageable. I figure that when these chicks are a year old, my older hens will be slowing down enough to where I would consider culling and still maintain a core number of birds.
     
  4. Afterburner

    Afterburner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you know which breeds are the one slowing down and laying soft shells? As for slowing down, could you guess how many eggs per week they are laying?
     
  5. marlene

    marlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I keep my chickens to supply my family with fresh eggs.
    My plan is to hatch out fresh stock every year and eat the roos. That way i have a fresh stock of layers every year, and when the older hens slow down their egg layin, i will proccess them for food.
     
  6. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would be misleading you if I tell you a given breed would or wouldn't.

    For example, my EEs from two years ago cam from TSC Laid non stop for 1.5 years then were taken by foxes. My new EE from a local breeder laid for 6 months, took the winter off and it now back on track.

    My other fresh layers are BR, RIR and SLW from the same local breeder and they laid right thru the winter with no artificial light.

    My 3YO Leghorn laid for 2 yr straight before taking a break and never a softshell. My 3YO Production Red did the same but is laying softshell now.

    I guess if egg production is important, I would stick with an established hatchery or breeder so the performance can be more predictable.

    I also have a bantam Polish and she is pulling her weight (although light) in egg production.
     
  7. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    This is a really good question for people wanting to have a steady supply of egg layers, who are like you and don't have room for growing pens. I think also that planning for a steady supply would mean that on an annual or semi annual basis you would bring new pullets or hens on board.

    Commercial producers do sell hens after a year of production as ECBW said. They practice 'all in, all out' and the ones that they sell are already laying and could continue for some amount of time perhaps another year or two at about a 10-20% reduction from their high volumes---they only happen to be at the 'all out' point for these producers. It could be a good source for laying hens. The breeds that commercial producers have are the high-volume egg layers, so stepping down a notch may be perfectly alright for the home chicken keeper that doesn't neccessarily expect to make a living or a profit from their eggs.

    In the UK they have a very big practice of rehoming these 'ex battery' hens to individuals to finish out their remaining years as layers at a stepped-down rate from the requirements of the industry to make a profit. I think that they call it the welfare hens trust. Sometimes they look a little scruffy because they are in molt, but they make good functional hens for a lot of people. (especially once they have refeathered)

    Craigslist and even BYc have advertisements of hens for sale.

    All in all though, it is a challenge to bring new chickens on board because you would want to 'quarantine' new arrivals for about 4-weeks for the benefit of your existing chickens.

    If you don't want to have to replace your entire flock regularly, then staggering the replacements may be an option. It is easier to await that first egg from a pullet, if you have other hens currently laying.
     

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