When your hens stop laying....


Jun 28, 2017
Bunnell, Fl
You know some people eat them and start new but I can't imagine doing that to my chickens. My husband and I discussed it and when they get close to stopping laying, we were going to let them hatch their last eggs and let them live in peace for the rest of their time. That way we can keep the eggs coming. All and all it's up you.


Free Ranging
10 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
We all have our own goals and reasons for keeping chickens. Some for eggs, meat, show, pets, bug patrol, breeding, and who knows what else or what combinations of these. You will have to find your own answer to this question, it doesn't matter to you what I do. My goals are different from yours.

It can vary by individual hen but a normal sequence as far as egg laying is that the pullet will sometimes lay throughout the first winter and skip the molt, some don't. She'll lay pretty well until her first adult molt. That may be her first fall/winter or it may be her second. She stops laying during an adult molt and uses the nutrition that was going to egg production to grow her new feathers. Then she starts up laying again after the molt is over. After that first molt, she still lays really well in number plus the size and quality are even better than her first year. Some lay more than others but before and after the first adult molt are usually her best production cycles.

After her second adult molt her egg size improves a bit but the number of eggs she lays tends to drop off. Each individual hen is an individual. Some may drop off a lot, some not at all. In a commercial flock with thousands of hens the average drop in number of eggs is around 15% but you don't have thousands of hens. Pure luck on which category your individual hens fall in will determine what happens to your flock production. The production drops after each subsequent adult molt so soon you aren't getting much production. After several years the quality of the eggs might deteriorate, thin shells or runny whites, for example. How much deterioration, if any, will depend on the individual hen.

For my goals, I am on a two year rotation. I normally keep four pullets each year as replacements. I'll keep the four pullets from the previous year through their first molt and the next year's laying cycle. At the end of the current laying cycle I'll eat the four hens that have already been through one molt when they start their second adult molt. So when the pullets come into lay in late summer or fall I'll have 12 laying but I only carry eight through the winter.

You will have to determine your own goals and decide what works best for you.

song of joy

7 Years
Apr 22, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
It really depends on your objectives. For me, some of the things that factor into culling include coop space, feed cost, productivity of the hen, quality of the hen (e.g., for breeding purposes), other services provided by the hen (e.g., ability to hatch and raise chicks), flock dynamics, and the number of new pullets entering the flock annually.

I track egg production by hen, so the most productive hens are generally kept until they are 3 1/2 or 4 1/2 years old. They are culled in the fall so I don't have to over-winter or feed them for the 4 to 6 months they aren't laying. Less productive hens may be culled at 2 1/2 years old. A good broody has a place in the flock indefinitely, as this is a service I highly value.


11 Years
Nov 12, 2008
I have one non-laying retiree right now. I have the room for her and one useless chicken does not cost me too much to feed. Also, at 6 years old, I think she's most likely too old to eat, and I don't want to deal with it anyway. Her original coopmate died on her own at about 5 or 6 years old, but was still sporadically laying eggs at that time. This 6 year old laid well until she stopped last winter, and she never started back up this spring.


Feb 24, 2017
So I have a question about hens and laying.
I have a 1 yr old hen who hatched 6 chicks 9 weeks ago.
She took care of them for 4 weeks, then let them fend for themselves.
they did fine....
My hen started laying again week later....but 10 days after producing an egg a day she has stopped laying. So I haven't seen an egg for a week. Is there a chance she will lay eggs again? and why do they stop? does she need some kind of psychological treatment or nutrition to start laying again?
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