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Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by nikischicks, Dec 30, 2012.
How old are they and how many do you get out of them?
My oldest hens (EDIT that lay) are about 2 1/2 - 3 YO (and one that will be 1 YO in the spring, every day for her), even with the cold (nights have been near 14*(f)) I get 5-6 eggs per week from each of them. They take turns skipping a day, so 3 days a week I get 3 eggs a day and 4 days a week I get 4 eggs. I use only a light in the coop. I have some that I think are 3 1/2 - 5 YO, 3 eggs in 4 months. (8 hens) They were in bad shape when I got them and hope, except for the oldest girl, that they will lay in the spring. There feathers filled back in and getting shinny and the red is returning to their combs.
I have a Barred Rock that will be 6 this spring. She lays 5 BIG eggs a week in the summer. Most of my consistent layers are 1-3.
Oldest hens I had was a pair of Black Australorp, the one hen died at 18 yrs old with severe arthritis, she only laid an egg or two a week and rather just be mother to other hens chicks. The other hen lived til she was 23 yo, she laid about 4 eggs a week until she hit 20, then just 1 or 2 a week.
My oldest hens now are 2 mutt hens(old english, leghorn and who knows what X) that I got 10 yrs ago, they were 2+ yrs old when I got them, my most reliable broodies and they still lay me 4 or more eggs a week.
I had hatchery birds that were 7-8 years old and still laying. Probably only 3 eggs or so a week, but still laying!
Oldest girls are:
Sebright 6 yrs- lays sporadically, never broody
Spitzenhouben x- 7 yrs, lays sporadically, never broody
Old English 7 yrs, layed one clutch and brooded them
Thanks for the info!
WOW, after 20 years of 4 eggs a week she deserved a break! And then 3 more years, WOW I had no idea a chicken could live that long and still be productive!!! About everyone around here culls before 5 YO, but this just shows you how taking good care of your bird will pay off! This gives me hope on some old girls that I picked up in bad shape. Their feathers were dull and ragged, their combs were almost completely white, all the "food" was egg layer pellets. I am not sure they had ever left the hen house! The girls are now shinny, their combs are red, (still needs improvement) and they have started to get up early and roam the yard a bit, staying up almost as long as the young birds and Big Red (my Roo) is paying attention to 2 of them now. I was told they were 3 1/2 YO, but I think they are more likely 5, at least the 1 gal, she is the matriarch and leads them around as if she is the roo calling to them when she finds something. I have never seen such large ankles on a chicken! (she's a mute)
Thanx I know have some hope for these gals being productive this spring!
I'm really curious about these very elderly laying hens. Were they hatched at a breeding farm or from hens that were from breeding farms? Or were they hatched at a commercial hatchery?
I have not been keeping chickens all that long, and all mine are hatchery birds. They seems to stop laying around four years of age, and are dead from one illness or another, liver problems, tumors, etc.. by age five. I've read hatcheries do not breed for longevity.
That your hens live to such a ripe old age would indicate good genes and good care.
Our old Australorps were from an Exhibition breeder who had this line for 60 yrs and his father before that had raised it all his life too. They didnt just look perfect but he bred them to be the long living productive birds they were supposed to be. I remember when we got those birds from him his oldest rooster that he still bred from was 14 or 15 and same with some of his hens. He believed a good bird is one that is productive for a long time(maybe not 6-7 eggs a week but 4-5), its a waste of time and money to replace bird every 3 or so yrs because production takes a nosedive. He was a really old time type farmer so very much believed in longevity since in the long run that money was better invested then in the birds that burn out so quick and had to be replaced.
Good breeding is a key factor, no one keeps/breeds for longevity anymore it seems, or its more like "old" in a hen has been redefined. I try to breed for steady production to 10 or so years, so it means I dont change my good/well producing breeding hens. Noticed tho that it will be a long while until I get past the 10 yr mark with one of them, oldest purebred hen out of good stock I had died last year at the age of 6.