In this post, I’m going to briefly talk about how old backyard chickens are when they stop laying eggs.
And then (just in case your chickens stop laying eggs) I’m going to briefly touch on other reasons why your hens might stop producing eggs that are not age-related.
The Age Factor
Myth: Backyard chickens stop laying eggs when they’re one to two years old.
Fact: Healthy hens lay eggs most consistently in their first two years of laying. But, hens won’t fully stop laying after they’ve reached that age. Although the number of eggs will naturally decrease by roughly 10% each year, most hens will only stop laying eggs after six or seven years.
You’ve likely heard this one to two-year myth because commercial farms usually kill their layers when they’re one to two years of age. Financially, it makes sense to kill the hens when there’s a decrease in egg production so they can make room for younger, more productive chickens.
Also, older hens usually produce larger eggs. This is a problem in commercial farming because the consistency of size is important.
Other Reasons Egg-Laying Might Stop
Healthy egg-laying chicken breeds can lay roughly 250 eggs in their first year of production. If your hens are in their prime but start to lay fewer eggs all of a sudden, look into these possible reasons:
- Feed: The biggest contributor to great egg production and hen health is great chicken layer feed. Make sure you are feeding a complete layer feed for at least 90% of their diet (my favorite layer feed is this one from Amazon).
- Water: Chickens need clean water throughout the day, especially when they’re eating. Without fresh water, egg-laying may drastically decrease or stop.
- Daylight: Egg-laying is largely dependent on the length of the day, and most hens will stop or slow down egg-laying when they receive fewer than 16 hours of daylight.
- Broodiness: If you have a broody hen, she won’t lay eggs no matter if she has a healthy diet or enough sunlight.
- Breed: Some hens are high-producing layers for a couple of years and some hens produce a little less over the short run but last longer. And certain breeds just don’t lay as well as others. You can read my post about the best egg-laying chickens to get a better idea about the number of eggs you should expect.
- Stress: Chickens love routine and the smallest disturbance to their routine usually hinders egg production. Stress comes in many forms, such as new flock members, moving locations, predators, over-crowding, aggressive hens, loud noises, too much heat or cold, poor nutrition, and illness.
- Molting: Chickens molt each year and it can take around six to sixteen weeks for them to grow back new feathers. Hens won’t lay any eggs during this time because molting is very physically demanding.
That’s it! I hope this post about how old chickens are when they stop laying eggs helped you out!