At What Age Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs? (Do Hens Stop Laying Eggs in Their First Two Years)

Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs After 2 Years?

Generally, healthy backyard chickens lay eggs most reliably in their first 2 years of laying. However, egg production won’t completely stop after 2 years. It will only begin to slow down.

You’ve likely heard this 2-year myth because commercial farms typically kill their egg-laying hens once they have reached the end of their peak egg production phase (or sometimes younger, like 18 months old).

Financially, it makes sense to cull flocks before egg-laying stops because farmers can then make room for younger, more productive hens.

At What Age Does a Chicken Stop Producing Eggs?

Ater 2 years of laying, the production of eggs will naturally decrease each year. Most hens will stop producing eggs after 5 years of laying. So, the hen will be around 6 years old.

But there are some factors that can extend a chicken’s egg-laying years.

For example, if a chicken is well-fed and has access to plenty of sunlight, it may continue to lay eggs for longer than 5 years.

Additionally, certain chicken breeds are known for being “long-lived” layers, meaning they may produce eggs for 6 years or more.

“So, while 5 years is the average, some older chickens may lay eggs inconsistently for much longer.”

Why Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs All of a Sudden?

Healthy egg-laying chicken breeds can lay roughly 250 eggs in their first year of production. (You can read my post about the best egg-laying chickens to get a better idea about the number of eggs you should expect with each breed.)

If your hens are in their prime but start to lay fewer eggs all of a sudden, look into these possible reasons:

Diet: The biggest contributor to great egg production is feeding hens a good-quality layer feed (Amazon).

  • 0 to 8 Weeks Old (Chicks): Their diet should contain around 18-19% protein. You should feed chick starter (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon).
  • 8 to around 18 Weeks Old (Pullets): Their diet should contain around 17-18% protein. You should feed them a high-quality grower feed (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon) until they’re 18 weeks old or they start laying, whichever comes first.
  • 18 Weeks or Above (Egg-Layers): Once egg-laying has started, hens require around 16% protein in their feed. You should feed your hens layer feed (Amazon) to help them in their egg-laying.
  • Mixed Flock: Feed starter grower feed (Amazon) and oyster shells (Amazon) should be made available, in a separate bowl or feeder. If egg-laying eggs need extra calcium, they will eat the appropriate amount of oyster shells. Do not feed extra calcium to non-laying poultry as it can be detrimental to their health.

Water: Chickens need clean water throughout the day, especially when they’re eating. Without fresh water, egg-laying may drastically decrease or stop.

A hen may require 24 hours to recover if she goes without water for just a day. She might need 2 or 3 weeks to recover if she goes without water for just 36 hours.

She may also experience a molt after being without water for 2 days, followed by a significant period of poor laying (from which she might not recover).

Season: Egg-laying is largely dependent on daylight hours, and most hens slow down or stop egg-laying when they receive fewer than 12 hours of daylight per day. So you might need a backup plan for eggs once fall and winter start.

Broody Hen: If you have a broody hen, she won’t lay eggs no matter if she has a healthy diet or enough sunlight.

Breeds: 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.

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, overcrowding, aggressive hens, loud noises, too much heat or cold, poor nutrition, and illness.

Molting: Every chicken will molt each year and it can take between 6 and 16 weeks for them to grow back new feathers. Hens might not lay any eggs during this time because molting is very physically demanding.

Overview: Do Chickens Get Too Old To Lay Eggs?

The average hen will lay eggs for a total of about 5 years. Some birds can live to be 10 years old or more, but most will stop laying eggs at some point.

Some hens might even lay the odd egg or 2 until they’re 7 or 8. Some might lay the odd egg until they’re 10 years old, but this is not common.

However, most chickens will only produce eggs regularly for their first 2 years of laying. After that, their production will start to taper off and eventually come to a stop.

Of course, there are a few factors that can affect how long a chicken will keep laying, such as breed, health, and whether they are kept in ideal conditions.