At What Age Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs? (+ More Reasons Why Hens Stop or Slow Egg Production)

What Age Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs? (Reasons Why Hens Quit)

Myth: Hens stop laying eggs when they’re one to two years old.

Fact: Healthy backyard chickens 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 production of eggs will naturally decrease by roughly 10% each year, most hens will only stop laying eggs after 6 or 7 years of age.

You’ve likely heard this 1 to 2-year myth because commercial farms usually kill their egg-laying hens when they’re 1 to 2-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 hens.

Also, older hens usually produce larger eggs. This is a problem in commercial farming because the consistency of size is important.

If the information above made you sad, then it’s another good reason for you to raise your own backyard chickens.

More Reasons Why Hens’ Egg Production Slows Down or Stops

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 bread.)

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

  1. Diet: The biggest contributor to great egg production is feeding hens a good-quality layer feed (Amazon). Make sure you’re feeding a complete layer feed for at least 90% of their diet.
  2. Water: Chickens need clean water throughout the day, especially when they’re eating. Without fresh water, egg-laying may drastically decrease or stop.
  3. Winter: Egg-laying is largely dependent on daylight hours, and most hens will stop or slow down egg-laying when they receive fewer than 16 hours of daylight per day.
  4. Broody Hen: If you have a broody hen, she won’t lay eggs no matter if she has a healthy diet or enough sunlight.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Molting: Chickens molt each year and it can take around 6 to 16 weeks for them to grow back new feathers. Hens won’t lay any eggs during this time because molting is very physically demanding.

Summary: How Old Are Chickens When They Stop Laying Eggs?

  • Healthy backyard chickens 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 production of eggs will naturally decrease by roughly 10% each year, most hens will only stop laying eggs after 6 or 7 years of age.
  • If your hens are in their prime but start to lay fewer eggs all of a sudden, it might be a problem with stress, their diet, water intake, or broodiness. Winter seasons and molting also naturally decrease egg production.