How Many Eggs Do Your Older Hens Lay?

In the first year of life, a chicken transforms from a fluffy ball into an egg-laying marvel. Around 20 weeks of age, she’ll lay her first egg, and then continue to lay, daily, all year, even through the dark and cold winter months.If you have a breed that’s designed for egg production, such as a leghorn, you’ll get upwards of 250 eggs that first year. Not all breeds crank the eggs out like that. Some, during their first full-feathered summer, go broody. Some haven’t read the books that say they’re supposed to lay once every 26 hours, and skip a day here or there. But, usually, you’ll get plenty of eggs from your new hens.

When the chicken is about 18 months old, she’ll go through her first molt. Egg laying ceases. Old feathers fly. New ones grow in. And then it’s winter, and this time through, the dark and cold slow down or stops the egg laying. When spring comes, she’ll resume her egg-laying, but not at the pace of her first year. The shells will be thinner and more prone to breaking.

By the time her second molt and winter comes along, a farmer who needs her chickens to be economically worth it, will harvest the old hens and start a new batch of chicks. But, most of us backyard chicken keepers hold onto the old girls. They’re still laying some eggs, and they’re familiar beings in our lives. By the fifth year, they rarely lay, yet there they are, clucking in the backyard and eating their chicken pellets.

I have a flocks of mixed ages and breeds. In the big barn, my two-year old hens, Agnes and Philomena, each lay an egg a day. One of the other older hens, I think Maizie, lays two eggs a week. The others, who are in their sixth year, don’t lay at all. I haven’t kept exact records of when my hens ceased laying. What about you? How many eggs do your three-year old hens lay? What about your five-year old hens? How old is your oldest chicken?


  1. Looking forward to the responses on this question! I’m getting 6 eggs a day from my 7 hens who are about 24 weeks old. It’s such a treat to peek into the nest boxes and find the eggs. My husband and I wondered the thrill of finding an egg will continue or does that wear off? Does it still give others the same excitement upon finding the eggs each day?

  2. I have a couple of ex-batts, now 2 1/2 years old or older (not sure how old they were when we had them) … one lays regularly, the other not at all as far as I can tell!

    However, my POL Welsummers that aren’t laying yet, now 28 weeks old. I know they’ll lay eventually, but all previous POL birds have laid at 20 weeks!

  3. Of my two remaining girls, both 5 years old, my Black Australorp lays one or two lovely, big brown eggs per week. Such a trooper! My Silver-laced Wyandotte, however, has been in “chickie-menopause” for the past year, but still sits on her nest for an hour faithfully every day….just in case! Silly girls.

    I do miss the days of bountiful egg harvests and am wanting to get a few more chicks. Should I wait for my current hens to complete their life, or could I introduce a few chicks to their little flock?

  4. Hi Terry, On a GOOD day I get about 2 1/2 dozen eggs from my 40 birds. The ages are from 1-3 years old. I have 12 new girls that are coming up 6 months old and I am waiting for them to start cranking out the eggs. I get enough to sell and make some $ and some left over to make and bake with. My oldest hen is a little white cochin. Bless her heart..she is 8, and still going strong! Everyone is molting. I only got 10 yesterday! To Judy : What do you think Terry? I always like to do babies in the spring. The winter is no fun to take care of peeps. I always worry about them and they always seem to strive when the weather turns warm.

  5. I just lost my oldest hen a polish at 8.5 years, I actually had a hen live to almost 13 and I finally had to cull her due to the fact that I knew she was in pain probably due to arthitis, she was an amercauna.
    My experience is that once they hit 5 if you get dozen eggs out of them a year that’s excellant.
    I keep a flock of fun/pet chickens and a flock of around 24 white rocks for eggs only, I currently have 12 30 month olds, 12 18 month olds and 12 6 month olds. They are kept in seperate houses and runs.
    I cull the 30 month old hens out of the flock of white rocks each year (late Sept. early Oct) for recipes that require stewing hens. I barter my eggs for other goodies from co-workers and friends and sell a few. I choose white rocks because they are good layers, make excellent stewing hens and I can’t tell them apart and make pets out of them LOL.

  6. My eldest hen, Big Girl, is a five year-old Wyandotte and last year laid 102 eggs. She’s not far behind this year either. I find if you hatch a few new birds every other year you can keep things moving along nicely although eventually I know I will end up with an old folk’s home staffed by teenagers!
    A friend had a Rhode Island red that made 12, still laid every now and then, and eventually succumbed to avian TB, so she may have gone on even longer.
    Look at this;

  7. We had three very old sexlinks that came with the house we bought from my uncle. By the time we moved in they were 8, and didn’t pass away (old age would be my guess) until they were going on 12. Every once in a while we’d still find an egg, which was surprising. One by one that last year we’d find one in a nest box having passed sometime during the night in their sleep.

  8. Funny that you’d ask that today – one of my 8 year-old Phoenixes laid an egg this morning. First one since June I think. I just could never cull any of the girls! But my friend’s granddaughter, a nine year-old entrepreneur, culled her flock and gave me three 3 year-old hens this summer and they lay almost daily. Guess I’ll just keep adding as vacancies arise – that’s what I’ve been doing for years. My oldest hen lived to be over 10.

  9. I’m curious: those of you who have more than a handful of hens, how do you know who is laying? (without spending the day watching)

    • For me, my hens lay eggs that are distinctly different shapes and/or colors, which was true since they were young. It is pretty simple to discern since they vary in age and I was able to track their early egg laying.

  10. My oldest hen Delilah is 4 1/2 and she is still laying like a champ…. during the spring and summer she was laying every day and now that it is fall and the molt mentality is starting, she is laying every 2nd or 3rd day…. After reading the others entries, I hope she lives to a healthy 12 or 13, cause she is quite a character and we have been through a lot together. I call her my transgender chicken, cause she is the dominant hen (I don’t have a rooster) and will lay an egg in the morning, periodically mount two of my hens and then crow in the afternoon– it’s not pretty but it is definitely an attempt at crowing and not egg announcing. Ahhhhh life with chickens!

  11. Hi All- thanks so much for this input! Isn’t it interesting how varied the egg counts are! I’m surprised to hear about an older Phoenix (a fancy breed) still able to crank out an egg. Wendy’s Big Girl is an egg-laying champ, whereas my Buffy, about the same age, hasn’t laid an egg for two years.

    Yes, I’ll be getting more birds in the spring. I’m not sure where I’ll get them from – I’d love to put eggs under Lulu, but I can’t have roosters. I’m thinking of buying a half-dozen chicks. Would like to go with a small hatchery. What I’d really like are some birds with grey plumage. I have my heart set on some marans.

    • Terry..I have a Blue Andulusian..She is gorgeous and very hearty and a good layer…very pretty bird….She is a light grey color, almost lavender in some light.

  12. Terry, I have 3 buff orpington hens that were 2 years old in August. I have not gotten an egg since early spring. It has been a VERY hot summer here in the midwest. Golda’s eggs had become very soft and are actually breaking as soon as she lays them. Marge and Gloria have recently molted, and I’m hoping I’ll get a few eggs out of them soon. I’m surprised that these orpingtons have not been good producers.

    • I’m surprised, too. Are they getting greens and oyster shells? Cool water? They might be stressed. They won’t lay if they’re molting, but I’d expect to see some eggs by March.

  13. I still have Whichway, Wrongway was my 8 year old Polish.
    The second year hens still lay well, I don’t track but can tell by egg size and color (the older they get the lighter the shade of brown and the bigger they are)who is laying. They lay very well into their second year from late winter (early March) to mid summer (late June to mid July). During that period I am getting 8-9 eggs per day from the second year hens. Last night I got 5 eggs that I am 99% sure where from the second year hens.

    Terry, I have had luck with buying eggs from e-bay or and setting under a hen. Move the broody hen where you want her at night moving during the day generally does not produce a hen that will stay put.
    The eggs I have bought on line I generally get a 50% hatch rate so don’t hesitate to buy a dozen if you want only 6. Now you will have to find homes, clear throat, cull the roosters.
    If you buy chicks that are a day or two old a foster hen is a dream in my book. Takes a lot of the work and worry out of raising chicks.
    I have an old gray farmyard bantie hen that will take chicks at any time if she is broody. I can give her to them at high noon and she accepts them. If this hen is not broody and I have another broody hen I slip them under her in the pitch black. She a wakes in the morning and she thinks her clutch has hatched. I’ve never had a chick that did not accept a broody hen as mom, the instinct of needing to be brooded is very strong. The reasons chicks that are not with a hen cheep all the time is the desire to attract or “find” mom.

    • How about some nice silver-grey Dorkings? Can you find them over there? I’m completely in love with mine…

  14. Our chicks are just over one year old. No molting yet. Still getting 2-3 eggs per day from 3 chickens.
    Our plan is to bring on a couple new chicks in another year or so and keep our “girls” until they die their normal deaths. Can’t go eating our pets!

  15. Wendy- I once had a silver-pencil dorking. Very nice bird.
    Donna- I’ve seen a lavender Andalusian at a poultry show. Stunning feather colors. Gorgeous birds. Would love one of those, too! And, Buffy is getting on in years, so I’d like another Orpington. Adore their fluffy bottoms and sweet temperaments. How will I ever order only six birds this spring?

    • I say order 10 and see what you get! I LOVE the Orpingtons too! They are so sweet and you can walk up to them and just pick them up. I have a new one that talks CONSTANTLY! It is really funny!

  16. I ordered 10 day old chicks mail order in may. I ordered all girls and in the end ended up with eleven girls and one rooster. They are coming up on their 20 week birthday and I am so excited to start seeing eggs in their nesting boxes! Last week my stepdad hard boiled a little brown egg (From the grocery store) and placed it in one of the boxes while i was at work. It was the highlight of my day and I even went around the coop asking my girls who was laying only to find out that none of them were. What a cruel joke to play on someone awaiting eggs! :) i really appreciate the community that you provide here and look forward to having those 5, 7, even 13 year old girls that i read about here and are still going strong.

      • I got them from healthy chicks and more. A co-worker had gotten some from there in the past and she always had good luck with them so when I wanted to get into chickens she recommended them. I plan on keeping the rooster ( named Ethel, as she was originally part of a pair of aracaunas named Lucy and Ethel.) When he started developing faster than the girls, I changed his name to Desi, but despite all best intentions he lived for months with the name Ethel and I still call him by it. oh well. I plan on keeping him on the sole condition that he behave himself and not terrorize any of the girls. The day he starts pecking at them I’ll be enjoying a lovely chicken dinner. He’s a very handsome rooster and honestly I find myself enjoying his crowing in the mornings. Also, he does keep an eye on the girls and warns them if he senses danger. We have mink that come to the farm and they are nasty little buggers, so until the day he outlives his welcome, he can live a long happy life on the farm as well. :)

        • Cass….Is that the name of the website you get your birds? Healthy Chicks and More?

  17. Yep, that is the websites name. I would buy from them again but now that Ive got a rooster i will probably just let one of my broody girls raise her own next spring.

  18. I would recommend ordering chicks from My Pet Chicken. They have a GREAT selection and you can order as few as 3. I’ve had great luck with them and can’t wait to place an order in the spring!

    • My Pet Chicken is not a hatchery. They get chicks from Ideal and other hatcheries. They are unique in that they sell only a few chicks.

  19. Terry I got 6 chicks from Meyer. I liked that I could only order half a dozen chicks. I got 2 R.R’s, 2 EE’s, and 2 BR. They were all healthy and now live happily with my 2 3 year old hens. They had great customer service too.

    • I’ve heard good things about Meyer. A friend got a dozen chicks from Macmurray and two had genetic defects – severe problems with feet and beaks. I worry that Macmurray has been getting too big. Anyone else out there have problem chicks?

  20. I have had a good experience with My Pet But, if you live more than about 1-2 hours from a major city, they require you buy at least 8 chicks for the chick’s safety and warmth in transit. They do not add extra chicks as “Packing Peanuts” like some other comapnies do. They do add these gel packs that retain heat for the chicks in transit…By the way, I got my FIRST EGGS yesterday, and just had one for breakfast! DELICIOUS!