Ok, thought I’d post some info for all the backyard enthusiasts out there and to let you know we have 150 chooks ready for rehoming now at 12 each with 2 going to ACT eden monaro cancer support group.
Hens begin their ovulating life cycle as early as 18 weeks and are called pullets or point of lay and their eggs are usually quite small at this stage although some also lay twins early on. In any case only about 10-20% are laying at this early age and then they keep increasing until they reach the peak of their lifetime ovulating cycle at 32 weeks of age when you get about 90% laying. But if you are lucky all of them will lay under the right circumstances and especially in a backyard system where they are fussed over.
Once they reach 80 weeks of age the percentage laying tapers off to between 60-70% and many commercial farms will either remove the flock or induce a molt by placing them on a fast for a few weeks to renew their cycle and percentages will increase for a short period. I don’t believe in this!!
Though we had a mite outbreak here and it had the same effect where during their recovery egg increases were noted regardless of age.
My mum who ran an organic free range system for many years would pass on her older hens to us
when we wanted them and I was surprised to see how long they laid. Three year olds and they’d lay
beautifully for another two- three years! Some people have had luck for even longer. Usually a chook is dead from illness or a predator before laying stops.
The thing people forget is egg laying is the sex life of a chook! This is why we buy hi-sex commercial layers but then give them a free range organic life style. As the bulk of the community want
what’s best for the chook like supporting the rspca by re-homing older dogs and cats- people will sometimes think to give a well deserved chook a retirement home to support local farmers and
stop unnecessary butchering. If everyone were to get them as pullets not only do they pay a higher price but then it’s like throwing out perfectly good paper for new. Personally, if the day comes when my only choice is to butcher the small number of chooks we have out here to make way for new layers in order to keep the business running, I will look for something else to do!
So next time you think of chooks, think of chooks and charity and please make contact.