How To Make The Most Of Your Non-Laying Hens

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

31 March 2015

There comes a time in every laying hen’s life when they simply cannot produce the same amount of eggs as they used to. This is often a traumatic time but also a relief for the laying hens, who have been working overtime to ensure that you have enough eggs for your morning omelette. This being said, it is difficult for owners to come to terms with what they can do with their laying hens once their river of eggs has finally dried up.

When can I expect my laying hens to stop producing eggs?

Most laying hens will find it hard to produce the %same quantity of eggs that they once use to after 72 weeks. Over the course of the first 72 weeks of the laying hen’s life, they are likely to have at least one period of moulting, in which they will shed their feathers and cease laying for a few weeks. After this first moult, some chickens stop laying entirely, whereas others will continue to lay, however they tend to produce fewer eggs. It is important to note that these eggs will be larger and equally as scrumptious. Some laying hens can produce eggs for years, however it’s important to recognise that anything after 72 weeks should be considered a bonus.

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What can I do with my non-laying hens?

Keep your non-laying hens as pets:

Many people become attached to their chickens after a few short months, weeks or even days- it’s hard not to feel the love for these charming little creatures.  It is entirely natural for someone to want to keep their non-laying hen out of love after they have so generously produced so many yummy, crisp eggs. After all, these girls make the best gossip buddies while you’re putting the clothes on the line. There are so many reasons to love your chooks even when you take the eggs out of the picture.

Non-laying hens are still great insect killers:

Chickens, even after they’ve stopped laying, still love to hunt, kill and eat all those disturbing bugs that try to call your garden home. Non-laying hens are the perfect way to keep the insect population down in your backyard. To this point, now that your girls aren’t laying as regularly, they’ll be able to devote more time to patrolling your garden.

Non-laying hens can look after your garden:

As most poultry keepers discover, chickens are a great way to keep your garden soil nutritious, healthy and oh so plant friendly. Most avid gardeners who have chickens use their high in nitrogen chook droppings as the special ingredient for their compost. Though your laying hens may not be laying any more eggs, they will still be able to produce plenty of powerhouse manure for your compost and garden.

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Give your girls away.

Some chicken owners are very committed to farming lots of eggs and sometimes it simply isn’t financially viable to keep non-laying hens in the flock. This doesn’t always mean you have to do something terrible drastic! Lots of people are able to pass their chickens along to family, friends or neighbours who might have larger properties that are able to accommodate more chickens. Ask around and see if there is anyone in your network who might have a large property that can handle having some eggstra non-laying hens pecking around.

Turn to social media.

In the event there is no one in your network that is able to adopt your non-laying hens put a call out on social media and see who will answer. Post on Facebook or upload a few cute photos on Instagram (be sure to use a hot filter) and see if anyone is interested. Also, why not post an add on Chicken Sales and see if there is anyone in your area interested in picking up some free chooks. Don’t despair! There is bound to be someone willing to look after your non-laying hens so long as you put yourself out there.

Non-laying hens have so much to offer and it’s important you keep this in mind once the eggs gradually become more infrequent. So long as you are on top of how to manage a pecking order dispute, it’s always possible to introduce more point of lay hens into your coop alongside your non-laying hens. Make sure you have a large coop, like the Penthouse or Mansion, otherwise your coop may very quickly become overcrowded and the eggs might dry up completely.

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If you want to know more about laying hens, like which breeds are the best layers or how to ensure your girls produce eggs for long, there are plenty of articles on our learning centre for you to stick your beak into.

Sources and further reading

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