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Chickens are hatched with a set number of eggs for their lifetime. This means that at some point, if they live a long life, they will stop laying completely due to not having any eggs left. So, here are the 5 ways how to tell if a hen is still laying.
The 5 ways to tell if a chicken is still laying eggs are: comb and wattle color, leg and feather color, vent appearance, separation and food coloring.
You may also wonder: Do roosters lay eggs?
Of course, they don’t just go from laying like gangbusters, to not laying at all. When they start and how often chickens lay eggs can depend on a variety of different factors. But typically, you will see a slow decrease over time.
If you have had your chickens for a while and are getting less eggs than before, you might be wondering why. Well, you could have a number of factors at play.
How long do chickens lay eggs? Chickens typically lay well for the first 2 or so years and slowly decrease. Most stop laying by 5 – 6 years of age.
Keep reading below to find out the details on how to identify the signs your hen has stopped laying eggs.
Here are 5 ways to tell if your chicken is still laying:
1) Comb & Wattles
A hen that is still laying will have bright red comb and wattles, while a hen that is no longer laying will have a paler and shrunken appearance.
2) Legs & Feathers:
A hen that is still laying will be lacking in color in her legs. And a hens that is still laying will have feathers that tend to look a bit more disheveled. This is because she is using all of her nutrition to put towards egg production and not “looking pretty”.
Keep in mind that chickens do molt at least once a year and this will usually cause them to stop laying for a period of time. But they should start back up once their molting is over.
It is important to keep track of your chickens so that you can tell the difference between molting, dull feathers or some other issue.
So, if you have a hen that is starting to look bright and fancy again, you might consider that is a chick that is no longer laying eggs.
A hen that is still laying will have a large, moist vent. (Ya know, because she has to squeeze out eggs every day!) You should be able to fit about three fingers between her pubic bones.
A hen that is not laying will have a dry, small vent and her pubic bones will be much closer together.
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Of course, looking at a hens appearance can give you good indications on if she may still be laying. However, it won’t give you a definite answer.
If you have the space, you can also always separate a hen for a few days to her own area to see if she produces any eggs. What we do is use a dog crate and give her food and water for a few days. This really a sure fire way to know if a chicken is still laying eggs or not.
5) Food Coloring:
You can also put a dot or two of food coloring on a hens vent, that way when she lays you should see some of the coloring on her eggs.
Do you have anything you look for to tell if your chickens are still laying? If so, let us know in a comment below.
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.