Is there anyway to determine the age of a hen? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hello all! My husband and I live in Indiana, and we recently bought one RIR Rooster and two hens. We were told that the hens were approx. 11 mths old. Is there anyway to determine the age of the hens? We are curious because since we've had them (about 3 weeks now) only one of them has laid. She has given us two eggs in the first week that she arrived and has produced none since. The other hen has not produced any eggs at all. In checking the forum we've found that the age of the hen(s) can be a derermining factor in egg production. We seem to be doing everything else ok i.e. the correct feed, enough water, enough light, and oyster shells, etc. We have not let them out of the coop very much at all, so they do not free range that much yet. And so far we have not seen any evidence of another critter stealing/eating the eggs. Thank you for any feedback that you may have to offer!

-- K Phillips (, March 06, 2002


K, After the hens have laid for a while, the pigment leaches out of their legs. If your hens have nice, yellow pigment in their legs, chances are that they are young hens. You cand age the rooster by the length of the spurs on his legs. I am in Indiana too, and you can control the feed, water, and light, but how about this lousy weather? Unless you are heating the chicken coop also, the cold-warm-cold will affect the lay.

-- (, March 06, 2002.

OOOPS! Forgot to ask, what brand of feed are you giving your hens? Feed Purina laying mash.The girls will lay, lay, lay. Purina has it over the other brands.

-- Judy in IN (, March 06, 2002.

I'm here in Indiana/Arctic/Tropic too and my women will lay a dozen eggs and then not the next day. Moving them, not enough water, scaring them, having cold then warm weather, etc. all affects their laying ability. I use a local feed place that mixes their own feed. No meat by-products, please! Anyway, check the color of their legs as someone else suggested. And give them more light. I was given Blue Cochins and Barred Rock Cochins that should be starting to lay at 8-9 months old but they haven't yet. They take a while to settle in! Give them some more time! And enjoy your chooks!

-- Gailann Schrader (, March 07, 2002.

Hens will often stop laying for a time when moved to a new location so it's probably normal. Sometimes they'll even go into a molt before taking up laying again. Give them a little time and as the days grow longer and the weather warmer they'll start doing what comes natural.


-- Alan (, March 07, 2002.

Count their teeth,that will tell you how old they are.Just kidding!

I do know that when chickens go through a change(being moved,newhousing,new rooster,etc)it affects their laying for awhile.

If they are getting at least 12 hours of light,they should start to lay soon.

BTW,I never heard of the color of their legs being an indicator of age...Thanks,I am going to check the color of my new hens. I've only had them a month,and they,too,aren't laying.I figured it was just the move that had upset them,but now I'm gonna check to see if I got 'hornswaggled' with a couple of old ladies.

-- Johna (, March 07, 2002.

I suspect they'll start laying as soon as it warms up. Mine just got going good lately and I live in S. Centeral VA. Sorry, I don't know how to tell their age.

-- Sharon (, March 07, 2002.

The leg (and, incidentally, vent) color isn't an indicator of age. It's an indicator of how long the hen has been laying. A young hen who's been laying for a few months will have paler legs than an older hen who hasn't laid for a few months. When they stop laying, pigment builds up and their legs turn more yellow, that is, unless they started out with green legs. In any case, after they lay for a while, the pigment is leached out and their legs, and probably their eggs, will get paler unless they have free access to a good source of carotene (read "green plants"). Even then, the pigment will go first to the eggs, then to the legs. :o)

-- Laura Jensen (, March 07, 2002.

I have 5 hens that I know are 5 years old this spring. They are in the "retirement home" with a rooster the same age. They all get along so well, no fighting or pecking each other. I can't even tell who is the lowest in the pecking order. I am still getting 2 or 3 eggs a day from them, even though we have had some nasty weather. Wish the younger ones would do that well. Anyway, K., I think that moving them has probably slowed their laying up, and they will start again soon.

-- Duffy (, March 07, 2002.

Oh, yeah, age. A young hen's legs will tend to look smoother, with more flexible-looking skin. NOT an exact science, and scaly leg mites can throw the whole theory into a cocked hat.

-- Laura Jensen (, March 07, 2002.

I'm up in Ontario in Canada, but I too have knowticed that egg production is down this winter in general. Probably due to the constant temperature fluctuations. Usually it picks up about now.

Stress is a major determining factor in a lay count. Could be too many roosters, not enough minerals/vitamines, weather, parasites etc.

A good indication of wether or not your hens are in health is the color of the comb (looking for dark color) and a clean vent (clean bottom)

If these two are fine, they are just on holiday


-- Chenoa (, March 07, 2002.

As someone else has said, anytime you move a chicken it will be awhile before you get eggs from it. I recently moved a whole flock of 2 year olds. They all quit laying. Chickens hate to be moved. My flock is just now starting to produce again. They have been here nearly 2 1/2 months.

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (, March 07, 2002.

Just wanted to say "Thank You" to all of you for your words of encouragement and words of wisdom! We are new to all of this and it is great to know there is help out there!!! I cracked up when Johna said to count their teeth...that was a good husband was also crackin up!!! God Bless you all........K

-- K Phillips (, March 09, 2002.

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