Monday, July 15, 2024

Signs to Know that your Layers Chicken are Old or Tired and What to do

Today we are going to be discussing about those signs that will make you understand that your laying birds or egg laying chickens popularly referred to as layers are old or tired of laying eggs for you and what you need to do at that period as a poultry farmer.

First let us understand what breed of chickens are referred to as layers or laying birds and how you can identify them when they are still young (young birds, Day old chicks, pullets). Pullets are young female chickens that are not sexually mature and less than 4 months old or but more than 2 months old. Layers or hens are sexually matured chickens that are ready to lay eggs. Point-of-lays could also be called hens or layers since they are sexually matured.

When you procure your chicks from a hatchery, there are possibilities that both males and females. If you want to tell the difference between a cockerel and pullet, there are a few things you can look for in determining if a chicken is a male (cockerel) or female (pullet) and they include but not limited to the following:

1. Wattles and Combs

Cockerels have larger and more developed combs and wattles than pullets. These combs and wattles of cockerels turn red sooner than the wattles and combs of pullets. Also, the combs of pullets flop over while the combs of cockerels stand upright.

2. Body and Legs

The body of a cockerel is bigger than that of a pullet. A cockerel also has thicker legs while those of a pullet are quite small. When both are of the same age and body size, the legs of the cockerel are much larger than the legs of the pullet.

3. Feathering

A cockerel has hackle feathers (pointed feathers on his neck) while a pullet has rounded feathers on her neck. Saddle feathers (pointed feathers on the back) are present on the back of cockerels and they also have sickle fathers (curved tail feathers). Pullets have straight feathers on their tails and other feathers on their body have rounded ends.

4. Plumage Color

The feathers of cockerels are brightly colored and have more iridescence and color variety to their than those of pullets.

Layer poultry farming means raising egg laying poultry birds for the purpose of commercial egg production. Layer chickens are such a special species of hens, which need to be raised from when they are one day old up untill they start laying eggs and should be sold as meat when their egg laying cycle completes. They can produce about one kg of eggs by consuming about 2.25 kg of food during their egg laying period.

In one sentence, Chickens raised for eggs are known as layers, while chickens raised for meat are called broilers or cockerels. Their feed formulation,feeding methods, and feeding patterns largely depends on the time of chickens you are raising aand the purpose of production whether you are raising them for egg production or meat alone.

You can check out our feed formulas for the type of chicken you are raising inorder to produce your own feeds for your birds: Chicks Mash Feed Formula, Growers Mash Feed Formula, Layers Mash Feed Formula, Broiler Starter Feed Mash Formula (Female Broilers), Broiler Starter Mash Feed Formula (Male Broilers).

Spent layers or Old layers are egg laying birds that are past their prime, whose output is increasingly irregular, rendering them economically inefficient.

As the Poultry Farmer, once your Laying birds or Layers chicken start showing you the following signs below, you just have to know that they are Old Layers or Spent Layers or maybe they are tired of laying eggs and at that point you just have to sell them off as they are no longer economical to raise for profit.

Some of the signs include:

(1) Laying fewer eggs than usual

(2) Their feathers starts dropping (Excess feathers pulling from their body)

(3) The cost of feed and inputs remains the same but their earning capacity is greatly reduced.

Read Also: Harmattan and it’s Effect on Poultry Production

Meanwhile there are certain factors that affects the performance of egg production which if properly managed can lead to high profits and return on investment for the poultry farmer. Some of those factors are discussed below.

Factors that Affect Egg Production of Poultry

There are about eight (8) major factors that directly or in directly affects the egg production rate. The factors like aging, feed consumption, water, intensity and duration of light, diseases etc affects the production of eggs.

Signs to Know that your Layers Chicken are Old or Tired and What to do

(1) Aging hens

Just like we are still discussing about old layers or spent layers, Aging is a big problem in egg production. A hen can live many years and it lays eggs continuously for these years. But after a sudden period of time like 2 or 3 years it’s egg production rate significantly reduces.

It actually depends on the quality of hens that you are raising. Good layer hens lay eggs continuously for about 50 to 60 weeks then it takes a break. This time period is called molt. Poor and older layers more often molt and lay eggs less continuously.

(2) Improper Nutrition

Chickens need a balanced diet with enough level of protein and calcium to continue the maximum egg production over a certain period of time. Improper nutrition can make the hens to stop laying eggs. Imbalanced level of protein, energy and calcium can drop the egg production.

That’s why it is so important to supply a continuous balanced food to get a continuous supply of eggs.
Imbalanced food can cause many problems like oviductal prolapse. It mainly occurs when the birds are too fat or the egg size is too large. Prolapse can cause permanent damage to the hens.

(3) Rejecting important food ingredients

Another important factor that makes you hens to lay eggs occasionally is the subtraction of important food ingredients.

(4) Salt

Every animal needs salt. If you subtract salt from the food list it will reduce the egg production rate. Most of the animal’s food contains salt in the form of sodium chloride. It doesn’t contain any iodine.

Sodium is an important nutrient which plays an important role in maintaining the body fluid volume, proper osmotic relation and blood ph. Chlorine is also an important ingredient. HCl which release from stomach helps to digest food. Chlorine also maintains the osmotic balance in body fluid.

Read Also: Basic things you should know about Poultry Farming Business

(5) Calcium

The egg shell of hens is mainly composed of calcium carbonate. New hens need relatively a low amount of calcium at their growing period but when it start to lay eggs, it needs more calcium about four times relative to previous days.

Inadequate calcium supply will lead to reduce egg production rate. Calcium can be supplied with the food. Limestone is a great source of calcium. You can mix it with the food you supply to your hens.

(6) Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium. If improper vitamin D is supplied with the food ingredient it will result in decreased egg production. Feed contains vitamin D in two forms D3 and D2. In birds D3 is more active than D2. So you have to supply vitamin D only in the form of D3.

(7) Protein

The requirement of protein is actually the requirement of amino acid which constitute the protein. There are about 22 types of amino acid in body protein and all of them are essential. Hens can’t produce all of them and also can’t produce enough to meet their requirement. So poultry farmers need to supply extra protein with the supplied food. The requirement of amino acid depends on the age, type and strain.

(8) Management mistakes

Improper management system can also reduce egg production. Some mistakes that the farmers often does are:

Out of food is one of them. If you keep your hens out of food it will reduce its egg production. The reduction of egg production depends on the time without food. Make sure that your birds have enough supply of foods.

Water is also an essential element. Water represents about 70% of body weight. Inadequate water supply can also reduce egg production. Birds are more sensitive to water than food.

Daylight is also a great factor which controls the production of eggs. Hens need at least 14 hours of daylight. The intensity of light must be sufficient to increase egg production.

Read Also: Comprehensive Guide on How to start Cockerel Farming Business

Read Also: Anatomy of Fishes: Female Fish and their Reproductive Strategies


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

One thought on “Signs to Know that your Layers Chicken are Old or Tired and What to do

  • Emmanuel Mwaanga

    Thank You For Sharing such a wonderful information.


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