Age of laying hens


One of the profitable areas is the breeding of chickens, and, to breed them is equally beneficial both in small farms and for industrial purposes. Increasingly, there are people who keep birds on their plots. When buying animals, there are many questions, the main of which is: "How to determine the age of a chicken?". Let's find the answer together.

Why know age?

Every poultry farmer wants to know how old his bird is. This is necessary in order to evaluate the egg production. Juveniles are able to blow an egg every day, and mature clubs are rarely carried. In the first three years, the bird is able to nestle well, giving large, tasty eggs. After three years, the quality and quantity of eggs is deteriorating. In order not to get into the market on the old Klush, you should know how to determine the age of the hen, according to what signs old birds are detected.

Terms of egg production

Anyone who chooses to breed chickens or at least keep them on a personal subsidiary farm for their own needs should know not only how to determine the age of the hen, but also the timing of the start of egg laying.

Different breeds begin to carry eggs from different ages. Layers usually begin laying at four or five months. Some breeds enter puberty and start laying eggs from six months.

To increase egg production, you can add special premixes to feed. To get the most out of the bird, you need an increased light day. Because of this feature in the winter season in the chicken coop birds include lighting. Its presence allows you to simulate a longer light day, which favorably affects egg production.

There are breeds of chickens that rush only if certain temperature conditions are observed. However, newcomers who do not know on what grounds to determine the age of the hen and other secrets of successful poultry farming cannot properly care for the capricious layer of the hen. For them, it is recommended to purchase adult chickens that are not demanding to care and are able to give a lot of eggs.

Signs of good klushi

Finding a good layer is not difficult, just watch the behavior of the chicken. Layers with excellent productivity don't stay in one place. They are the first to run out of the hen house and walk around the yard all day, dig, search for larvae and bugs. Young chickens clucking. They late come into a hen house, more often they have to be driven.

Weak birds are looking for a place to sit. They are often located in the shade, somewhere under a tree or in the corners of a chicken coop and sit waiting for the night. To more accurately determine the productivity of the chicken, apply various methods of external detailed examination.

Bird productivity

The most active egg-laying is observed in chickens in the first year of life, and from the second, productivity declines. If the klush is not used for meat, but left, then they will be able to live for more than ten years. However, from the fifth year of life, they completely cease to carry an egg.

When purchasing layers, each customer asks at what age they begin to rush. The beginning of the process depends on many factors, including:

  • breeds
  • living conditions
  • the month of birth,
  • feeding

Most breeds become sexually mature by half a year. From this point on, the hens begin to give an egg. There are breeds that can be carried from four and a half months, and someone will take down the first testicle and at eight.

The bird belonging to the egg-laying breed begins to sail from 4.5 months. Meat-egg - from five, and meat hens give an egg from 6-8 months. The latest dates of the beginning of laying at the hens of fighting breeds. They begin to race from eight months and later.

To determine the start time of laying, it is important to know at what time of the year the chicken came into being. If the bird is spring broods, then they will give the first eggs in the fall. Summer broods are rushing from winter, but most often the beginning of the clutch is in the first month of spring. You can speed up the process if you organize the accommodation of the hens. To do this, a light must be lit in the hen house. It will help extend the daylight hours. In the house should be warm. If the temperature drops below zero degrees, the bird simply refuses to carry the egg.

Ten months after the beginning of laying, the bird ceases to give eggs. Meat breeds cease to sail even earlier. With good conditions for ten months laying, the layer is able to produce about three hundred eggs.

For chickens in the hen house, nests are made where they lay their eggs. However, there are situations when the bird refuses to sit in the designated place and rushes anywhere. To accustom to order, it is necessary to put a foundling in the nests. This may be a boiled egg, which is labeled so as not to be confused with fresh.

Rooster and egg production

Some people believe that having a rooster in a flock of birds has an effect on egg production. In fact, it is not. If you plan to use the product only for human consumption, then chickens can do without a rooster, without losing egg production. If it is planned to hatch nestlings from the eggs, it is necessary to have a rooster. And one “boy” can drive about ten “girls”. If there are more laying hens on the farm, then several roosters should be purchased.

With the onset of autumn, each poultry farmer conducts a detailed examination of his bird farm. He examines each individual, identifying sick, weak, old chickens. Different methods are used to determine the age, they also help to know the state of health of the bird. For example, inactive young birds clearly have health problems. They are not left for the winter, and removed from the economy.

Verification methods

Some poultry farmers have heard how to determine the age of a hen by scallop or beak, legs. By external signs, you can find out the approximate age of the bird. To determine it more or less accurately, it is recommended to use several methods of determining age at once. This is due to the characteristics of the rocks.

So how to determine the age of the chicken in appearance? There are several ways to find out how many years it has been. They are listed below:

  1. Definition of the stomach.
  2. Detection of scallop age.
  3. Determination of age by activity.
  4. Years of life and the state of the beak and legs.
  5. Determination by weight.

Each definition method has its own characteristics. Novice farmers are advised to know how to determine the age of a chicken in various ways.

Determining the age of the stomach

To find out how long the hen lives, it is recommended to probe her belly. In old birds, it is hard, obese. Such birds will have low productivity. If you find similar instances, it is better to abandon the purchase of birds and look for other options.

With the development of chickens gain weight, and with age, they move less. Because of the small activity on the abdomen, fat is deposited, which makes the stomach feel hard to the touch.

Young chickens are very active, they seek the first to reach the trough. Old birds always keep aside, move a little, slowly go to the place of feeding.

When feeling the abdomen in young birds revealed softness, elasticity. Such layers are able to bring a lot of benefits, because they have not reached the critical decline in egg production.

Scallop age determination

Some farmers know how to determine the age of the hen by scallop. At a young age, he has a bright color. When palpating, scallop is warm. This is due to the abundant blood supply.

Over the years, the color of the lobes and the crest changes, it becomes dimmer, and if you touch them, they will be cold due to circulatory disorders.

However, it is not enough to know how to determine the age of the hen of the laying hen along the scallop, since in some breeds the tint is initially dull. To know exactly the age, you should know the features of the breed.

In those breeds with light, pale scallops, it is recommended to determine the years of life by temperature. Knowing how to determine the age of a hen on the ridge, taking into account its warmth, one can orient oneself approximately at its age.

Determination of age by activity

To find out how old the hen is and whether it will be useful to her, it is recommended to know not only how to determine the age of the hens of hens by the crest, but also how to determine the lifetime from its activity. As mentioned above, the old klushi are inactive. This is noticeable in their behavior. Usually they sit quietly watching what is happening. Such birds do not run to the trough to grab a tasty morsel. They slowly approach and slowly, slowly, absorb food. Compared to them, the young individuals run to the feeders, trying to be ahead.

Many farmers know how to determine the age of laying hens, given their activity. Therefore, when buying another batch, they leisurely watch the bird, assessing its activity. If during viewing it is clear that the hen is slow and slow, then it means that the bird is old.

Years of life and the state of the beak, legs

In chickens in different periods of life, legs and beak have different shades. In young individuals, they are bright yellow. Over the years, the shade fades. This happens not only with the beak, but also with the legs: they become grayish, with pronounced scales.

If the legs are smooth and even, and their color is bright, then it means that the bird is young. Older chickens have a grayish paw tinge, they have deep cracks, pronounced scales of a large size. This is very visible through visual inspection of the hen.

Age determination by weight

Another sign by which the age of a bird can be determined is its weight. However, this technology does not give an accurate result, since young individuals may have completely different weights. Some hens quickly gain grams, while others grow slowly. Based on the growth rate, it is impossible to accurately determine the age of a chicken. But, knowing the standards of weight of a certain breed, it is possible to identify young and old individuals within it.


Knowledge of how to determine the age of a hen laying hen (photo attached) by the color of the paws and scallop cannot provide accurate results. It is best to use several methods, because only a group check allows you to know whether a chicken will rush or whether it should be sent for meat.

The breed characteristics of the laying hen make it possible to accurately determine not only the age, but also the approximate egg production of birds. If you buy layers that can give three hundred or more eggs per year, then over a long period of time, the teeth will delight you with tasty, fresh, homemade eggs. They differ from those offered in stores. This is evident not only by the color of the yolk, but also by the pronounced taste. For health, it also has an important role.

This is also interesting!

Being engaged in breeding chickens is not only interesting, but also beneficial. However, many inexperienced farmers, purchasing chickens from breeders, are afraid to acquire old individuals at a loss to the farm. After all, only young chickens can please the farmer with good health and high egg production. Are there special age nuances, knowing about which, the owner will never make a mistake at the age of the hen hen?

Methods for determining the age of chickens

You should know that neither experience nor any visual reference points will help to establish the absolute, exact age of the chicken. Even experts in the craft industry usually allow an error of 1 to 6 months. On the one hand, this is quite a bit: after all, a chicken hen with proper care can live up to 15 years, if the owner does not allow it for meat. But on the other hand, the ability to lay eggs remains in the chicken only for 5 years, becoming lower every year. And even such a short period as half a year means a lot in this situation. After all, many farmers keep laying hens on the farm for only a year - this is how much time chicken’s maximum egg production is maintained.

According to the advice of specialists, after purchasing chickens, invite an experienced chicken cooker to help with age determination. However, it is better to do this before the purchase. It is best to go to the breeders together with a reliable, experienced farmer who examines the state of the crest, beak, paws and abdomen of the chicken, in order to establish whether the young one is female or already at a “respectable” age.

The best age for purchasing chickens is 4-6 months. It is during this period of life that chickens begin to give eggs and completely cease egg productivity in the sixth year of life. Conscientious sellers usually accurately tell the buyer the age of the hens, but trouble also happens. Therefore, make this important purchase in the presence of an experienced farmer.

The general parameters of the young chickens are as follows:

  • warm, hard comb of rich red color,
  • clear, bright eyes,
  • smooth, shiny, yellow beak,
  • clean, neat skin on the paws of a yellow shade,
  • smooth claws without lamination,
  • elastic, clean heels without calluses and cracks,
  • the keel (a special outgrowth of the sternum, combined with strong pectoral muscles) is soft and with cartilage.

Methods for determining the age of a hen, although they do not provide a full guarantee of accuracy, have been used by farmers for several decades. Other methods simply do not exist, and the known methods are very simple, and even an inexperienced filter can use them.

Beak surface

Visually, the beak gives a good age category of the bird. Young chickens have a bright, light yellow beak with a shiny, smooth surface. While old chickens have a dull horny layer of the beak, gray spots appear on the surface. But on inspection of the beak, one can hardly distinguish a one-year-old chicken from a three-year-old. One can only assume that an individual remains at the egg-bearing age, or it is already beyond its limits.

Scallop on the look and feel

A natural sign says: the brighter the color of the chicken scallop, the more the hen lays the eggs. Therefore, looking at the color of the comb, you can approximately understand whether the hen is old or young. And even more credible - to feel the comb. In older persons, the crest is usually light pink in color and cold to the touch. While young stockings are warm, even hot scallops. Why? The temperature depends on the speed of blood circulation in the chicken body. In young chickens, the blood runs faster, and therefore the comb is so warm and red.

Abdomen condition

Feeling the chicken belly can also tell a lot. Carefully feel the belly of the chicken you are going to buy. If there is a thick fat layer on it, and the tummy itself feels solid to the touch, this is most likely an elderly person. The layer of fat appears in the chicken with age, because during life the hen is gaining more and more weight and becoming more and more lazy and passive. The thicker the fat layer - the older the hen.

Chickens of venerable age do not rush to the trough as young individuals sweeping away everything in their path. Elderly chickens usually walk a little on the aviary and prefer to stay away. The young ones are in a hurry to empty the feeders, competing with each other in their appetite. The entire front part of the abdomen of a young chicken is elastic and soft. This means that egg production is maintained to the maximum, such a chicken can be bought.

Appearance of paws

The age of the chicken is reflected in its paws. Take a closer look carefully. If the chicken is old, its paws are enlarged, coarse, have many growths and corns. Young chickens under the age of 2 years have no scales on their paws and any coarse particles: growths, corns, stratum corneum. The color of the entire foot is uniform, yellow. The skin is smooth to the touch, because all the scales closely adjoin each other. Young paws are usually not large. There are practically no cracks on the soles, or they are very small, unlike old hens, in which all the heels are covered with a deep mesh and look “worn out”.

If you are new to farming, do not hesitate to call an experienced farmer for help. So you will not lose your valuable purchase and you will gain good experience in determining the age of the layers.

Determining the age of layers

In order to answer the question of how to determine the age of a chicken, it is necessary to study the features of its appearance, which appear as the birds grow older. There are signs that are inherent only for old chickens, which is the main evidence that the hen has already experienced the peak of its productivity.

Mastering these techniques will help not only to reject old layers from young ones at slaughter, but also allow you to make the right choice in the case of buying an adult bird.

All methods by which it is possible to determine the age of chickens can be divided according to external signs of the bird's body:

  • scallop condition
  • leg condition
  • the state of the beak,
  • live weight
  • belly condition.
  • mind plumage.
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Scallop type

To determine the age on the ridge is obtained with a little accuracy, but then you can immediately see which chicken has lost its productivity. Since the pigment that dyes the shell and the scallop with the lobes is common, its decline in the body is noticeable by external signs.

Так у молодых несушек гребешок более яркий и приближен к красному цвету, у старших куриц он постепенно тускнеет.

Также возможно определение по температуре гребня. Поскольку старые птицы имеют более слабое кровообращение, то он у них холодный. У молодых особей эти части тела всегда теплые.

By the color of the comb you can immediately notice a good layer, because the bright coloring speaks of the health and strength of the body, which suggests a long-term productivity.

Young chickens have a crest close to red.

The next indicator of how to determine the age of a chicken is the condition of its legs. In pullets up to one year, the color of scales is yellow and uniform. Over the years, it turns into a gray color, different shades from blue to red appear. The skin on the feet of more adult layers has cracks and abrasions, and in some places the scales do not adhere well.

The definition of the legs, is very effective and allows you to easily notice the bird, whose age exceeds 1 year. It is especially convenient when buying chickens on the market, because everything can be determined visually without even touching or taking them out of the cage.

This layer is no longer young. This is what we are told about cracks and abrasions on the legs.

Identify a young laying hen by beak, one of the simplest methods. The fact is that only in individuals up to the year the beak has a yellow color and a smooth surface. With age, it begins to darken and becomes gray. Chips and scratches appear on its surface. It becomes matte and it seems that a thin film is trying to peel off of it.

Therefore, having remembered how the beak looks like in young individuals, it is very easy to distinguish the old layer from the young. When slaughtering one should be guided by this parameter in order to reject from the mass less productive and unpromising for breeding chickens.

At this layer the key is already gray. So she is more than a year

Older birds are heavier. But this is not the most successful way to know the age, because you need to know exactly the average indicators of this breed. If you make a purchase in the market, then determine the weight will not succeed.

Another thing in your own household, especially when breeding one breed and the presence of individuals of different ages. So you can weigh the chicken at the age of which you are exactly sure and focus on these measurements.

But still, in every brood there are backward chicks who never gain the maximum weight for their breed, which, when defined in this way, will always allow them to be considered young.

Palpation of the abdomen

The contact method allows you to identify the hens who have crossed the threshold of favorable content, called palpation. It consists in probing the belly of a bird. Older individuals have a hard rounded surface of the abdomen, which indicates the presence of fat and stiffened state of muscle tissue.

When probing young chickens, their stomach easily gives way when pressed. This procedure should be carried out sensitively, and do not forget that inside the layer there is an egg with a fragile shell, which can be easily crushed.

Any good layer at a young age that has not yet survived the molt after the onset of egg production has a smooth, shiny feathering, under which you can feel the soft down. Older birds have a disheveled feather, it is bad and is slowly recovering. This disadvantage is especially noticeable when sharing with a rooster; then in adults, areas with a plucked feather are noticeable, which do not have time to grow.

You can determine the age of a hen by feathers quite accurately, but for this you need to constantly monitor your birds to notice and remember the peculiarities of changes in their appearance caused by old age. Those who do not possess such profound skills can only determine the young and old hen, but will not name her exact age.

Application of methods in practice

For a better understanding of the methods for determining the age of the hen of a hen, you should analyze them with an example. For this, this photo shows how a hen looks like at 4 months.

As you can see, the birds' beaks are smooth and shiny, they give a healthy yellow color. The same can be said about the legs. The scales on them are monochromatic and yellow, scales all fit snugly together.

It looks like a hen in

The body of the birds is elongated, which indicates a small weight gain. As can be seen from the healthy luster of the feathers, it is safe to say that the birds eat well and the thinness is caused not by hunger, but by young age. In addition, the comb of the hens in the photo is still quite small. This also says that they did not step over the transitional age from chicken to adult hen.

Now how to distinguish a hen from an unproductive chicken will allow you not to get lost when buying or choosing birds for slaughter.

To make it easier to identify the chicken, we recommend that you watch the video, where you can see the above methods more clearly.

The appearance of the beak

The determination of the age capacity is largely based on inspection of the beak. It is necessary to draw conclusions on the following grounds:

  • pullets have a bright yellow beak,
  • the "old women" - a dull and pale shade with a predominance of gray tones.

Inspection scallop

The formula of youth is based on the color of the scallop: the redder this process, the younger its owner and the higher the rate of egg production. If you need to know how young the hen is, then you should look at him:

  • saturated red color - with 100% probability states pullet,
  • Matt pinkish tones - old chicken.

You can determine the age by looking like a chicken and what thermal sensations cause touching the scallop: warm - the bird is active and full of energy, cold ones indicate the opposite. Due to the fact that the old bird's blood circulation is slowed down, the comb will be cool.

Foot condition

When using this method, you should pay attention to the legs of the layers: if they do not shine like the spurs of a rooster, it is not recommended to buy such a bird.

Signs of old limbs:

  • presence of growths and corns,
  • a rough, unkempt appearance
  • large paw size.

Features of young paws:

  • smooth surface, devoid of scaly formations,
  • the absence of keratinized particles
  • uniform color.

The skin of the paws of young females looks like a cluster of microcracks: the scales located on them tightly interlock with each other, so the limbs look so "groomed."

Quality of plumage

As the plumage, taking into account the changes caused by the annual moult, it can be concluded that the layer is able to lay well.

The feathers of pullets are distinguished by the following qualities:

Under the feathers of young layers is fluff.

In chickens of egg breeds, juvenile molt ends on reaching 60 days, and in chicks of the meat line - in 90. Full renewal of the primary plumage occurs in 6 months. These factors should be considered when evaluating plumage.

If, when buying a new livestock, you arm yourself with this knowledge, you can easily determine the age of the hen and enjoy the fruits of the right choice for more than one year.

Periods of egg laying activity

The productivity of birds and age are interrelated: the older the chicken, the lower will be the indicators. Despite the fact that during the first laying, the number of eggs does not yet meet the standards of the breed, this figure will be more than the indicators that a mature wedge can demonstrate at 4 years of age. The first testicles of the layer of the egg direction are given at 6 months, gradually increasing their number by the first year of life.

The most productive period is 1 year, more precisely, its second half. At this stage, the bird carries the maximum number of eggs. By year 2, quantity translates into quality: if earlier small eggs came out of the womb of a hen, then during this period they produce a large, first-class product.

According to the majority of poultry farmers, by the year 3 it is advisable to update the livestock, although some are postponing this time period to 5 years, since further maintenance of chickens will be unprofitable. And this despite the fact that nature has allocated chickens from 10 to 15 years of life. Most varieties stop laying at 5 years of age. The indulgence can only be made to worthy chicks, who have shown exceptional abilities in nursing the younger generation.

At what age chickens molt

Molt - an important factor in the study of poultry for "youth". For the first time, birds experienced this process at 4 weeks of age. At this stage, the primary pen is replaced by the secondary pen. The next upgrade is due to seasonality.

  • Seasonal moulting is based on the length of daylight hours and is caused by the need to prepare the birds for changing weather conditions. In spring, the bird tries to quickly get rid of excess feathers in order to feel comfortable in hot weather.
  • There is also a natural moult, which coincides with the completion of an active productive period of approximately 13 months and lasts 4 months.
  • In the summer, the plumage change is not welcome, as it is fraught with a temporary stop of the egg-laying, or a decrease in productivity.

Despite the listed temporal characteristics of the molt, its seasonality is individual for each individual. Birds can drop feathers both in spring and late autumn.

At what age do the hens begin to trot

With the natural development of laying in young birds begins at 22 weeks.

  • The first eggs come out small, weighing no more than 45 g. Despite the small volume, they are the most delicious, thanks to the taste qualities of the yolk.
  • Standard 60 g egg reaches within a few weeks of laying.
  • At the time of the first laying, it is desirable that the weight of the females reaches 1.4 kg. With such indicators, the eggs will not be too small.

Methods of rejuvenating the house

Poultry farmers have developed several methods to maintain egg productivity at the appropriate level:

  1. To carry out culling of hens that have reached the age of 2.5 years. It is more expedient to use mature individuals for culinary purposes.
  2. Buying chickens should be in the spring. This measure will help to receive products with the onset of autumn, when the “obsolete” copies are being rejected.
  3. If it is not possible to acquire new livestock, you can rely on your own production. For this will need cocks. At the rate of 1 male on 10 females, as well as competent hens with well-developed maternal instinct. The presence of responsible mothers in the hen house will facilitate the process of raising chickens, as the burden of care falls on the hen’s shoulders.

It is necessary to look at the behavior of birds: juveniles move more, besides they have an elegant backbone. The old-timers of the chicken coop are distinguished by their calm, phlegmatic disposition and do not show much participation in domestic affairs.

Makarov Ivan Vasilyevich

Hereditary poultry farmer, owner of a poultry farm, graduated from St. Petersburg State Agrarian University with honors, the author of articles in specialized publications