More than Eggs

December 23, 2013
old chickens still can lay eggs

This spring the flock turns four with the exception of Fifi. She is three. They are now considered old chickens. During their last molt, the girls stopped laying all together. It has now been about three months since the molting began and I can count on one hand how many eggs the flock has laid. This is the first year that we have experienced an almost complete egg drought.

Old Chickens Matter

I know it does not have to do with diet. Nor access to calcium. We don’t over treat and there are windows and lots of light in the coop. Predators have not been an issues and everyone is healthy and happy. The reason the flock has decreased its egg laying has to do mostly with old age. A flock’s laying slows way down after two years of age. I’ve come to term with the fact that my girls are on the outskirts of henopause and egg laying will not resume to a new “normal” until spring.

I thought for a long time, that I would miss the eggs terribly once the girls stopped laying. Farm fresh eggs were one of the main reasons we started keeping chickens in the first place. I didn’t know until now how wrong I truly was.

Just as each egg is special, so is each chicken. Ours all have names. They come when I call them. They are a joy to me each and every day. They have a lust for life that amazes me to watch. Their personalities are nothing short of bewildering. They share love with one another through their gestures of kindness. They stick together as a family no matter what. They have taught me that you don’t need words to say I love you, nor do you need arms for hugging. Love is about making connections with our hearts.

The importance of touch should not be undervalued. People need and crave human contact. Chickens crave contact too. It’s rare that I ever find the chickens dust bathing solo. Usually they are piled one on top of the other; preening on each other, chatting up a storm, even going completely boneless without a care in the world. It is as if time stands still. Friending and reaching out to those who surround you, even those in the houses next to you should be a given, not something that you haven’t gotten the time to get around to.

Each and every day should be lived to the fullest as the chickens remind me. Holidays are non-existent in the animal world. They don’t need days to celebrate what should be remembered, celebrated, and reflected upon each and every day.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that people are truly better as a flock that sometimes agrees to disagree. Not everyone gets along all the time, but at the end of the day, chickens never go to bed mad at one another. Nor should we. Life has only gotten more complicated, the chickens remind us how important the simple things are.

If you ask me today why I keep chickens, I am always the first to share that it is much more than for the eggs.

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest


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9 thoughts on “More than Eggs”

  1. Oh I absolutely agree with you! My oldest girls turned four in August and I almost wish they would stop laying eggs because I don't want them to have any reproductive problems. A couple of my girls passed away around 3 years old because of reproductive issues, so I just hope my other older girls don't lay anymore haha. Their love and companionship means so much more to me than a few eggs every now and then.

  2. Beautifully written with wise words that are so true. I had chicken for years but mine were crosses of several breeds. My oldest roosters/hens lived to be at least 10 or more years. I lost track. I kept every chicken until they went to chicken heaven. Now buy pasture raised eggs that are sold by Vital Farms of Austin, Texas.

  3. Bravo. People ask me all the time what I'm going to do when my hens stop laying. Even if just one hen is laying, it's probably enough eggs for the two of us. And people under estimate the other work chickens do. I have NO snails, NO slugs, NO earwigs, NO bugs period. So whether my hens are laying or not, they are helping to keep my garden pest free and well fertilized. This is their forever home. Eggs are certainly well appreciated. But my hens provide so much more love and joy than just eggs.

  4. Lovely post. I too totally enjoy my girls, will keep them till the end, though they are not as close to me as yours are, we lost two, one of them the friendliest in August then the head hen a few weeks later, I think egg bound. They hadn't gotten back on track from the first attack when Dottie died. None of us are the same. Just a few come quickly if there's food involved while the rest hang back but they do all the chicken things when left to their daily lives. We should all try to live a simpler more loving and accepting life.

  5. What a sweet post, and such true words. Two of my five hens are 7+ years old, and the others are 4 years old. We have a glut of eggs in the spring and early summer, then it slows down and over the winter eggs are non-existent, but there are just two of us and I don't mind buying a dozen eggs once in awhile in the winter. They will live out their lives here.
    ~ Kathi

  6. I have two hens who are seven years old. Every now and then I get an egg and it's a bonus! Two roosters at 7, one age 6. The rest fall somewhere in between this springs chicks and the oldest ones. Love 'em all! Appreciate your post…makes me feel not so crazy!!

  7. I've given up trying to understand my hens lol. So far they haven't stopped laying despite it being December and as we live in the Scottish Highlands we have very little daylight hours. Most of the hens are at least 3 years old probably more like 4 so i thought they'd give up soon lol.
    I think they may have killed the cockerel though 🙁 We found him one morning with his neck bald and tiny amount of blood there. Haven't a clue what happened but I suspect murder 🙁 Not sure whether to bother replacing him (he was a silkie and the hens aren't lol) because we're more likely to rescue more battery hens (as these are) than to hatch chicks.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.