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Old 01/04/10, 07:32 AM
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Is buying 2-year-old laying hens a good idea?

I'm thinking about buying between 25 and 50 2-year-old laying hens, golden sex-links. They are $2.50 each, and it seems a good deal at that price, if they still have eggs in them.
My thought is that if they don't start laying in the spring (and the fellow said they are not laying now) that at that price we can butcher them and use them for soup birds and still come out all right.
What do you all think? Would you take a chance? Or would it be better to spend the money on baby chicks? Our hens have always been fairly productive for many years, but I have read accounts where people experience a rapid loss of their hens' egg production by the third year.
If anyone else is interested and lives in Northeast TX, this fellow is near Sulphur Springs, and his ad is in Craigslist under Farm/Garden. He has over 1000 hens for sale. They are $3 each up to 20 hens, and $2.50 for 20 or over.
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Old 01/04/10, 07:52 AM
||Downhome||'s Avatar
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Location: Michigan
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sounds reasonable most folks this way want 5 a piece for theres, Im going to add 10 every year to my flock and retire as nessary (theres only a few I would keep on as pets), mine are just now starting to lay so that should keep me in production on a regular basis.

chicks run ya at least a buck a piece and Ive seen a lot more asked for different breeds, though $3 is the normal high price,then you have to wait till they start laying, mortality rates and feed and time till then, even if they are not performing at peak you still should do allright. Ive seen layers advertised as high as 15 bucks (up to that age??)

theres someone on bestfarmbuys here that has 1000 isa browns at 4 a piece with no mention of discount or age?

Last edited by ||Downhome||; 01/04/10 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 01/04/10, 08:33 AM
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I found that both my red & black sex links were pretty much done laying by two years of age. After that, the eggs they produced didn't cover the cost of the feed they ate. You'll have a nice bunch of stewing hens, however!
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Old 01/04/10, 08:44 AM
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I guess it would depend a lot on how many eggs you need. If you get them you could always incubate eggs and start to refresh the flock, plus process the slow layers for meat. I think eggs incubated are healthier and hardier than shipped chicks. Then you would also get roos for meat.
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Old 01/04/10, 09:32 AM
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Location: New York bordering Ontario
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I honestly think that's pretty expensive for those birds. You're paying probably $.75 a pound, and you have to process the birds, too. You could get some eggs, but they'd be expensive eggs just because you wouldn't be getting that many of them.

I've seen spent hens for sale here for $.50 each if you buy a certain number (can't remember now, this was last summer). Which seems ridiculously cheap, so it seems like a figure somewhere in the middle would still be reasonable price for spent hens.

-Northern NYS
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Old 01/04/10, 09:43 AM
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Two years old, spent? I don't think so. Not unless they are industrial battery-raised chickens. I would think that home-raised, well cared for chickens would lay fairly well for at least five years, maybe more. Sure, laying will taper off a little, but what do you want? Machines? Don't buy so much expensive food and give them a break. I'm sure those chickens will give you some eggs over the next couple of years, then you will have nice stewing hens.
In the Name of Yeshua,

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Old 01/04/10, 09:53 AM
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Thank you all for the responses and opinions! Lots to think about. I am going to go look at them and talk to the fellow this morning. I don't know what they look like, how they've been raised, what he feeds them, if he's been keeping light on them to make them lay through the winter etc. I'll get answers to all that and then decide. Even if they turn out to be overpriced stewing hens, it's probably better/safer meat than grocery store chicken.
Thanks again and I'll check back in here later today.
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Old 01/04/10, 01:16 PM
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If they're a sexlink, they are spent by this age. They are egg producers but really start to slack off at about 20 months. Since they're crossbreed, hatching eggs from them will give you a bunch of varying quality offspring... and none will be sexlinked. Nothing lays as well as the initial cross.

I, too, think they're a bit expensive - I'd pay at most 1.00 for spent hens of this type, and they'd go right into the stewpot. If they were a pure breed of some sort, I might try to keep 'em around until I got some hatching eggs from them, but it would depend if I had a rooster.

Dona Barski

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Old 01/04/10, 01:20 PM
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If they are sex-link there are spent or if they have been pushed with lights, If this fellow is selling at that price and volume he is probably a pushing his birds for eggs, there is nothing wrong for the price he is asking around here spent hens go for five dollars. They would make good soup.
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Old 01/04/10, 02:05 PM
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Yes, I suppose you are right. I didn't think about the fact that those birds ARE egg-laying machines. And they probably were pushed. Oh, well.
In the Name of Yeshua,

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Old 01/04/10, 02:51 PM
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75 cents a pound is a decent price for chicken, provided it didn't live it's life in a 2 foot cube. Chicken breast injected with salt water is close to $2 a pound here.

Depending on the breed they may or may not lay well. Find out what breed they are and do some research.
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Old 01/04/10, 09:15 PM
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sex link are egg laying machines I have 6 24wk old red and black pullets and I have 2 2yr old sex link hens. I am getting 5-6 pullets eggs a day and about 3-4 a week from the 2 older ones, and its freakin cold outside all I have is light on 3 extra hours a day with red heat lamp in coop house to keep water from freezing. Got the 2 older ones free but they were kept as pets and not egg producers. Someone here told me that hens like women are born with a certain amount of "eggs" in them, once its done its done.
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Old 01/04/10, 11:35 PM
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get them feed for a time with good good see if they come back into lay, its very possible they still have some production left in them, if you have a couple good roosters around hatch your own eggs from them and then ship them off to the stew pot, i have had OLD hens still lay, i have a black sexlink out in the coop now that has almost turnd all orange and she still shucks off a few eggs, she even went broody this last season and contributed to the flocks new generation, she will grow older and die of old age here, i think she is probably pushing 5 or 6 at least,
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Old 01/05/10, 02:26 PM
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i have a 4 year old hen thats laying an egg a day still (i know this cause she is the only one left lol) do for $2.50 id buy some but if you go to auctions that sell chickens you can get them cheaper im sure around here auction chickens are $.50-2 each and you dont know how old they are but on craigslsit there $4-10 a chicken and even rooster are $5 and up some times you find some free but not often any more
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Old 01/05/10, 05:08 PM
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Lots of opinions on this

I would pass, myself, unless they will let you have them for free. If you want meat for the pot, maybe it's worth it. But if it's eggs you are after, my experience is they don't produce enough to even out the cost of feed/bedding. Better to spend the extra money and buy either Point of Lay (POL) or chicks to brood.
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Old 01/05/10, 07:15 PM
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In my opinion?

You COULD buy some and put them on good feed. When they begin laying, eat the eggs of course.

Do you know how the comb of a non-laying hen is small and pale and how there is NOT 2 fingers width between the hip bones? Once the hens are laying you COULD start eating any non-layers, as you want them.

In my area I never see spent hens offered for sale, so I have no opinion of the price.

For that matter, I do not want my meat to have a history with me. I salute those people who raise their meat and give them a better life that the commercial people, but, it is not for me. But, IF I were to eat old hens, that is how I would arrange things.

As for the age of the hens, I have no experience with old hens of that breed. My son had a black austrolorp (sp) that was laying WELL at 5 years of age, but most of my birds become unprofitable at age 3, or possibly age 4.

His hen laid SOME until age 7, and died at age 8. Some birds just lay longer than others.

Last edited by Terri; 01/05/10 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 01/05/10, 07:18 PM
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It depends on how the sex links are made. If they are Leghorn or another industrial hen as a base, then they are spent.
We make out sexlinks with dual purpose farm breeds. They can lay for years and years.

If they are not industrial, then you've got yourself a great deal.
If they are industrial..I would pass.
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Old 01/06/10, 01:01 AM
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I did get some and some of them are laying. They seem healthy and are very docile and gentle. So far so good. I'll let you all know how it goes!
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