An egg-ceptional old hen

I’m still obsessed with Araucanas Audrey and Mabel’s reluctance to lay. It’s official: they’re ten days late according to sage henkeepers who cite Valentine’s Day as the beginning of the new season for pure breeds. I’m beginning to bore even myself and reckon our ancient Heritage Skyline has become rather sick of my banging on about it, too, because the hybrid who hasn’t laid for three years (apart from one egg in October 2011!) has started producing pale green beauties (albeit covered in mud) every day this week!


She must be five years old, which is a pretty good age for a hybrid anyway – I put this down to her work-shy, relaxed attitude. After all, it can’t be too stressful scratching about and eating all day. But where she’s rustling these eggs up from I’ve no idea. How and why – apart from a noble desire to plug the Araucana-shaped gap in pastel-coloured eggs – remain a mystery. I feel rather uncomfortable selling them, too – I think I’ll be using them in some cakes this weekend rather than eating them ‘fresh’.

Has anyone else heard of elderly hens starting up production again like this? I wonder how long it will carry on for. Curiouser and curiouser.  Aside from observing my own flock, I’ve been enjoying Suzie Baldwin’s Chickens: The Essential Guide (Kyle Books, £14.99) book with pictures by Country Living Magazine’s regular photographer Cristian Barnett (and beautifully designed by ex-CL Laura Woussen). It’s full of practical information as well as plenty of inspiration to keep me entertained while I wait for those naughty Araucana’s to resume laying activities.

5 thoughts on “An egg-ceptional old hen

  1. We don’t eat our chickens, so we have some old old hens 5 yrs+. They do slow down, but will go thru egg laying spurts. Had a hen age 8 who still laid an egg once a week. A lot depends on the breed of hen, environment, feed etc.

    Because my girls have a huge area to free range in safety they get lots of nutrients from scratching and pecking the grass. Whereas chickens in an enclosed area need to be given greens, vegetable, apple peels daily. A friend has a hen that is 10 yrs old who is a great bug eater.

  2. Fizz is a 12 year old lavender Araucana bantam who went for 6 years without laying an egg and then started again last year, not many but 1 a week for about 3 months.She is a solid little hen who tries to crow from time to time and looks pretty good for her age.

    Lovely blog!

      1. Hi Ruth
        not sure what Fizz’s secret is, she stomps about and does her own thing in the garden.I have never worked out why some hens live 5+ years and others from the same hatching drop down dead at a year old.We have been given various older hens over the years (Marrans, Light Sussex and good old ex bats) and they regularly make it to 6 or 7 years old before just keeling over one day. One of the many mysteries of hen keeping!

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