Egg laying and Ex-Battery Hens
You'll get eggs. When and where is often another matter!
First we have to consider why they are not kept on 'Farms' for longer than around 60 weeks. The answer is that because of intense 'farming' as in artificial light and fortified food, eggs have been virtually sucked out of them.
In one year, they will have probably laid twice the amount they would in natural conditions and once egg production falls, in the eyes of the System, they are spent.
Some 'experts' will say they are finished and have a laugh when you take them on for eggs. Sure, some may never lay another egg, but rest assured, many will.
Another common Forum question is 'My ex-batts aren't laying'. This is usually posted after their new owners having them for just a few weeks.
When they are collected, there are eggs in their system and much joy is had when you find eggs the first morning after getting them. But the change of scenery, diet and general environment is completely different to what they're used to and many will go off lay for quite a few weeks.
Working on a scenario that you have five ex-battery Chickens, you may get, in Summer, three eggs a day and in Winter, maybe one or two. In fact I went through one winter where I didn't get one single egg.
The other thing to consider is that maybe two or three aren't laying at all, all the eggs had are laid by the same two or three chickens. So it really is pot luck. You may be lucky and get all your ex-batts laying, but I'd say from experience that this is pretty rare.
Sometimes they'll surprise you with a whopper - ouch!
When taking on these Hens, they must be see as being rescue Chickens and Pets if you like - EGGS ARE A BONUS, but I haven't had any complete 'failures' yet.
Finally I would say that trying to induce Chickens to lay eggs is not, for me, the right way. Some say giving Garlic will help to get them going, but I feel a Chicken should be kept as naturally as they possibly can be. Just give them the right feed and a bit of TLC and you'll be OK.
Before you 'blame' the chicken for not laying eggs, think about the fact it could be......
1. They're eating them
2. Something, or someone, is taking themIt is quite common for chickens to eat an egg and it's a hard habit to break. It usually starts off with an egg breaking and there's a mad rush for it. The other possiblity is that Rats are taking them. I've heard stories that Rats work in Teams and drag eggs away, but all too often, it's them who break the eggs, have a bit, then leave the rest which the chickens quickly move in on.
How long will a Chicken lay eggs for ?
From my own experiences, about 3 - 4 years, but about half the amount after they are three. Your chickens will probably prove me wrong