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How Many Years Will a Rhode Island Red Lay Eggs? (Productive Years)

rhode island red hen

Rhode Island Reds are prolific layers. They are reliable and hardy, making them a great choice for a hobby farm or a backyard pet. Some owners say that their Rhode Island Reds have laid up to 1,500 eggs over the course of their lives. 

Rhode Island Red Egg Production

A Rhode Island Red hen will begin laying eggs at 18-20 weeks, assuming they have proper laying conditions. Her first eggs will be small. These are known as pullet eggs. Her body is learning how to properly produce eggs during this time. After the first few weeks, she should lay medium to large-sized brown eggs. You can expect them to lay between 200-300 eggs over the course of a year. 

How Many Years Will a Rhode Island Red Lay Eggs?

They lay consistently for the first 3-4 years of their life. After 2 years, their egg production begins to slow. You can expect them to decrease their laying by about 10% a year, until they are 5 years of age. Egg production slows greatly once they reach 5 years old, but you may still receive eggs sporadically. Their average life span is 7-8  years. 

Heritage Birds Vs. Industrial Birds

The Rhode Island Red is considered a heritage breed. Heritage breeds have been bred by farmers for generations. Production, or industrial breeds, are created for industrial chicken farms. 

When it comes to layers, production breeds will begin laying at an earlier age. They will lay more eggs than heritage breeds. It’s thought that they stop laying after a few years, which seems like a reasonable trade off for industrial agriculture. 

However, this isn’t as straight forward as it seems. Production hens are often culled after 2 years. Many people believe this is because they stop laying after two years. Instead, their production begins to slow at this time, just like heritage breeds. 

Because industrial chicken farms place a high value on efficiency, birds are culled as soon as their capacity begins to diminish, even though they are capable of laying for several more years. 

Identifying Non-Layers

If you  have a mixed-age flock, it can be difficult to know which hens are laying. There are some clues that you can look for to determine if your hens are still productive layers. 

When a hen stops laying, her comb and wattle will fade. You can think of this as their version of going gray in old age. Rhode Island Red hens who are active layers will display a bright red wattle and comb. 

When it comes to her legs, the opposite holds true. When a hen is actively laying, her legs will look pale or bleached. If her legs are rich in color, it’s a sign her laying days are over. 

Lastly, a hen’s feathers will look better when she’s not laying. A laying hen focuses a significant amount of resources on egg production. Once they stop laying, they have more resources to devote to frivolities, including beautiful feathers. 

Related: How Often Do Chickens Molt?

How Is Laying Capacity Determined?

Have you ever wondered what determines how many eggs a hen can lay in a lifetime? Just like humans, a hen is born with a limited egg production capacity. She can’t produce more eggs than she was born to. It’s essentially nature’s regulatory system. 

A hen can only produce on egg at a time. It takes a Rhode Island Red a little over 24 hours to produce an egg. 

rhode island red hen

Reasons to Add Rhode Island Reds to Your Flock

1. Rhode Island Reds are the number one breed of chickens because of their egg production. If you want a reliable source of eggs, this is a breed to consider.

2. These birds will thrive in any climate. If you provide a good source of shelter, food, and water, these chickens do well in heat and freezing temperatures.

3. No health issue with Rhode Island Reds. The hardy ancestors of Rhode Island Red generated a breed of chicken rates an A+ for health

4. Rhode Island Red chickens will enhance the look of your flock. Their rich red tones and large stature make a colorful addition to any flock.

5. If you are looking for chickens with great personalities, consider the Rhode Island Red. These personable chickens are friendly birds whose love-for-life and antics will keep you entertained.

Need more reasons? Check this article out: Are Rhode Island Reds Good Backyard Chickens?

Rhode Island Red Facts

OriginDeveloped by crossing the Java and Brown Leghorn chicken breeds.
TemperamentDocile and Active
Egg ColorBrown
Egg SizeLarge
Egg Production200-300 eggs per year
WeightHen: 6 1/2 lbs
Rooster: 8 1/2 lbs
Pullet: 5 1/2 lbs
Cockerel: 7 1/2 lbs
Primary PurposeEgg production and pet
Secondary PurposeMeat production
Lifespan8 years on average
VarietiesSingle Comb, Rose Comb
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