Are You Losing Money by Depopulating Hens at 75 Weeks?

Maximizing Profitability: When to Dispose of Commercial Layers

Are you making the mistake of depopulating hens in your commercial poultry farm too soon? In the realm of poultry farming, one of the critical decisions that farmers face is determining the optimal time to dispose of hens as spent layers. This process, also known as depopulation, requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure both profitability and animal welfare. In this blog post, we will explore the factors that influence the timing of depopulation and provide insights into making informed decisions for your poultry farm.

Factors Influencing Depopulation Timing
  • Egg Production Decline: The primary factor influencing the decision to dispose of commercial layers is the decline in egg production. As hens age, their egg-laying capacity diminishes, leading to a reduction in overall productivity. Typically, egg production starts to decline significantly around 70 to 80 weeks of age, signaling the end of the chicken’s productive cycle.
  • Age: Age is another critical factor to consider when determining depopulation timing. While commercial layers can continue laying eggs beyond 80 weeks if they remain healthy and productive, there comes a point where the costs of maintaining older hens outweigh the benefits of egg production. As hens age, they may become more susceptible to health issues and require increased veterinary care, further impacting profitability.

  • Health Status: The health status of the flock plays a vital role in depopulation decisions. If the chickens experience health issues that affect their quality of life or egg production, it may be necessary to dispose of them earlier than planned. Additionally, maintaining a healthy flock is essential for minimizing the risk of disease outbreaks and ensuring animal welfare.

  • Economic Considerations: Ultimately, depopulation decisions must align with the economic viability of the poultry operation. Poultry farmers must weigh the costs of chicken feed, veterinary care, and labor against the potential revenue generated from egg sales. If the costs of maintaining the flock outweigh the revenue generated, it may be more profitable to dispose of the birds and replenish the flock with younger, more productive hens.


  • Making Informed Decisions

The decision to dispose of commercial hens should be based on a combination of factors, including egg production performance, chicken health, economic considerations, and management goals. Poultry farmers must closely monitor their flocks and keep detailed records to track egg production, health status, and other relevant metrics. This data-driven approach enables poultry farmers to make informed decisions that optimize profitability and ensure the well-being of their chickens.


Depopulation is a critical aspect of poultry farming that requires careful consideration and strategic planning. By understanding the factors that influence depopulation timing and adopting a data-driven approach, farmers can maximize profitability and maintain the health and welfare of their commercial layers. Ultimately, the goal is to strike a balance between productivity, profitability, and animal welfare to ensure the long-term success of the poultry operation.

Top 5 Key Takeaways

  1. Depopulating hens should coincide with the decline in egg production, typically occurring around 70 to 80 weeks of age, to maximize profitability.
  2. Older hens may become less economically viable due to increased susceptibility to health issues, requiring a balance between maintaining productivity and managing costs.
  3. The overall health of the flock is crucial, as health issues impacting egg production or quality of life may necessitate early depopulation to maintain profitability and animal welfare.
  4. Depopulation decisions should align with economic considerations, weighing the costs of maintenance against potential revenue from egg sales to ensure the financial sustainability of the operation.
  5. Poultry farmers should base depopulation decisions on comprehensive data analysis, including egg production, health metrics, and economic factors, to optimize profitability and ensure the well-being of the flock.


Petros Farms 

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