Twenty-four chickens were spared from the chopping block when we processed stewing hens last weekend. I chose them based on the size and deep red color of their combs; hens that have stopped laying (forever) have shrunken and ashen combs.
Some of these are molting which negatively affects their egg production, but we are still getting a few eggs each day.
They should start improving after being in the lighted barn (the winter coop) for a few weeks, and again after their plumage comes back in.
Besides providing eggs for our family this winter, they are the "seniors" who will teach the new laying hens how to go back in to the summer coop at night next year.