The reason that I really thought they were over the hill was the fewer eggs we got last summer and fall. I knew that laying eggs is dependent on hours of daylight, but I must not have realized how much. At least in former years we did have enough eggs for ourselves throughout the winter, I just had disappointed customers. But this year the laying stopped altogether, and I was buying eggs that were tasteless. Then I finally found out that I could put a 60 watt bulb on a timer in the coop that came on at 3 am, to make up the required 14 hours of daylight to re initiate the laying. Duh! I did not want to have light on 24/7 as that would drive me nuts, if I were a chicken.
Now they are back in production. We currently have 15 chickens and are averaging 5 great-tasting eggs a day. Thanks to Isabella, Francine, Goldie, Mathilda, Grayce, etc.