Aging Hens. What should I do with them?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChxLadyCass, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. ChxLadyCass

    ChxLadyCass Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2017
    La Junta, CO
    I have 4 BOs, 2 Autralorps, and 5 young barnyard mixes and 1 rooster. I love my flock, but we are worried that the BOs (over 2 years old), might be getting too old to give us much of an egg supply. Since half of our flock is older and half is younger, we want to get some new chicks to keep our flock young, laying and molting at different times of the year.

    Our current coup is about 32 square feet with 3 nesting boxes. I know I will need to completely renovate and add room if I want to expand the flock. I love my hens too much to knowingly eat them. Should I sell them to make room for others? Any other advice or stories of what you do with your aging flock? Thank you!
  2. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 True BYC Addict

    Jun 23, 2013
    Hilo, HI
    Understand your dilemma.....I have "Pets with Benefits" more than production, I'll just keep them or sell them but I want to get some Ameraucana Bantams [​IMG] Living in a residential area, I have limits to how many I can have so I'm "over thinking" my situation [​IMG]
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I keep all my birds or cull and butcher them. I think it's a kinder option to butcher than to rehomed chickens unless you truly understand where they are going.

    At 2 years your birds aren't actually old yet. Most of mine live 4-6 years with about a 1/4 going on to live 6-10. My oldest birds currently are 2 buff Orpington hens who are 9 years old. So if you can find a good home they will continue to be good chickens.

    My BO tend to lay later in life generally up to 6 before it becomes totally sporadic. Most BO lay decently until about 4. They are a slower maturing breed.

    If you are interested in rotating the flock out every 2 years than sex links would be a better option as they are more prone to being done laying younger.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Most generally accepted recommendation for coop space for BYF is 4 s.f./bird in the coop. IMO, it takes even more space than that to successfully integrate new birds. Sounds like you already have plans in the making to expand your coop. Your call re: replacing the older birds. Once a bird leaves your flock, you have no control over what happens to it. You would not be likely to find anyone who wants to take in spent hens without getting eggs in return. I either cull and process my older birds, or sell them for a small fee if they still have one or more laying seasons left.
  5. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Your management of your laying flock is ultimately up to you. No one will fault you for any decision you make in that regard. Except perhaps if you turn out your aging hens into the woods behind the house to fend for themselves. Yes, I know someone who does that, and we would definitely have something critical to say if you told us you plan to do that.

    I don't cull, I collect. However, I add new pullets every two years in order to keep my egg factory squirting out product. I have two coops and am currently at 22 in the flock, including one rooster. A few of my older hens no longer lay, but a couple who are around ages seven and eight still do. I have plans to hatch some chicks as soon as the broody gets her hormones fired up.

    This is my plan. It works for me. It may or may not work for you. You need to weigh all factors and decide on a plan that suits your needs.
  6. ChxLadyCass

    ChxLadyCass Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2017
    La Junta, CO
    Thank you! I will give my girls a few more years then! I want to hold on to them as long as possible.

    @ChickNanny13 I love the term "Pets with Benefits"! That's priceless!

    @oldhenlikesdogs I think my ladies are just molting and getting through the winter and I am being impatient. Plus they have had stress of me introducing 5 young hens to the flock and one of them is acting slightly broody. So many factors!

    @lazy gardener Thank you for that reminder! I just posted in a coop design forum, but I have a really tall coop that is 8ft X 4ft. I'm asking around about the possibility of adding a "second floor" to add some square footage. I'm not really the carpenter and my boyfriend says I can only have the chickens if I take care of them lol.

    @azygous This is all very true! This is why I come to you all! I live on the high plains and I think the coyotes would have my "free" chickens for dinner in hours! I think I'm going to collect! Now to solve the coop dilemma!
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  7. Ljc01

    Ljc01 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2016
    Nipomo, Ca
    I found a local ranch that took my old Leghorns. She was just looking for bug eaters, so it worked out well for both of us.

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