At what age do you kill a laying hen?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by FarmGirl-NC, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. FarmGirl-NC

    FarmGirl-NC In the Brooder

    Jan 16, 2012
    Topton, North Carolina
    If you are someone who does not want to keep your hens until they die a natural death, at what age is the egg production so low that it is better to kill and eat them?

    I'm assuming these are well-kept hens in good conditions. Your typical hobby farmer who cares about her chickens.
  2. wsmith

    wsmith Songster

    Of course, thats a decision you will ulimately have to make yourself.

    For me, I know how much feed is, how long it takes each day to take care of the chickens, and how much the eggs are worth. Each hen in my flock has value, but when the expenses outweigh the value, then changes have to be made. If a hen has a particular talent for broodiness, then her value goes up. If the expenses are more than the value, figure out which hens aren't producing enough and remove them from the flock. Generally speaking, hen tend to experience a drop in egg production after a couple of years or so, depending on the breed and line. Major egg producing operations tend to cull after only a couple of years per hen.

    Just my 2 cents....
  3. I have no care for eggs, I am a vegan. But, I think before killing a hen, you should at least look for a home 1st.
  4. wsmith

    wsmith Songster

    And that is fine too, again, its your choice. I offer up my extra hens via our local FB group before choosing the processing option. But I can't afford to feed a hen who isn't producing or doesn't go broody.

    Everybody develops their own variety/method of chicken keeping dependant on their own situation, needs, wants, and choices.
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  5. Back when we were much more focused on egg production and had production type birds, we usually allowed that first moult at 18 months. There's about a 5 week period of reduced laying because of the moult. But, when they start up again, they're often laying a few less eggs, but the quality of the egg is often better.

    When the hen is 2 1/2 years old and about to moult again, it was decision time for us. Usually, 95% of the time, that meant the stock pot. If eggs is your focus, then older birds need to get rotated out and replaced with young layers. It is a simple matter of economics. Older hens make great broth for noodles, BTW.

    Since the OP asked this question, from this perspective, that is my answer.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
    3 people like this.

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