at what age does egg production decline? and are older chickens edible

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by spish, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. spish

    spish De Regenboog Kippetjes

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    i have a number of chickens who dont seem to lay anymore
    there is a
    a 3 year old marans copperneck stopped laying about 2 months ago
    a big white sussex from about 4 years i dont think shes laid for about 4 months
    few brown chickens from about 1 1/2 years laid every day near enough for a year now i rarely get 2 eggs per week out the three of them


    i thought the brown ones would have a longer laying life but obviously not?

    is there chance they could start relaying or is that it....?



    what do you do with chickens that stop laying? are they any good for the pot or do i seek out a retirement home with someone who just likes chickens and not bothered with the eggs?
     
  2. gallinamama

    gallinamama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What is the wise old saying: "Old chicken make good soup"
     
  3. spish

    spish De Regenboog Kippetjes

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    have never came across that saying.......[​IMG][​IMG]

    so they are only good for soup?
     
  4. gallinamama

    gallinamama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I don't know.. I have just heard that saying from my husband's family.. maybe it is an Italian thing...[​IMG]
     
  5. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    I just bought an issue of Hobby Farms Chicken magazine, and they listed 5 recipes for tough old birds. One recipe was for chicken and dumplings, and that's the one I made so far and it was DELICIOUS! Another recipe was for chicken cacciatore, which was made in a slow cooker (or crock pot), one was a spicy soup, one recipe was for Lime Chicken which was marinated, and then cooked for quite a while in a dutch oven. Everything seemed to be cooked for a long time, so maybe that's the key when you're using an older chicken.
     
  6. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Oh, I wanted to just share an opinion. I love my chickens. I've got 19 now. And at first, I was like, "These girls will retire with me, they are pets." But now that I've had them for a while, I think I will have them processed for meat once they get older and quit laying. The reason is that I can't just keep buying chickens, and I just love getting those fresh eggs. I also want to learn to do the processing myself at home. I figure I'm the one person who can do the butchering in the kindest, lest tramatic way. No drama of crating them up and taking them to a stranger who might just be rough with them in their last minutes.

    Now, the thing is, I haven't done this yet. My oldest chickens are about 1 & 1/2 years old......so I'm hoping I can actuall follow through with my intentions.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
  7. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Campbell used to be a major buyer at production farms--I assume they still are--they don't raise chickens specifically for all the soup. Old birds make good stew.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    As you know, hens lay less when they get older. The best laying period is from their first adult molt until the second adult molt. The first adult molt is usually at about age 1-1/2 years for chicks hatched in the spring or summer, but can vary. After each adult molt after the first, average production declines by about 15%. It can vary a bunch with the individual hens and with as few hens as you have, I'm not sure the averages mean a whole lot, but in general that is what you can expect. There could be other reasons for them to slow down laying for a while, this heat being one thing I can think of. But there could be others too, anything causing stress.

    As far as cooking them, older chickens are fine as long as you cook them long and slow with lots of moisture. When I process an old chicken, I usually put it in the crock pot overnight with herbs and veggies, say onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns, oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, salt, and as much water as I can fit in. Usually it takes two batches to cook the whole chicken since I use backs, necks, and all parts of the chicken. My crock pot won't hold all of the chicken for one batch. Twelve hours usually is plenty but I have let an old rooster go 18 hours. Not necessarily that he needed 18 hours, I was just ready to start early afternoon and let it go to the next morning. He was very nice. I take the veggies and bones out and throw them way, pick the meat off the bones or out of the liquid and use it for casseroles, chicken tacos, chicken salad, whatever. The liquid I strain then pressure can as chicken broth. You could freeze it. It is so rich and gelatinous that I usually add about 50% more water before I can it just to water it down.

    There are plenty of othe ways to cook old birds. Coq au Vin is a traditional recipe for old cocks. Mom made killer chicken and dumplings with old chickens. As long as you cook them long, slow, and moist, they will be fine. Don't forget the slow in this. You want a slow simmer, not a full boil.

    Good luck!
     
  9. spish

    spish De Regenboog Kippetjes

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    many many thanks for the replys and suggestions.
    i too was one of those 'oh they're gonna retire here and live ut their lives' but sadly i dont have the space to keep old birds around, they cost money to keep and dont give anything back so they have to go one way or another [​IMG]
    i have 50+ chickens and its just this small group of hens which no longer lay, so i think it is down to age....
     

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