Culling laying hens to eat?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Chickenkeepr, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. Chickenkeepr

    Chickenkeepr Chillin' With My Peeps

    205
    10
    76
    May 5, 2015
    Watertown, NY
    I know obviously they are edible..but are they worth it? I've got a few older hens that are really just eating and taking up space. They've stopped laying. All were de-wormed and treated for a mild upper respiratory infection earlier this summer (Wazine and Oxytetracycline in their water at separate times). Can I expect them to be tough? Would they be better soup birds? Any insight would be very appreciated.
     
  2. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    Personally, I wouldn't fry any whole chicken that's older than 20 weeks. We always make chicken pot pie with our birds, especially since I'm in a family of six [​IMG]
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,118
    3,322
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The secret to cooking older birds is to cook them slowly and with moisture. As with everything chickens there is an exception to this, you can use a pressure cooker. Those are moist but not slow. Coq a Vin is the traditional French way to make a gourmet meal out of an old rooster but it works great on old hens too. Chicken ‘n dumplings is a traditional comfort food using old chickens. Cooking them overnight in a crock pot or making a stew is common. Even if you don’t want to eat them old chickens make fabulous chicken broth or stock. A secret is to gently simmer, never bring to a full boil.

    I often cook my older chickens, hens and roosters, by cutting them into serving pieces (thigh, drumstick, breasts, and wishbone) and rinsing them off but not shaking the water off. Then I coat them in herbs, usually oregano and basil, then cook them in the over at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 4 hours in a tightly covered baking dish. I don’t brine mine but that‘s a technique you could use to make them even more tender. I don’t add any salt to mine at any stage.

    I use the wings, back, neck, gizzard, heart, and feet to make broth. I put those in a crock pot on low overnight with herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, and maybe parsley or chives, a Bay leaf, about a dozen peppercorns, and a chopped carrot, onion and celery. I put a clove or two of garlic in the mix. Cover with water. I usually let that cook on low for 12 to 14 hours then take the meat and other stuff out. I separate the fat and filter the liquid through cheesecloth. Tremendous broth. I pick the meat off the bones and out of the solids (a lot has fallen off the bone anyway) and use that in casseroles, tacos, salads, or on a sandwich. Be careful picking the meat, there are a lot of small bones.

    I know where those feet have been but I blanch them for about 18 to 20 seconds, then twist the toenails off and skin the feet. If you don’t overcook them the skin comes off pretty easily. That gets the feet clean enough for me but I know some people can’t handle them. The broth will still be excellent but I find the feet add a lot of gelatin to the broth.

    Is it worth cooking older hens? Not to some people but it sure is to me.
     
    2 people like this.
  4. ManawaGirl

    ManawaGirl Out Of The Brooder

    81
    5
    33
    Sep 11, 2013
    We raise and butcher 40-50 Broilers every year aside from keeping a regular flock of laying hens. I have 4 hens who will be turning 5 this March. If we get an egg out of them once a week, we are super lucky. I have been debating on culling and eating them, but I just don't know if I have the guts to do it. They're kinda pets at this point. I have no problem with the broilers but haven't been able to butcher one of our older hens. Our hen that turned out to be a rooster was no problem eating that fella.
     
  5. Hay Belly

    Hay Belly Chillin' With My Peeps

    52
    2
    84
    Feb 7, 2010
    I would definitely use all my old birds as stock. I cook them for hours, Ridgerunner has good tips. I also use the heads in the stock.
    Edited by staff.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2016
  6. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    554
    212
    136
    Oct 16, 2015
    NEIN
    While I plan on doing some meaties next year, I'm actually looking forward to some of the older birds getting to cull age when they are done laying eggs. The meaties will make a decent stock, but I expect a much more robust flavor profile from the older birds.

    I plan to bone them out and pressure can the meat for soups, dips, and casseroles, and use the carcasses with the trimmings still on to make stock. I don't plan to herb mine up very much,

    I want a full chicken flavor that I can season for need later, but a standard mirepoix, (celery, onion, carrots) and a bay leaf or three will work just. Ridgerunner is 100% right. Simmer, never boil. Making stock can never take too long, but it can certainly be rushed.
     
  7. kadavis08

    kadavis08 Chillin' With My Peeps

    74
    14
    51
    Sep 21, 2016
    Had no idea that you could make chicken broth in the crockpot. Thanks for posting!
     
  8. Chickenkeepr

    Chickenkeepr Chillin' With My Peeps

    205
    10
    76
    May 5, 2015
    Watertown, NY
    Awesome tips, thanks so much everyone! I plan on making chicken pot pie, chicken soup, chicken and dumplings etc. I do have a vacuum sealer so that will be great. How long do you all rest your older birds in the fridge? I plan on taking them to some Amish friends of mine to have them killed, plucked etc.
     
  9. cottontail farm

    cottontail farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    180
    23
    81
    Dec 26, 2014
    Rural NW Pa
    We just had an old hen in a pot pie for dinner. I let them rest about 2 days. The meat was IMHO no different than a ranger or cornish except the broth gelled overnight. (I cooked it in a crockpot - absolutely cook the chicken and make broth at the same time) So much better quality than even the cornish crosses
     
  10. Chickenkeepr

    Chickenkeepr Chillin' With My Peeps

    205
    10
    76
    May 5, 2015
    Watertown, NY
    Well, I found a place that is USDA inspected and charges $4.50/bird Do or full processing including being shrink wrapped. Can I let them hang out in the fridge for a couple days to rest after they are shrink wrapped??
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by