Culling old flock to make room for new pullets

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ddmiddle7, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. ddmiddle7

    ddmiddle7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello, I just ordered some new chicks and they will be arriving soon. Can't wait...it's hard to believe I haven't had baby peeps in the house for three years now. I currently have a 4 1/2 year old hen, and four 3 1/2 year old hens. Can I eat all of these birds? I have a friend experienced in culling the birds that is going to help, just wanted to know if they are good to eat, and if so, is there anything I should or shouldn't do with them? I heard old birds can be tough. My 4 1/2 year old girl was starting to get attacked by the other girls this weekend. They were going after her head pretty bad and she has red eyes this morning, when I went out to check on them all. Can I cull and eat her too? I am going to do some today and the rest this Saturday.
    Is it more beneficial to keep a couple of the older girls to teach the younger ones or just to eliminate the entire flock and start from scratch? I really don't have the extra space to keep them separated when I introduce the new pullets in a few months, so that is why I was thinking of culling all 5 hens I have now. This will also allow me to easily clean and disinfect the entire coop as well. And it really needs it after this long brutal winter. The hens have pretty much been in the coop for 2-3 months at this point.

    Thanks for the help!!!!!

    DM
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Absolutely you can eat them! They will be tough, so you don't want to use them as you would young,tender fryers. They need to be cooked low and slow. Throw one in the crockpot for the day, cook it till it falls off the bone and use the meat for soup, stew, enchiladas, or anything else you would use shredded chicken for. I pressure can my spent layers. It tenderizes them so nicely!

    ETA - The meat will have more texture and flavor than the stuff you buy at the grocery store.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
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  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    x2
     
  4. ddmiddle7

    ddmiddle7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you. I will use these girls for stews and crock pot chicken then!! Sounds good. Do you think it is ok to eat the older one that is being pecked on now? This is a new behavior for my birds, She used to be the head hen in the pecking order. I think being stuck in the coop and the fact that she is older and hard for her to get around this winter lead to them ganging up on her over the weekend. Her comb and wattles were the main target and her eyes must have been pecked as well. I tried to wipe her down with a cloth and warm water to clean it up a bit. She doesn't show any signs of illness...she has been eating and drinking regularly and right now is keeping her distance form the rest of the flock so she is not attacked again.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    You can eat any chicken. The important thing is how you cook them, slow and moist is important. Never cook them fast and never get above a simmer. Soaking them for a couple of days in a brine solution, either in your refrigerator or an ice chest in salty ice water can help too.

    They are not going to taste like the chickens you get at the store. Those are between 6 and 8 weeks old. Yours have lived long enough to develop flavor. They may have a bit more texture, but that depends a lot on how you cook them. I’ve had some extremely tender old rooster.

    What are some of the methods? Coq au vin (Cock and wine) is the traditional French method of cooking on old tough rooster. It will work on a hen too. Be careful when you look up recipes though. A lot of recipes online and in more modern cookbooks assume you’re buying a baby from the store. With coq au vin, marinating overnight in wine helps shorten the cooking time.

    http://www.cuisine-france.com/recipes/coq_vin.htm

    A traditional way for a farm wife to feed an old chicken to her family is chicken and dumplings. That’s real comfort food.

    One way I cook an old bird is with a crock pot. Put in a bay leaf, ten or twelve peppercorns, rough chunked onion, carrot, and celery, maybe a couple of cloves of garlic, and some herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano, or basil. Cut the chicken into serving pieces and add that. Cover with water and cook on low setting for about 8 hours. I often do this overnight, say for 12 hours, but you have to be careful or the meat will fall off the bone when you take it out. If you strain the lumps out of the liquid and take the fat off, you have some of the best broth you’ll ever see.

    I strongly suggest you use this last recipe just for broth. Instead of the nice cuts of meat, I use the back, necks, wings, heart, gizzard, and feet just to make broth. If you want to cook the serving pieces another way, use the left over bones too. That adds good gelatin and flavor even if they have already been cooked.

    I know, dirty feet. But I bring a pot of water to boiling, drop the feet in that for 25 to 30 seconds, and then quickly dump it so they don’t overcook. The toenails twist off and the skin peels off pretty easily if you don’t overcook it. If you overcook it, that skin tears really easily and is a pain to get off. That gets the feet clean enough for me but some people may not be able to get over the YUK! factor.

    When you finish with this broth, carefully pick through the meat for bits and pieces. You’d be surprised how much cooked meat you can get off or the neck and back but be careful. It’s easy to get small bones too. This cooked meat is great for soups, casseroles, chicken tacos, a pizza topping, or chicken salad.

    Whether or not you keep an older hen or two is pure personal preference. You’ll have to do an integration. If space is tight that can be rough. If you have lots of space it can be managed. But you’ll also have to go without eggs for several months.
     
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  6. piglett

    piglett Chillin' With My Peeps

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    not that this is a bad thing [​IMG]
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Not a bad thing at all! I think it just catches some people off guard sometimes.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I like to slow cook a seasoned chicken down til most the meat comes off easy, about 4-6 hours...maybe longer with an older hen, I've only done this with store bought.

    Strip all the meat off and set aside putting all the stripped bones back in and cook it for another 2-4 hours,
    then strain the solids out and chill the liquid in the fridge overnight.

    Scrape off most the fat on top and you've got some wicked thick bone broth.
     
  9. ddmiddle7

    ddmiddle7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Indianapolis, IN
    Thanks everyone. I went ahead and processed all 5 of them today. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Thanks for all the advice on how to cook them. We are going to start with one in the crock pot.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Gratz! Let the carcass rest in the fridge for 2-3 days so rigor passes before cooking or freezing.
     

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