Culling older hens


10 Years
Apr 2, 2009
Lake Luzerne, NY
I realize many people don't do this but I was wondering about removing older hens that are not laying so well any more. If I get new chicks in the spring, they mature all summer and then lay the next spring will they lay well for 2 summers? If they will, I can replenish the flock every other year with chicks. In the fall of the year of the new chicks I can then remove the older hens(2 1/2 yrs old) Is this a good plan to keep the laying at peak? Thanks, PS I'm not cold hearted, just trying to figure out a few things~Don't know if I'll really be able to cull the older ladies or maybe rehome them.
Do not apologize for maintaining your flock at peak production. It is a good strategy. I am attempting to do the same thing with my small flock. Unfortunately, it may not turn out exactly as planned because I fell in love with a couple hens and they have a lifetime home. The others are dual purpose for a reason- when the eggs slow down then into the stew pot they go.
A standard strategy is to replace half the laying flock each year. That way, you will often have the pullet sized eggs but you should also always have some full-sized eggs. The common time to remove the older girls is when they go into molt in the fall/winter so you don't have to feed them when they quit laying.

It does sound cold, but you will find many different reasons for people on this forum to keep chickens. Some of the reasons are eggs, pets, meat, shows, breeding programs, bug eating, gardening help, manure for compost, and any possible combination of these and some I'm sure I'm missing. I think it is great how well most of us get along.
Can i have some clarification on this?

I have chicks in the brooder right now. So in six-ish months or so, i should have lots of pullet eggs. Are you saying, by this method, that half of them would be stewed when they're 1 1/2 years old? That seems really early. I would like to hear more explanation about this method, if you don't mind.

Great thread idea, by the way.
Say you want a laying flock of 12 hens. Every spring, you get six pullets. For year one, call this group, Group A. The following spring, you get another group of 6 pullets. Call them Group B. The following spring, you get Group C pullets. That fall, when they start to molt, Group A is replaced by Group C who should be starting to lay small eggs. Group A is 2-1/2 years old at this time. It does mean that your flock size is 18 chickens for about half the time, the 12 older hens and the 6 chicks growing up.

Hope this makes sense.
Started my first flock 4 years ago with 12 chicks, 6 were roos, and of the rest 2 hens made it. I have ordered new chicks each year since then with a target of keeping a flock of 24-30. OK the first two hens (Belle & Red) will die here from old age but this year I culled 5 of the older hens that were freebies and not the best layers and they were 2-1/2 years old. I plan on taking out the older birds at age 2-3 and canning them. It wasn't as hard as I thought at all. I can see now I need some bands and do a color coding thing although so far I can tell them all apart by their feathers and personality.
Thank you for all the replies. I was also thinking of some kind of colored band system. I once bought adult birds that had colored plastic zip ties on their legs. Does anyone have any other ideas about how to tag each years new additions? If the zip ties are cut short and not too tight do they work well? I appreciate others views on this subject (about culling older hens to keep the flock laying well) Thanks
My only comment is, if you decide to re-home them, be upfront about their age. ( not meaning to imply you wouldn't be) But, I bought two BR's who were supposed to be just under two years old. The lady said she knew that because of their legband color. Well, these girls were older than that and hardly laid. Oprah still waddles around the back yard eating and not contributing but Gayle was taken to the poultry exchange for bad behavior. I just wished she had been honest about it.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I am like you, my original girls, Judy, Martha, Lucy and Ethel are welcome here until they pass on from old age.


New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom