Culling the Flock


7 Years
May 16, 2013
Pinebluff, nc
My Coop
My Coop
This will be my first go at culling the layer flock. We have raised fryers with no issues and everything went okay.

My question is, the few that I plan to process this year are very lean old (3 or 4 yrs), red-stars. With not much meat, is it worth it to put them on the table, what is a better option? Broth, stew/soup, pot pie, dog food? Anyone have any good recipes?

Can I fatten them up in then next month or two for better table dressing? How would I go about that?


Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
May 3, 2009
New Jersey
For me stew/soup/broth would be the viable choices. That's what Mom always did.


11 Years
Jul 30, 2008

They should have a good layer of fat on them though and in my opinion that is what is wanted in spent laying hens. That is were the good flavor comes from.

If you don't feed cracked corn load them up on it, there may be time to put a little more fat on them.

Here are couple of things I do with spent hens.


I have a big pot so I just place the whole bird in the pot bring to a boil and simmer for several hours until the meat falls off the bone. Season the pot to taste with salt and pepper while the bird is cooking and you can finely chop some onion and cook with it if you like. My mom liked to add some parsley or other herbs, it's up to you and your families tastes. Great thing about this is if you over season all you need to do is add water to dilute it.
I remove the bird and let it cool completely. The leg and thigh meat can still be tough and stringy so I generally set that aside and mix it with the dogs food that night, (they think they died and went to doggy heaven).
Pull the breast meat and cut into chunks.
Now you can make your own dumplings or if I don't want to mess with it Reams (not sure of the spelling) makes a very good frozen dumpling that still fools my family/friends. ( our little secret). I generally buy 4 bags.
I like my chicken-n-dumplings very meaty so I always buy extra breast meat, usually 4 half breast. I cut that into bite size pieces.
I bring the broth back to a boil add dumplings and uncooked breast meat and cook until done. Add the hen breast meat once the dumplings and uncooked breast meat are done. Don't want to add it back any sooner or it will turn into strings.
I serve with self rising rolls and cornbread. In my crew some like the rolls some like the cornbread. I will have a bowl with a roll and then with the next bowl a piece of cornbread. I like to live on the wild side. ;-)

I also make chicken noodle soup with spent hens.

Follow the instructions above but instead of dumplings I use noodles and of course I add carrots and celery.

Both of these use to make 3 meals and at times more when there were four living in the house. So per meal it is a good bang for the buck. Of course I don't take into account any of the cost of raising chickens.

Those are my two favorite ways of using spent hens. For me it really is a comfort food. No better way to spend a cold winter Sunday (a little snow falling makes it even better) then a pot of chicken something or other cooking on the stove, a couple pies waiting on the counter, family, friends and a football game on the tube. PERFECT.

I'm sure others have great ways of using them as well.
Last edited:


In the Brooder
7 Years
Sep 28, 2012
Saluda VA
I am agreeing with those that say soup. I would soup them in the crock pot. Make some nice chicken noodle soup and freeze it for those winter months when everyone is sick. All you got to do is pull it out and thaw and heat it up.

my sunwolf

7 Years
Apr 22, 2012
Southwest Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
Soup and stock are the best options for old girls, I agree. My friends and neighbors pressure can the meat, but as you said you don't have one. It's not all that tasty either.

I put the hen in the crock pot with a little water until meat falls off the bone (at least a few hours of a good simmer, sometimes all day). Pick the carcass, give the meat to the dog. Strain for extra bones, pieces of skin. You can then refrigerate or freeze this clear broth, or create chicken stock by adding salt, pepper, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, etc. I put chicken stock in everything. Try cooking your rice or beans with stock instead of water. Use homemade stock in place of canned stock. This applies to broth too, but stock is more flavorful whereas plain broth just tends to add a certain... creaminess.

When butchering, you can save the yellow fat (if she has enough) for rendering. To render, just cook in a pan on low-med heat until it melts and turns clear, then store in the fridge for quite a while (at least a month). You can cook with this, including fried greens, potatoes, cookies...

Old hens are just excellent culinary assets


9 Years
May 18, 2010
Sonoma County
I'm getting braver and more relaxed by the minute on this site. Here's my perdicament:

Respectful Chicken harvesting: How do I deal with conflicting emotions?

Tomorrow I take out 2 of the 12 week old roos. Of course, they are the cutest and most personality of the bunch. They are best friends, always hanging out, the first of the bunch to fight and draw blood. This is my third generation and this flock is different. I went to the feedstore where a lovely lady sold me 12 fertilized eggs from her farm for $3.50. 8 out of 12 hatched, one gone, 3 out of 7 roos.

Now I've got 4 old Ladies, one to three eggs a day, and 7 Juveniles eating me out of house and home.

Today the plymouth rock with the pea comb tried to crow, "arooooooooooo" "aroooooo". So darn cute!

I wish we could have a rooster, but my landlord says no.

I'm in hard luck financially right now. I have 4 year old Ladies and 7 juveniles and not enough money to buy feed or organic chicken meat at the store. I've been doing this 3 years and at least I didn't name them, or cuddle them too much, well, a little.

The first batch I killed them one by one: Joselito, Miss Lucille Tucker, La Loca, Cry Baby, and Rojelia. I never cried so hard in my life, I think. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I couldn't eat for 24 hours.

This time its different. I watched them hatched one by one in the little hen house under one of my beautiful broody buff orppingtons. I call her Mamma. She did such a good job, such a good mother until 6 weeks, when she rejected them. It was hard to enjoy their amazing beauty when I knew I was raising them to kill them.

So strange, so hard. I wanted to do this, to know the circle of life, to live off of my land, to understand something lost in our world that needed to be rediscovered. I didnt know what beautiful, gentle souls chickens had, what affectionate, loving creatures they were. I turned them every day under Mama, 'cause I didn't see her doing that. I protected them and ensured their safety and comfort. I laughed and cried when they were born. Now, I have the power to take their life. And eat them. I swear I could become a vegetarian except for the fact that I love my fried chicken! I've done the whole thing with the old gals: chicken pot pies, poullete au vin, stock, stews, soups.

The two boys are in a kennel tonite with only water and straw. I'll take them out tomorrow morning. I'll hold them between on my lap, cut the jugular and bleed them out while I feel the life leave their little bodies. DON'T LOOK THEM IN THE EYE, actually, DON'T LOOK AT ALL!!! Let them rest a few days and have either fried chicken or marinate them in a garlic, soy sauce, lemon for a few days, broil and serve with mashed potatoes on the side.

How do I deal with my conflicting emotions?

This video helped me ALOT! She is so wonderful:

I'll repost this.Anyone have a few kind words? I know it's practical, it's logical, it's natural, its the way things have been since 5,000 AD, but, why is it so hard!?


New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom