Deciding which hens becomes dinner

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Peony7, Oct 23, 2011.

  1. Peony7

    Peony7 Chirping

    Jan 1, 2011
    I know it sounds crass, but we have a small backyard flock for the eggs first and foremost. I really love our birds but we need to keep in fresh layers to keep up egg production. Our older girls (5 of them) were spring chicks we got 2 1/2 years ago. The two other girls we got last fall.

    Between the 7 of them we rarely got more than 4 eggs a day in the summer and heading into winter I'm lucky to find 2 in the nest, and soon it will be 0. It's expensive to feed them through the winter (we pay $18/bag for non-GMO corn and soy free feed) and they can't free range most days as we are in a close neighborhood. I never intended to keep birds as pets and fully anticipated culling the older girls at some point.

    Would you cull a few birds in order to get some younger birds in, kind of on a three year rotation, I'm thinking. If so, how do you decide which ones? I really don't know which girls are laying right now, but I do know that only 4 are, and it's intermittent. (3 older and the Wellsummer, the Cuckoo is molting)
    (I have 2 BO, 1 BR, 2 EE that are the older girls. 1 Wellsummer, 1 Cuckoo Maran are the younger girls.) Next time around I will buy more reliably productive breeds. Live and learn.)

    A great feed store here brings in fall chicks and his last order is Monday so I have to decide this week.

  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Well, you asked honestly enough. This doesn't have to be a controversial subject at all. Many, many folks here cull older, less productive hens for food. If that isn't some folks "thing", we respect that. But all my older hens get used for food. That is what a dual purpose bird was designed for, long before there was specialty, hybrid meat birds.

    You have a choice. An older bird automatically gets culled, unless she has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity for a healthy, steady productive life that would justify keeping her until she is 4 years old. The reduction of production isn't a straight line. 3 years old lays 180, thus a four year old lays 160. It isn't quite that tidy.

    However, age is the primary factor in most folks flock rotation program.
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    We butcher the oldest ones. I'm in the process right now of convincing DH that I *need* a second coop so I can have one for the current layers, and one for the pullets that will be coming up. (Right now I'm lacking the pullets - just planning ahead [​IMG]) But that's what we've done in the past. You can put a leg band or zip tie on one leg of either the ones that have to go, or the ones you want to keep. BTW, I don't think the question was "crass" at all. Lots of people butcher older, non-productive birds, and others don't.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I just came in from loading my older hens up to go to a new home. I had some 4-7yr hens I really didn't want to carry over the winter again, so I posted on Craigslist. Honey willingly butchered two batches of meaties this year but just didn't see the point on these older hens. I don't have the time, myself, so just posted them for free. I'd cull all your older girls, stay with the two younger, and start looking for chicks or point of lay pullets. I got different breeds mostly, the ones I did duplicate I put a zip tie on the older hen's leg so I could tell who was who.
  5. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Songster

    Oct 31, 2008
    You may want to mark the hens vents with food coloring first to make sure who is laying which egg. In the past years we have been fairly careful about who laid which egg and two out of the three we culled for age this fall were doomed from last spring. The farmer in me will not tolerate a 10 month layoff.
    Next we will be checking the 5 black orps to see who is producing. They are already banded to tell who is who because heaven knows they are identical. I sure hope Honeybun marked down which one was broody this summer because I forgot if it was orange or green band.

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