Dual purpose birds - Hens

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by marie1, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. marie1

    marie1 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 19, 2008
    Hello all.
    I wonder if you can help my confusion on what to do with dual purpose RIR hens. I am clear now on when to process the cockerals thanks to all your advice on a previous thread but what about the hens?

    My dilemma is that I have the option to sell eggs at my garden gate. I want to keep the hens at least into their first laying year to maximise the sale of eggs but what do I do with them after that?
    Will they be too tough to eat after a year or even two years?
    I also breed a new set each year to replace my laying flock. I have to let the hens grow to maturity in order to see if they are good layers and so would make good breeding stock for the following year.
    I dont like the idea of just killing my hens when their egg production goes down and wasting the meat.

    I want to raise the hens for sale of eggs, process the hens for meat and use the best ones as breeding stock.

    Am I asking for too much from one flock? How do you manage your dual purpose breeds to achieve these goals.

    Confused in England. All advice appreciated.
    Thank you
  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    If you are replacing your hens after one year you are investing alot in a hen to only short change yourself as the 2nd year is when you see the maximized egg size and the most proficient laying. Often even into the 3rd year the hens are on their game with egg laying. After that point they do being to decrease but can still be productive. When the hens are no longer laying efficiently they are good for stewing slowly.

    In America - I don't know about England but it might be similar situations -

    Dual purpose is no longer what dual purpose was intended for BEFORE meat broilers came about and filled your local grocery case.

    Prior to the rage of the 70's that put fat plump broilers in the grocery store for pennies per pound and made it convienent to buy a chicken instead of raising a chicken many people did just that. Raised their own meat and egg. They often chose the larger fowl so that not only did they have eggs but when the egg laying was spent that had a large sized bird that would offer a bit more meat for the table.

    Most hatchery RIR's that I have seen do not meet my standards of dual purpose. They tend to be more od a medium size with a thin breast. Not worth the efforts to process for the small amount of meat. Breeder quality RIR's that I have experienced are a bigger bird and do offer more meat to bone ratio.

    If you want meat raise your own broilers. If you want extra meat process your hens at the end of they laying cycle when it is no longer cost effective to keep feeding them. Stew them slow and don't expect them to be anything like a broiler.
  3. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    I agree that dual purpose isn't what it's cracked up to be. I would keep your hens for their first 2 laying cycles, then find a farm auction you can sell them at. Then buy your replacements in.

    The truth doesn't hold that a good laying hen will always produce good laying offspring, especially if you plan to use purebreds.

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