Duration of egg laying life, etc

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sabz, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Sabz

    Sabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi guys,

    I have a few general questions today. I am sure it depends on the breeds, but I would a general idea on:

    - How much time does a chick lay eggs before it retires?
    - How long can we wait before we eat a chicken? I heard that if it has layed eggs for too long, we can't eat it.
    - If I buy young chicks and I find out that I have a rooster, can I eat it?

    Of course I will not kill it and prepare it myself as I have no knowledge of how to do that and wouldn't want to get sick, I would bring my chickens to a butcher probably..

    I am in Quebec so I was thinking of adopting chickens that do OK in the cold - like Chanteclerc, Cochin or Brahma.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Generally your hens will lay the first year and take a break during the molting process. They will then lay another year before their production drops way off. Many people will cull their hens after 2 or 3 or 4 years of age and replenish the flock. Of course you can always let it stay in the flock if you want it to have a LONG retirement. You can cull older chickens and the meat will be fine to eat. Buy pullets from a Hatchery and not straight run. If one or more turns out to be a rooster then you can cull it from the flock when full grown. Usually it is hard to tell if you have a rooster until it starts to crow or you notice other traits at several weeks of age. Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  3. Sabz

    Sabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh ok, it helps, thanks!

    I also learned two new words in english, cull and molting ;)

    So you say I can cull a hen after 4 years of egg production and it will still be ok to eat? Why do people carry around the fact that eating a chicken that layed eggs for long is not good? Is it just the meat that is less tender?
     
  4. Sabz

    Sabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hen is a "female" chicken but not necessairly laying eggs yet, right?
    So an adolescent female chicken is a hen?
    Lol sorry..
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  5. Dreyadin

    Dreyadin Out Of The Brooder

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    Pullet is a young hen. Hen just means (adult) female chicken.

    They do get tougher as they get older (.. is why they call them stewing hens once they stop laying well. The better way to cook them so they are tender is to stew them.) Free ranging.. all that running around will as well have them a bit leaner and a bit tougher.

    Broilers are a hybrid that grow fast and are ready to be processed at 6 to 8 weeks. Those are the plump birds at the grocery store. The fast growth also means probable health issues- as in they're good for meat production... but have a tendency to not do well with heat, fast growth often means bone development issues.. they have been known keel over due to a heart attack at a young age. Because they are so young when they get to size- they are tender. They don't exactly move much compared to many of the other breeds.

    Dual purpose breeds... if they are free ranging- they're not going to look like the chubby birds at the store. They'll be leaner, less tender.. and imo- they taste so much better. Eating greens and things like tomatoes makes their fat (and egg yolks) more richly colored. Example.. the broth made from chickens from the grocery store is pale.. while from my tomato crazed chickens- it is a rich golden color and has a more intense-in a good way- chicken flavor. (Then to buy commercial made stock/broth - makes you gag as it is tastes like salty weird water.)

    Layers tend to run more on the scrawny side- but have higher output of eggs.

    Check on breed maturity- how fast they mature- and figure that as well into your selection as well as the other qualities you need for your flock.

    The birds you *don't* eat..... are ones that have been treated with meds (and not cleared for consumption)... birds that died of disease... mystery death birds.. avoid those with infections... etc.

    Learn from someone else- hands on- how to process a chicken properly. It will save you a lot of grief- and you want to avoid mishaps like contaminating the meat because you improperly removed the digestive tract. Just a suggestion.
     
  6. Sabz

    Sabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hehe well that's for sure! I will never process a chicken without knowing how. The first few I will just bring them to my local butcher, and see how I react to eating one of my owns..

    If it's ok, I don't cry too much over it (haha I am very sensitive..) then I will ask him to teach me how he does it :)

    Thanks for all the explanations!
    I didn't know the egg laying time was that short, so maybe I will check out dual purpose breeds. Well.. still thinking about it, haha. I am not sure I will be able to eat them after having them in my yard. I would PREFER to be able to do so, I've worked in a big place that grew chickens for food...

    Needless to say I worked there only a few days. My tender heart couldn't stand it. I know my chickens will have a better life than the chickens of the grocery store, so I would prefer to eat mine then the ones grown in big industrial places..

    I will be looking into dual purpose breeds and making a little bit more thinking.. thanks a lot.
     

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