Eating three yr old egg layers

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by snowydiamonds, May 29, 2010.

  1. I hope this is the right place to post this.

    My neighbor and I decided we'd keep hens for eggs and then butcher to eat the older hens and replace them w/younger egg layers. She's now ready to butcher her RIR hens and replace them.

    Is it safe to eat or normal practice to eat hens if Marek's is "everywhere?"

    Would you or have you eaten chickens that have lived w/a bird that showed any type of the symptoms?

    Last year I had a pullet die because she was so swollen and I wasn't sure what did her in. This past year I've watched my flocks for symptoms closely.

    ***A one year old roo now has what I think are dry, opposed to wet pox aka black and gray things on his comb and wattles.

    ***I have never vaccinated my birds. I am ready to order meat chicks now. I plan to keep the meat chicks in a coop with run on the other side of the house from where all the other birds are but the coop is my eldest that I received from another previous chicken flock owner. Last year I hosed it down and splashed clorox all over and plan to do the same again before the meat chicks come.

    ***I raised some pullets for my neighbor to replace her hens that are now laying this past week. I planned to take them to her coop tonight (she lives right behind us in the neighborhood) so the move won't be as stressful as it would in the daytime for the birds if she has carried through and butchered her hens today.

    We are in the process of learning, only having had flocks going on our third year. I took some veterinary assistant classes (husbandry and nutrition and a few others) prior to getting birds but feel I need these questions answered because we might need to adjust our plans?

    What should I do w/my young roo? Butcher and dispose of him? Let the disease run its course? I'd rather protect my main flock, the Buff Orps and my main BO Roo.
  2. nzpouter

    nzpouter Songster

    Jan 19, 2009
    new zealand
    we don't eat sick chickens... and older ones (over a year) are only good for dog tucker or soup.
  3. Matt A NC

    Matt A NC Crowing

    Feb 22, 2007
    Morganton, NC
    I process a few old hens every year. The oldest was 5 years old. They are great for soups, chicken and dumplings, chicken pot pie, chopped and BBQ, etc.

    Mareks is not a concern for people. Most birds in backyard flocks have been exposed to it in one form or another. If it was a problem, then no one would be about to eat their home raised meat.

    That said, I would not process a bird for eating that is showing any symptoms of a disease. Most are not transferable to humans, but still.

  4. Smartie_Pants

    Smartie_Pants Songster

    Oct 5, 2008
    Madisonville, KY
    It is never a good idea to eat a sick animal, and besides, any chicken over a year old will be so tough that you would have to crock pot it for a week for it to be anywhere near edible. You can slow cook them for soups and things, but thats about it. The best recipies are the ones where they simmer in liquids for long periods. You can also make stock with the left overs.
    Last edited: May 29, 2010
  5. tammyd57

    tammyd57 Songster

    Older birds won't be so tough and stringy if you age them in the fridge for 2 or 3 days before cooking or freezing, and then cook them low and slow for all day. Crock pot on low, in a roaster bag in the oven on about 200- 250 degrees for all day, or very low heat in a stew pot, less than a simmer.
  6. So should I butcher him and disposing of birds showing symptoms to try to keep my others?

    Hers aren't showing any signs but we live nearby and I had my roo w/symptoms in her coop until recently, hoping to get fertile eggs to hatch.
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I wouldn't eat a sick bird. I pressure can my old hens. They get very tender that way, and make GREAT soup!
  8. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    You might want to have this thread moved to the Meat Birds Etc section. There you should be able to get sound advice as to which of your birds are safe to eat, and how to prepare them for the most delicious soups & stews you've ever tasted! Most folks have never tasted the rich delectable flavor of an older chicken, we eat a lot of young Cornish hybrids designed to mature at 8 weeks instead. We're really eating big chicks.

    Sounds like the swollen hen you lost could have become an internal layer, where the eggs go into the abdominal cavity instead of out the vent and they get an infection from it. If so, it's not a contagious conditon. I think if your hens look well & whole they would be safe to eat.

    If your young roo has Fowl Pox he should be able to get better on his own. I believe it's a virus, and once exposed most birds develop a lifelong immunity to it. I've never processed a bird with an active Fowl Pox infection, but perhaps you can just wait until he's recovered from it.

    And your meatbird chicks should be fine in that coop you've cleaned & disinfected. Enjoy! [​IMG]
  9. illegal avian

    illegal avian Cooped up

    Apr 21, 2010
    Third World, Texas
    Tastes like salmon! [​IMG]

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