End of lay cycle... now what?


12 Years
Yeah, I didn't have a clear picture of this in my mind when we started.
But my girls are 2-1/2yo and clearly done with laying as of about 2 months ago.

I think in my head, we'd just keep them until they died (how long is that? I thought 10 years!). But now we have to relocate from NJ to Chicago and will be living somewhere that is not chicken-conducive. We were about to hunt up homes for our ladies, but without the benefit of eggs--not too many takers. I'm still going to look, though.

I'm seriously considering having them processed. They haven't been as much like pets as I thought (and that is entirely newbie learning error in how much we should've worked with them as chicks--but it is what it is).

I don't know, though... seems... I don't know.

Thoughts? And if I were going to do that, what do I look for in a processing facility?
I seriously doubt they are "done with laying" -- they are probably just going into a molt, from which they will emerge and start up again, although less productively.

If you *want* to make stew, fair enough (it would be quite a lot easier, unless this is more than a dozen chickens we're talking about, to just process them yourself; also cheaper). But there is no reason to *have* to.

As far as what to look for if you are having them processed, in most areas you are lucky to find *somewhere* that will do it at all and can fit you in in a reasonable timeframe (as opposed to, like, 4 months from now). You will pack them up in crates -- find out what the processor requires, some won't accept pet crates etc, a few may even loan you crates if necessary -- drop them off at the processor, and then pick them up later that day or the next day or in a couple days, depending on the arrangements and whether you're having the carcasses frozen. IMHO it is a lot less scary and stressful for the chickens to process them at home, though; it is really not difficult to learn, there are good online sets of directions.

Good luck, have fun,

Thanks so much. It's only 8 hens. I can't find good information on how long molt takes, but they've been down between 0-3 eggs/day for easily 6 weeks. Possibly longer.

That being said, I DID notice a few days ago that there were so many feathers in their run that I truly thought a predator got in and I took headcount.

I'd rather not eat my ladies.
Maybe I just need to give them more time in case this really is molting.

BUT... thank you for the info on processing them. It's information I should have even if it's for future flocks. We DO want to (at some point) raise a flock for food, too.
This is a hard one. I mean, to process or not to process. I usually feed a higher protein diet to my girls to help them through thed molting period. It takes protein to grow new feathers. But, then, do you try to sell as older laying hens or what?
I'd process them at home, if you have the heart to, rather then sell them to someone else and leave them at their new owner's treatment if they start to fail to lay. IMO
Hens should lay to up to 4 years old.

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