Hens ready to retire...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cchicken, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. cchicken

    cchicken Hatching

    Jun 30, 2010
    Hi everybody,

    First off, what a great forum this is! Thanks everybody for all the information I have already found!

    My husband and I are in the planning stages of getting chickens for eggs. Yes, for eggs only. We both don't eat meat of any kind and do at present not have plans to do so even if we have our own animals.

    My parents always had chickens, so I'm familiar with the basics, and back then I did not have issues with them being slaughtered - fundamentally, I still do not have a problem with people eating meat. What's more important is that you provide the animal a happy, healthy life and an end that's as stress-free as possible. We plan on letting our hens be free-range with good-quality organic feed.

    Sooo... any ideas of what one could do with laying hens that are ready to retire? I guess I could keep them in old age until they die of natural causes, have somebody come slaughter the animals and we sell the meat, or sell the live birds (this could be very stressful though for the animals)? I am sure we won't be able to kill the birds ourselves.

    How old can a laying hen be and still be acceptable for for-sale meat (i.e. soup chicken)?

    Please bear with me on this, as I'm trying to find my personal way.

    Thanks a bunch!
  2. colowyo0809

    colowyo0809 Songster

    Apr 27, 2010
    Dacono, CO
    As this is our first year raising chickens I don't have any personal experience, but.....
    having said that, as near as I can tell, as long as the bird is alive it's meat is worth something. Provided, of course. that the bird in question isn't sick or dying or of such low quality it ain't worth it. You can make soup or stew out of pretty much any bird, so really its all good [​IMG]

    Of course, I could be terribly wrong on this, and I eagerly await clarification from others more knowledgeable than myself [​IMG]

    btw [​IMG] . Even if you don't eat meat, at least your eating!
  3. cchicken

    cchicken Hatching

    Jun 30, 2010
    Dear colowyo0809,

    Thanks for your reply. Night owl, heh? Yep, me too... Thanks for welcoming me to BYC! [​IMG]

    Because we don't eat meat, it's especially important to find good quality protein substitutes. I personally can't have much soy for health reasons, so I rely heavily on egg whites for protein.

    Let's see what other responses we get on this topic...
  4. bigchicken2

    bigchicken2 Songster

    May 17, 2010
    If your chickens are retired don't eat them. They've been working for you their whole lives. Let them live longer, Pay them back for all those eggs!
  5. dichotomymom

    dichotomymom Songster

    Mar 19, 2008
    Dayton Indiana
    If you're going to sell the meat, you'd need to market them as stewing hens (to make it clear they are not young birds). While it's a nice thought, I can't justify letting birds live that aren't laying so we butcher ours after they stop.
  6. colowyo0809

    colowyo0809 Songster

    Apr 27, 2010
    Dacono, CO
    CCHICKEN: not really a night owl, just late shifter. Waiting for my tea to finish steeping so I can drink it, relax, and go to bed [​IMG] Soy has a whole host of problems associated with it that I don't feel are compensated enough for by the good qualities. I stay away from the stuff myself whenever possible [​IMG]

    I tend to agree with dichotomymom's viewpoint. If they ain't working, then you need to replace them with ones who do, just like any other job [​IMG] While I don't expect to be eaten [​IMG] , I do expect that if I don't do my work I will get let go for it. Same concept with the chickens.
  7. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick 8 Years

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    I am wondering - when my hens are done laying, how about letting them free range in our forest for tick/bug control? we have a barn we could put them up in when it gets cold, but they'd still be 'working'. We'll have guineas also, but we have 25+ acres to cover.. [​IMG]

    I have some years to think about this as my birds are only two months+ old. [​IMG]
  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Quote:That can certainly work if you're in a year-round warm weather area, but you'd still need to feed over the winter (bugs disappear, grasses are dead) IF you get winters.

    cchicken, all of your options are viable. You probably won't know until that time comes, because (especially if you have a small flock) you may have become quite attached to the birds. Or, on the other hand, you may have become quite attached to the EGGS (lol), want to keep up with new layers, and not have room for your older birds. Who knows? Do know that many people have chickens that lay for MANY years, although in their old age may only lay 2 eggs a week as opposed to 6 eggs, if that helps. I've said since day one that my girls are pets (w/egg benefits), so they will be treated as such when they're old. But if they don't feel like pets to you by then, then I'm sure you can find someone who will take them off your hands for stew meat.
  9. nancy1zak

    nancy1zak Songster

    May 27, 2008
    Morris County, NJ
    Quote:I agree!
  10. jjparke

    jjparke Songster

    Apr 20, 2008
    Here's what I do. I replenish my flock every 2 years. That way I always have good layers but I can still reasonably sell the older ones.

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