It’s time to cull my older hens but I feel so sad at the thought

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
4,659
13,571
536
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Part of adulting is taking responsibility for one's choices, actions and inactions both. Another is offering respect to those who have earned it.

Its time to take responsiblity for the choice to have birds, in the quantities you've chosen, in the way you've chosen to manage your flock. And it is entirely appropriate that you do not eagerly anticipate ending the lives of birds who have earned the respect of productive service.

Its not a joy, but it is necessary. If you want to face yourself honestly in the mirror.

Do the deed. and though you should not measure yourself by another's judgement, know that if you do your best to give them a clean and swift end, as they did their best to provide you service, you'll have a respectful nod from many here. and if you then put the birds to a final service, soup, stock, or sausage, you will have wasted nothing of their lives. That, too, is respectful.
 
Nov 11, 2020
1,431
2,395
286
West Virginia
Part of adulting is taking responsibility for one's choices, actions and inactions both. Another is offering respect to those who have earned it.

Its time to take responsiblity for the choice to have birds, in the quantities you've chosen, in the way you've chosen to manage your flock. And it is entirely appropriate that you do not eagerly anticipate ending the lives of birds who have earned the respect of productive service.

Its not a joy, but it is necessary. If you want to face yourself honestly in the mirror.

Do the deed. and though you should not measure yourself by another's judgement, know that if you do your best to give them a clean and swift end, as they did their best to provide you service, you'll have a respectful nod from many here. and if you then put the birds to a final service, soup, stock, or sausage, you will have wasted nothing of their lives. That, too, is respectful.
Well stated!
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,464
13,112
656
western South Dakota
Icky job, no doubt. How to do it.
  • if you can, put them in the second coop
  • feed and water, but don't watch them, begin to distance yourself from them
  • Do a few at a time, like 3, not 10
  • allow yourself to keep one of your favorites
The easiest way to reduce your feed costs, is to have less birds. Old birds often are suffering silently. They do get stiff and slow. A quick death, is just one bad moment in a very good life, if we all could be so blessed.

Not before, but as soon as you are done, start looking for chicks to get, it is a circle of life.

Mrs K
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
16,040
33,977
1,092
On the MN prairie.
We process our spent hens every 2-3 years. I always hate the thought of it. The turning a live chicken into a dead one is the worst part for me. Fortunately, my DH grew up butchering chickens and has no problem doing the deed. So, I catch the bird, hand it to him, and while I’m going in after the next one, he takes care of it. Once they’re dead, I have no problem picking or skinning them and all the rest of the processing.
 

Isadora

Soli Deo gloria
Premium Feather Member
Mar 29, 2021
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IN
Once they’re dead, I have no problem picking or skinning them and all the rest of the processing.
That how my husband and I do it. While I did cull a guinea keet who had perosis I couldn't remedy, it was hard and I cried. My husband doesn't mind doing the actual killing so h takes care of that while I work on scalding/plucking.
 

lomine

Crowing
6 Years
Aug 7, 2015
2,914
3,126
386
Peyton, CO
I need to cull my old birds soon too, probably this weekend. There are some in my flock that have earned a lifetime membership (assuming they remain healthy). One being my favorite rooster who motivated me to move out of the city (love that useless lump of feathers :lol:) and a few hens that are really good at brooding. But the rest of the old ones must go. They have given me eggs, and in return I gave them a good life in the sun. Now I will give them a quick end. It's not something I enjoy doing but I never regret doing it. I have a lot of space for them but it's not infinite. Feed is getting more expensive too. It's an unpleasant but necessary part of keeping a flock.
 
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K0k0shka

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 24, 2019
3,371
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487
Boston Area, MA
My Coop
My Coop
Distancing yourself from them emotionally beforehand really helps. There's a perspective shift I do, I'm not sure how to explain it. I mentally change my frame of reference. I look at the bird and try to see it as an object - I look at the feathers, the feet, focus on the trees and not on the forest. It doesn't have a name anymore, nor a face, it's just a feathered object. I purge my mind of all happy memories with the bird and all references to it as an individual. Then I suddenly don't recognize it anymore. I have this sudden feeling of "who is this? I don't know you", and then I get down to business. I'm butchering a meat animal, I'm not murdering a friend. Once it's dead, the detachment solidifies permanently and all I can see is the meat and the feathers and the guts. This really helps.

Every once in a while I notice that my mind shifts and I detach from people like that, too. It happens occasionally and all on its own, without me trying. Rare, but it happens, and has nothing to do with butchering chickens. Started happening when I was a kid, and really freaked me out at first. I'd be sitting there looking at my own mother, and suddenly see her as a stranger. I'd have to work to bring the connection back (force myself to bring happy memories back and put her in the proper context). Hasn't happened with my kids yet, but it happens with my husband occasionally (and we've been together for 15 years). I have learned to suppress it when it happens with people, and harness it when I need it with animals, like with culling, because in that context it's very handy. I don't know if this is something that all people can do... or if I'm just a psychopath :lol:
 

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