New to BYC and need some advice.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by IrishWench, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. IrishWench

    IrishWench In the Brooder

    Jul 31, 2008
    I have just aquired 6 hens about 5 months old. They are lovely girls, but only 1 is a breed that lays well. My original intent was to get Rhode Island Reds as I have had good luck with them in the past (10yrs ago). These chickens just came to us because their person had to move. My intention is to get the R.I.Reds in the spring. At least 4 of them.

    Now to my dilema. We will Not(at this point anyway) eat our chickens. The thought of selling or trading them once they are no longer prolific breeders is something I realized I must think about. I gather that they begin to decline in production after 3 years. I will need to keep most of the flock at any given time productive. That means I will need to rotate and bring in new chicks periodically. There is a limit to how many chickens I can have at 1 time. I will be utilizing their eggs for my family and some for sale or trade.

    IF I were to sell them for someone else to eat, at what age would they need to be. If I choose not to sell them for butchering, any suggestions as to what else I might do with them?

  2. chickens4jojo

    chickens4jojo Songster

    May 26, 2008
    Upstate South Carolina
    They sound like pets~~You may be able to sell them as "pets only" if you are unable to keep them? Maybe some people who just enjoy watching chickens in their yard could take them possibly. Just a thought though.... [​IMG]
  3. IrishWench

    IrishWench In the Brooder

    Jul 31, 2008
    Hi [​IMG] Thanks for responding. I suppose they are pets, working pets. I have spent the last 25 years doing animal rescue and placement. It is difficult for me to even think about actually eating my animals. The chickens are for weed and pest control, fertilizer and beautiful healthy eggs. The goats will be for milk and cheese. The time may very well come when I have to change that outlook out of necessity, but not today.

    I'm still looking for info on when a hen is too old or past prime for butchering.

    Thanks again.
  4. hatchcrazzzy

    hatchcrazzzy Songster

    Jun 8, 2007
    kemp texas
    people will take free chickens just ask what they want them for.people will eat them if your not careful
  5. Kesta

    Kesta Pie Crust Malfunction

    Jul 31, 2008
    houston tx
    once egg production starts declining there no good for meat. theyre too muscly and the meat would be very tough.usually the chicken meat of pullets is whats eaten.ours are like pets too. they dont lay yet but theyll still be pets even when they do. you should give them away after there past there prime
  6. seismic wonder2

    seismic wonder2 I got mad ninja skills

    Feb 3, 2007
    san diego ca
    Once they are "old hens"
    They are perfect for "Coq au vin".
    That recipe was DESIGNED for tough old roosters. Finding "old hens" in the store is all but impossible now a days, everyone want's the young "tasty bird"

    If you can find a chef in your area he'll probably shake your hand.
  7. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Two things here - you say your girls are 5 months old - what breeds ARE they? Many breeds not advertised as super egg producers will still lay 4-6 eggs a week. You might be pleasantly surprized as to how well they do produce for you, and they are right at the point of lay too! Give them a few weeks to get settled in, and to mature a bit more and you will start to see some eggs. By around 1 yr they are at their peak production. After 2 yrs, they start to slow down, but will continue laying for a long time after that, although not as many eggs per week.

    If you do decide to get rid of the non RIRs, then you should still be able to find them good homes when they are less than 2 yrs old for folks who want eggs. After gets harder. Also you can't guarantee that the new homes will not eventually cull them as they get older either by selling/giving them away for meat, or eating them.

    You can eat older birds - they are just tougher meat and their meat is usually used in stews or slow cooker meals.

    Secondly, what to do with birds once they get too old to be good producers...

    Personally, I think the way a lot of people get rid of their older hens is to lie about their age or production status...OR they find homes where the people are lying about their intent not to eat them. Not ALWAYS, but a lot of times.

    It's hard to find a 'retirement' home for chicken. People either want to eat them or get eggs from them. Even those of use whose chickens are more 'pets' than 'producers' still end up having to euthanize (and we eat ours afterwards, so as not to waste the meat) most of our unwanted cockerels or give them away to someone who is going to eventually eat them. It's hard to find homes for roosters unless you are into showing them and it is a really, really well bred/fine breeding prospect bird OR you are willing for them to go where they will be eaten. There are just too many roo-lets born for the numbers of girls born.

    If you are wanting them primarily for grass/weed control, then they are good for that as long as they are walking around and eating (which pretty much non-stop until the day they die)
  8. IrishWench

    IrishWench In the Brooder

    Jul 31, 2008
    Many Thanks for all replies :)

    In answer to some questions, a bit of background.

    There are 4 Buff Orpingtons, 1 Australorpe and 1 Gold Laced Wyandotte.

    They came from the home of a very nice young man, although somewhat inexperienced in animal husbandry. Their diet and housing was not optimal(or maybe I'm just a pamperer) I have had them for 5 days now and have seen a great improvement. I have been feeding them hen scratch and layer pellets, oyster shell grit, lots of greens and their water is refreshed 2-3 times a day (very hot here right now and they love to play in the overspill when I water). Their eyes are brighter, they are very conversational and quite plucky now. They have also been intrdoduced to Timothy Hay which they saw as an invitation to party. They love it! A couple of them are excellent flying bug catchers. In good conditions, parasites are not common here. I use no chemicals and stay as natural and organic as possible throughout my entire property and household. They are in temporary housing while we build their castle and yard.

    After reading the replies and some other message threads, I believe that I will build a second house for retirement for my girls. No Roos allowed in city limits, so no issue there. Its tricky because I have a limit here in the city. My lot is oversized and has many trees, but R.I Reds all look alike right? LOL!
    If the time comes when I must make other arrangements, I will go the pet placement road at least for now. This is an interesting blend of city and country life where I live. I believe that if I'm creative, I can place my retired girls well. Maybe I'll take some on the road for special school visits. I used to do that while active in animal rescue. They used to call me the cat lady, now I can be the chicken lady!

    Once again, thanks for the input. When reality slapped and reminded me that my oversized lot while wonderful,was still not a farm in the country, I panicked about what to do with the girls when their production slowed. All the replies helped me regain my perspective of "I can do!". I also appreciate the information that was given by everyone on the meat aspect and will keep that in mind for the future as well. I eat chicken and love it. Just can't eat my own, not yet anyway.

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