Old age/end of lifespan, what happens?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by potato chip, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    My chooks are all (touch wood) healthy. I'm not too sure of the age of my older girls, they are adopted. They are still laying (isa browns) so they aren't that old.

    I've outlived cats and dogs, they've had to be euthanised when they "couldn't be fixed".

    What can I expect with my chickens, assuming they don't succumb to illness or injury in their younger years? It could prove expensive taking them to the vet, even with only 6 hens. Do they usually just "go to sleep and not wake up" one day, or is euthanasia often required?
    It sounds a bit morbid, but people have said isa browns don't live that long and I'd rather get info now when I can handle it, than in a "situation" where I'm all upset and not knowing what to do. I'm a "city person", and don't have a "country person"'s familiarity with "dispatching" livestock when it's necessary.
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Chickens can keep kicking well into their teens, barring death by predation or disease. More often than not it'll be arthritis and an eventual cease of movement that takes them out, I've only heard of a few heart attacks and such. If a bird is walking bad, yeah, it'll need to be culled. I see no reason to take it to the vet, though. All that stress of moving and driving when the process can be done at home with ease, just as painlessly, and with no monetary cost. Surely you have at least one relative or friend who will be able to help you through the process. It would be a much more pleasant experience for the birds, to say the least.

    ISAs and other high production layers have shorter lifespans than other breeds because their overactive ovaries and overall reproductive system is prone to issues. If they don't succumb to these, they can live as long as any other breed.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
  3. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    Thanks, no, and I wouldn't know a single person who would be familiar with "the process". Back when I was a little kid, many people had backyard chickens, but it became "unfashionable" (or something) and nobody did it anymore. It's only recently that the benefits of it have again become popular. City people of my generation have no idea about such things. Country people would, but not us.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2016
  4. icychick

    icychick New Egg

    Jan 27, 2016
    If you are only interested in a humane death and not eating the bird, it's fairly simple to describe. You get them from the coop near dusk, and hold them upside down. To some degree it let's the blood rush to their head and makes them a bit dopey/less active. Lay their neck across a stump, large log, or some other dense, heavy wooden surface. Use a sharp hatchet to cut their head off. There can be no hesitation or reluctance because a lackluster swing could cause an injury rather than death. That is why you have the wooden surface because the hatchet should end up in the wood with a clean chop. ( as a note - I've seen it done twice and have not done it myself. Both times involved two people, one of those times were guys from a historical group that just wanted to experience taking a bird from the coop to the table. It was their first time and they looked info up on youtube )

    Other options would be to find a processing plant, or possibly a local medieval group that studies historical things including bird keeping and may know someone who would be willing to do it on short notice. Planning ahead would be best.
  5. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    Thanks, I know the theory of it, but they aren't just going to lie there, are they?

    I was hoping that old chickens just "die in their sleep".

    Finding someone else who would do it without the expense of the vet is an idea. The chook farm where I got my new girls says they'll take roosters back and "some euphemism for kill them". No doubt they could take care of it, but it couldn't be in circumstances where there is any suggestion of illness, and I'd never be able to tell illness from age-related deterioration, so that's probably not an option.

    I don't think I could ever eat a chicken that I know personally as a pet. Even getting chicken from the shop creeps me out knowing it's how my girls are "underneath".

    As I said, I'm city born and bred.....

    When it comes time, I'll probably just end up putting more millions into the coffers of my vets. It's some way off, but it pays to get information you might need before you need it. Thanks.

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