Preparing Old layers for Culling

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by harmesonfarm, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. harmesonfarm

    harmesonfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is the first year we will be culling some of our chickens, we have some old girls we took over from a farmer who was already going to cull them but we thought we would take a few to ease us into chicken keeping.
    They are now on the road to freezer camp...just wondering if there was anything you do to help bulk them up before culling? We will be using them for food / stews / stock so i'm just curious.

    Also, what is the best way you found for processing the birds? We have about 5 that we will be doing. When is the best time of the year you found for culling old layer birds? This spring I noticed they were almost "fattier / larger" than they are now. Do you process in the spring then? or can we process them just getting into winter...we would prefer to do the culling before the new year.
     
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is tough to get an older chicken to bulk up with more muscle. They tend towards adding fat on their rump. If you want to try, you could try adding more protein. I would suggest just to accept them as they are and save the added time and effort.

    The best time to cull old layers is when they stop laying, usually towards the fall, when they molt. There really isn't a set time. Use to be on the farm you would cull when you wanted a chicken for dinner. My Grandfather would keep his older hens in one pen and when we or someone on his egg route would want one, he would butcher.
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    We usually process our older hens in the fall when they quit laying. My favorite way to process them is to pressure can them. They get nice and tender that way. I have 5 that we will process this fall - probably in October or November, depending on when we have time.

    Your old layers will be tough, so you'll have to think about how you cook them. Low and slow is best. As I said before, pressure cooking or canning them helps tenderize them. I LOVE having jars of canned chicken on hand. So convenient for a quick meal.
     
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  4. harmesonfarm

    harmesonfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    great! thanks for the wonderful tips and advice :) we'll be doing our chickens before the new year then whenever we have the time! lol They have pretty much already stopped laying, out of the 5 that we have i believe only 1-2 of them are still laying every once in a while.
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    One of the things in a smaller flock, is that more birds, make more heat during winter. So if you added younger birds last spring, and now as those birds have grown up, and need more space, it is an economical idea to butcher at this time.

    However, if you have just a few birds, and will have less birds after butchering, you might wait until January or February, getting through the worst of the bitter cold. A lot depends on your coop, your space and the number of birds you have. More birds in a tight small coop, cause a lot of problems, too much manure, too much moisture, too close together and you can get frostbite and ugly behavior.

    If you have the space, good ventilation, it might be worth keeping them a bit longer, but do know, that you are risking just having one die, and getting nothing to eat out of her.

    Personally, I would recommend doing a single bird the first time... then allows you to get the set up, check it out, figure it out and get it done. Then the next time, do 2, then later do 2 more. Next year, you can if you want take on several. The first time I did it, it really took a lot more time, than after I had some experience. And some help, really does help even with just moral support!

    Mrs K
     
  6. harmesonfarm

    harmesonfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great, thank you Mrs. K for the advice. very smart thinking
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Might be best to wait until they are done molting...pin feathers are a drag to pick out.....unless you plan to skin them.
    That's kinda what I'm waiting for plus I haven't decided just who's gonna go yet....and after first frost, no flies and mosquitoes to deal with while butchering.

    Agrees, you can't really make them any bigger/meatier at this point....but if you like schmaltz, fattening them up might worth it.
    Don't agree with keeping more as 'heating units'.
    Agrees on butchering just one the first time, it can be daunting the first time.....tho very soon the setup and clean up time will make that seem inefficient.

    Remember to rest the cleaned carcass in the fridge for 2-3-4 days before cooking or freezing to allow rigor mortis to fully pass....or you'll not like the meat toughness.
    I prefer to use a pressure cooker as it's faster....an hour or so for the meat, strip the meat, then everything else back in for another couple hours to get that gelatinous bone stock. Mmmmmm.

    Lots of good, and not so good, info on slaughter and butchering online...and in the meat bird forum here at BYC.
    I read a ton of stuff before doing the deed the first time....most of it was helpful in some way, the quantity viewed helped enure me to a totally alien(to me) task.
    This tutorial was one of the most helpful for me http://ramblingredneckmom.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-to-process-chickens-at-home.html
     
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  8. harmesonfarm

    harmesonfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great, thank you Aart. Very helpful tips. I'll be sure to check out the forum.
     
  9. carlf

    carlf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last year I butchered a group of older hens for a friend who couldn't bring herself to do it.
    I found that skinning them was the quickest way to process them.
    You wont be frying them, way to rough, so you really don't need the skin anyway.
    I de-headed the, hung them to bleed for 5 minutes, then skinned them & cut off the leg/thigh quarters and filleted off what little breast meat there is.
    Didnt mess with gutting them or bothering with the carcasses, very little meat on the carcass of egg breeds.
    Used them all in soup.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Really?!?! The bones are full of goodness.
     

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