Processing old hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chickenobsessed, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. chickenobsessed

    chickenobsessed Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello, I have about 12 older chickens that are not laying very much, I'm only getting like 2 or 3 eggs a day. [​IMG] I have been saving those eggs and I'm going to put them into the incubator and in the spring the new ones will start laying, just in time to start selling them!!! By the real question is, what can you do with the old hens? I think I heard of making either soup or broth from them, not sure which, but how do you do all that? Any recipes? Ideas? Thanks Tyler
     
  2. farm316

    farm316 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know how to cull or anything,

    Maybe you could use some or a couple of the old one's as broody's? I think old hens serve well for that, Unless you can just use your incubator like you said.
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    How old are they? They are probably molting.
     
  4. freestargirl

    freestargirl Out Of The Brooder

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    How old are they and what breed? Most egg breeds are very good layers until about 2.5 yrs to 3. Some say they otherwise, but they do start declining. It's hard to say when enough is enough. If you have chickens just so you can sell eggs, you def. don't want to keep a bunch of past their prime hens around. Supplemental lighting is an option, to keep them laying but they do need to molt, especially as we get into winter.
    I process my old hens. They are not going to be like grocery store chicken, at all. They aren't even going be like 'broilers' that folks raise just for meat. Their energy all went to egg laying, not putting meat on their bones.
    Here is what I do with mine. Infact, I just processed 7 old birds yesterday.
    I process them, but instead of plucking, I skin them. So much easier. You can leave them whole, or separate at the joints (that's what I do with them). At this point, you can do 1 of several things. 1) you can cook & eat them. 2) freeze them for later cooking. or 3) pressure can them.
    Some people just process a bird when they want one to eat. That's too much work, IMO. I process as many as I can at once. Keep 1 out for cooking and then pressure can the rest. I pressure can it so that I can store it on the shelf and not have to worry about the freezing going out, or the power and losing food. That's just my preference.
    They will be tougher. When I keep one out to cook and eat, I usually cook it in the crockpot til the meat falls off the bones and make soup or chicken and dumplins. I have marinaded in the fridge overnight and fried it and it was good. If you let it 'rest' a day in the fridge before you cook it, it helps alot for it to 'relax'. Also, when you kill it, don't let it flop around. Hold it still until it stops- my hubby says that letting it flop around makes it tougher, but I don't know if there is a scientific basis for that though. Good luck!
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    We have a meat bird forum here that has lots of help for processing birds. You tube has tons of videos to walk you through the process.

    Depending on the age of the birds, they'll very likely start laying again in the spring. It's your decision to feed them over the winter and have eggs in spring or cull them now and go with chicks. Folks do it both ways.
     
  6. chickenobsessed

    chickenobsessed Out Of The Brooder

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    Not sure exactly on the age,, but they youngest ones we have are 2 years and will be 3 this spring, so the rest are probalby around 5 years old or so! Some of the breeds are: Barred rock, amercauna, and sex-links,
     
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    The 2 and 3 year olds would not be out of production yet. Let them molt and they should lay well again. The 5 year olds depends. I've had some still be great layers and others that quit.
     

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