Retiring old laying hens - what do people think about giving them away for free to CSA farms (which

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Gavwyn, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. Gavwyn

    Gavwyn In the Brooder

    Nov 28, 2012
    What do others think about giving away old laying hens to CSAs or other farms? I have some local farms here that would take them, but I don't know how I feel about giving them away if there's a chance they might end up as a stew hen.

    What does everyone else think? Would you do it? Why or why not?

    Thanks in advance for all of your good feedback!
  2. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    If your goal is that they live out their lives in cushy retirement, then that's up to you to provide it. Once you let them go, you have no say anymore over what happens to them. I find this a lot in the horse industry, they don't want to continue to feed Old Dobbin, so they give him away and get just flamin' furious because the new home ends up putting him down or selling him at auction when he goes lame or gets sick. The only way to ensure a cherished pet stays alive and healthy for a long retirement is to keep it yourself.

    I, personally, cull my old layers and we eat them, I would not give them away. There's a lot of money tied up in these birds and I think just giving them away is a big loss of revenue. My personal opinion only, not saying it's right or wrong, just that it's our way.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Gavwyn

    Gavwyn In the Brooder

    Nov 28, 2012
    Thanks, Dreamcatchersarabians. Yes, that's sort of what I was thinking. Interesting that you have this same problem in the horse industry... Thanks for your input!

    I'd be curious to hear from the type of people who might be "flamin' furious" as you say in your original post. (Any takers out there?)
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Oh it's a huge problem with horses.........only it's not culturally acceptable in the US to eat your horse when it's outlived its usefulness.

    Most CSAs I know of need to make a profit, they don't want to feed old hens either. One local CSA is a large seller of 18 month old layers, they turn those babies over pretty regular.

    I'd say either butcher them yourself or sell/give them away understanding they're probably going to make some wonderful broth.
  5. Gavwyn

    Gavwyn In the Brooder

    Nov 28, 2012
    Thanks for your good input!

    I wonder if local food banks would take them if an abattoir could be found that would do the processing for free to help the local food pantries? (Maybe the abattoir could split the hens, selling half of them and then donating the other half to the food banks.)

    The thing is that, myself included, I can't imagine killing the hens myself, but I know that well-loved hens make excellent stew hens. If someone wasn't a vegetarian, and knew that the hens would be killed humanely and through a professional, reputable abattoir, I wonder if the idea might be more palatable to give them to someplace like that, where a local food bank or kitchen might benefit?

    What do others think?
  6. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Songster

    Oct 13, 2008
    I eat mine. I couldn't stomach giving them away. They are some of the healthiest, tastiest, most nutritious chickens around. Why would I want to go out of my way to try to find someone to give them away to, these birds that I have spent the last few years and my hard-earned money caring for and feeding, just so I can then spend more of my hard-earned money to buy inferior quality meat from the store to eat? Heck, I wouldn't even SELL them to people, except perhaps as a special favor to a friend occasionally--because what good are a few dollars to me when I can't BUY chicken as good anywhere else?

    I know that doesn't exactly answer your question... but that's what I think... [​IMG]
  7. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Crowing

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Well i have not been the fire of fuming but that said i can appreciate if someone was selling them as a pet or non eating and they found out someone did. Look obviously, once sold it's up to the new owner but that wouldn't make it any less tolerable.

    My girls will live and die here so it's a non issue for me. The horse industry, i will stay out of, the stories i know, blah.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  8. Annie G

    Annie G In the Brooder

    Nov 15, 2012
    Linden, TN
    How do you cook that old a chicken? Crock pot????

    Is there a way to know how old a chicken is? I bought mine already laying and was given the Rooster. I have no idea how old they all are.
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    There are different ways to cook old chickens. Look up Coq au Vin for example. That's the French traditional way to cook an old rooster. It works for old hens too.

    I take a few peppercorns, a bay leaf, some onion, carrot, and celery, toss in some basil and oregano and put that in a crock pot. You can use parsley, garlic, thyme, leeks, whatever makes your little heart go pitter patter. Cut the chicken up into serving pieces and put that in. Cover with water and cook covered on low for maybe 9 to 10 hours. I do mine overnight. Be careful when you take it out. It might fall off the bone.

    And save the liquid. It makes a great broth for soups or stews, or just use it to cook rice.

    Editted to add:

    I forgot to add a warning. Be careful when you look up recipes, either online or in a cookbook. Anymore most of those assume you are using those tender 6 to 8 week old broilers you buy at the store, not a traditional chicken. For a mature chicken, you want a recipe that takes a long time, cooks them at a low temperature, and uses a lot of moisture.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  10. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Songster

    Oct 13, 2008
    To this excellent suggestion I also wanted to add emphasis that the LOW HEAT is very important. You want it just barely simmering, NEVER boiling (it will make it tougher and destroy some nutrients and flavor). In my experience to low is better than too high. Bon appetit!
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012

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