After reading horror stories about how people couldn't get their teeth through old birds, and that they were only good for soup or stew, I just had to prepare an 18 month old free-range hen as a roast, to find out just how tough a bird could be. Her skin was a little tough, but the meat was pleasantly chewy, like food should be--not mush--and very tasty. It tasted like real chicken. Not something bland that you knew was chicken, because of the shape and the label. I did have her in a mild brine for about 48 hours, admittedly. I look forward to preparing more retired laying hens this way! Only it would be easier if they would turn mean, to justify their execution.