Slaughtering Old Hens

IndianaHomestea

In the Brooder
7 Years
Sep 20, 2012
73
1
41
New Palestine, Indiana
Hey all, I have 6 backyard chickens. 1 is a rooster, 2 are not old enough to lay, 1 is laying and 2 I'm assuming are too old to lay, because they've never laid since I bought them (they were already full grown.)

I have two questions for anyone who would be so kind to answer:

1. One of the hens that I THINK must be too old to lay, was purchased full grown about 3-4 weeks ago. Is there a chance that she just hasn't settled in yet... could that be why she isn't laying or would you say chances are she's just too old?

2. I know older hens have tough meat. But with these two hens I have no clue how old they are. What if they are VERY old. Would the meat still be good? I guess my question is more like ... is there ever a situation when you wouldn't even bother slaughtering?

I have 25 baby chicks (13 light brahmas and 12 RIR's) that I plan to start breeding for meat, but I've never slaughtered a chicken yet. So I'm brand new to this.

Thanks!!
 

astormygirl

In the Brooder
7 Years
Mar 27, 2012
13
2
24
I would not kull the "old" hens yet, I rescued some older hens and it took them 6+ weeks to finally figure out that they were safe and could lay. It has been 12 weeks and I still have some that are so tramatized they have not started, they sit in the nest box so they want to.
As for the meat. If they are older I crock pot them. Seems to work well.
Good luck with your chicks
 

IndianaHomestea

In the Brooder
7 Years
Sep 20, 2012
73
1
41
New Palestine, Indiana
ok that's exactly what I wanted to be sure of... good to know that she may still be a layer! The other though, I've had for about 6 months, so I think it's safe to say she is done laying. To the crock pot she's going then :)

Thanks for the quick answer! This place is great. I've received most of my knowledge on chickens from here. It pops up for just about every chicken related search term in google.
 
Last edited:

maryhysong

Songster
7 Years
Aug 24, 2012
1,875
151
188
Claypool, Arizona
Old hens I don't bother plucking; just skin them like a rabbit; loads faster that way. Then stew them and make broth. To tell a layer vs non layer, put your fingers under their tail; you should be able to feel the pelvic bones on each side. A large hen in full lay you should be able to fit the width of 4 fingers between those bones. Hens not laying you will be hard pressed to fit 2. Of course banties would be smaller.

I used to set my questionable layers in a chicken tractor in the garden; normally if they were going to lay they would within one or two days. If there were no eggs in 3 days they went to the soup pot. But if they were molting then the fresh grass and extra bugs seemed to bring on the laying.
 

wsmoak

Songster
Apr 21, 2010
355
12
164
a little north of Columbus, GA
Thanks for the great tips! Why not pluck old hens? Is it harder than younger hens or you just don't think it's worth the work for tough meat?

If you're going to stew them in the crock pot you really don't need the skin, so you can skip the bother of scalding and plucking.

(Not that skinning them is much easier -- you still have to dry pluck the abdomen so you can see what you're doing, and there are feathers everywhere.)


--
Wendy
 

maryhysong

Songster
7 Years
Aug 24, 2012
1,875
151
188
Claypool, Arizona
Thanks for the great tips! Why not pluck old hens? Is it harder than younger hens or you just don't think it's worth the work for tough meat?
Because usually I would just be culling 1-3 at a time from the flock and it just wasn't worth the bother and work, especially for a stewing chicken. I do like my whole birds that I'm going to roast to have their skin on; they stay moister that way and look nicer when you cook them.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom