Slaughtering Old Hens

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by IndianaHomestea, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. IndianaHomestea

    IndianaHomestea Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 20, 2012
    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!!
     
  2. astormygirl

    astormygirl Out Of The Brooder

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    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
     
  3. IndianaHomestea

    IndianaHomestea Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 20, 2012
    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: Oct 23, 2012
  4. maryhysong

    maryhysong Chillin' With My Peeps

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    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.
     
  5. IndianaHomestea

    IndianaHomestea Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 20, 2012
    New Palestine, Indiana
    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?
     
  6. wsmoak

    wsmoak Chillin' With My Peeps

    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
     
  7. kizanne

    kizanne Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yup we skin all our chickens since we don't roast. The one older hen I ate was very flavorful but we did use the crockpot.
     
  8. maryhysong

    maryhysong Chillin' With My Peeps

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    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.
     
  9. jfishfam

    jfishfam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Personally, I don't think the skin is worth the effort. But I've never done older birds.
     

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