I have read that at about 3 years, hens start laying less eggs. We have chickens for the purpose of eggs and are limited to the number of chickens allowed because of city ordinances. What do you do with the older hens?
but my ex-batts will stay until they die of old age they had a hard enough start to life, so they deserve a nice long end to it.
My others I will probably try to rehome, I don't like the idea of culling a healthy bird, however - most people would probably cull. It sounds harsh but most people have them for eggs, and as long as the kill it quick and clean then the bird knows nothing of it. Its a sad fact.
I will re-home my older girls when they start showing a big drop in production. my oldest are around 3 years right now and just about all of them still lay a minimum of 5 eggs a week thankfully... it is definitely going to be hard re-homing them when the time comes!!
Since my life does not depend on how many eggs my hens lay, they will retire in comfort. Although for folks who do have limitations, you can advertise your senior chickens, and you'll be surprised at how many calls you get. If you are not squeamish, you can process them yourself.
some people do an all out, and all in, but that leaves you with a great deal of time with no eggs.
I like to add chicks every year, and to do so, I cull some chickens. The plan is for the cull to be in the 3 year + group. In the fall, my flock will have some pullets, some two year old hens, and some three year old hens.... but no 4 year old hens. The pullets will lay through out the winter, the 2 year olds will molt and then lay bigger eggs. But I always have at least some eggs. Right now, though I only have one two year old, and no three year olds, as it does not always go according to the plan, but I have a broody hen on eggs right now.
The stewing chickens will be tougher if you fry them. But the flavor is well worth it if you stew them.
We sell off our birds to keep the flock young and working toward our goal of total Blue Rock flock. I've still two production reds that have to go at some point but are giving five eggs per week each at 2.5 years old. We'll no doubt keep them until fall next year, we'll have a mixed breed black first year hen going with them at that time too. To me birds have sale value to 3 years old after that I'll eat them or give away.