What do you do with chickens that are done laying eggs?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Nov 4, 2009
I was just wondering as my wife and I have talked about this. We have like 10 chickens that are just now 8 months and laying, pretty soon they will all be laying eggs. My wife is all excited as she already has people lined up to buy the eggs. So what do you all do with them when they get too old to lay eggs? I said we clean them and eat them, my wife of course says no way . She says they would be 8 year old chickens , not good for eating, the ones you buy in the store are young chickens.And of course she wont touch them to clean them, so I would have to do all that. I say they have been grain fed, and raised naturally, and would be better eating than any in the store , and I cant see wasting all the time and effort and grain we used to raise them. And I would not want to just release them on my 5 acres for some predator to get them. I have had no problems with any predators so far , if they found a stray chicken outside, they would hang around our coop looking to get the others.
I will also - hopefully - have several years before any of my flock (the oldest is just a year old now) stop laying eggs permanently. Actually, chickens don't really STOP, they just lay less and less frequently.

In any case, mine will retire to a nice life of bug-catching, fertilizer making, and just generally spending time making me smile. If ordering by importance, those would be listed in the reverse.

If you plan on eating 8 year old hens, you better have a good crockpot, a couple of days to let the carcass simmer, and really, really like chicken soup.
Mine are going to go for eating*. Soup, soup, soup! If you have a small flock and cycle new-for-old at a sensible schedule, you shouldn't have so many going to the chop at one time to make yourself sick of soup, especially since you can use chicken stock in a million recipes. I've done the deed already (planned meaties, but had one aggressive layer, so she went in the pot as well), so I know I'll be able to do it when I need to. They'll be absolutely freakin' amazing for eating, though -- older animals have better taste, they're just a little chewy if not prepared correctly.

If you want pets, you can keep them forever, but just don't expect them to be anywhere near cost-effective if you do. gryeyes is right -- they don't necessarily stop. I believe the word is 80% of last year's productivity each year. Someone correct me on that if I'm wrong. Obviously that's a rule of thumb. Some ladies become freeloaders early, some lay like a machine and then keel over before they have a chance to stop. It all depends on the individual.

*With the exception of the two who were, unwisely, given names.
What do you do with chickens that are done laying eggs?

I love and care for them for the rest of their days (years

Except for the few I've let my daughters make into pets the rest are livestock. When their productive lives are done then it's either into the pot or off to the swap they go.
So far, one hen is going to stay here for the rest of her natural life. The rest will be sold before they reach the age where they are done laying eggs. I dont want to eat any hens. Just my personal preference. I'd rather find them a home if I can so I will try to sell em all when they are still laying fairly well.
After 3 years of age or so you will probably notice an appreciable drop of egg production. I have limited space, so unless a bird is critical to one of my ongoing breeding projects, or represents a past breeding breakthrough, there are hopefully better/younger birds that need the coop space.

As stated earlier, there is no comparison in soup, or chicken and noodles made with a store bought, or home grown broiler, and the same dish made with an old hen. Much richer flavor with a old "soup hen". I was raised with this all being part of the cycle, nothing wasted.
I don't keep chickens for the eggs (the eggs are just a nice bonus that comes with my pets), but every single one of my birds lives out their full lives with me. I have some hens that are twelve years old.
Dog food. Cuts down a lot on purchased dog food. For the ones I don't want to kill I sell them their 2 year old year since people will still buy them at that age and replace with their offspring. Hatch enough and you can have a constant supply of eggs despite selling them that young. You do have to be prepared to butcher the roos when you hatch your own though.

3-4 years is usually the point at which people start replacing layers. They drop off sharply after that and unless you bring in more young layers you will probably run short on eggs.

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