What happens to Commercial Hens when their laying lives are up?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Bantimna, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. Bantimna

    Bantimna Songster

    Sep 29, 2009
    South Africa
    I was wondering about this the other day and wanted to know.
    What happens to Commercial Hens when their laying lives are up?
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    At the chicken farm I worked at as a teen ager they went into Campbells Chicken noodle soup.
  3. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Quote:Spent hen disposal has been changing over the years. A very few are used in the commercial meat industry, some go into pet food or animal feed, and the rest are either composted or simply buried.

    At least this is what I've read recently.

  4. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Songster

    Sep 4, 2009
    I'm not sure commercials ever actually REACH the end of their laying lives before they are disposed. Their lives are truncated, after about 18 months of laying, regardless of their productivity.

    I have seen non-commercial private flocks of 4 and 5 year old hens that are still going strong and laying eggs, just some not quite so productive as they were during their first 2-3 years.
  5. Jen71

    Jen71 Songster

    Mar 25, 2010
    Have any of you guys adopted these girls and integrated them into your flock?
  6. BC_Farms

    BC_Farms Songster

    Jan 20, 2010
    Enfield & Chaplin CT
    The ones near us get sold...but I'm not sure who to (meat processing, dog/cat food companies, random people), but we were looking into buying some as well...I'll have to ask around at the next poultry association meeting.
  7. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Quote:That's interesting. . . Explains a lot too.
  8. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Quote:That's interesting. . . Explains a lot too.

  9. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Campbells stopped buying spent hens for their soup a decade ago. There may be some other soup companies that still do, but Cambells does not.

    Quote:It's not a matter of whether or not a hen is still laying that drives the decision, but whether she is still laying profitably. Is she still laying enough eggs to cover her feed and other associated costs and something left over to show for profit?

    Historically laying hens were kept for two laying cycles. By the end of the second one they'd still be laying, but not enough to cover the costs. The birds would then be disposed of. Nowadays the birds are frequently disposed of at the end of one laying cycle because the industry took so much heat about forced molting. It's not worth the hassle to keep the birds longer.

    The egg industry is as vertically integrated as it gets in agriculture. One company owns the entire thing from breeders to packing houses. You'd be hard put to find any place to make the operation any more efficient than it already is. Yet in spite of that it's only marginally profitable most years and it's not uncommon for even big operations to go bust because they cannot make enough profit to stay in business. For folks who are not making their living with laying hens it's easy to keep a bird past the point that she is worth her feed. For the ones who are making their living that way when a hen isn't laying enough quality eggs to pay for herself she's got to go. When one is dealing with tens of thousands of hens and the modern day biosecurity necessities that have to be dealt with then it has to be all in and all out meaning you fill and empty the barn all at once rather than selectively culling. The entire BYC board could not handle even just one company's spent hens when you consider that many of them have a million birds or more.

  10. farmgirlie1031

    farmgirlie1031 Songster

    Apr 26, 2008
    Around here they end up at the weekly livestock auction and sale for $1-$5 a hen depending on who is there on a given week and bidding on them. Some people take them home to be laying hens and others take them home for the frying pan. Then there are those that buy them as pets. Just depends on who is there and who is buying.

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