What to do about my Reds?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Bridget399, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. Bridget399

    Bridget399 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, it's been about a year since I began on my backyard chicken journey and I'm still questioning myself all the time... My Red Sex Links are looking rough, they aren't full and bright red (in the face) like they used to be. I suspect because of the type of breed they are that they are just "spent" after a year of consistent egg laying. They do have the life, free ranging most of the day and plenty of treats every morning. Would they make a good meat bird? Are they getting too old for that? Please let me know what you think!
     
  2. NancyP

    NancyP Chillin' With My Peeps

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  3. terri9630

    terri9630 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How old are they? Are they moulting? If they are they will look rough and slow down on laying. They should lay for quite a few years. My RIR's are moulting and they look half bald and even though they are laying pretty well the shells aren't what they should be. I told them to take a break but no one around here listenes to me!
     
  4. SteveH

    SteveH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2009
    West/Central IL
    Quote:Everybody has different tastes , but to me the very best chicken for chicken and noodles or chicken soup is an older hen fattened on cracked corn .
     
  5. bigchicken2

    bigchicken2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They're done laying they did they're job for you. Don't kill them pay them back for all the eggs they laid.
     
  6. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You didn't say whether they're still laying at this time, or if they just look faded and a little raggedy.
    At only a year old, they're NOT done laying. If they haven't slowed down or stopped laying, and started molting yet, they will before long. Mine usually molt in the fall, sometimes early, sometimes late, depending on the weather.

    Molt may last anywhere from a month to 4 months, depending on the overall health of the birds, whether they have any parasites, (which can also cause them to become pale and raggedy) and what kind of diet they have while molting. I find mine get finished with molting sooner, and back to normal laying faster, if I increase protein to 22% and give them black oil sunflower seeds mixed with their whole corn treat every day. The corn and SSS is a snack, though, the main diet is the 22% protein feed, plus they free range, out in open fields and woods, all over a big acreage.

    I once had what I think was a Cherry Egger, she still laid about 5 eggs a week when she died, on the nest laying an egg, at over 8 years old. I have some hens ranging from 5-7 years old that still lay reasonably well. Not daily, like a 1 or 2 year old, but most lay 4-5 eggs a week.

    BTW, when hens are laying, they get paler combs and legs. Non-layers will be prettier. Young pullets who don't lay yet have pink combs, the get redder as point of lay approaches. Then once they begin to lay steadily, the red gets washed out a bit. Not quite pink like before, but faded red.

    Lots of people choose to butcher hens at 1 or 2 years old and replace them, and from what I've read, many are under the impression that hens are all used up at that age. That's not really the case, most hens will lay for years.

    If you do decide to butcher them, read up on cooking methods for older birds. There are tons of cooking tips on BYC, for older birds. Don't cook them the same way as supermarket chickens. Low temp, like 200-275F, for a long, long time, is the way to cook them. Be sure to let them age in the fridge a few days before either cooking or freezing them, to let the rigor pass, and tissues soften a bit.
     
  7. Bridget399

    Bridget399 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They've been molting since March. Some are finished while others are still bald in places. I do use frontline on them as a preventative to mites (prescribed by my vet). So, I really don't think they are anemic. They are still laying at this time. I was just wondering if I should butcher them before they get too old and tough. Thanks for all the input!
     
  8. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I don't know if Frontline is approved for use in egg-layers or meat birds. I've never heard of anybody else using it on chickens. Or any meat or dairy animals. I wouldn't put it on mine. I use ivermectin, it's off-label as well, but it is approved for meat animals such as cattle and swine, and also dairy cows. It is sometimes used for humans, as well, so I feel safer with that.

    If they're still laying even during a molt, they're probably fine. Are they laying a normally, or has production slowed way down? When the new feathers finish growing in, they're all be pretty again, and if production is slow, it should pick back up. Hens often slow down in hot weather, too, so take that into account. You might give them some black oil sunflower seed. How much protein are they getting?

    As for butchering before they get too old and tough, you've missed that window, they're over a year old. They're already old and tough. At this point they are already crock-pot birds, or extremely slow roasters, or some other slow cooking method. Hens lay their biggest eggs starting the second year.

    Why not wait until they finish molting, and see how it goes? I like getting the really huge eggs they lay after the first year, and if you start new chicks, they won't lay for 5 months or so anyway.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2010
  9. uhuh555

    uhuh555 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Delton
    Bridget,

    Frontline is systemic in nature therefore requires a 90 day withdrawal period before you can eat eggs or meat from birds using it.

    The manufacture (Merial) will not give an opinion or comment on its use with poultry intended for food but said it is an "off use" of frontline and is not recommended.

    Many medications are safely prescribed "off use" by doctors and Vets but be aware there have been no studies done supporting these "off use" uses. Many times the developing companies have done these studies but because they are not required to release them to the USDA or public one can only surmise it may be due to unfavorable results.
     

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