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What to do with 4 year old chickens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by audrey305, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. audrey305

    audrey305 In the Brooder

    Aug 20, 2013
    Kendallville, IN
    My fiance and I just bought a farm, and with the farm came 10 hens and 2 roosters. The previous owners say that they are all about 4 years old, and I am getting a total of about 1 egg per day. I have ordered new chicks to start my new flock, but I am exploring the options of what to do with the old chickens. If I get them butchered, is the meat usable (I wouldn't think that the roosters are)? Are there people out there who buy older chickens? I don't know anyone who has room to take them as pets. I'm not sure what breeds the roosters are, but the hens are 2 Buff Orpingtons, 1 Barred Rock, 1 RIR, 2 White Leghorns and three that lay blue eggs...I think they might be Ameraucanas?

    If you couldn't tell, I am new to the chicken world! Help!

  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    High production layer breeds and the feeds developed in conjunction with them are the reason people say chickens stop laying at two years old. Most chickens do not stop at two, or even ten or more years. If your hens aren't laying now, it may be that they're all the same age so are all on their seasonal break at the moment, or they're undernourished.

    If they're not high production breeds (this excludes the leghorns and possibly the americuanas and barred rock) then their meat may be fine even into old age but it depends on so many factors there's no guarantee. Even roosters can have tender flesh into old age, especially if they have bantam genes. But even if they're tough, they'll make good dog food or soup. Older bones hold more nutrition.

    Or, if you can rehome them, they are at a great age to reliably pass on the best genetics they have. Younger birds simply don't do that in my experience. I've never got a breed-worthy chick from very young parents.

    Kelp will start even non layers laying again. Hens from good genes and backgrounds can keep laying into their teenage years (in human years). High production breeds stop sooner. If you're so new to chickens you may want to hold onto them a while and learn from them. You're not emotionally or financially invested in them so can take a loss better than if you're spent money and time on them. but it's up to you. They will be immune to many things lurking in the soil around your place. I would still advise liming the ground to kill worm eggs and diseases.

    I dare say you'd find someone who would want them, or several people, especially the blue egg layers. Your chickens are effectively in the prime of their breeding age now. Chickens can live for up to 20 or so years. We just don't let them, usually.

    Best wishes.
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    People will buy them for very little to use as meat.
    The rooster meat will be just like the hen meat. They taste just like chicken.
    You could put food coloring on the hens vents to identify which are still laying and keep those until your chicks start laying in about 5 months.
    Birds that age are good in a crock pot, pressure cooker or as soup.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    They'd be stewing birds. Don't try to roast or fry them, use a low and slow cooking method. This would be fine for either gender.

    You could always post an add on craigslist or similar. I've gotten rid of older hens (I just gave them away, and she took my aged, recently de-throned rooster, also!) the same day I posted them.
  5. audrey305

    audrey305 In the Brooder

    Aug 20, 2013
    Kendallville, IN
    The food coloring on the hens' vents is a great idea...I have never heard of that! These chickens were not socialized very well...I hardly touch them and they flutter all around. I tried to pet one of the hens last night and one of the roosters came after me with his spurs. (He might be the first one in the stewpot!) Thanks!
  6. nab58

    nab58 Songster

    Mar 28, 2013
    they taste like chicken. :)
  7. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    Yikes, I'd get rid of that rooster post haste. Be careful, he can cut you (and blind you if he gets near your face).

    Personally, I'd Craigslist them and try again. You could ask $3-$5 each for them, and make a deal for the lot (include that rooster!). I can always get rid of aged hens fairly easily. Some people want them as pets, some as layers, some as dinner.

    Or, you could stew them. They'd make amazing stock. Donrae is right--only wet cooking methods, low and slow, or it will be like trying to chew rubber bands.

  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    If you don't over price them on Craigs, some times the folks who raw feed their dogs will take them off your hands.

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