What to do with non-laying hens?

Shezadandy

Crowing
Sep 26, 2015
1,666
1,895
307
Portland OR
[QUOTE=".how do you know who’s not laying...next...how old are chickens when they stop being productive..and last..I read don’t use heat lamps in winter due to fire risk..so do you mean LED?[/QUOTE]

This should be reasonably easy to determine. Look at the chicken's vent. If it's large, moist and oval shaped she's very likely laying. If it's high, tight and circular, she's not. I don't know how accurate the space between pelvic bones becomes with older layers, but one good sign is if they're spread apart and somewhat flexible (to allow the egg to come out).

Also, not heat lamps, just a regular light to stimulate their brains into thinking it's not winter. Works really well. I chose one that's got a shatter-proof plastic cover over the actual bulb.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
12 Years
Nov 18, 2007
21,834
11,813
641
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
This is like the bulbs I use in my coops. Not a lot of light but enough. Very economical, plus higher protein feed. I'm getting one egg right now from my older girls during the molt but more eggs from the younger birds. The pullets just started laying but are sporadic. Some days I'm getting no eggs and some days quite a few. They're still working out the kinks. So far I only found 1 egg on the floor. They have been laying in the nest boxes, yeah...
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071S12C4L/?tag=backy-20
 

Rose Quartz

Enabler
Mar 18, 2018
2,203
53,413
1,117
East Hants N.S. Canada
I cook all my layer flock boys that hatch out in a slow cooker, they're tough otherwise.

Letting them sit in the fridge a few days and exercising the muscles works too. But that's a lot of fridge space taken up for a whole bird.

I have my processing down to about 20 mins per bird. I bring 6 in the house in a brooder box I have, and kill them all at once (This is on my own you probably have a different set up than I do for killing them.) And then skin them. for parting out I take only the feathers off the belly and legs, and take the legs off at the knees, then at the hips and the breast meat off.

for full birds I take all the feathers off the neck and wings too I just use a knife along the wing edge of the primaries to get them off. and the third section of the wing I take off.

first, Take the feathers and skin off the belly and legs, and then neck, then down the back where it's attached well, I then cut off the tail at about the oil gland, then open the organ cavity, guts usually are attached to the feathers still when they come out. I save the heart, liver, and crop toss them back inside the body, that makes the broth taste better since the skin is missing.
 

bmanty

Chirping
Mar 27, 2017
47
53
89
Fergus Falls MN
I have eaten birds in the 3 to 5 year range, taste good to me. I think its all how you prepare them. Slow cooker with water or broth and other seasonings. etc.

I recently butchered 3 wyandottes that were about 5 years old. I just don't think they were laying anymore. Never caught them in the nest boxes and out of 10 chickens the last 4 months we were getting 1 to 3 eggs every couple to 3 days tops. So before winter I thought it best to downsize. My only consistent has been one white leghorn, an egg or two every couple days
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
5 Years
Apr 9, 2014
2,737
11,142
632
N. California
Your hens are not done laying for good. November and December are always very slow egg months. The only one's laying in my flock are a handful that completed their molt early, or the new layers that were hatched in the Spring.

By January things pick up, and by February the egg spigot is fully on. The 2 and 3 years should still lay quite well for you then. The 4 year old may be more iffy. I would keep the 2 year olds to give you eggs until your chicks grow up and come into lay, but it will mean feeding poorly producing hens for the next two months as they take their winter break. Not sure if the economics make sense for you to do that. If not, I think you would not have a problem selling your hens for the right price.
 

NatJ

Songster
Mar 20, 2017
403
898
146
USA
just skin and gut 'em, cook 'em in the stewpot, freeze or can the breast meat, the rest for dog food, and can the broth for soups etc. Bury the bones in the garden. Is there another answer? What would you do?
I wouldn't even bother gutting--just rip the skin off enough to cut off the breast, and the leg/thigh pieces. All the rest to the dog or the garden. This saves some time at butchering, and saves a lot of space in the stewpot, while giving almost as much meat as the whole carcase would have.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Songster
9 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,345
160
241
Memphis, TN
I saw a chicken sausage recipe somewhere. Thinking that's what I'll be doing with all of my culls since the breeds I'll be raising won't make very ideal carcasses. (Either too young and scrawny, or too old after I decide to cull.) I haven't made my first batch, but it *sounds* like a good plan.
 

steveneggs

Chirping
Nov 30, 2018
40
72
79
ONE WAY TO TELL IF A CHICKEN SHOULD BE LAYING IS THE COMB ON TOP THEIR HEAD WILL NOT BE BRIGHT RED ANY LONGER AND ALSO THE LEGS WILL BE YELLOW AND ROUGH LOOKING I HAVE SEVERAL BARRED ROCKS 5 TO 6 YEARS OLD NOW THAT LOOK THAT WAY AND THEY ARE NOT LAYING. MY OLD CHICKENS STAY OUT FREE RANGING ALMOST ALL TIME , MY YOUNGER HENS I ROTATE THEM IN THE EVENING WHEN I AM HOME.
 
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