When a hen is too old to lay...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TheMartianChick, Jan 26, 2008.

  1. Would an old hen that is too old to lay eggs still be good for hatching eggs? I am trying to plan a few things out and I have heard of egg farms that basically just kill their old hens inhumanely, not for food, but to get rid of them! [​IMG] I was wondering if an old hen might still be useful (meaning broody) enough to sit on eggs and raise the chicks.
  2. MonkeyZero

    MonkeyZero Songster

    Sep 14, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    LONG long ago, i had a few when I was 7. She laid for about 5 1/2-6 years. She died after/
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Since broodyness is hormonal, I don't think a non laying hen will have the right mind set to sit and brood eggs. Most "spent" hens I think are used to make chicken stock and soups.
  4. Quote:That's what I was afraid of... [​IMG] The article that I saw said that many of the largest egg production farms now destroy their aged hens by gassing them. Sometimes the hens don't die...They ocassionally escape to nearby farms with very few feathers, because they have to fight against all of the dead bodies to get out. The article said that the large companies don't bother selling them to be used for soup stock or stewing hens because there isn't much demand for it any more. It seems like they would be useful for pet food or something!

    I can't find the article that I read a couple of years ago, but I did do a search for whole house gassing and found several articles. I wasn't sure if we were allowed to post links to stories like this, so I didn't.
  5. Nice work, look after her.
    My Goldilocks lays an egg a few times a year, though she is a buff orp who are really good broody mums.
    Goldy still goes broody sometimes and she is 16, 17 this year.
    Just wait and see what she does, if she does ~good, if she doesnt let her chase butterflies instead!!
    Have fun
  6. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Sort of off-topic, but on the subject of spent hens being made into pet food, I just read an article in Mother Earth News about what 99% of commercial cows are being fed these days. Some horrifying things there, including spent hens ground up with "poultry litter"!!!!!! So your supermarket beef is fed chicken shavings, poop, feathers, and old hens. Actually that is the least disgusting. They cited a farmer who fed 30% of the diet as "stale chewing gum, including aluminum wrappers". Others fed a 100% "old french-fry and tater tot" diet. Others fed stale candy bars, stale pizza dough. And UREA. And even heat-treated garbage is allowed by the USDA as suitable feed for the beef you buy at the supermarket. They do not require producers to tell consumers what the animals were fed.

    From the "Journal of American Science" study: stale chewing gum in its wrappers "can safely replace at least 30 percent of cattle-growing or finishing diets without impairing feedlot performance or carcas quality"


    I am SO glad we bought our grass-fed cow last fall!
    (Olivia says: "I am so glad that I don't eat that kind of meat anymore!")
    (Stacey says: "I'm sorry to all the moms of Olivia's friends who she is sure to tell this to. Thier kids will be complaining about dinner.")
  7. hoosierhen

    hoosierhen Songster

    Sep 26, 2007
    Quote:I don't want to hijack this thread, but would like to respond to this. Will start a new one entitled: Organically fed animals
  8. treeclimber233

    treeclimber233 Songster

    Nov 12, 2007
    I used to rent a house and "paid" the rent by taking care of feedlot steers for the owner. He also had chicken houses raising chicks for meat. When they cleaned the chicken houses out between deliveries the bedding was fed to the feedlot steers. He told me chickens have an inefficient digestive system and pooped out alot of undigested feed the steers would digest. And believe it or not the steers would fight over the delivery: pushing and shoving each other to be the first at the dumping site. He bedded the chicken building with peanut hulls, added chickens for 6-8 weeks, shoveled and served. There were bugs (mealworm larva and adults), dead chickens that were missed in daily walk-thrus, feathers, and poo in what was served to the steers. Anyone for steak tonight?????
  9. coloradochick

    coloradochick Songster

    Dec 19, 2007
    Brighton, CO
    I like your style Bantymum [​IMG]
  10. Corey NC

    Corey NC Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    North Carolina
    Just remember that a "spent hen" at a comercial farm is any hen over one or two years when they start to slow down they're laying. These hens still have many good years of laying ahead of them even if it isn't as much as they were laying before. Also the comercial hens (generally leghorns or sex-links) have had many of their natural instincts bred out of them and wouldn't have gone broody any ways.

    On your average farm a spent hen is around 4 to 6 years old which is when the hens really slow down on laying. Some people choose to let the hens just live and hang out even if it's not giving them eggs. Though some people prefer to use these hens for stewing.

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