What To Do With Old Hens?

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As backyard chicken keeping continues to grow in popularity, many chicken owners are faced with the question of what to do with their old hens. While some may choose to keep them as pets, others may not have the space or resources to do so. In this article, we will explore some of the options for what to do with old hens.

One option for old hens is to sell them to someone who is looking for a mature laying hen. While the egg production of older hens may decrease, they can still provide a valuable source of eggs for those who are willing to take them on. Local classified ads or online marketplaces can be a good place to advertise hens for sale.

Another option is to donate the hens to a local farm or animal sanctuary. These organizations may be willing to take on older hens as they often have the resources and space to care for them. This can also provide a good opportunity to give back to the community and support local organizations.

Understanding the Lifecycle of Hens

Hens are chickens that are usually raised for their eggs or meat. They have a natural lifespan of around 5-10 years, but their productivity declines after the age of 2-3 years. This decline is due to a decrease in egg production, which is caused by a variety of factors such as reduced calcium levels, poor circulation, and other age-related issues.

Laying hens are usually kept for about 18 months to 2 years, after which they are replaced with younger and more productive hens. However, some older hens may still be able to lay eggs, but at a much slower rate than before. These older hens are often referred to as “geriatric” or “old laying hens”.

As hens age, their bodies undergo a number of changes. They may become less active and may have difficulty walking or standing. They may also experience health problems such as arthritis or heart disease. In addition, older hens may have difficulty absorbing calcium, which can lead to brittle bones and other health issues.

It is important to understand the natural lifecycle of hens in order to make informed decisions about their care. While some people may choose to keep older hens as pets, others may decide to cull them for meat or other purposes. Whatever the decision, it is important to ensure that the hens are treated humanely and with respect.

Utilizing Old Hens on the Farm

When it comes to raising chickens on the farm, old hens can still be a valuable asset. While they may no longer be producing fresh eggs, there are several ways to utilize them for the benefit of the farm.

Egg Production

Although old hens may not be laying fresh eggs, their eggs can still be used for various purposes. They can be hard-boiled and used as a source of protein for other animals on the farm, or even sold to local bakeries for use in baked goods.

Manure Production

Old hens produce nitrogen-rich manure, which can be used as a natural fertilizer for crops on the farm. This can help improve soil quality and increase crop yields. Additionally, the manure can be sold to local gardeners or farmers for a profit.

Pest Control

Old hens are also effective at controlling pests on the farm. They can help reduce the population of bugs and other pests that can damage crops and cause other problems. This can help reduce the need for harmful pesticides and other chemicals.

Overall, while old hens may no longer be producing fresh eggs, they can still be a valuable asset to the farm. Whether it’s through egg production, manure production, or pest control, there are several ways to utilize them for the benefit of the farm. And if the farm no longer needs them, they can always be sold or given away on websites like Craigslist to someone who can make use of them.

Options for Old Hens

When chickens reach the end of their laying life, they become less productive and may no longer be useful for egg production. However, there are several options available for homesteaders and backyard chicken keepers to consider when it comes to dealing with aging chickens.

Keeping as Pets

Some people choose to keep their older birds as pets. If you have a particularly friendly or peaceful hen, it may be a good option to keep her around as a family pet. Older birds can be a great addition to a small flock or as a companion for a broody hen. They can also be a good source of pest control, as they will still eat bugs and other small prey.

Selling or Giving Away

If you have a non-laying hen, you may be able to sell or give her away to someone looking for a family pet or a peaceful addition to their flock. Make sure to advertise the bird as a pet and not for meat, as many people are looking for companions rather than food.

Euthanizing Humanely

If keeping or selling the bird is not an option, euthanizing humanely may be the most responsible choice. There are several methods for humanely killing a chicken, including decapitation, cervical dislocation, or using a commercial poultry euthanasia solution. It is important to research and understand the proper techniques for humanely killing a chicken before attempting to do so.

In summary, there are several options for dealing with aging chickens, including keeping them as pets, selling or giving them away, or euthanizing them humanely. It is important to consider the bird’s quality of life and to make the most responsible choice for both the bird and the homesteader.

Preparing Old Hens for Consumption

When it comes to preparing old hens for consumption, there are a few things to keep in mind. Old hens are tougher and have less meat than younger birds, but they can still be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your old hens.

Making Stew

One of the best ways to use old hens is to make a stew. The slow cooking process helps to tenderize the meat, making it more palatable. To make a stew, start by cutting the hen into pieces and removing any excess fat. Then, brown the pieces in a skillet with some oil. Once browned, transfer the pieces to a crockpot along with some chopped vegetables and broth. Cook on low for several hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Brining and Cooking

Another way to prepare old hens is to brine them before cooking. Brining helps to add flavor and moisture to the meat, making it more enjoyable to eat. To brine a hen, mix together water, salt, sugar, and any desired spices such as cayenne pepper. Submerge the hen in the brine and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Then, cook the hen using your preferred method such as roasting or grilling.

Overall, old hens can still be used in a variety of dishes despite their tougher meat. By using slow cooking methods and brining, you can make the most of your old hens and create delicious meals.

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