Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What to do when chickens no longer lay eggs?

Photo courtesy Flickr user fooferkittenSo what do you do when your hen no longer lays eggs? Keep her around out of gratitude for all those years of eggs? Put her out to (someone else's) pasture? Or do you (gulp!) "process" her?

There's been some traffic on the Silicon Valley Chickens mailing list recently about what to do with old hens, and it seems there's a general agreement that processing an old hen is a rather cruel way to show thanks for eggs well laid.

While some urban chicken keepers seem content to keep the old chooks around for amusement, the more economically minded chicken farmers seem less than enthralled with the idea of all those extra mouths to feed.

And those of us who live where there are tight restrictions on the number of hens allowed in a backyard can't really keep a flock of non-layers around if we're in it for the omelets, can we?

So it seems there's two strategies for mercifully coping with the inevitable aging of hens:
Once she stops laying (at age 3 or 4 or 5, depending on your hen's productivity cycle), offer her up  to someone who's got a much larger patch of land and is willing to keep a large non-laying flock. Or,Sell her while she's still in her laying prime, commanding a higher price and making room for another fluffy chick in the coop to start all over again.What have you done when your chickens stopped laying? Or if you haven't gotten there yet, what are your plans for hens d'un certain ├óge?

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