Dud 2 Year Old Hens - Kind Culling Alternative?

motormouth76February 26, 2007

Hi There,

I am on a 50' x 100' city lot with 3 standard hens and 2 bantams.

Egg production has slumped precipitously in the last year of my 2 year old hens' lives. Moxie, Golden Sex Link, has ceased to lay and on any farm would likely be culled - her feet are quite orange. Rose, Jersey Black Giant, contracted a shell-forming problem and has layed big squarish brown eggs very sporadically ever since. Chrysanthemum is and Aruacauna that layed nearly daily in the past but not at all in the last 2 weeks. Okay - Chrysanthemum has been observed waiting for Rose to lay, then quickly devouring her egg! I'm afraid she is eating her own now too perhaps. These are our pets, but we are needing to thin the flock in favor of a few new layers. What to do?


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You've given them a good life, much better than most chickens will ever have. Time to go and make way for the next productive generation. At the risk of being blunt: Whack them on the head and eat them. If you can't do that, find someone with pigs, whack them on the head, and feed them to the pigs. Circle of life.

Like a wise man once told me while I was still very young, "Kid, when you're a butcher, you should never fall in love with the meat."

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 8:54PM
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Stoneunhenged makes a good point. That's what we do. However, if you just can't find the heart to do it try putting up a card at your local feed store stating that you have some "soup birds" free to the taker. When we lived in NJ I used to pick up a lot of good eating through the local feed store.

Nevertheless, it is a good "skill" to acquire the practical ability to eat those birds. They have eaten a lot and no doubt will make a tasty meal. If you should decide to cook them yourself remember to cook old birds "long and low;" long on time and low on heat. If you don't they'll be tough. If you do, you're in for a rare taste treat!

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 5:18PM
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two year old chickens should be still good layers, Production should not drop off until they are three years old or older.

First off, are you getting more than 12 hours of sunlight a day. Production drops off significantly when chickens get less than 12-14 hours a day of sunlight. Artificial light, ( 40-60 watts) to extend their day to over 14 hours will solve this problem. A shielded bulb set on a 16 hour timer works well.

Second off, are your chickens well fed with good access to clean water. Often in the winter, the water freezes.

Third, that you have an egg eater, probably means that your feed is lacking in protien and calcium, the deformed eggs also suggest this as the eggs become deformed through lack of calcium in the diet. Adding powdered milk as a liquid suppliment is a short term fix for feed problems. Two weeks of supplementing their food with a water dish filled with the reconstituted milk should show results. Kale, ground oyster shells or crushed and cooked eggshells are also useful suppliments. Chickens love kale.

Other aspects are stress and disease. One aspect often missed is damp and drafty conditions, common at this time of year. Stress brought about by predators, traffic or boredom caused by confinement can also be an issue. Too bright a nest area, or insufficient nest space or nest materials can also cause stress leading to egg eating.

Unfortunately, Chrysanthemum either has to go in the pot, or be separated from the rest of the flock, for a month or so, while being fed the powdered milk suppliment, and kept from eating her own eggs. This has a 50:50 chance of being a cure, as she may not go back to the habit. Substuting egg shaped rocks or hard fake eggs for her own, sometimes works to break the habit, as she will quickly learn that pecking at the eggs is unproductive.

All eggs, broken, deformed or otherwise should always be removed from the coop, as not only will the chickens quickly figure out that they are food, but uncooked eggs can cause your chickens health problems. Eggs should be gathered twice a day on a regular schedule.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2007 at 6:06PM
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free range them . what have you got to lose.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 11:58AM
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Free Range? On his city lot? They'll last as long as hubcaps at a puff daddy concert. (Sorry Larry)

I have to make room for new girls every year also. Sad but true. You gotta do it. Enjoy the eggs and give thanks for the meat.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 5:03PM
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