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Chicken Ladies of a Certain Age
zingkotori wrote in pdx_chickens
Those of you who've been keeping chickens for a while, what do you do when they get older? From what I've heard, domestic chickens can live 15 years but only lay well in the first 18 months. After that, the only economical thing to do is eat them.

Is it legal to kill your own chickens within city limits? Can you really make yourself do it after a year or more of knowing/feeding/raising/laughing at her? Is there a chicken-killing service somewhere in town? Or a place where you can donate a stewing-age hen and have her killed and fed to homeless people?

I don't have chickens yet --love the idea but still working out several logistical details, and this is a big one...

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I wonder about that, too. I've often thought of an animal rights benefit to having one's own chickens, which is that the eggs I feed to my nonvegan honey would come from chickens I absolutely know are treated well. But I wonder if I shouldn't simply reap a much greater animal rights benefit by waiting a couple of years until the lovely blossoming wave of coops in Portland begins to beach unwanted older chickens and adopting the clucky seniors as pets.

Another thing to plan for in advance: chickens often attract rats -- because of the way they naturally scatter their meals it's very difficult to avoid residue that rats come a'callin' for. The rats may bite and otherwise attack the chickens. There are apparently various ways to use metal and fine chicken wire buried under the coops or lining them to lessen this problem.

Edited at 2009-07-26 09:36 pm (UTC)

There are butchering services. I have seen a few advertised around.

I have my girls for pets and eggs, but when I get a house out in the country I plan on getting a larger flock that would include dinner hens. I can't imagine killing my current flock for dinner because I have really bonded with each of them. Actually they have made it hard for me to eat chicken from the store because of the conditions those birds are kept in.

I think one variable is how much of a companion animal your hen is. For example, I wouldn't think of killing my cats just because they don't contribute to the house. One of my girls, Beatrice, was 2 when she came to live with me. She had never laid an egg until a couple months after she arrived here. If the 18 month rule was applied she would have been in a stew pot before she ever got to realize her full potential.

a health hen will lay for 4-5 years. yes, that still gives you many non-productive years.

i'm severely pragmatic. if i lived in the country, and had space, i would keep a flock of 5, and add 5 more every 4 years or so. as it is, i can only have 3 chickens. i have chickens to get eggs. i will likely butcher my girls when they stop laying. of course, nothing but stew can come of that. no chicken over 8 months should be eaten as anything but stew. i will butcher them because i will need 3 more laying hens, and i can't have more.

the animals i keep are not pets. i chose them, and they have a specific purpose/function in the household. i provide for them, they do their 'job', and they are not my children or babies. now, if i got them for companionship, and that is what i deem their job to be, fine, but that is not the reason i get animals.

oh yes, i'm a bad bad person, but you asked.

Edited at 2009-08-31 09:48 pm (UTC)

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