Before you get into raising chickens you must decide ahead of time what you will do with the hens that are not Laying.

There are generally 2 kinds of chicken raisers. The first are people who have them for pets, getting the eggs is an added bonus. Then there are people like me. Even though you enjoy your chickens they still need to be earning their keep. There is little room for moochers. The occasional “keeping it because it’s cute” chicken is ok. However, to keep things from getting too costly I have to keep getting enough eggs to make up for the feed costs. And if there are to many free loading chickens, someone has to go.

Main reasons to cull the free loading chickens.

  • – It reduces the feed usage.
  • – lessens the chance disease.
  • – increases the living space for the hens who are laying.
  • – keep your coop from getting dirty as quickly.

How to tell who is laying and who is not.

Here are some ways to tell if a hen is laying or not, make sure that you don’t get rid of a hen because she fits into only one of these categories. The pelvic bones and vent are the most reliable ways to tell.

  1. Carriage (behavior) — active and alert.
  2. Eyes — Bright and shining.
  3. Abdomen — deep and wide.
  4. Vent — large and moist.
  5. Molt — Late and Fast.
  6. Skin — bleached and stretchy.

7. Pubic bones — wide and flexible.

This is a very simple video with a great explanation that I think will benefit all chicken raisers. Keep in mind that if you raise a larger breed bird then the ones use in the video the pubic bones will be slightly lower than the vent rather then directly on either side.

What to do with the hens that are not laying.

Not many people like this topic but it is a natural part of country life. There are a few options.

  • 1st , You can take the hens to a local processor and your hens will provide your family with a nice meal for the last hoora! If you are not keen on doing the chickens in this is the best option. You take them live to the butcher and they come out ready for the freezer.
  • 2nd,  you can put the hens our for free or very cheap on your local classified adds. Just be honest when posting and say that they are not laying often or possibly not at all. Also there are many people who will take unwanted farm animals. You can find them on webpages such as Craig’s list.
  • 3rd, if you are ok with processing them yourself but do not what to have to kill them, ask an experienced friend do them in for you can make the process easier. When I was new to raising chickens I was ok with possessing them but was not a fan of doing the deed myself. It gets a little easier over time.

When I don’t think the hen is worth taking to the butcher or the animal is injured I just do the deed myself. My husband has an air rifle that does a nice quick job if you know where to shoot. As harsh as that sounds I am not one who likes to see an animal suffer unnecessarily.

Another bit of advice is to prepare young children who might be living at home to see animals missing or the actual processing happening. It is a natural part of country life and the young people in our life should be prepared for what can happen. Whether an animal is ill and may have to be put down, or they are intended for meat.

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