Skip to main content

Cooking old chooks

We usually keep around ten to twenty hens for eggs.  Unfortunately, as hens get older, they lay less frequently, and that's an awful lot of hens to feed if they are not producing eggs.  Every year we cull the older hens, but they don't go to waste.  If any are really skinny or unwell, we bury them in the garden, but the rest of them we butcher and cook.  Sure old hens can't be cooked the same as a young rooster, but you can still prepare some delicious meals from them. We don't buy chicken meat, so any opportunity to eat chicken is a rare treat for us and we don't waste anything!

Roast hen - you can roast the hens, but they need to cook for a long time, several hours, in a closed roasting dish with liquid in the bottom so they don't dry out.  I season with herbs and garlic.



Minced hen - we also like to mince the breast and leg meat and make meatballs, this avoids the stringy texture.


Chicken stock - I fill the slow cooker with as much wings and feets as it will fit, top up with water and a splash of apple cider vinegar, squeeze in some onion, garlic, carrot, celery and herbs and cook for at last 24 hours (more slow cooker ideas here).


Don't waste anything - old hens usually have ample fat, and I keep this separate and render it to use for cooking.  I also keep the livers for making pate and I scrub and peel the feet to add to stock.




Do you butcher your old chooks?  Or let them die of old age?  




By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com.




What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.


Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor


Comments

  1. We eat our own chickens but I've never bothered with the old ones thinking they'd be tough and horrible. Maybe I should from now on! Thanks for the tips!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Our old ones die of old age or at least they get sick and die from being old. The old birds pretty much stopped laying last winter and our wonderful old rooster died so things weren't looking good. We were given a young rooster that started attacking us so he got shot and then a second rooster was given to us and he also started attacking us and he to took a cock to a gun fight. Anyway after all of this the old hens started laying again, could be they figured they were next or maybe it was just a stimulus of some sort. Some days they each lay an egg and a couple of times around summer solstice one lay two eggs in one day. Strange doings and their replacements should start laying in another month. Long story but chickens are hard to figure sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We haven't eaten our older chooks as yet, because we usually have a good supply of younger, bigger chooks for cooking. Wondering, do you pluck by hand or do you have a chicken plucker? We are considering investing in one for at the farm, where we hope to raise more meat chooks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We only have five chooks at the moment they are 6 years old and still laying, we get more than enough eggs for our needs, on the list is to get some table birds.
    I like the idea of rendering down the fat, a frien of mine off the forum has been doing that lately, we generaly make stock from anything left over from a chicken.

    ReplyDelete
  5. {sigh....} we are currently letting them die of old age. We've re-thought that though and may change it up going forward. Mincing the meat is a splendid idea! I hadn't thought of that one. Thanks for the tip!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. We usually ate our old hens(we don't have roosters). We cooked chicken stock and made pate from liver and my dog ate all the meat(greedy little pig). This year we are left with only 3 old hens.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love your waste not attitude Liz, I expect that we will probably do the same once we get established up at the farm. We already talk about doing exactly what you have done.
    We may as well make their stay here on this earth as valuable as possible.
    Cheers.
    Jane.

    ReplyDelete
  8. We keep hens for two summers of laying. Each fall we raise a group of chicks, roosters become meat birds (unless we need a new one) and older hens get retired to the stew pot. By doing this in the fall the new chicks are just old enough to handle winter and will have started laying before spring arrives.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

** Sign up for my weekly email updates here, you will find out more about my garden, soap and our farmlife, straight to your inbox, never miss a post!  New soap website and shop opening soon....

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.


The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko a…

Making tallow soap

Sign up for my weekly email updates here, you will find out more about soap and our farmlife, straight to your inbox, never miss a post!  New soap website and shop opening soon....
For some reason I've always thought that making soap seemed too hard.  For a start the number of ingredients required was confusing and all the safety warnings about using the alkali put me off.  The worst part for me was that most of the ingredients had to be purchased, and some even imported (palm oil and coconut oil), which never seemed very self-sufficient.  I can definitely see the benefits of using homemade soap instead of mass produced soap (that often contains synthetic fragrance, colour, preservatives, and has had the glycerine removed), but it seemed to me that if I was going to buy all the ingredients I may as well just buy the soap and save myself all the hassle.  For the past several years I have bought homemade soap from various market stalls and websites, and that has suited me just fine.