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

Worm farm maintenance

I have had the worm farm for over a year now, and I have to say it’s the easiest and most convenient way I have found to make compost and to dispose of vege scraps and other organic waste. I have not had much success with putting everything in a compost bin, I find that the food scraps go all sloppy and don’t really compost properly. I have found that my current system works much better, all food scraps go to the worms and the compost bin is for weeds and manure. The worms are able to eat all our food scraps and convert it to compost and worm tea, and there is still plenty for the compost bin, but now its not full of sloppy food scraps. People often ask if its necessary or possible to have both a worm farm and a compost bin, and I think it actually works better for us.



The worm farm really requires very little maintenance.  All I have to do is tip in more food scraps every few days, drain the tea once a week or so, check that the top tray is damp (if not, tip in half a bucket of …

The new Eight Acres website is live!

Very soon this blogspot address will automatically redirect to the new Eight Acres site, but in the meantime, you can check it out here.  You will find all my soaps, ebooks and beeswax/honey products there, as well as the blog (needs a tidy up, but its all there!).  I will be gradually updating all my social media links and updating and sharing blog posts over the next few months.  I'm very excited to share this new website with you!


Chicken tractor guest post

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

Tanya from Lovely Greens invited me to write a guest post on chicken tractors for her blog.  I can't believe how many page views I get for chicken tractors, they seem to be a real area of interest and I hope that the information on my blog has helped people.  I find that when I use something everyday, I forget the details that other people may not be aware of, so in this post for Tanya, I tried to just write everything I could think of that I haven't covered in previous posts.  I tried to explain everything we do and why, so that people in other locations and situations can figure out how best to use chicken tractors with their own chickens.


If you want to read more about chicken tractors, head over the Tanya's blog and read my post, then come back here to leave a comment.  Tanya lives…