A few days ago I was on the phone with a friend while I collected my morning eggs. I couldn’t help but expound my enthusiasm, once again, on collecting and cooking fresh eggs from my yard. After giving a her a taste of chicken narrative (please see One Girl’s Rant on hazards of backyard hens) she proposed a question to me…how long to chickens live?
I explained that most live 5-7 years but I had heard tales of some living into their teens and 20s. The conversation led naturally to how long they lay and what will I do with them when they no longer produce. At this time, in a small backyard, it would be unreasonable to keep hens that don’t produce eggs regularly.
To be true, I had not given this much thought. Considering my girls are all a year old this month I have some time to look at the options.
But then I stumbled onto a post at one of my favorite blogs, The Prairie Homestead, discussing “homeless chickens”. The idea that people tire of the coolness of raising backyard hens (or slow/stop egg production) and these unfortunate birds end up abandoned in shelters. These “hipster farmers” (please excuse all the italic and quotes…needed for effect) don’t know what to do with their hens so they are simply dumped. The article she quoted seemed to be calling the raising of backyard hens nothing more than a ridiculous fad…I can’t say there is no truth in that.
However, it is a blanket statement that dismisses a wonderful and powerful backyard movement!
Whoa nelly…almost got on my soap box.
So that brings me back to the question, for myself and any other small-time backyard farmer; what happens to the hens we raise when they can no longer meet our egg needs and we have not pasture to retire them to?
Dare I agree with her and say our hens should be….EATEN??????????????
Could I bring myself to put Miss Lucy or Ethel in a crock pot to make my bone broth? Or worse, could I drop her off at some shelter and let her life end with no purpose because I could not “do the deed”? *It should be noted that I have participated in humane backyard processing.*
I believe that is the course I will be following, when the time comes. How could I truly call myself a backyard homesteader if I cannot face that reality?
I encourage you to read the Homeless Chicken post for yourself. Chicken owner or wanna -be, there are questions that must be answered!