Non-laying hens; rats

Q. I have been reading up on raising chickens for eggs in a backyard (urban) setting and I came across an issue that is not answered well by the meat eating author: Since egg production of chickens drops off as they get older, what do you do with the older birds? We are vegetarian and I could never bring myself to kill anything, let alone one of our pets just because they got to old to lay! Will you let your hens grow old in your coop and just hatch new chicks to eventually replace them? Also, have you ever had trouble with rats eating your eggs or bothering your chickens?

A. Good question. Our hens are already nearly 5 years old and their egg production either has stopped completely or has slowed down. We are vegetarian and consider them as pets and we couldn’t kill them so we are letting them retire and live out their lives; however, if you decide to have a much larger flock (than we have) and if you have limited space you may have to consider giving them away for adoption as pets, find a farm in the area that will let them live out their retirement years in peace or have someone who would know how to humanely and reverently kill the chicken for meat for their family (last resort!)

Depending how many eggs you need, 4-6 hens are sufficient for a small household (depending on how many eggs you eat) Along with our two ducks (Khaki Campbells who are steady egg producers and don’t get broody!) we can supply eggs for our family’s needs.

No, we don’t have or have had any trouble with rats eating eggs or bothering our chickens. We do occasionally have problems with rats eating the chicken food. We had wanted to hatch chickens this year to expand and bring to replenish our diminishing flock; however, we just got too busy. So, hopefully, in Spring!

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