We have been having some questions about what will happen to the chickens once they are finished laying eggs here at the farm or any other. So I thought it best if I go through their life cycle.
The chickens at ‘Stud’ lay eggs which go to the hatchery where they are kept and cared for in controlled conditions for 19 to 21 days. Once the chicks hatch they consume the contents of their egg and then are sorted according to the customers requirements ( we want only females). Once they arrive on the farm we keep them at 90F with propane and infra red lamps. After four weeks we start to lower the temperature to ambient. For the first two months they are kept inside their field house until they are big enough not to fall prey to one of the three pairs of hawks on the farm. They are then let out to roam free on the pastures. They will normally start to lay their first egg after 4 1/2 months from hatching. These will be small, pullet, eggs and they will not lay full size eggs of any quantity until they are six months old. They will then lay 5 eggs per week gradually reducing to a couple per week at the end of their first year of laying. If we let them continue to lay for another year they would lay eggs but much less. Not even enough to pay for the cost of their feed and taking care of them. We have to produce these eggs as efficiently as possible, they are expensive enough as it is. Keeping hens that are no longer producing efficiently would increase the cost of each egg for everyone. At the end of their laying life, 18 months, they become soup chickens. As they have spent their life outdoors they produce the best chicken stock. Nothing is wasted.
If you have any question just send me an email… Thanks.. Nigel  organic@eatwell.com