Culling old hens can be a problem when you work in the millions that industrial egg producers do. And just when you think you've killed them...
"Zombie chickens" is the nickname for live hens who are digging their way out, crawling and staggering from the heaps. Some say this was a one time situation where two dozen birds were buried alive, caused by inexperience, but others say that every now and then they do get zombie chickens roaming around.
These old birds don't have much in the way of meat, usually less than a pound of usable meat vs. a five pound healthy young cooking chicken. Supposedly slaughtering them properly and transporting them frozen for sale costs more than composting them. Also no one wants old stewing chickens anymore, not even soup factories, and the last California rendering plant stopped accepting the old hens as of last May. This isn't just a California problem but a nationwide one.
Suggestions are being made on how to use the retired birds. Some say make chicken sausage to feed the poor and homeless, others say use them as food for exotic reptiles kept in zoos and as pets. One industry group thinks that they could be used as fuel in power plants, like excess slaughtered beef is in some plants in Europe. Right now no one is coming up with any really practical and useful ideas. Does anyone want to start an old age home for retired hens? [More]
This makes for cute reading but we will continue to have to deal with a population of omnivores who I think prefer to avoid knowing "where their food comes from".
This old farmer lament may be better off handled with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy than strident educational efforts. We kill animals and eat them. And a lot of our neighbors really don't want to be reminded.
Works for me.