How to Find Free Chickens
Are you interested in getting some free chickens? In addition to hatching out your own chicks from fertile eggs, you might be able to find unwanted chickens in your area. ‘Used’, or ‘pre-owned’ chickens, might not be as hard to find as you might think. I have taken in free chickens a number of times and I’ll share ideas for places you might find chickens for free or really ‘cheap.’
A friend of ours gave us his old laying hens to make room for new hens. He doesn’t like to butcher them for stewing, preferring to raise broilers once a year for the freezer.
These hens are around 18 months old and are in various stages of molt, so they haven’t been laying many eggs. He wanted to get some point of lay pullets to get back into production quickly. His impatience turned into my gain.
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My older hens started molting late this fall too. I give them all a small scoop of meat producer feed along with their layer ration each day. This will help their bodies produce new feathers and get back to laying eggs soon.
When my old hens stop laying enough eggs to pay for their keep, they will go in the stew pot. I don’t enjoy butchering, but we do eat meat and this is an inexpensive way to provide food for the table. It also reduces the cost of keeping my flock.
Old laying hens are fine for stewing. For the most tender meat, cook the carcasses down, pick the meat off the bones, and then pressure can it with the broth. This is great for easy chicken soup when you’re in a hurry and need some comfort food.
What to Look for and Expect from Free Chickens
Be aware that moving to a new home stresses the hens and they will stop laying for a few weeks. Expect around 3 or 4 weeks before they get back in the swing of things.
Be sure they have light for around 15 hours a day during the winter.
Feed a quality layer ration with crushed oyster shells on the side.
Don’t introduce your new hens to an existing flock without putting them through a quarantine period.
The cost of your pre-owned hens will range from free to a few dollars. It will depend on your area and situation. Sometimes good deals can be had on Craigslist. (Be careful meeting people you don’t know… bring a friend!)
Watch for signs of disease. If they have watery eyes and nostrils, or they are sneezing or having difficulty walking, don’t bring them home! They could carry disease and you should sanitize your shoes before wearing them in your chicken coop or yard.
If you’ve already got them home before you discover they’re sick, you may either try treating them, keeping them in a separate coop and pen, or put them down. This is a tough call and I suggest you read up on common chicken diseases and their treatments.
Tip: Post an ad on Craigslist in the farm section … ‘In Search Of Old Laying Hens.’ Let people know that you are willing to take their old hens or extra roosters. A lot of people don’t want to butcher their chickens and you may be able to take them home for free.
Other Ways to Get Free Chickens
In addition to getting free unwanted adult chickens, you can hatch chicks for free (or almost free). Try keeping a broody hen to hatch and rear baby chicks for you! There may also be someone in your area who has fertile eggs you can purchase. If you have friends with hens and a rooster, check to see if they will give you eggs to hatch. Be sure to ask if they want half of the chicks as a ‘thank you’ gift.
You can also purchase an incubator and hatch chicks for years to come. The extra roosters may be used for meat and you’ll have replacement pullets for your laying flock. An incubator will pay for itself many times over and you might even be able to sell extra chicks as a side hustle.
Have you ever brought home free chickens? Where did you find them? Leave a comment!
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