The first comment or answer that says "Alaska" will be promptly downvoted.

Seriously though, I keep hearing about the superiority of "stewing hens" for stocks and soups, and I'd really like to get my hands on a few. All those eggs we buy have to come from somewhere, I've got to assume that the hens that make our eggs are eventually turned into soup. I'm not asking for a specific source recommendation, just for clues to direct my search.

Does anybody know where the old birds go?


They go into soup. Or pot pies. Or any of the other myriad industrially produced canned or frozen foods which require chicken stock or chicken flavoring and sometimes canned chicken meat.

The millions of cans of Campbell's have to come from somewhere :-)

For smaller home chicken farmers, they probably end up in the stock pot. If you know people who keep backyard flocks, they may be willing to sell you their culls for a very reasonable price.

  • That makes sense, unfortunately it isn't the answer I was hoping for. I will look for local farms though, that's how I get great potatoes and carrots.
    – Jolenealaska
    Sep 21 '13 at 11:25
  • 2
    I'd bet that a good number of them end up in dog and cat food. Sep 22 '13 at 3:23
  • 1
    What a waste. I am quite certain that no pet that I have ever known (and I've known a lot) has a palate worth a crap.
    – Jolenealaska
    Sep 22 '13 at 16:45

Sorry for the necromancy, but I have seen a documentary on the logistics of poultry farming on Dutch television that might shed some light onto this.

The Netherlands produces quite a lot of eggs and so we also have a large supply of older chickens that are not sold through the regular channels. The documentary makers actually managed to follow a batch of biologically fed free range chickes (doesn't get much better than that right?) to Africa (of all places) where they were sold nearly for free to the locals who use them in stews and told the film makers that the Dutch are absolutely bonkers as far as they are concerned.

As always, this type of free-market-gone-wild thing had the lovely side effect of destroying the local production, as the prices for chickens produced in Europe, frozen, packaged and transported to Africa were so low that local farmers could no longer compete.

I do buy stewing hens all the time myself though, through poulterers on (farmers) markets and I have to agree that for use in stews and soups they are by far the better option as they have better, deeper flavor and retain a lot more texture during the long cook.

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