Chicken Retirement Plan

#chicken retirement

Be thankful you’re not one of my chickens. My poor hens get the pot once their egg production drops. Roosters strut off into the freezer even sooner since they tend to squabble and hurt the hens.

I mentioned to Greg that my two black marans have stopped laying thereby sealing their fate. He said I offered a meager retirement package. 😀

We have several friends who keep livestock. Most of them are practical homesteaders and ranchers, but I have a couple of friends who collect unwanted or unloved livestock. They have tender hearts and big pocketbooks.

There’s a strong chance that I’ll probably keep Brownie, the Nubian goat (and one friend) until they die. I hope so anyway. Brownie has been a gentle goat and generous with her milk. She’s years away from retirement, but if we’re still here I hope we can give her and her buddy a home until the end. That’s the least I can do for a sweet goat who’s given me many fine babies and tasty milk.

I’m less sentimental with chickens. If they stop laying, they go in the pot. I really hate to feed animals that do nothing for the farm. We barely make ends meet now so everyone has to do their part. While Brownie won’t be bred in her later years, she still makes a fine weed puller and tree pruner. I need all the help I can get in that area.

Even Nana and Jammy have jobs. Nana warns me every time the evil deer come over to feed on my hostas, and Jammy hunts down every insect. He loves to toy with scorpions, and you can’t take a grasshopper away from him. They’re like candy to him.

Unlike farm animals though, both dog and cat have lifetime retirement plans even if they slept all day. Heck, they even have a trust fund in case we kick the bucket first. These are my kids.

Livestock are my food. I take care of all my animals to the best of my ability, but when their time is over, we dispatch them with as much respect and expediency as we can. We owe them that much.

It’s not easy for people to discuss this part of homesteading, but I think it’s something everyone should consider. If you have an animal, whether it’s livestock or pet, you should have a plan in place for when you either can’t take care of them or (if they’re livestock) they’ve outlived their usefulness.

Most of my readers have pets so my question to you is, what happens to your pets if they outlive you? Do you already have someone in mind to take care of them?

We’ve got our primary caregivers, but also a secondary. Since Nana and Jammy come with trust funds, they’ll be assured of good care without being a hardship for the new family.

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  1. Maria I both laugh at cry at your words because my heart is that of a softie where animals are concerned. At the same time having grown up helping to “retire” our chickens know the necessity very well, after all if they do not produce one way they have to the other in the long run of things.

    We have only one pet and at 15 her health is getting iffy but we do have our “legal guardians” that would give her remaining years a caring home if Karl and myself go first.

    On that note let’s hope she does outlive me because it will break my heart for sure if she passes first because my little Munequa cat is my pretty baby girl in all ways that count regardless of having four legs and fur.

      • Maria it has been 30 years since I had to put my first pet as a married adult to rest, I still ache, cry, and mourn like it was yesterday. Iko was a very good boy who had a lucky break in life with you and Greg, like Chelly, Tank and the rest he will always be in your hearts and yes that sudden death was an awful ending to a very heartbreaking story for a dog too young to die.

        My heart hurts for you both and as for Munequa she is a little old lady cat whose furry warmth makes me happy every day and hopefully for our sake will continue to do so for a few more years anyway.

        I feel that as long as our pet has a good quality of life with no or minimal pain in it and is still able to enjoy being loved on by her human slaves that is a win every day while it lasts. 🙂

  2. You know I’m too softhearted (headed?) to raise livestock. Stan once said he couldn’t bring home live lobster for dinner because I’d have fixed it a bed and painted it’s name on a food dish because he could get the cooking water boiled.

    So for me, all animals are pets and all pets are family. And I plan for them accordingly. We have standing agreements within the family about who takes care of which “children” if something happens to any of us.

    • Linda: Even as a child I was able to differentiate between animals for food and animals for pets. And yes, livestock can be pets too. I think I got that from my grandmother. Just watching her calming doing what had to be done made me realize how the food chain worked.

  3. Stacy McKitrick

    A trust fund for pets? Never thought of that. We don’t have any pets now, but maybe once our traveling days end (if they end–haha!), we would. But I would FIRST make sure we knew someone who could take over if we went first. So, thanks for that idea, because I doubt it would have occurred to me otherwise.

  4. Your ruthlessness with chickens reminded me of my mum as a twelve year old girl in a depression hit Britain. My grandfather, a docker, kept chickens in his backyard which my mum and her sisters saw as pets. Come Christmas my granddad, always hard up dispatched ‘Goldie’ (weird I can still remember the name even though I was years away from being born). My mum, being quite the innocent raved about having chicken on Christmas day and burst into tears on hearing it was ‘Goldie’ – sparking off her four sisters. Granddad was mortified and sent them packing of to bed. A family Christmas in Liverpool 🙂

  5. Our son would take care of our pets if something happens to us, or he would find friends to take them. But the chickens have the same retirement plan yours have. If something happened to us, we have friends who would take the chickens and either keep them or ‘retire’ them.

    I hope that it is a long time before we have to worry about that, but every time we go on a trip, I think about it.

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