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Can You Eat Egg Laying Hens?

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Hens were one of the earliest domesticated creatures and selective breeding has gone on for centuries to create many different breeds. Some are bred specifically to be meaty and tasty, some to be efficient egg layers and some to provide the best of both worlds. Among the best known dual-purpose breeds are the New Hampshire and the Rhode Island Red, the Plymouth Rock, the Orpington and the Dominique. The idea was that these breeds would both lay lots of eggs for eating and produce chicks that would grow big enough for the pot. People also eat old laying hens which are past their prime. Most hens probably eat more than their eggs are worth after their first two or three laying years. These somewhat tough old birds are not the ideal centerpiece of a Sunday roast but can be stewed and were the makings of the classic peasant style chicken soup.

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