What you do when they stop may depend on why you’re keeping them in the first place.
For Schmidt, who used to be a vegetarian, part of her motivation is to educate her children in the reality of food production.
“I don’t know whether I’ll really do it or not, but from the beginning I’ve told the kids that when the chickens get too old to lay, we might eat them,” she says. “I don’t know if I could go through with it myself, but I might give them to someone else.”
To others, chickens are mainly pets; Sandbank’s partner doesn’t even eat eggs.
“The eggs are not the point,” she says. “They’re our pets now and they always will be. The eggs are a gas, they’re fun, but I like giving them away more than eating them.”
Downplaying the eggs also makes sense when you consider that with the initial expense of setting up a coop, the eggs are, in fact, no bargain.
“Once you’ve got it going it’s economical, but the initial expense of the coop and the chickens blows that all out of the water,” says Schmidt. “They’re the most expensive eggs you’ve ever eaten.”