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At What Age Do I Cull?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by rsweet, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. rsweet

    rsweet Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 24, 2014
    Tijeras, New Mexico
    With respect to dual purpose birds is there an optimum age that we should process the bird for meat vs egg production?
    Thanks
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I assume you are talking about laying hens?

    Of course you can get different opinions on this but I’ll try to explain how I go about it. A hen normally lays really well her first season, goes through an adult molt, and lays really well her second season. After her second adult molt her production normally drops. Each hen is an individual and you can get a lot of different individual results, but the flock average normally drops about 15% to 20% after the second adult molt. After each successive adult molt you get a pretty significant drop in egg production.

    Often, not always but often, pullets that start to lay in the fall will continue to lay throughout the winter and keep laying until they molt the next fall. All this assumes you do not manipulate lights.

    It took a while to set it up but I go through a rotation. My ideal flock size is 6 to 8 hens so each year I keep 3 to 4 pullets so I get eggs throughout the winter and have replacements. So once these new pullets start to lay in the fall I may have 9 to 12 hens and pullets laying. When the adults molt and stop laying, I keep the previous year’s pullets and feed them through the molt. They will come back laying really well after the molt. But once the molt starts and I’ve gotten all the eggs I’m going to get that season, I butcher the oldest hens. Each year I replace half my laying/breeding flock.

    Hopefully this makes sense. Others use other methods, there is hardly ever just one way to do something.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. rsweet

    rsweet Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 24, 2014
    Tijeras, New Mexico
    Yes layers. Your system makes a lot of sense.
    Thanks
     
  4. rsweet

    rsweet Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 24, 2014
    Tijeras, New Mexico
    Please explain if I'm using light manipulation how this would effect your system for instance.
    Thanks
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Northwest Arkansas
    I use natural the natural light cycle of days getting longer and shorter to regulate when they molt. They normally molt around October and start back to laying in February. Of course some individual hens vary a bit.

    If you manipulate the lights you can extend the egg laying season and delay molts. The basic cycle would be the same but the lengths of the various parts would be different. You could probably extend each laying season to 12 to 14 months before production dropped off so much you’d need to molt or replace them.
     

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