Can you clarify re: culling and replacing flock?

SomeChickinTN

Songster
Nov 19, 2018
307
496
156
E TN
In a nutshell, I'm planning to raise dual purpose chickens. So far, I've spent more time researching chickens in general, and haven't gotten to the meat aspect yet. I know that there is a method to culling old hens and replacing them, but I'm not sure how it works...

So a friend knows a woman who is going to give me 5 younger hens and 5 older hens. I'm not sure if there will be a rooster or not yet (I'll be speaking to her myself tomorrow). They are RIR. I know she's giving me the older ones for the meat, and it probably depends on how old they are, but what age do people process them?

Do you hatch in the spring and cull in the fall?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,282
20,112
907
Southeast Louisiana
There are a lot of different way to go about this, some of those differences depend on your goals. How important is laying a lot of eggs to you? Do you want to raise them for meat or are you just prepared to eat the ones that are no longer laying well? Lots of other things could factor in.

Chickens normally lay really well their first season. A lot of production birds like RIR's may skip the molt their first fall/winter and lay all the way through to the next fall, when they molt and stop laying. Others molt that first fall/winter. After their first adult molt the next laying season is usually really nice, lots of eggs and the eggs are even a bit bigger than they were. But after the second adult molt and every other adult molt productivity drops. Exactly how much depends on the individual hen but 15% to 20% per adult molt isn't unusual. It can be more, with some it can be less.

My goals are mainly to raise them for meat and play with genetics. The eggs are a nice side benefit but not a main reason to raise chickens. Every spring/summer I hatch out a bunch of chicks, enough to provide meat for the whole year. I raise them in batches as my freezer space is limited. My main laying/breeding flock is one rooster and 6 to 8 hens. So every year I keep four replacement pullets, over winter the previous years pullets, and eat the ones that were kept the two previous winters. I also eat all the cockerels and pullets that don't make it to my laying /breeding flock. So I always have fresh pullets coming up and my flock stays fairly young. That keeps me in eggs but the main reason is that I have to hatch each year to play with genetics for my genetic goals.

Others do a four year rotation instead of three. Others wait until all the hen are old to process all of them and bring in a bunch of pullets to take over. Some people keep their older hens as pets even if they are not producing.

There is no one way to do this, you have lots of options. Hopefully this gives you some ideas and things to think about. Good luck!
 

ronott1

A chicken will always remember the egg
Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Mar 31, 2011
67,944
191,155
1,992
Woodland, CA
My Coop
My Coop
I prefer to give away instead of cull.
Giving them away is culling. Culling is not killing--It is removing them from the flock like the above post.

It can also mean moving them into a different pen and out of a breeding program
 

SomeChickinTN

Songster
Nov 19, 2018
307
496
156
E TN
There are a lot of different way to go about this, some of those differences depend on your goals. How important is laying a lot of eggs to you? Do you want to raise them for meat or are you just prepared to eat the ones that are no longer laying well? Lots of other things could factor in.

Chickens normally lay really well their first season. A lot of production birds like RIR's may skip the molt their first fall/winter and lay all the way through to the next fall, when they molt and stop laying. Others molt that first fall/winter. After their first adult molt the next laying season is usually really nice, lots of eggs and the eggs are even a bit bigger than they were. But after the second adult molt and every other adult molt productivity drops. Exactly how much depends on the individual hen but 15% to 20% per adult molt isn't unusual. It can be more, with some it can be less.

My goals are mainly to raise them for meat and play with genetics. The eggs are a nice side benefit but not a main reason to raise chickens. Every spring/summer I hatch out a bunch of chicks, enough to provide meat for the whole year. I raise them in batches as my freezer space is limited. My main laying/breeding flock is one rooster and 6 to 8 hens. So every year I keep four replacement pullets, over winter the previous years pullets, and eat the ones that were kept the two previous winters. I also eat all the cockerels and pullets that don't make it to my laying /breeding flock. So I always have fresh pullets coming up and my flock stays fairly young. That keeps me in eggs but the main reason is that I have to hatch each year to play with genetics for my genetic goals.

Others do a four year rotation instead of three. Others wait until all the hen are old to process all of them and bring in a bunch of pullets to take over. Some people keep their older hens as pets even if they are not producing.

There is no one way to do this, you have lots of options. Hopefully this gives you some ideas and things to think about. Good luck!

Thanks. I think I understand all of that lol. It's part of the reason I haven't delved too far into meat yet. I had initially planned on eating the hens when they stopped laying, plus extras beyond my maximum flock size, but it really depends on how well I tolerate dressing the first chicken.

If it turns out to not be so bad, then I would try to do a lot of meat... How do you determine how many chickens you need for meat for the year? I have a large family, and we could easily eat 2 dozen eggs a week, and a 5 or 6 lb chicken would make two meals. But I also have a small freezer. I will start with the 10 RIRs and 5 BO's. I'm just having trouble figuring out the minimum flock size I need for at least 6 months of meat and 2 dozen eggs a week.
 

RUNuts

Smiling. I'm up to something.
May 19, 2017
6,013
43,680
1,007
State of Confusion
With 18 pullets, I was getting close to 12 eggs a day. Figure 6 laying pullets.
Reduced flock to 7 hens at end of summer (at 1 year old a pullet becomes a hen)
Then a couple went broody. One died. Then fall hit and they are molting. I'm down to 1 egg a day average from the remaining 6 hens. Welcome winter.

Keep in mind that chickens are affected by their environment. Each breed of chickens will AVERAGE a different lay rate. Each individual chicken will have a different lay rate. On average everything is fine. If you bake, buy eggs or have a surplus. If you get high production layers (RIR), then you will need less chickens for same amount of eggs.

In theory (theory because I haven't proved it yet), I need 18 birds. 6 pullets growing and not laying (less than 6 months old). 6 pullets (9 months to 15 months) starting to lay and almost hens (small pullet eggs). Then 6 each ( 18 month to 30 month olds) hens laying (large eggs). Should give me 8-ish eggs a day at peak. Some to sell. Some for family. They really liked them and were sad when I culled and production wasn't enough for me.

So spring and summer, 18 birds. 12 in fall and winter. Estimate 8 eggs a day in spring and summer. Less than 4 a day in winter.

Plan is 6 new chicks each spring. Harvest the 6 2 year olds at the end of summer BEFORE molt. Appears September. So that is the flock rotation theory for me.

Hope that helps.
 

SomeChickinTN

Songster
Nov 19, 2018
307
496
156
E TN
With 18 pullets, I was getting close to 12 eggs a day. Figure 6 laying pullets.
Reduced flock to 7 hens at end of summer (at 1 year old a pullet becomes a hen)
Then a couple went broody. One died. Then fall hit and they are molting. I'm down to 1 egg a day average from the remaining 6 hens. Welcome winter.

Keep in mind that chickens are affected by their environment. Each breed of chickens will AVERAGE a different lay rate. Each individual chicken will have a different lay rate. On average everything is fine. If you bake, buy eggs or have a surplus. If you get high production layers (RIR), then you will need less chickens for same amount of eggs.

In theory (theory because I haven't proved it yet), I need 18 birds. 6 pullets growing and not laying (less than 6 months old). 6 pullets (9 months to 15 months) starting to lay and almost hens (small pullet eggs). Then 6 each ( 18 month to 30 month olds) hens laying (large eggs). Should give me 8-ish eggs a day at peak. Some to sell. Some for family. They really liked them and were sad when I culled and production wasn't enough for me.

So spring and summer, 18 birds. 12 in fall and winter. Estimate 8 eggs a day in spring and summer. Less than 4 a day in winter.

Plan is 6 new chicks each spring. Harvest the 6 2 year olds at the end of summer BEFORE molt. Appears September. So that is the flock rotation theory for me.

Hope that helps.

Now I see why people preserve eggs... So I will have 5 "older" hens, which normally are harvested in their second year, and near 2nd molt?...then 5 younger hens who will be laying hopefully for awhile, and then 4 chicks(3 weeks old now) and a 3 week old roo.... Hopefully next week I will have the whole flock. So I need to let some of the 5 younger chickens breed in spring, then harvest the old ones later next year...(just clarifying to myself out loud, sorry).

Chicken math sucks.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom