Culling and cold feet

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HillCountryTX, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. HillCountryTX

    HillCountryTX Out Of The Brooder

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    My husband and I recently moved to what will be our retirement home in the Texas Hill Country north of San Antonio. I have wanted chickens my whole life and we are planning to build a coop and start a flock next spring. In the meantime, I've been reading a lot about what's involved and trying to prepare myself for all the potential difficulties: predators, bumble foot, prolapsing vents, etc. I really and truly think I can handle all that.

    But here's the thing: I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do any necessary culling myself.

    Don't get me wrong, I love fried chicken, chicken barbeque, coq au vin, the works, and I have no intention of giving any of it up. But if I'm being really honest, it's probably going to have to be anonymous chickens - or at least unrecognizable chickens. I don't think I have it in me to do the deed myself. There is an organic processing farm not far from us but we're not looking to have a big flock and for onesie-twosies I just don't see that as an option.

    So, to my question: does this disqualify me as a flock-keeper? I'm prepared to humanely put down any animal that is suffering, and I am slowly being won over to more sustainable, personally-accountable food sourcing but I'm just not sure I can do the "cultivating" myself. If I feed a non-laying hen until her days are done, am I being wasteful? Surely the additional compost, entertainment value, and possible brooding assistance is worth the cost of feed, provided I have enough laying hens to meet our egg needs?

    Thoughts?

    TIA -

    Francesca
     
  2. N F C

    N F C doo be doo be doo Premium Member

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    First off...welcome to BYC!

    Second...I don't believe the fact you have cold feet about culling means you shouldn't have chickens. I feel the same as you, love them for their eggs, companionship, entertainment value, etc. but can't see myself from doing the deed. Luckily, even though my DH likes our chickens, he will be able to do the culling when the time comes. He handles our meat rabbits now (we haven't had to do a chicken yet). He is very respectful and humane about doing what needs to be done and always thanks God for giving us a wonderful farm animal that continues to provide for us even after life...a life well lived with people that cared enough to provide for them.

    A friend of mine handles her situation a bit differently. Her husband does the culling and she does the cleaning. Cleaning is another thing I have no interest in doing.

    Some people will believe differently, but I think this is one of those decisions you have to make yourself. Get your chickens and enjoy them, things have a way of working out.
     
  3. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you have the money and space to keep non laying hens, then go for it! If you're buying chicks that aren't sex links though, you'll need to have a plan for any cockerels. Even hatcheries are not 100% accurate on the sex of the chicks.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    That does not disqualify you at all. You just have different goals to some other people so you have to adjust to that. You are likely in the majority on this forum. There are lots of people that have chickens as pets and keep them until they die.

    If you always get point of lay pullets you will not get any males. Those are pullets maybe 16 to 18 weeks old. By then you can tell male from female really well. Also, the sex links from the hatcheries are really reliable as to sex. There are ways to avoid getting a male.

    If you do want to get rid of a chicken, advertise on Craigslist. Just say you are giving away spent hens to make way for pullets. Someone else will take it and most likely eat it. I’m not sure if that would be acceptable to you or not.

    Welcome to the adventure.
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    If you get sexed chicks from a reputable hatchery, and stipulate that you don't want any extra male chicks as "fillers," then you should get all female chicks. There is a 90% accuracy in sexing, especially if you get breeds easily sexed at hatch, such as barred plymouth rocks. Bantams cannot be sexed at hatch. It sounds to me like you would do well with chickens. I get a friend to take my extra male chicks for food, and he will also take extra layers if I have any extra ones that are hatched. As long as you are willing to put down a sick or suffering chicken, I think you will do fine. I don't try to sell my extra chickens. I have helped several people get into chickens by giving them free layer hens, sometimes by getting them to take a rooster. Having chickens whether you breed them or not is fun, and I would recommend that you enjoy the fun of new healthy chicks, and not buy from breeders where you can easily bring in diseases. Stay away from swap meets or any chicken farms where you don't have a personal relationship with the owners. Get your chicks vaccinated for Mareks disease, and also for coccidiosis if it is offered. Mareks is a terrible neurological disease which is in dust and the environment, and very easy to prevent with one vaccine. Build your coop bigger than you think you will need. Good luck on your new hobby.
     
  6. HillCountryTX

    HillCountryTX Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks, everyone. It occurred to me this morning that I could also choose to raise some broilers every couple of years, and have them all processed together when/if necessary. I hate that I am such a baby about this, because intellectually I understand where our food comes from and the importance of humane raising and slaughtering... but I was raised a city girl and my frame of reference doesn't (yet) include this particular skill set. Maybe I'll get there.
     
  7. annabelle12

    annabelle12 Out Of The Brooder

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    Everyone comes at it from a different frame of mind. Killing an animal is a serious thing, any way you look at it. The good thing is that you are thinking about these things before hand, which is the responsible way to go about it! I might suggest if you do eventually want to get to where you can cull and process members of your flock if need be, try to keep a little emotional distance from day 1. Care for your chickens 100% but don't name them or think of them as pets. This really truly helps.
     
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I too mentally distance myself from anything that is going out of my flock. But mostly, I enjoy the flock, and the members in my flock change, sometimes too rapidly (thank you predators).

    I may suggest that you don't fill your coop the first year, add chicks possibly under a broody hen, the second year, and by the time they grow out, you will have quite a bit more experience. Personally, If I had a processing plant, I would go that route, any chicken without feathers become generic.

    I suggest that you look for a poultry club, as then you might slip in a couple of your chickens with someone else, processing a larger amount...... and you could be reasonably not sure if you were actually eating one of your chickens or someone elses.

    Mrs K
     

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