Culling from the Brooder

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,611
671
291
Memphis, TN
I thought it would be interesting to crowdsource what everyone culls for in early stages from hatch through brooding. I'm guessing there are general things that are universal, and things that are breed specific.

For me, the easy universal things are:

1) Vigor, I don't help chicks hatch, look for good eating and activity, etc.
2) Everything's straight and accounted for, including toes and legs.

I also feel like it's easy to spot good width in the brooders, wide-set legs are obvious when you compare to birds from narrow lines, but I'm curious if any of you have found that. It's probably not very useful.

For my breed-specific traits I can cull for, I'm finding LOTS in the Legbars!

Obviously, the autosexing traits are very important. Just because a breed is autosexing doesn't mean that they're EASILY autosexed as they should be. I am culling about a third of my legbar chicks for ambiguous down patterns and color, mostly girls with faint striping and boys with small or faint headspots.

As they get to be even a week or two old, I can see which boys are going to have those big sloppy gross combs that seem to plague a lot of the stock in the US. I can also cull out off-color shanks pretty quick. By 3 weeks if I'm not seeing the start of a crest on the girls it's a safe bet that they won't have much of one at all, boys are less noticeable. I have also noted differences in fast feathering vs slow-feathering, and tag the fast feathering birds as preferable because they will mature faster and lay earlier, etc... desirable traits in a production breed.

A lot of the same things with Houdans, it's easy to cull out common cosmetic flaws, especially on the feet and toes and crest. My Houdans are all quite narrow and it's because of them I have noticed the difference between chicks that will have better width and those that won't—the narrow chicks almost look knock-kneed because their legs are set very close together.

So, what do you cull for in this stage in your breed?
 
Last edited:

halefamily_flock

Songster
Sep 16, 2020
289
657
156
Southeast Misssouri
I thought it would be interesting to crowdsource what everyone culls for in early stages from hatch through brooding. I'm guessing there are general things that are universal, and things that are breed specific.

For me, the easy universal things are:

1) Vigor, I don't help chicks hatch, look for good eating and activity, etc.
2) Everything's straight and accounted for, including toes and legs.

I also feel like it's easy to spot good width in the brooders, wide-set legs are obvious when you compare to birds from narrow lines, but I'm curious if any of you have found that. It's probably not very useful.

For my breed-specific traits I can cull for, I'm finding LOTS in the Legbars!

Obviously, the autosexing traits are very important. Just because a breed is autosexing doesn't mean that they're EASILY autosexed as they should be. I am culling about a third of my legbar chicks for ambiguous down patterns and color, mostly girls with faint striping and boys with small or faint headspots.

As they get to be even a week or two old, I can see which boys are going to have those big sloppy gross combs that seem to plague a lot of the stock in the US. I can also cull out off-color shanks pretty quick. By 3 weeks if I'm not seeing the start of a crest on the girls it's a safe bet that they won't have much of one at all, boys are less noticeable. I have also noted differences in fast feathering vs slow-feathering, and tag the fast feathering birds as preferable because they will mature faster and lay earlier, etc... desirable traits in a production breed.

A lot of the same things with Houdans, it's easy to cull out common cosmetic flaws, especially on the feet and toes and crest. My Houdans are all quite narrow and it's because of them I have noticed the difference between chicks that will have better width and those that won't—the narrow chicks almost look knock need because their legs are set very close together.

So, what do you cull for in this stage in your breed?

Interesting idea for a thread. Looking forward to hearing from others. I'm with you in that I don't assist hatching and look for vigor, above all. So far, my crosses of auto sexing breeds have themselves turned out to be strongly autosexing. I'm going to keep that trait at the top of my list. I'm also trying to introduce rose combs and small V combs into my hybrids, so, with few exceptions, I'm culling single combs.
 

The Kooky Kiwi

Songster
Dec 23, 2017
369
1,116
226
New Zealand, Golden Bay
I can say that the number of eggs available for you to hatch and the quality (in general) of the stock you are working with dictates how harshly you can cull.

Personal experience this season: I had to purchase eggs to obtain some unrelated genetics for my project. Both the breed and the color are uncommon so the quantity of eggs available are limited. Much of the available stock also suffer virility and quality issues. So it will be necessary for me to offer assistance to ensure maximum hatch, then raise ALL chicks to maturity and select the best option for use from there. It may be that I do not get an entirely "desirable" bird to use but may have to choose from the least of the "undesirable" options.

Otherwise, if working with a stock that is plentiful and of good quality, then I agree with your culling policy. There is no need to commit time and resources to raising non quality birds and it is desirable to cull strictly to ensure the continuation of good stock.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,611
671
291
Memphis, TN
I can say that the number of eggs available for you to hatch and the quality (in general) of the stock you are working with dictates how harshly you can cull.

Personal experience this season: I had to purchase eggs to obtain some unrelated genetics for my project. Both the breed and the color are uncommon so the quantity of eggs available are limited. Much of the available stock also suffer virility and quality issues. So it will be necessary for me to offer assistance to ensure maximum hatch, then raise ALL chicks to maturity and select the best option for use from there. It may be that I do not get an entirely "desirable" bird to use but may have to choose from the least of the "undesirable" options.

Otherwise, if working with a stock that is plentiful and of good quality, then I agree with your culling policy. There is no need to commit time and resources to raising non quality birds and it is desirable to cull strictly to ensure the continuation of good stock.

That's completely understandable and if I was having problems with obtaining quantity, had only poor stock available, or working with expensive purchased eggs I would definitely hatch and grow out everything I could. My Houdans are hatchery stock and I have a long way to go with them, so I'm planning on shooting for hatching at least 100 this year and keeping about 10... so any obvious culling I can do early on helps a lot! Same with the Legbars. I'm crossing lines which always makes a mess of the genetics and muddles things up. I'll probably hatch way over 100 of those. I'm thrilled that there's so many points I can cull on early on to reduce the number I have to grow out, but I'm also puzzled as to why these issues are still so prevalent considering how easy they are to spot and cull!! Well, not really puzzled. Just frustrated I suppose. Lack of serious culling is more common in some breeds than others, I think.
 

The Kooky Kiwi

Songster
Dec 23, 2017
369
1,116
226
New Zealand, Golden Bay
That's completely understandable and if I was having problems with obtaining quantity, had only poor stock available, or working with expensive purchased eggs I would definitely hatch and grow out everything I could. My Houdans are hatchery stock and I have a long way to go with them, so I'm planning on shooting for hatching at least 100 this year and keeping about 10... so any obvious culling I can do early on helps a lot! Same with the Legbars. I'm crossing lines which always makes a mess of the genetics and muddles things up. I'll probably hatch way over 100 of those. I'm thrilled that there's so many points I can cull on early on to reduce the number I have to grow out, but I'm also puzzled as to why these issues are still so prevalent considering how easy they are to spot and cull!! Well, not really puzzled. Just frustrated I suppose. Lack of serious culling is more common in some breeds than others, I think.
I completely agree. If I had the luxury of playing "the probability & numbers game" I'd aim to hatch as many as possible and cull as often and as harshly as I could to only ensure the best get kept.

I can also sympathise with the quality issue - it's a bit the same here. I put it down to the difference in peoples approach to breeding. There are some who are happy to get a couple of chicks and as long as they are "approximately" the right breed then this is satisfactory to them. There are some who breed who do not like culling, and some who just don't have any real interest in maintaining a breed standard, so over time the non standard and undesirable qualities continue to a degree.

But then that is where the more serious chicken fanciers step in - we take it upon ourselves to select the best, to breed the best, and to cull the undesired. The trick is to find like-minded people to exchange birds and genetics with - else you have to embark on the same program you and I both are on - working with average stock and putting in the hard yards to improve upon it. But then that's part of what we like about it isn't it??
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
3,018
4,877
381
North-Central IL
I did the majority of my culling from the brooder last year. Reason being, I'm working on a comb fault and they were easy to see at a young age.

Typically, I also cull for lack of vigor and anything structural that can be seen, like crooked toes etc. If I have any that are obviously narrower than the rest, those will go too. Skinny/small heads. Runts.

Out of the brooder, my main culling is for lack of width. If I have enough decent contenders, I'll cull for not enough yellow in the legs too by a few months of age. Otherwise, I really have to wait a good while, especially on the males, since the Barred mature so slowly.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,611
671
291
Memphis, TN
I did the majority of my culling from the brooder last year. Reason being, I'm working on a comb fault and they were easy to see at a young age.

Typically, I also cull for lack of vigor and anything structural that can be seen, like crooked toes etc. If I have any that are obviously narrower than the rest, those will go too. Skinny/small heads. Runts.

Out of the brooder, my main culling is for lack of width. If I have enough decent contenders, I'll cull for not enough yellow in the legs too by a few months of age. Otherwise, I really have to wait a good while, especially on the males, since the Barred mature so slowly.

The BR do you select for slow feathering males to improve the barring? Is that done with the females, too? I ordered a few Barred Rock bantams in a hatchery order to play around with last year and really enjoyed observing their development. I definitely noticed the slow feathering males had better barring.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
3,018
4,877
381
North-Central IL
The BR do you select for slow feathering males to improve the barring? Is that done with the females, too? I ordered a few Barred Rock bantams in a hatchery order to play around with last year and really enjoyed observing their development. I definitely noticed the slow feathering males had better barring.
I don't select for it as mine are standard bred to begin with, but that is how you would go about improving barring, yes. The males feather slower than the females usually anyhow. I focus more on type than the barring.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom