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  1. akorte

    akorte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2017
    Sorry I know this is a basic question. I am a true beginner, I got my first chicks right after easter! I have 6 Black Mottled English Orpington chicks. 2 cockerels, one has feathers on his legs. So that is the one to cull, unless there is a big fault on the other, correct? Of the four pullets, two are much smaller than the other two, and the cockerels. Would I cull them from the breeding program? Or look at other qualities as they age? They are only 4 weeks old. I'm going to put leg bands on them this week so I will remember who started off smaller if they end up catching up.

    I am not trying to start a huge breeding operation, just would like to have some decent quality chicks for my son to show in 4H. Meaning I would probably only hatch eggs a few times a year. I will probably still keep all of the pullets as we will be using most of the eggs for eating, but I'm wondering if I should only hatch eggs from only the best two? I bought a very small incubator so I'm thinking I could coop the girls separately at night for the couple of days needed to collect eggs from specific hens, for hatching.

    Sorry for the ramble and hope this makes sense :)
     
  2. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The decision on which birds to cull depends on your goals. Sounds like you're breeding for conformation. I'm no help there, though I suspect your chicks are still too young to determine which will conform and which won't.

    As for breeding, if you have more than one rooster you'll need to separate the hens longer than a couple days. Someone will reply on here and say how long it takes to be relatively sure that sperm from a rooster is no longer viable, but it can be over a week I believe.

    If you're breeding for egg production, you'd want to wait a while before culling. Come fall you'll have a good sense of which are healthiest and which aren't. You could cull down to the maximum number you're able to keep over the winter then. This winter they'll lay, and you can evaluate which are better layers in their first year, both in terms of frequency and with regards to egg quality (shell shape, size).

    If size of the birds is important, you may choose to weigh them, perhaps at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks, to see who reaches a good size soonest, and who's slow. From a utility standpoint, this is useful with regards to raising chickens for meat.

    Regardless of what your goals are, Orpington's are unlikely to have a decent carcass size before 12 weeks (may more like 16), so I don't think you'd want to cull at all before then.
     
  3. RhodeRunner

    RhodeRunner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Four weeks old isn't much to go of off. With many breeds, it is best to wait until the birds are about a year old before making a final selection.

    I will be honest though, you don't wait to bred that feathered footed cockerel. That is an incompletely dominate gene. Fifty precent or more of his offspring is likely to show feathered feet. And I wouldn't be surprised if the pullets carry that gene too. So, intentionally breeding it in, will certainly prove frustrating in the future.

    I don't ever recommend people keep smaller and runtier fowl for breeding. But, you only have six birds, and I can't personally see them and tell how much smaller they are. If you feel like they are not meeting the potential of the bred, as a breeder you might as well cull them now.

    And yes, you would be much better off culling and breeding the best pair or trio, then keeping all four hens in your flock.
     
    kpolenz likes this.
  4. akorte

    akorte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2017
    Great info, thanks to you both!
     
  5. akorte

    akorte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2017
    A couple pics to help
     

    Attached Files:

  6. akorte

    akorte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2017
    Just looked back at pics. It's much more clear when you pick then up.
     
  7. akorte

    akorte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2017
    I guess confirmation is big. Also looking for calm, relaxed birds, so personality counts. They don't need to be super layers or super meat birds. Just a good all around family project.
     
  8. akorte

    akorte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2017
    @RhodeRunner , I also have a trio of isabel Orpingtons, but the male has a sprig (actually, 2 sprigs now) coming off his comb. I'm bummed. 20170507_094929.jpg
     
  9. RhodeRunner

    RhodeRunner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So true, pictures can be difficult! But, I can see that two are smaller.

    It can take a few years (actually, I think it takes about five) to really get to know a breed or bloodline that you are working with. If chicks appears small in my Rhode Island Red flock, I cull them. But, I am also confident with my flock, know what it produces, and have access to 100's of chicks a year. Since you are just starting, and you only have six, as long as everyone is healthy, I don't see any harm in keeping these smaller birds around for a bit.

    It is in the back of my mind, that perhaps the other two larger pullets are indeed cockerels. And boy wouldn't it stink if you got rid of these two pullets, and discovered that later. So, you may want to wait a few weeks, or a month or two (however long it takes for you to feel confident), and verify that there is no gender confusion. If what you are thinking now proves to be correct, you can get rid of the smaller pullets then.
     
    BantyChooks likes this.
  10. RhodeRunner

    RhodeRunner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 22, 2009
    Ashtabula, Ohio
    Oh, darn! I hate when a sprig or split comb ruins an otherwise good bird! I know Orpington chickens are a fad that are crazy expensive, so you might not be able to run out and get a few more. If so, we breeders do reach points were we have to work with... what we have.

    Your pullets are probably related, so they are probably going to throw offspring with sprigs too. So next year, breed as many as you can and select breeders without springs. Sometimes the gene doesn't produce a fully sticking out spring so be sure to feel the next generations combs for little nubs. This is something I have worked with, after my first year of culling like a maniac for it, I did see results. Four years later, and a sprig was uncommon, but still cropped up on occasion.
     

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