How do you choose who stays and who goes?


Feb 26, 2020
Southeastern Ontario, Canada
Hi!! My journey started a few months ago, I have 6 royal palm turkeys, 25 chickens and 9 ducklings in the brooder. Because chicken math I obviously have way more feathered friends than I intended and boy do they grow fast!!

I'm still in pretty good shape as far as space goes but a lack of vehicle availability has put off my run expansion a little bit and I'm not *quite* ready to let everyone free range (oldest birds are 10 weeks) Two of my Royal Palm Jake's have been throwing their weight around and I've ceded that I may have to rehome one of them earlier rather than later. Am I thinking about this too early? At 10 weeks are they just establishing some pecking order with little risk of serious injury? I know everyone tries to move their males, when it comes to turkeys should I offer up a pair? Would that be better for the Jake? My focus is on the turks right now because they're larger and I dont want them injuring any of the smaller birds at the moment in their squabbles.

When it comes to my cockerels, how do you choose who stays and who goes? Temperament? Breed? Size? Beauty? Style? Grace? I imagine their disposition at 10 weeks will change dramatically in the coming weeks as they reach adulthood.

I DO have a plan for my boys, I didn't go into this with the mindset that I'd have absolute cohesion forever. I got into this with utility in mind, eggs, insect control, compost and freezer stock.

I suspect I have 2 (possibly a third late bloomer) turkey Jake's and 10-12 cockerels. I definitely have favourites, but when the time comes how do YOU decide who stays and who goes?

Temperament and size. The nicer temperament the better, as long as the rooster also fertilizes the hens and protects them from predators.

Also, the bigger, the better, since you are considering a dual-purpose flock.
I think it works best to cull a few, and the re-evaluate. As to who:
  • Any bird you just do not care for, for whatever reason. You have to eliminate some from your flock, those go first.
  • Once you have decided, distance yourself from those birds. Still care for them, but don't stand and watch them, don't talk to them.
  • Second - any physical trait that is not quite right. Look carefully at feet, at beak alignment, at feather quality, at size and weight.You do not want that in your flock. Deformities make life hard, again some have to go, let these go first
  • Now you should be left with the maybe's. Wait a bit and see. These should separate themselves into the THAT one stays, this one I am not so sure. Not so sure group is thinned, say if you have 4 not so sureś, cull two, re-evaluate, cull one.
  • By this time, the that one stays has either developed positively and kept that state, or a not so sure, changed to take that spot
Make a goal, that the first of October, your flock size will fit your set up. One can cheat a bit on numbers in the summer, with the long days, and generally younger birds are a bit smaller. But come the long dark days of winter, your birds will be full size, and the number needs to fit the set up. Over crowding causes horrible problems.

Mrs. K
@Mrs. K
This is amazing advice thank you so much. I was feeling a little overwhelmed but your breakdown procedure is wonderful! October 1st was actually my goal to get my ducks all lined up, for lack of better words.

Maybe a bachelor pad/grow out pen should be considered. I selfishly dont want to give birds away that are just going in someone's freezer because well, I'll put them in mine instead. However I'm new to chickens and have definitely never culled and processed one, and word on the street is the fee abattoirs around here are not very keen on "small orders" (which as an outsider looking in, I absolutely understand. People wanna make a profit.)

A few videos and some research and theoretically I think I could do it... practically, is a hurdle we have yet to pass.

Thanks again! Lots to think about
Once again, Mrs K gave excellent advice. Why do you want those boys? What are your goals? Then start eliminating any that don't measure up. Using Mrs K's system, sort of, I was able to easily go from 19 cockerels down to three. That's when the decision got a little harder. But I knew what I wanted. if you don't know what you want is hard to get there.

I imagine their disposition at 10 weeks will change dramatically in the coming weeks as they reach adulthood.

You got that right. But it's even more complicated. How they interact has a lot to do with their behaviors. If you remove one bird, especially a more dominant bird, you can often see changes in other birds' behaviors. To me behaviors are an important criteria when picking a bird, even females, but it's also the hardest because of that interaction plus behaviors change as they mature.. I don't always get it right.

Until you actually butcher one you never know how it's going to go or if you will ever want to do it again. That is a personal thing. I suggest you try earlier rather than later just to see if you can. I don't know how I'd cook a turkey that young but maybe someone has some experience with that. Some people butcher cockerels as young as 12 weeks so they can still fry them. You might pick one out in a couple of weeks just to gain that experience. It might help you plan a way forward, plus it could help you form some questions you might want to ask.

I think preparing a bachelor open now so it is available if you suddenly meed it is a great idea.
As for doing the deed. My mother has a fond saying that once was everyone's first time. It really helps to have moral support, it does not have to be someone with experience. My SIL and I did the first batch, a lot of nervous giggles, a lot of re watching the video and the web page step by step. We did use a cone and a sharp knife, and it was scary, but I felt the knife and cone was something that I would not boggle. I was leary of a hatchet. I have tried the broomstick method too, I tend to go back to the razor blade.

But trust me, once you have that part done, the rest is easy. Getting a good scald, is tricky, but you get better. Cleaning them up is just like getting something ready to cook.

The pride of the pioneer woman or prairie queen serving her dinner from her own hands...that is priceless.

good luck,
Mrs K

Thank you for your advice it really does help a lot! I think I may have figured out a situation for the turkey, although its gonna cost me a hen. And also thinking I will take your advice on trying to gain some experience with one of my cockerels. I hatched out most of the chickens I have now with the intention of putting the extras on my freezer, it's just a matter of keeping everyone happy until they're grown enough.

@Mrs. K
Can't thank you enough! This has definitely been an independent venture on my behalf. Although, I am lucky enough to have an incredible support system, and I'm sure someone is willing to get a little hands on with me. The one friend who didnt look at me like I was insane when I said "looks easy enough with some practice" perhaps? In my research the cone and sharp knife/blade is the way I believe I'll do the deed. I needed to hear(read) exactly that, "Once was everyone's first time."

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