How many would you keep?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by imthedude, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. imthedude

    imthedude Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all.

    I'm about to thin the flock and put some of the older girls either in the freezer or into new homes. I have 20 birds that are of laying age right now and 14 that are almost at point of lay. Of the 20, their age breakdown is:

    • 3 at 8 months - started laying in September
    • +/- 10 @ just shy of 2 years - 2 full seasons of laying
    • +-7 @ 3.5 years - 3 full seasons of laying

    I think the older girls are gone. They seem to have quit laying. Some of the mid-range birds are either molting or have slowed/stopped laying because of short days, so I'm not entirely sure that production is gone from them, but I think it is dropping. The 3 that are at 8 months are staying for sure. Inherited them after a neighbor passed a couple of months ago.

    Of the 17 that could possibly go, would you keep any of them, or are they all "past their prime" for laying?

    TIA.
     
  2. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Personally, I wouldn't be culling anyone in fall/winter, especially not 2/3 year olds. If you don't have a light in your coop, I'd add a light bulb for a few hours each day, that will help your production. If you have a way of tracking production for each hen, then you can make a better decision.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    We have utility, laying birds in our egg flock. After the second full season, these top layers really, really decline. This is the way they are bred. We turn them over at that point. We'll cull them if they have sporadic laying issues at any time. The laying flock is populated heavily with sexlinks and they have almost no meat value and certainly have no breeding value, per se.

    Our heritage flocks follow entirely different time tables. We'd keep a good bird well into their 5th year.

    So you see, there is no one simple answer. Much of this depends on your goals and needs for your flock, their breeding, your setup and how deep your pockets are to buy feed for birds. I do agree that culling layers is best done in April or May when it is easier to determine who isn't laying..
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  4. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Stillwater
    "So you see, there is no one simple answer. Much of this depends on your goals and needs for your flock, their breeding, your setup and how deep your pockets are to buy feed for birds. I do agree that culling layers is best done in April or May when it is easier to determine who isn't laying.."

    This was kinda what I was getting at. Not saying NOT to cull, just these birds aren't all that old and I'd wait til spring and see who is really past their prime. If it ends up that all 17 are done, then I'd go ahead and cull and we'd have chicken and dumplings a bunch next year.
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Yup,

    My culling is done in September, well the biggest cull of the year anyhow. I cannot, will not feed birds through the winter unless there is a justification. Our winters here are too harsh, the feed costs too much to do anything else. Everyone's got to find their own way on this deal. What we don't know is the quality of the OP's birds? Breeds? Type?

    Then comes Goals?
     
  6. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Stillwater

    Totally agree with you Fred. I know in my flock of mixed egg layers, they'll all be a year old in Feb. They produced eggs like they were firing them out of a machine gun all summer. I forgot to put a light in for a few weeks after time change and noticed I dropped my production dramatically. I added a light on a timer and we're almost back to summer production. I have a few in molt and couple who have gone broody so we're still down a little. So my goal is EGGS, EGGS, EGGS and more EGGS. We sell some, eat a bunch and donate a whole lot to the Salvation Army. Once they slow down for good, I'll cull the ones who have dropped off and we'll stew them and be happy to do it. I have a few Cochins who are not great producers but I got them as pets and eye candy, so they don't HAVE to produce. The others aren't that lucky. [​IMG]
     
  7. imthedude

    imthedude Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks for the replies. i keep all heritage birds. breeds are buff orps, barred rocks, delawares, RIR, and a couple of partridge rocks. i mostly don't want to feed them through the winter to find out that they're not going to produce more come spring when the days lengthen. i don't keep chickens for pets. i have a dog for that purpose. lighting isn't an option, as the coop is quite a ways from the house/garage and the closest electrical source. additionally i'm not interested in getting a small solar setup/battery to power a small bulb.
     
  8. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Stillwater
    http://www.bing.com/shopping/super-...+LED+lights&lpq=stick up LED lights&FORM=HURE

    These work great and they're cheap.
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    In your case, I'd cull all your older layers. I'm with you, I'm not feeding an older hen through the winter anymore to have her give me maybe 3 eggs a week next season. Most of my oldest birds are spring '11 hatch, and I'll probably carry them over this winter cause they're hatchery birds an in my experience have layed well the second season, but they won't see winter '13/14.
     
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It depends on their breeds, whether you add light, how much you hate feeding something through long molts and how much chicken you eat..
    If they're egg hybrids the 17 are likely done or close. I think heritage breeds whether egg or DP can be good for 4 or more seasons without affecting the wallet a lot..
    Regardless, they'll all lay fewer and fewer yet bigger and bigger each year.
    If you kick it up to 12 or more hours of light a day many of the malingerers will probably start up in a week or so.
    Can you separate some of the older ones or trap nest to test who is no longer laying?

    ETA
    I wrote this before I saw all the replies.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012

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