How often do you cull your older birds?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by imthedude, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. imthedude

    imthedude Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Question for some of you who have raised chickens longer than I have:

    How often do you cull your older birds? I was doing some reading a few nights ago, and one book that I own recommended doing a wholesale culling almost every spring/summer because egg production really drops off in the 2nd year, and it's best to not bring in a few new pullets at a time because it stresses the flock so much that it will also cause a drop in production. If I'm not lighting my pullets through the winter, which I'm not, I don't see how their production could begin to really drop off this next year. Heck they just really got their eggs up to a good, consistent size a couple of months ago (now ~ 9 mos old). So what do you guys that don't consider your birds members of the family, i.e. pets, do?
     
  2. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I got my first batch of chickens in March, 2008 -- 4 RIRs and 4 buff orpingtons. But thanks to owls and stray dogs (and the fact that I didn't have a good henhouse in the beginning), I only have one of the original eight left -- a buff orpington who is now 2 years and 8 months old.


    My second batch of chickens ended up being five hens and a rooster. I got them in late March, 2009, and they are now about 1 year and 8 months old. They gave me two baby girls in September of 2009, and another boy and a girl in December of 2009.


    Then this spring I got a bunch more hens, but they are all under a year old.


    I have wrestled with this same question, and look forward to reading what others do.


    My wife made a promise to that buff orpington who survived the first year, that she would not allow that bird to be culled. Not ever. So I guess it will come to the point when we'll have to spike Buffy's water with Geritol to keep her going.


    But we've been thinking that the five hens and the rooster that we got in March of 2009, that we would probably cull them next autumn (autumn of 2011). They will be about 2 and a half years old then. We've figured autumn as the time to cull, because that way we don't have to house them for the winter.


    But I'm interested in what other people are saying. Maybe we should consider culling them in the spring instead of the autumn.


    I'm not sure what we'll do yet.
     
  3. ChickieBooBoo

    ChickieBooBoo Cold Canadian Chick

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    I dont have any birds who are that old yet but I dont think I'm going to cull very many of them. It just doesnt seem fair, they lay pretty much their whole life for you, and when they get to old to lay be just kill them? [​IMG]
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    After their first adult molt, which can be from anytime they start to lay until they are 1-1/2 years old, the egg size and consistency in laying improves. After their second adult molt, production will drop about 15% on average. You have to have enough hens for averages to mean something since it can vary quite a bit by the individual, but this is as good guideline. A 15% reduction may not be a lot of you have only a few hens but for large flocks it is very noticeable. Then after every following adult molt, it drops even more.

    Different people do it different ways. Let's say my normal laying flock is 8 hens. I set up a rotation. The first year, I got a group of chicks, which I will call Group A, and kept 8 hens. They started laying and pretty much laid through the winter and never molted.

    The following year, I got another group of chicks, call them Group B. I kept 4 pullets out of this group and they started laying. When Group A molted that fall, I removed 4 hens from it, leaving me with 4 hens from Group A and 4 pullets from Group B.

    The following year, I got a group of chicks, call them Group C. I kept 4 pullets out of them, so I had 4 pullets and 8 hens laying until Groups A and B went into molt. When they molted and quit laying, I removed the remaining 4 hens from Group A. I had the 4 grown hens from Group B and the 4 pullets fron Group C left.

    The following year, I got another group of chicks, Group D. I kept 4 pullets out of them to add to my laying flock, so I had 4 pullets and 8 hens laying until the molt started. I then remove the 4 hens from Group B and have 4 hens from Group C ans 4 pullets fromn Group D.

    I think you can see how my rotation goes. I have one group that is older hens that have been through a molt and lay really nice eggs. I have one group that are laying the pullet eggs, but they are generally old enough that the egg size is pretty nice. Then part of the year, I have a group that lays the little pullet eggs but will probably lay some during the winter without any lights. And since I remove them when the molt starts, I don't have to feed them when they are not laying eggs. I would not wait until spring since you would feed them all winter and them remove them just when they start to lay again.
     
  5. PepsNick

    PepsNick Back to Business

    May 9, 2010
    Egglanta, GA
    Quote:Agreed. And old bird? [​IMG] You might as well just raise them for the freezer.
     
  6. ChickieBooBoo

    ChickieBooBoo Cold Canadian Chick

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    Quote:Agreed. And old bird? [​IMG] You might as well just raise them for the freezer.

    I have sometimes culled older birds, I rescued a few layers from a commercial barn that they were just going to kill and after a few years they just started to shut down. No eggs, no energy anymore.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I do raise them for the freezer as well as the eggs. If you look at the OP's post, chickens that are not pets was the topic. If you want to raise them as pets, that is your business. To me, that is an admireable goal. But it is not mine.
     
  8. imthedude

    imthedude Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:excellent summary. this is pretty much exactly what i imagined doing next fall when my first batch of birds finishes their 2nd season of laying. that makes much more sense to me than the scenario i described above.

    thanks!
     
  9. imthedude

    imthedude Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:by the way - where in northwest arkansas? my wife and i moved to colorado from fayetteville a little more than 7 years ago.
     
  10. PepsNick

    PepsNick Back to Business

    May 9, 2010
    Egglanta, GA
    Quote:I'm talking about layers. Not pets.
     

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