Managing your flock by banding chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by wabbit1964, Apr 4, 2016.

  1. wabbit1964

    wabbit1964 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2013
    My Coop
    I am curious what kinds of things do you keep track of by color or number banding chickens? I am debating getting some zip ties or bands to track this years flock. What kinds of things should I record? Please educate me on banding. I do know they have to be checked weekly and changed so they don't grow too tight. Fill me in on the use of color coding/numbering?? Thanks for your time for anyone who replies.
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Do you have breeding stock? Banding is done to keep records of birds. If your attempting to increase weight or are noting coloration at certain age or simply banding for quick identification of parents. People love zip ties but I'm not a fan. It's a rigid connection with no give. If you have a lot of young birds how would you be sure to check all their legs for too tight of ties? Big fan of bandettes- not spiral bands.

    Bandettes come in range of sizes for chicks to adults from bantam to Brahma sizes. Easy to put on and take off yet they stay on the bird. In that it's plastic circle with overlap to ends it provides time to find the bird needs a larger band. It will expand when the leg grows, should be replaced but not a rigid connection so there is a large margin of safety. Unless you've a lot of birds the color coding can't really be done as you purchase in lots of 25 bands. Will be sequentially numbered.

    I'm very lacks with banding. Basically I only do it as I need and not all the birds. For example, first few birds to come into lay got banded. The birds selected for breeding got banded. Being a 11 month old flock there was little to band for. I should have banded a bird that showed a trait I was looking for at young age. Hard to find her now in flock but she's one of three in breeding group so good enough and has a band now. This year I'll need two colors as I'm getting a line of birds from different breeder and want to evaluate to what I have. They will all get a band when out of brooder and will be different color to what I'll use on my line but only sparingly to what I'll note on certain birds. Example of that is birds will be weighed through growth. The largest of those birds at weigh in will get band.

    Bands are only as good as your record keeping. Color is quick identification for parentage but the number on band is unique and what your tracking with notes. Spreadsheet or text doc on computer and make a hard copy print out every time you update in case you computer crashes.

    Zip ties with numbered beads work but is more work to keep them right size- safety factor. Here's what I use and recommend:

    You may find them cheaper, usually Stromberg's has great pricing but look around to check.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I use 4" zipties. Details here....
    They can be tricky, but with the right tools and little practice it's pretty easy.
    I've gotten to where I only change bands out for size 3 times from day old to adult.

    Only have 5 colors and go left leg / right leg, mostly just to keep age groups and crosses differentiated.
    Works for my small flock.
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Size 6 works well for out of brooder birds and size 11 will fit most adult breeds male and female. Some breeds may need larger for cock birds. Say a person gets 25 of those two sizes, with shipping is 36 cents each. Reusable and easy to put on and off. I realize colored zip ties can be gotten in packs at a Dollar store but mine have numbers and only need to change the band to larger once. I take off the band to reuse if selling or eating the bird. It's a one time purchase.

    An even easier and cheaper option is to toe punch chicks. With two webs per foot that's 8 coding combinations for identification. Most that do that method don't punch a hole they slice the web to ensure it does't grow back over. Day to three day old birds are marked this way for quick healing and little pain discomfort. It's not for me, I'm all about the bandette.
  5. SJ

    SJ Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2010
    As Egghead Jr said banding is only as good as your other records. I use very few bands anymore. Only potential breeders of pureblood are banded. Average birds are eaters. So "weigh in days" are key to my rooster management in the flocks. My first banding was of chicks. I was selecting for rapid feathering. Now days, the four best purebred males of a breed are banded @ 10 weeks. Each gets one blue band. Then four more blues get put on top perfomers at 14 weeks. At this point I may have six birds with blue bands. I have yet to have more than 6, but the double blue banded birds at this point are visibly superior stock. The first cull takes place at 14 weeks and the worst performing males and any birth defects go. They make decent fryers cleaned up. At day 150 I select my future breeder from the blue banded. Conformation to standard is selection priority. If conformation is about equal then overall size. If size is also equal then width of hips. If width of hips is also equal then length of keel bone. If keel bone length is also equal I must be doing my job at breeding for uniformity.LOL

    The pullets are banded similarly with emphasis on laying traits. The first six purebreds of a breed in lay get banded with a red. The first pullet in lay gets a blue too. The date is recorded. The first ten pullets to cease laying get banded white. The last six to cease laying get a red. A double red gets reds removed and a blue instead. If I have a red banded pullet that would end up with a white band the red comes off instead of a white and a blue goes on. Molting can occur in only a few day window of the entire flock as molting is a multiple factor occurance. Vent inspection is used to confirm lay ceasation. At molt the pullets are evaluated. I choose molt because fluffy hens are just fluff. Conformation to standard is selection priority. Barring major faults any blue bands become potential breeders(1 blue) and the best conformation birds get a blue too until i have ten potential breeders. All white bands(short laying cycle), unpersonable and undersized pullets are culled after body condition and feather regrowth is such that they make for an easily pluck.
    The breeder flock has a limited roster so only the best of the best get to breed pure. The potential breeder pullets are cross bred and re-evaluated as hens (24 months) with emphasis placed on their overall size, personallity, broodiness, hatch rates, chick rearing, chick vigor, and of course laying record. Each breeder flock is small. Only 4 purebred hens of each breed. Each gets a red and white band to go with the blue. Only then are they "breeders". Those that don't make the breeder cut are culled at this point. A hen with a single blue can always be replaced by an up and coming pullet. The best birds are "made hens" lol 2 blues. These get to live out their days. They are used as breeder stock but not counted as part of the breeder flock. My oldest made hens will be six in June. Fatty the Buff Orp and Oreo the SLW. Both still lay and brood a clutch each June. Superior animals in every way.

    Culling this heavily may sound counter productive at first and in the beginning it can be but, if one is dedicated to producing a better bird and a better flock it is absolutely nessessary to cull sub-performance and poor conformation from the flock.

    Breed the best eat the rest. And keep good records.

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