Pullets at what cost? (...not in dollars and cents)

Discussion in 'Chicken Breeders & Hatcheries' started by IdaClaire, Mar 1, 2016.

  1. IdaClaire

    IdaClaire New Egg

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    We're very interested in keeping a small flock of backyard hens (no roosters allowed in the subdivision). It's a matter of timing, so haven't bought anything yet, but have definitely been exploring the whole idea.

    Yesterday I began to wonder what happens with all the little cockerels. Everyone wants the pullets, and that's all a local feed store knowingly sells...but 50% of each hatch must consist of the little guys. So, I began to research. What I read about their short lives horrified me. Article after article described the day-old male chicks (most of them) being disposed of in different ways, all awful and seemingly conscienceless.

    I know that all living things come to an end at some point (sometimes it's a stock pot), but being tossed into a meat grinder at one day of age -- alive? By the thousands?

    Is this the cost of keeping only hens in the backyard? Is it right? I realize that chickens are not people, nor do they have the same value as people, but something about this scenario seems twisted and wrong.

    I realize I have to have a good answer to this question before I can walk into that feed store to buy those cute, chirping pullets. If I don't, I probably won't be able to.

    Have any of you wrestled with this same issue? Is there a good answer? Is there a way to change the way things are done? I'm not a troll, not trying to make hatcheries look bad, just struggling with the reality of things as they are at present.

    Thanks for any thoughts you might have.

    - Claire
     
  2. genericusername

    genericusername Out Of The Brooder

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    I get where you are coming from and feel the same way. We bought a incubator and hatching eggs. When the chicks got older and and we could tell the gender, we put the roosters up on Craigslist. People who wanted to breed or had farms took them. It helps that we had more interesting breeds ( Easter eggers and olive eggers) that people tend to want the Roos and that we gave them away for free. So far we have been lucky that we have found them all decent homes and have not had to worry about the what if no one wants them.
     
  3. genericusername

    genericusername Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh I forgot to write. While I know one day someone will take one to eat, I figure at least it had a life and served a purpose. To me killing for food isn't the same as killing them at a birth for no purpose. Hope that makes sense.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. pattyhen

    pattyhen Chicks Ducks oh my

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    I know Ida I struggle with the same thing. While buying pullets only are we promoting the hatcheries to kill the day old males. I know they do sell some of the roo's but there has to be another option for all that killing of the day olds. It's so sad.
     
  5. IdaClaire

    IdaClaire New Egg

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    It definitely makes sense. I also like the idea of purchasing hatching eggs, and I can see that a less-common breed would be advantageous in finding new homes for the little gentlemen amongst the flock. (I suppose purchasing hatching eggs from a small local farm would be the ideal scenario.) Thanks so much for your thoughts!
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    You can see if there's anyone in your area that breeds their own sex links. That way you could purchase chicks from them and know they're sexed correctly.

    Or, you could purchase straight run (unsexed) chicks from a local breeder. Of course, since you can't keep the males yourself, you'd have to find someone to take them as they reached maturity, or butcher them yourself. There are worse things than a good life and one really bad day. And chicken enchiladas always go over well here [​IMG]
     
  7. bramblefir

    bramblefir Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could always consider getting ducks instead of chickens. They're better layers of bigger eggs, the males are quiet (so you could keep them to breed your own), and they're less prone to illnesses.
     
  8. IdaClaire

    IdaClaire New Egg

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    Thanks, bramblefir...

    Yes, we had strongly considered ducks -- and Welsh Harlequins at that! Two of our kiddos are allergic to chicken eggs, and that made ducks all that more interesting -- with many more reasons besides. [​IMG] However, I know how messy ducks "can" get (we had a female mallard when I was growing up), and since we currently live in a rental, it seemed wiser to stick with chickens. I would really, really like to have ducks again someday, though!

    Ducks aside, my main concern about this whole thing with the roos is the "culture of death" that the desire for only pullets has created. Pattyhen hit it on the head:
    How do we bring something "out of whack" back into proper balance in this situation?
     
  9. bramblefir

    bramblefir Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Educate people on raising their own meat so they'll order chicks straight run or purchase their birds from a local breeder. Males can be butchered out just before they start crowing, typically between 12-14 weeks.

    As far as the ducks go, they're mostly messy with water. Keeping their water over a gravel or cement area that they can't dabble in really helps.
     
  10. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ducks are no less prone to illness than chickens - and there's no less of need to cull a significant amount of males. If you have too many roosters, you'll have some beat up chickens. If you have too many drakes, they'll kill all your duck hens.


    Killing chicks via grinder is quick, and pretty humane - and for hatcheries (and most people growing sustenance levels of meat) its not worth growing out a whole bunch of birds that will take 6-8 months to get to 3lbs - 4 months of which they'll spend crowing, harassing hens, and trying to kill each other. It's much more efficient to grind them up and ship them off to the pet food companies - dogs gotta eat too.
     
    1 person likes this.

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