ROTATING FLOCK

mpoland33

Songster
Mar 16, 2016
231
130
131
FREDERICK COUNTY MARYLAND
This question is mainly for those who cull your hens at a certain age and bring in a new flock of layers. What age do you cull and bring in your new layers? What time of year do you normally do it?

My grandfather would cull around 1 1/2 and bring in 8 or even 16 week old girls around that time so they would be laying full time in the spring.

In Maryland, with spring and fall colder, most of the chickens for sale seem to be April and September.
 

RWise

Songster
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
1,270
1,009
216
Oakhurst Oklahoma
I do rotate birds, I dont do it exactly by age, though it is mostly the older girls I get rid of. I have a hen going on 10YO, I could not think of the yard without her. I get rid of the girls I dont want chicks from ('cept that old gal), mostly right after they finish molting. I sell them off to folks that want to start raising chickens, and give up a few young girls to go with (again the ones I dont wish to breed, runts etc.). I luv it when they bring their kids and it's the first time they have seen coloured eggs! My girls are EEs, or REs (rainbow eggers)
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,465
129,943
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I hatch or purchase new chicks every spring, slaughter cockerels at 12-16wks and older hens in the fall to get down to winter housing numbers. So I have 2 or 3 age groups at all times. I won't buy started birds, too much cost and won't risk pests/disease.

Right now I have 3-2016 birds, 4-2017 birds , and 10-2018 birds plus a cockbird.
Tried to sell a few pullets a few weeks ago, no go-but didn't try too hard, will try again in the spring.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,951
11,342
636
western South Dakota
^^^ is my theory... says the lady with 3 old birds still in the coop! I like having the multiple ages in the coop. Theoretically, I have too many birds in my set up, but all is going well. My old girls came out of molt, and now look like teenagers with their new feathers....

Currently I have one going on 4, an old rooster (?) age, two birds going on 3, then 3 going on 18 months, 3 just past 6 months and laying well, and 4 pullets 3.5 months old and a cockerel the same age.

However, I have two jars of chicken broth left.... and that might be enough to make me get the old girls processed.

Mrs K
 

mpoland33

Songster
Mar 16, 2016
231
130
131
FREDERICK COUNTY MARYLAND
I hatch or purchase new chicks every spring, slaughter cockerels at 12-16wks and older hens in the fall to get down to winter housing numbers. So I have 2 or 3 age groups at all times. I won't buy started birds, too much cost and won't risk pests/disease.

Right now I have 3-2016 birds, 4-2017 birds , and 10-2018 birds plus a cockbird.
Tried to sell a few pullets a few weeks ago, no go-but didn't try too hard, will try again in the spring.
So do you find it cheaper to raise from peeps or 8 weeks or something rather than 6 months or 3 months? I bought my current around 9 weeks I think and they didnt forage or anything for quite a while so they ate/spend my money for a couple more months until they laid eggs and started to forage
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,465
129,943
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
So do you find it cheaper to raise from peeps or 8 weeks or something rather than 6 months or 3 months? I bought my current around 9 weeks I think and they didnt forage or anything for quite a while so they ate/spend my money for a couple more months until they laid eggs and started to forage
I calculated the feed cost once, before I started integrating at 4 weeks, what it cost to raise a chick to laying age....was about $7 in feed per bird.
Cheaper in the sense that I don't risk losing any birds due to bringing in pests or disease,
for me chicks vs POL's is more about peace of mind than money.
But I'm not raising birds to save or make money, tho so far they do pay for all their feed in egg sales, more a small defiance against the layer industry and awareness of 'where does our food come from'... it's a hobby.
 

mpoland33

Songster
Mar 16, 2016
231
130
131
FREDERICK COUNTY MARYLAND
I calculated the feed cost once, before I started integrating at 4 weeks, what it cost to raise a chick to laying age....was about $7 in feed per bird.
Cheaper in the sense that I don't risk losing any birds due to bringing in pests or disease,
for me chicks vs POL's is more about peace of mind than money.
But I'm not raising birds to save or make money, tho so far they do pay for all their feed in egg sales, more a small defiance against the layer industry and awareness of 'where does our food come from'... it's a hobby.
Yeah I told my wife from the get go it's important for me to be able to provide food to the kids (this along with a garden and fruit patch)- no pesticides and knowing where the food is coming from and appreciatiing it, etc. but it seems lately her arguments have come back about money and they aren't worth it, etc. I think I'm in a losing battle with that but me and kids still enjoy it!
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,503
20,775
907
Southeast Louisiana
This question is mainly for those who cull your hens at a certain age and bring in a new flock of layers. What age do you cull and bring in your new layers? What time of year do you normally do it?

My grandfather would cull around 1 1/2 and bring in 8 or even 16 week old girls around that time so they would be laying full time in the spring.

In Maryland, with spring and fall colder, most of the chickens for sale seem to be April and September.

I think part of the answer for you depends on your goals, why do you have chickens and what do you hope to get out of them. My goals are different than yours. The main reason I raise chickens is for the meat, the eggs are a nice side benefit, but I don't try to sell them. I give my excess away. I also play with genetics, which means I have to hatch chicks. For me it is more of a hobby, I've never tried to figure costs but I know the store chicken meat is less expensive. I expect the people that break even or even make a bit of money on eggs get a lot more per dozen than regular store eggs. Often you can.

I don't keep individual chickens as pets. To me the entity is the flock and I make my decisions on what is best for the flock and my specific goals, not a specific individual chicken.

My system is that I hatch as many chickens as I will eat in a year. I select my replacements for my laying/breeding flock from them and eat the rest, male and female. Usually by fall I am down to four pullets already laying that I'll keep. Most of these tend to lay through the winter with no lights so I have eggs to eat.

I'll keep three or four of the previous year's pullets that have laid for a full season, about a year and half old. These go through a molt and come back laying like gangbusters the following laying season. I've bred mine so they often go broody which i like. At the end of the laying season I put the 2-1/2 year old hens in the freezer and only overwinter the pullets and 1-1/2 year olds.

My year is really uneven with egg laying. During the winter I typically have 3 or 4 pullets laying which is plenty of eggs for us to eat. In the spring and summer I typically have 7 or 8 hens laying when they are not broody so plenty of excess eggs. Then when that year's hatch of pullets start laying and I'm evaluating which to keep and which to eat I'm swamped with eggs. Not a very good business model if you are trying to keep customers happy.

One reason I replace my 2-1/2 year olds is that they tend to lay fewer eggs after their next molt. For some hens it is not much of a drop-off, for some it is really significant. I don't want to feed them through another molt when I'm unsure how many eggs they will lay. But that 's not the main reason. I spoke with a chicken disease expert. He said that if I kept them more than three years they tend to have more problems with disease or physical problems. Not all are going to have medical problems as they age, but there is a tendency. That's not the main reason.

I have the will-power to limit how many chickens I keep and only hatch what I need. By replacing these older birds with pullets I usually get eggs throughout the winter. It doesn't always work but usually does. I went two months with practically no eggs a few years back as the 1-1/2 year olds were molting and those darn pullets did not start laying until December.

This is a bit if a reason but the main reason is that I play with genetics. Some people that play with genetics won't breed a hen or rooster until they are a couple of years old, it takes that long to see if those chickens have the genetics they want. My goals are more short-sighted. Once I achieve something and see how it turns out I often change direction and go on to something else. So I need new blood.

I process my 2-1/2 year olds when they molt and stop laying, occasionally a bit before if I have a lot of pullets laying. I skin mine instead of pluck so the pin feathers they have during molt is not an issue. The eggs aren't that important to me but it's the principle of the thing. I paid to feed them during the previous year's molt so I want those eggs, even if I give them away. Not really logical.

That's how I go about it and I've tried to give reasons why. A lot of that won't apply to you because I'm sure your goals are different.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom