To cull or not to cull

Perez Poultry

In the Brooder
Jul 14, 2020
10
4
13
Hello , we are first time chicken owners. We are getting ready to process our Rainbow and Australorp roosters this weekend and we have one gimpy Rainbow hen that we were wondering if we should process as well. She has a defect or injury she has been living with where she hobbles around and her leg seems to knock into her other when she moves around. I have never seen her roost. I assume she must be in pain. She was a runt and got picked on quite a bit so we separated her from her flock and put her in with leghorns that are 5 weeks younger than her so she could eat and fatten up. She is also one of our first to lay, starting at around 16 weeks. Should we put her in our freezer or let her live like this? I am nervous about reintroducing her back in to the group when we combine the flocks in a few weeks. Thank you for your input.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
21,323
32,393
1,036
southern Michigan
Welcome!
Has she caught up in size with her hatchmates, or is she still smaller and underweight? It is hard to introduce one pullet or hen to a group, and will she be able to hold her own if picked on, as she will be. You could try to move her now in with one of her hatchmates, in a separate area, and see how she does. Or let them all free range together, if that's an option.
She may be very happy sticking with her leghorn buddies, and then mixing with the bigger birds will work out okay.
It's hard to evaluate pain, and what her problem actually is, and impossible online!
Mary
 

Perez Poultry

In the Brooder
Jul 14, 2020
10
4
13
Thank you Mary. She has definitely plumped up since she was in with the leghorns. A couple of days I brought her out to observe how she did free ranging with her hatchmates and she was terrified. She ran back to the door and then two roosters came to try to mate with her and she was miserable and was hobbling all around her coop trying to get back in so I put her back. I am hoping that when there is only one rooster he will be a lot more relaxed and nicer to the hens because right now the roosters are all kind of aggressive with them.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
21,323
32,393
1,036
southern Michigan
She definitely needs her Leghorn buddies! These are pullets and cockerels, and the adolescent cockerels can be a pain sometimes, in part because they mature earlier than pullets the same age, and also your birds don't have hens or adult roosters to teach them respect, and to humble the cockerels a bit.
Mary
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
21,323
32,393
1,036
southern Michigan
Again, evaluating pain is HARD, because she will act 'normal' no matter what she's feeling.
There is a dose for aspirin for chickens, and for meloxicam; I don't have it, or anything about egg withdrawal times for either (FARAD.org), so ask your veterinarian about it too.
If she's moving better when taking pain medication, that's an answer about that, although neither are as strong as a narcotic, see how things develop.
Mary
 
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EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
13,367
17,562
772
California's Redwood Coast
we have one gimpy Rainbow hen that we were wondering if we should process as well.
It's always a tough choice. :(

When did this this defect/injury actually occur? Are you able to post a video of her getting around?

Any chance it's Marek's I would send for necropsy instead of the freezer for confirmation or elimination.

If it were ME.. and I was even considering sending this girl to freezer camp, I would DO it. Things get worse, not better with age and weight. Chickens being prey animals will do their very best to hide any weakness. It sounds like her mindset may already be a bit traumatized from her place in the pecking order with her brood mates.

Although my heart wants to dispatch bullies and protect the weak :mad:.. in flock life crud always starts at the top and rolls down hill... So I keep only good flock mates that may have disputes but get over it. Anyone who finds another to pick on every they enter the field of vision will be culled via the cone, selling to another flock where it fits in better, whatever I see fit. As the other poster stated, your boys are hormonal cockerels, yes competitively mating... the weakest most docile pullet.

So now I think this gal would be always on my mind about what I need to do to help her out... overall diminishing MY enjoyment of the entire flock. Weak birds invite predators AND parasites AND disease...

Go ahead and decide what YOU want long term for YOUR flock. Even though it still seems like a hard choice every time one needs to be made, I make it more confidently by knowing that I protect my WHOLE flock and do what's in the best interest of everyone instead of the individual. If you aren't decided now, you can always do it in the future, doesn't have to be at the same time.

Best wishes, no matter which way ya go! :fl
 

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