What is your preference? Create Mixed Flock or Replace Entire Flock at One Time?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by fasschicks, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. I cull out non-productive birds and occasionally replace them with new birds.

    5 vote(s)
    71.4%
  2. I cull out my entire flock at 1 time and replace them with a completely new flock.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. I let my chickens live out their life whether they lay eggs or not.

    2 vote(s)
    28.6%
  1. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I started raising chickens a little over a year ago. I always thought that I would get chickens of all the same approximate ages and then in 2-3 years when egg production dropped off, I would cull the flock and start with new birds. But I think my mind might be changing? I keep chickens partially for the fun of it, but especially for the eggs. I have 4 birds (out of 10) that are really not laying much (if anything at all). I am feeding organic feed and it is getting costly to keep feeding them without being able to sell eggs.

    1 - My Barnavelder (1-1/2 years old) hasn't ever laid for me

    2 - Two Ameraucanas I got this summer (1-1/2 years old) laid 1 egg each first day we had them and haven't laid since - they went from 24 hours of light at the breeders to natural lighting with me - I am starting to add light right now to keep production up for other birds or to spark them. I am giving them until June next year to start laying again - otherwise, I have given up hope that they will ever lay for me.

    3 - My white EE girl (1-1/2 years old) lays 3 eggs/week for 2 months then stops laying for 2-3 months and then repeats the cycle

    I have 2 ways that I look to manage my flock (if you have other ideas, please share):

    1) Next May or June 2015, if production doesn't come for any of these 4 girls, is to cull them out and replace them (I would buy new chicks that would hopefully be laying by fall). Then as the other girls stop laying, I would replace them with small batches of chicks.

    2) Next May or June 2015, if production doesn't come for any of these girls, is to cull them out and NOT replace them in 2015. Wait until the next spring (2016) to get chicks that would replace the entire flock late summer 2016. Thus keeping my flocks the same age every go around.

    I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts as to what works for you and how your management style works for you. I can keep up to 13 chickens with the current space I have. They get out into my backyard and woods all spring, summer, and fall to range in a large fenced in area.

    Wendy
     
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I like having different aged hens in my flock. That way I don't go for extended periods without eggs. If you have the room, get chicks now so they are producing by May.
     
  3. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I also like having a mixed age flock and keeping older hens has it's own benefits. I currently have two 4 year old hens and throughout this year (until they began molting) they've each given me 4-5 eggs per week and I also feed organic. They've helped teach my younger birds what's acceptable behavior, what isn't and who is friend and who is foe, helping me in the gardens, etc.

    A few questions:

    1) How long have you had each of the 4 birds who are not laying?

    2) Do you free-range at all?

    3) Could you please post a clear picture of the Barnavelder?

    4) What are the calcium and protein levels in the feed you give them?

    5) Are any of them currently molting?

    6) Do you keep all ten birds in the same coop and if so, what size coop?

    7) Do you know where each of them rank in the pecking order?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  4. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Personally, I'd cull those slackers instead of carrying them through the winter. Sounds like your other 6 gals are producing? If they've not been producing until now, they're going to be doing even less as time goes on.
     
  6. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1) How long have you had each of the 4 birds who are not laying?
    The Barnavelder and EE, I have had for just over a year. The 2 Ameraucanas I have had since early July.

    2) Do you free-range at all?
    I allow them outside of the coop and run during the day. They have a fenced-in area about 40' x 40' to "free-range" and scratch and chill out all day during the spring/summer/fall.
    You have a fairly large area for them when they're out...have you looked around for hidden nests at all?

    3) Could you please post a clear picture of the Barnavelder?

    I don't have a picture right now, but can get one for you. Do you have some thoughts on this? She does go into the nest boxes (for the last year) and sits there for an hour or 2, but never lays anything. Sometimes she comes out singing the egg song and I go to check and no eggs. She tries hard. [​IMG]
    I ask about a clear picture because I'm wondering if she is in fact a he. I have a cockerel who hangs out in the nest sometimes and until a couple of days ago sounded more like a hen singing an egg song than a crowing rooster. He finally decided to start trying out his voice to crow but I've had a rooster before who rarely crowed at all.

    4) What are the calcium and protein levels in the feed you give them?

    The layer is 17% protein - not sure of the calcium. I offer free-choice oyster shell and also mix in crushed up egg shells in their food. For the last 2 months, I have been doing FF, but will feed dry over the winter.
    I also feed fermented and when I made the switch (which was recently) I went without any eggs for a week or two. My two oldest were either just beginning or in the midst of a molt but my three pullets who had been laying consistently since mid summer stopped. It took some time before I started seeing eggs again and now I'm only getting them from one of those pullets. At least one who decided to stop laying, I realized today is going through a very mild molt but I haven't been able to give the third a thorough check-over to see if that's what's been going on with her as well. Otherwise they're all their usual selves. I may have made a poor choice in timing to make the switch from dry to fermented feed.


    5) Are any of them currently molting?

    None of them are molting now. The 2 Ameraucanas molted in September. The other 2 lost some feathers, but wasn't noticeable.
    Even if they're not molting, production certainly will slow down as the temperatures drop.

    6) Do you keep all ten birds in the same coop and if so, what size coop?

    My coop is 7'x8' and the run is 7' x 18'.

    7) Do you know where each of them rank in the pecking order?

    The 2 Ameraucanas are the lowest on the pecking order - they are pretty afraid of everything, but always find ways to get their food. They don't come down from the roost most days until 10 a.m. and are the first ones in at night. They get picked on, but not to the point of being bloody.

    The Barnavelder is midway in the flock - usually gives more than she takes. And the EE is closer to the bottom, but always trying to stand up to one of the top hens. She wants to be higher and does try to achieve it.

    I ask about the amount of space and pecking order because stress can/will cause a decrease in production along with health issues and genetics. You may want to try adding more protein to their diet and see if that makes a difference. Also try adding more feeding stations so they aren't being bullied away from adequate amounts of food. If there's no change, I do agree on culling them if you keep them more for egg production than for pets.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Instead of being attached to a particular chicken, I enjoy having a flock. Birds rotate in and out of my flock (thanks predators) My over all goal is to have a productive flock that gets along. I don't nurse chronically sick birds, and if I don't like a bird or if I have a mean hen, out she goes. Maybe that sounds heartless, but I like a healthy, vigorous flock. My over all goal is to have 1/3 older, 1/3 younger and 1/3 chicks, but believe me, not always goes according to plan, did I mention the predators?

    I agree with the above post, if you can get laying hens, trade out the non- layers, always freeze lots of eggs when you have extra, I realize you can't sell them, but it can really stretch your own use.

    I really hate waiting for chickens to grow up enough to lay eggs, it is easier if someone is still laying. I would never do an 'all out, all in" unless I had gotten some terrible disease.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    The problem with all-in, all-out is you're without eggs while the new pullets are growing up. I keep a rolling mix of ages.
     
  9. LanceTN

    LanceTN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have room for way more chickens then I need to lay so when my wife picked a chicken we were gonna keep forever I was okay with that. However in your position with only room for ten birds I would be culling non productive birds.

    I want to give my chickens the best lives possible. This way I can get eggs and meat ethically and guilt free. However this means I have to cull birds. Their purpose is to produce and when they don't they have to go.

    Some people might think this is a cruel attitude but it's necessary because you're either producing your food ethically or you're buying food produced from tortured animals.
     
  10. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Attached is the picture of my Barnavelder. Definitely a girl. [​IMG] The girls just love drinking water off the buckets after a rain.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Thank you all who have responded. It makes sense to cull out non-productive birds (especially with space limitations at this time) and keep integrating new birds. When I first started chickens last year, I had a little different mindset. I thought there would be no reason to cull a bird out (even if they weren't laying) and didn't ever plan to add new birds until I culled the entire flock. But, after a year of keeping chickens, I am starting to feel differently about that position. I have not had to cull a bird and I am a bit of a bleeding heart, so getting over the hump of culling a bird is going to be my challenge, but I think I can do it. Thanks again everyone for their input - it really all does make sense.
     

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