What to do with my 2 year old Hylines?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DarrenHolmes, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. DarrenHolmes

    DarrenHolmes Hatching

    Apr 16, 2013
    Hi, I need some advise on what to do with 3 of my 2 1/2 year old hyline Browns, two of them have stopped laying completely, one has been very slow and docile for a while now then got sour crop and has now recovered from it, but she is still very slow and not interested in much food and stand in one spot with eyes closed, the other bird is getting more dos ile and slow, stands and faces the wall with eyes shut and I have noticed her legs are very wide apart, and she walks weird like she doesn't bend her knees, her legs move in a motion out to the side and one leg is on quite an angle, she dosnt climb up the bank like she used to and chooses not to jump up onto things like the deck and she hasn't layed for weeks, my partner and I are thinking is might be time to cull them and replace them with younger ones, it is a very hard decision as I spend a lot of time with them in the back yard, they are kinda like pets as well as egg providers, but we got them purely for the eggs and always said we would cull the older ones, I do a lot of hunting and have shot a lot of wild game, but I am not looking forwards to ending my chickens, can anyone please give me some advise on how cull them in the most efficient way.
    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. cnicho05

    cnicho05 Chirping

    Feb 22, 2014
    Owosso, MI

    The weather may be one element which is impacting these birds. If the temperature has dropped then this might be a cause for the slowing/stopping of egg production. Some chickens (especially as they age) will stop laying during the winter months. There are some steps you can take to help with this problem but I wouldn't worry about it too much. Providing extra light during the winter months does extend egg laying but does have harmful effects...

    I would strongly suggest you purchase a multipurpose supplement the next time you visit you local feed supplier. These supplements are a powder mixture which you add to their water. They add a variety of supplements which are key to successful egg laying. This might help your chickens...and if things improve I would take a close look at their feed. They might not be getting enough nutrition from what they are eating...

    Lastly, you can try to boost their calcium intake by adding crushed oyster shell. This will not likely increase egg production but rather assist in the egg laying process...

    Best of luck...
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I respectfully disagree with Cnicho statement that a multipurpose supplement is key to successful egg laying. Any good feed will meet the needs of chickens, and they will lay eggs.

    I do think that it is getting very near the end of their lives. I have had chickens do just what you describe, and they look old and often kind of in pain. I do know some people on here have very, very old chickens, but from my experience, anything 3 or more is very old. And it has been my experience that the egg layer breed or cross breeds, do die earlier.

    If you enjoy your birds, try adding a few each year, and culling a few each year. Multiple generational flocks are best, and with them generally some are laying, some are growing, and some are needing to be culled. It is not an all or nothing game. If I have interpreted your post correctly, not all of your hens are displaying this. Keep the ones that are still active, and add some new ones. New chicks are always fun.

    To cull a bird, the cone method works well. I have tried various methods, but like cutting the jugular best. The bird just gets tired, and weak and goes to sleep with little roughness.

    Mrs K
  4. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

    Jun 10, 2014
    A lot of these industrial laying breeds are selected to basically push as many eggs out as they can over a 2-3 year period - then the farming operations cull them - and they go to dog/cat food, etc. Longevity isn't something these breeds are good for.

    I'd cull - and if it's something that really bothers you - I'd suggest the replacements be of a breed that has a longer lifespan/usable age - there are plenty of heritage birds that will lay 250+ eggs a year for a couple of years, and then continue laying 200+ for a couple years more.
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Those birds are most likely in pain and it will be a kindness to end their lives. The cone method works fine, or an accurate head shot, or a trip to the vet. Hybrid layers, and most chickens, are not bred with longevity in mind. The layers are subjected to many reproductive disorders which shorten their lives. I have a mixed age flock with several breeds represented, and no hybrid layers. Much more interesting, and I've had some hens live to age ten, which is pretty old. I've also had a pullet die at five months of age of a uterine infection! Plan to get a few chicks every year or two, as replacements, and you'll always have some eggs and a more fun flock. Mary
  6. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Crowing

    Apr 5, 2013
    There are many things you could do to try and keep them around a little longer, but if culling is what you have in mind you can use a cone or

    Put a stick over their neck and jerk the body up.
    Put two nails in a stump and place their head in there, stretch it, and use an ax
    Have someone hold the bird and cut the head of will a hedge trimmer
    Shoot with a .22
  7. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    I agree with the others, they sound old and it would be kind to end their misery. IIRC, the Hylines are a specialized commercial breed of egg layers, bred (at a cost to the overall health of the bird) to lay as many eggs as possible in as short of a time frame as possible.

    I can understand your challenge in culling them. You could offer them to someone and they could deal with that part. It might be easier for you, at least for these birds. Perhaps your next flock, you might think more about what to do when this inevitable situation comes up.

    My wife and I made a clear agreement with each other when we first got chickens...we would not make them into pets. We care for them almost like pets, but in the back of our minds, we know that someday we will eat them. My personal attachment to them is tethered by this decision...I don't let myself get too attached to the chickens, that's the almost part. I'm not cold to them, nor emotionally shut down, just emotionally tethered when it comes to our chickens. I direct those emotions elsewhere, like our dog and my family and friends (I won't be eating any of them!). It helps me keep in mind what we have the chickens for (eggs and someday some stew meat). It also helps my wife and I not fight needlessly because, for example, if I reneged on our agreement, made them into pets and she didn't.

    I'm not yet a hunter, though I did take a hunter's safety course this year. I culled about 30 chickens this year, my first year doing that. The first bird was the hardest because, even after reading on BYC and watching lots of videos, I didn't know what I was doing. It went pretty well, but it still wasn't easy. I did the jugular cut. What I eventually found (for me) to be the most humane method was a .22 pellet gun shot to the back of the head, aimed just behind their eyes. The brain is just behind the eyes and a shot there was an instant "lights out" look. Then chop the head off with a hatchet. There was less flapping afterwards and I felt much better about this method than any sort of cutting/bleedout method.
  8. DarrenHolmes

    DarrenHolmes Hatching

    Apr 16, 2013
    Thanks everyone for your advise, it is much appreciated, my partner and I decided that we need to cull 3 of the old hens, we still have two 1 year old chickens who are laying great! I went for a long walk into the forest park today and could not forget what needed to be done, so I managed to sum up the courage to cull the 3 when I got home, so I did, I used the neck between the two nails trick and chopped there heads off with a machete, killing a animal isn't a problem for me as long as there is a good reason for doing it such as pest control or for food, but this time was different, I could see a different personality in each one and they trusted me, I kind of feel like I betrayed them in a way by gaining there trust and then ending there life, usually when I shoot wild game it's usually the animal does everything it can to avoid you and stay a far away as possible so hunting it down seems like not betraying the animal.
    We decided we could not stew them up because they were more pets than egg machines, I burried them in the back yard, iam going to miss them a lot, the next lot of chickens I'm thinking I should not get too attached to them but I can't help spending a lot of time in the garden with them, I just like interacting with animals,
    Tomorrow my partner and I are going to get three more pullets, so I hope we dont have the same issue when introducing new chickens like we had last year, hopefully the two remaining younger chicken will be a bit more lenient towards them.
    Thanks again for you help.
    "Feeling sad" Darren
  9. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Crowing

    Apr 5, 2013
    I'm sorry you had to do it, but now they aren't suffering. I don't believe they were that old, but I do agree production breeds seem to have more health issues. We have 3, 2, and 1 year Olds (the age difference isn't for producing it's because I have an addiction) and there were some in the mix that didn't do well and the ones I have left are thriving. A friend of mine has ten year old hens that still lay here and there. Depending on what you truly want from your chickens I'd say test out some other breeds. See what works best for you egg and meat wise.

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