What to look for when culling chicks?

Tbird84

Crowing
10 Years
May 16, 2010
502
425
257
Arab, AL
Are there specific and more obvious things that can be culled for in the first couple weeks? I hadn't seen this discussed so was hoping to get a little guidance. Thank you!

Edited to clarify culling for breeding. :)
 
Last edited:

RhodeRunner

Songster
11 Years
Feb 22, 2009
1,548
176
231
Ashtabula, Ohio
Yes, there are. Here are some that come to mind. But, most culling is breed related.
1) Feet - make sure there are the proper number of toes, and that they are straight. You don't want to breed future birds with crocked toes, just in case it is genetic.
2) Narrow Head - if a chick noticeably has a narrow head, you can cut it from your breeding program right away.
3) Proper Comb type - This is more of a cushion comb, rosecomb, pea comb issue. With single comb chicks you are less likely to notice any comb imperfections at such a young age.
4) Leg feathers - some clean legged breeds with Asciatic blood will develop a some feathers coming down their legs... not very noticeable, but it exists. Those chicks can be removed.
5) Check the rear - sometimes chicks hatch with their insides hanging out... I don't mean the typical umbilical cord that will dry and fall off. These chicks are accidents waiting to happen, if they other chicks start pecking at them, they can develop a taste for blood.
6) Legs - If the bird can't stand while the other chicks his age can, you can tape them and try to get the bird to heal if it is a pet. But, for a breeder situation you can cull that bird right away.
7) Small size - Don't tell yourself that the smaller chicks are female... even, though it is often true. lol Runts are runts, you want pullets that are solid right away, no one should be noticeably smaller, unless their down feathers are stuck to them and they just aren't fluffy!
8) Temperament - This is very rare, but sometimes you hatch a chick that is just super mean to every one else, and the flock is nicer without them.
9) Screamer or chick that looks sick - For breeding you want chicks that look and act healthy all the way through their growth. If you are a pet owner, you can remove these babies and doctor them, provided you don't consider the ailment to be contagious in nature.
10) Record coloration - If you know your breed and color well, through observation you may notice that certain chicks that hatch with a specific down color do not grow into the ideal coloration when they are older. Sometimes a flock will throw sport (recessive white, mottling, or something else) colored chicks, which you may not want to work with.
 

Tbird84

Crowing
10 Years
May 16, 2010
502
425
257
Arab, AL
Yes, there are. Here are some that come to mind. But, most culling is breed related.
1) Feet - make sure there are the proper number of toes, and that they are straight. You don't want to breed future birds with crocked toes, just in case it is genetic.
2) Narrow Head - if a chick noticeably has a narrow head, you can cut it from your breeding program right away.
3) Proper Comb type - This is more of a cushion comb, rosecomb, pea comb issue. With single comb chicks you are less likely to notice any comb imperfections at such a young age.
4) Leg feathers - some clean legged breeds with Asciatic blood will develop a some feathers coming down their legs... not very noticeable, but it exists. Those chicks can be removed.
5) Check the rear - sometimes chicks hatch with their insides hanging out... I don't mean the typical umbilical cord that will dry and fall off. These chicks are accidents waiting to happen, if they other chicks start pecking at them, they can develop a taste for blood.
6) Legs - If the bird can't stand while the other chicks his age can, you can tape them and try to get the bird to heal if it is a pet. But, for a breeder situation you can cull that bird right away.
7) Small size - Don't tell yourself that the smaller chicks are female... even, though it is often true. lol Runts are runts, you want pullets that are solid right away, no one should be noticeably smaller, unless their down feathers are stuck to them and they just aren't fluffy!
8) Temperament - This is very rare, but sometimes you hatch a chick that is just super mean to every one else, and the flock is nicer without them.
9) Screamer or chick that looks sick - For breeding you want chicks that look and act healthy all the way through their growth. If you are a pet owner, you can remove these babies and doctor them, provided you don't consider the ailment to be contagious in nature.
10) Record coloration - If you know your breed and color well, through observation you may notice that certain chicks that hatch with a specific down color do not grow into the ideal coloration when they are older. Sometimes a flock will throw sport (recessive white, mottling, or something else) colored chicks, which you may not want to work with.
Ok, great. Thank you! I figured I would have to wait to older for the breed specific stuff to show up, but wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything obvious at the chick stage.
 

SteveWin

Chirping
Apr 11, 2018
64
258
96
Yes, there are. Here are some that come to mind. But, most culling is breed related.
1) Feet - make sure there are the proper number of toes, and that they are straight. You don't want to breed future birds with crocked toes, just in case it is genetic.

...

Thank you for this. I just got 6 Blue Ameraucanas from Cackle Hatchery. (They seem to be 2 Blacks and 4 Blues, as can happen with B/B/S genes.) Three are showing about 3/4" of tail feathers at one week old, the other 3 have nothing but fuzz on their tails. Sadly, today I noticed that one of the Blues - the sweetest, friendliest, most curious, and smartest one (first to figure out the water nipple, for example)... has one "thumb" (the first digit, usually facing aft) which is very short and pointing toward the front of her (or his) other foot. Just about where my thumbs are when I (hypothetically) do push-ups.

I'm hoping to initiate a 3 clan breeding system, so right now, her genes are too important to lose. And, s/he has several good early traits I'd like to keep. But I am concerned that s/he'll have trouble gripping a roost, or (if male) mounting a mate. I might install doubled roost bars to accommodate her/him sleeping at night. I'm thinking that it's as likely to have been caused by incubation issues (temp, humidity, position, mom's feed/nutrition) as genetics, so I'm willing to grow her/him out and see if this presents in the chicks. But.. at least I caught it and I know to watch for it later on.
 

MANNA-PRO

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