What's the easiest & most humane way to cull???


In the Brooder
9 Years
Apr 19, 2010
Rainbow City, AL
We have learned a lesson the hard way.

We have a small flock of 12. Being new to chicken keeping we introduced 3 new hens (from "trade day") into our flock, and a few weeks later all my chickens (except for 2 of the new girls) have ALL the signs & symptoms of infectious coryza. After doing some research on coryza, my husband & I are thinking that the best decision is to cull the flock & start over with day old chicks from a reputable hatchery.
I have a few questions:
1-Does this sound like an unreasonable thing to do?
2-What is the easiest & most humane way to cull? ( :(We have NEVER killed an animal, but if it's what needs to be done, we certainly don't want to cause suffering)
3-If we do end up culling the flock, any suggestions on where to order chicks from?
4-How long should we wait to repopulate & how should we decontaminate?

Any information or suggestions would be much appreciated!

Thanks in advanced!
Ultimately it is up to you to decide what to do. I have just been through this. Not all my chickens got sick. I bought 4 new chickens, none had any symptoms of illness, a few days later some of my chooks were sneezing. All up only one breed I had was affected, 8 birds in all. I went and asked the vet for some baytril and treated the sick birds a small oral dose by syringe for 4 days. I lost one bird who went down very quickly, and all the rest recovered. I had chicks separated from the older birds who were uneffected.

I am not going to cull my flock. I understand that mine may carry the disease. But I guess it depends on what you are going to do with your flock, are going to sell any or are they just for giving eggs. My treated birds are happy and healthy and laying. I have given them a 4 week break before consuming any eggs. So no it is not unreasonable to cull your flock but I would not. I can't help with the other questions.

Good luck whatever you decide it is heartbreaking.
I'm afraid I have no advice to give. But I am very sorry. I have bought chickens in the past from Trade Days and I should count myself lucky. I will certinly think twice About it again. I have ordered from Ideal Poultry before and had healthy chicks. I also have hatched eggs that I ahve ordered as well. I know there are some postings on quickly and humanely killing birds to process meat that might be helpful, but i really don't have experience to know if culling your flock is necessary or not.
So sorry for you.
I'm sorry. I do think if I were in your shoes, I would also cull. I think the most humane might be an axe honestly (away from the coop area, obviously), but I'm no expert on that for sure.

I ordered from Ideal, and my chicks are healthy and everything went well. I hope to add good stock of certain breeds in the future so I will most likely order from breeders if possible in the future.
I've been told for years to keep my chickens seperated for at least 2 weeks before introductions. I haven't done it but I'm thinking that is the best way to prevent this. Unless you have pretty valuable chickens, I'd say cull and start again.
I am going through this very same thing. I introduced 6 new pullets and before you knew it, almost all had swollen heads, eyes shut, white foam coming out of their eyes, sneezing/ coughing, and rattled breathing. We gave Duramycin in their water for 5 days, then we injected 10/18 of the obviously sick birds with Tylan 50 twice a day, then we gave Albon antibiotics in their water for another 7 days. After all that, I had 2 still rattling when they breathed, guineas, that had remained healthy through this, start the symptoms, and I had not seen an egg or any breeding for weeks. A prof in the AG dept. of the university recommended we cull, sanitize, and start over.

This past weekend, my husband and sons culled the flock. Since we did not need to bleed out any of the birds, he decided that cervical dislocation would be the most humane. They would put the hen's heads on the ground with a broom handle over their necks and give a hard yank with their feet. A lady from this forum said she had used a rake instead of a broom handle. We then put the birds in a barrel and burned the bodies, since they had been so sick.

The prof at the university told me to use hydrated lime on the dirt floor of the coop. I am now in the process of trying to figure out if I should use AG lime or the nasty hydrated lime. I have a post on this forum to see if anyone has any info on this. I scrubbed all the roosts and egg boxes down with a water, bleach, antibiotic dish soap mixture and then went back over it with a wet rag as a "rinse".

I am ordering new chicks tomorrow, hopefully. I am going to use a hatchery that regularly tests their breeding flock for disease. McMurray Hatchery does this, as does a couple others I've spoken with. If they sale birds that can be shown, I believe they have to test their breeding flock.

I hope this helps. I'm sorry you are having to go through this. I will never ever ever add to my flock again. If I do, I've learned that you should isolate for 30 days to make sure they are healthy. I'm just going to try to avoid it all together. We had just moved across the country with my 5 original "girls" in a large dog crate in back of my van. So I was really attached to them. Lesson learned!!!

Good Luck
I consider myself lucky from all of your sharing - thank you......I have done two introductions to my flock and have had no illness, I am fully warned now as a newby!
Thank you everyone! It is so very helpful to hear from people who are, or have in the past, experienced this. I hate that I am learning this lesson in this way, for myself & my 2 little boys........We are very attached to 1 roo & 3 of the hens.

I have looked up McMurray hatchery & think that I will order some day old chicks from them & in the future try to raise my own replacements so that, hopefully, we will never have to do this again.

Your reply was especially helpful. My husband is going to cull them today while I am @ work, (because I don't have the heart or the stomach to do it, even though I feel it's neccessary) and I am calling him now so that he can read your reply.

I am so happy I found this forum.
I'm so sorry! I have been reduced to tears reading this thread. Thank you for sharing and teaching me in the process.
I'm so sorry you're going through this, as it can be just heartbreaking!

This is a very good example of why you should ALWAYS quarantine any new birds coming into your flock for a minimum of 3 weeks. I'm not trying to lecture...but hopefully, peeps will take good info. away from your posting this thread.

As far as whether it's appropriate to dispatch your entire flock - it's really up to you. Research is key, and you'll find tons of helpful information on BYC and other places regarding Corzya. First, you have a definitive diagnosis, I assume?

You'll get varying opinions; if you are WILLING to cull your flock & start over, that is the very safest way to go, although it's tough to do, for sure!

Disinfection after - Virkon(s) (this is what hatcheries use, but it's difficult to find sometimes) or Oxine, in my opinion, is the way to go. Spray EVERYTHING & let air dry. Let it sit for a minimum of 2 months and you should be good to go. I would spray everything a minimum of twice, if not three times. I use a pump up sprayer used for spraying weeds when I am disinfecting a larger area. If you have a run, I would rototill the soil, spray the soil, rototill AGAIN, spray again. I think you truly cannot be "too safe" regarding a contagious illness.

As far as how...you will also get varying opinions there. Cutting off the head, IMO, is the quickest and most humane way. You can also find a "humane dispatcher" online which will break the neck bone - no blood, but I think it takes longer for them to pass this way.

BEST of luck with whatever you decide, and again - I'm so sorry you're going through this!

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