When do you know it's time to cull?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 10xmama, Jan 16, 2016.

  1. 10xmama

    10xmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh my we've been trying to wait it out but most of my girls are almost 3 (this is our first flock of chickens btw) … and I'm getting 2-4 eggs a day from 13 hens. I do not see any evidence of health issues. They began their 2nd molt in September and it went on forever! Here we are in January and still only 2-4 eggs a day.. and I live in FL so I do not think it really is a cool weather thing...

    I have a mixed breed flock and my white leghorns (2yo) haven't let up … but the rest have. I knew this day would come but now I'm not sure the best thing to do. We cannot house unproductive chickens indefinitely.

    Fwiw I have children … ages 5-17. I want to be sensitive to them (as the chickens are our only pets) … but at the same time my purpose for having them is eggs.

    My older son (16yo) will help me cull them … I'm wondering if I should wait until we get chicks and they are close to laying. Then the new birds might distract my kids from losing the older ones.

    I do have two coops. I big coop and run where my flock resides and then a small coop/run for raising chicks or housing a bird who is injured/sick (never had that happen, thankfully).

    Any insights? words of wisdom?
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  2. BBQJOE

    BBQJOE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Give your coop some lighting. A few extra hours a day. If in two weeks you don't see any improvement, it's time to make some decisions.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    You've already fed them through the shortest days of the year. It's length of daylight that triggers or inhibits laying, not temperature. Since the days are getting longer, they're going to come back into lay. Maybe not right away, but I'll bet you hit full production by Easter. They won't lay quite as well as they did the first cycle, but at 3 they're far from done (my experience with hatchery production birds, anyway). I'd go ahead and keep them through this spring and summer, and cull them in late summer or fall when they molt and quit for the winter if you don't want to carry them another year. By that time, chicks you start this spring will have started laying and you'll have a continuous supply of eggs.

    To me it just doesn't make financial sense to cull a layer this time of year. Do it when they first stop laying in the fall, not after you've invested feed all winter.
     
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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Ditto Dat^^^^
     
  5. 10xmama

    10xmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the advice. It makes sense. I sure hope they come back around and start laying again. They did so well over their first two winters that I wasn't expecting such a dip. 2-3 eggs a day from 13 hens :(

    I do think it would be easier on the few hens that get immunity (b/c they are so loved by kids) to not lose their flock mates until I have replacements grown and old enough to merge into the flock.

    Y'all are wise ... Thanks again!
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Does the day length change that much in Florida? There is quite a difference up here in SD, but I would be surprised if there was that much in Florida, but perhaps I am wrong.

    As for the kids - start bringing up the fact that chickens do not live forever, and that you are getting new chicks, and there is only so much room. A lot of times kids can handle and understand this logic, as long as the adults treat it matter of fact. It might sound gruesome, but all the kids that have been around me, really enjoy butchering day. They take their cue from us.

    if you have never processed birds before, there is a bit of a learning curve, but there are some excellent videos on you-tube. I would suggest maybe doing 2-3 at a time, until you get a bit of experience. It can be daunting to get it all figured out.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
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  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Any change in flock population can cause stress and shuffling of the pecking order.
    I try to harvest the older birds and integrate the new pullets into the main coop in the same week...all the changes nearly at once.
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree with Mrs. K on the kids. If you treat it matter of factly, they will be more likely to accept it. If you treat it like it's going to be a great tragedy, they will be traumatized.
     
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  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    DR has stated it very well. I assume that when you say these girls are 3 years old, they are in their 3rd laying year? Depending on their genetics, they may lay reasonably well for you through the summer. Their eggs will be huge! But you will want to cull them by the end of the summer (unless they are just pets) I'd make plans to start their replacements as soon as the weather makes it feasible. You will find that your kids are much more able to handle the facts of life and death than you think they are. My 9 y.o. grand dtr actually wants to be around on processing day. She finds it fascinating. I don't think she's up to helping me with it, but, she's not a stranger to the process! Look into this as a brooding option: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors
     
  10. 10xmama

    10xmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    ]Does the day length change that much in Florida. Well somewhat. Sunset seems to be around 6-6:30 whereas in the summer its around 8-830. The girls seem to head back to the coop around 5:30 and in the summer they stay out til at least 7:30.

    I have been talking to my children about the animal husbandry aspects of chicken keeping ... And the processing. I think it will be easier after this first round. I have found a man who will come teach us. He charges a small fee and we will watch him this time. Then maybe the next go round he can come and walk us through it ourselves.

    As for their age, we got them as day old chicks in early April 2013, they were laying by mid-late August of '13. So yes this is their 3rd laying season. Usually we did not see this dramatic of a reduction in the winter. I think we stayed at a steady 7-9 eggs last year in the winter and 9-11 eggs most days in the summer. My EEs seem to stop in the winter but the rest kept going. Right now my Leghorns are the only consistent ones. I get a brown egg every other day or so but I'm not sure which hen its from. I sure miss all the eggs and now we hardly have enough for ourselves much less for my friends who used to buy from me.
     

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