When to cull old hens??

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LunaMarieWolf, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. LunaMarieWolf

    LunaMarieWolf In the Brooder

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    I have some hens I got for a gift from my grandparents. I've had them for a year now, and they were older hens when I got them.

    They aren't putting out many eggs and its's costing more to feed them than the eggs they are putting out. Plus it seems like I will have to invest in more expensive feed if I decide to use their eggs for hatching eggs.

    I don't know how old they are, but they are looking a bit ragged. Is it time to cull them or should I let them keep on?

    And what is a average life span that you guys let your laying hens live to?
     
  2. A_Fowl_Guy

    A_Fowl_Guy Wildlife Biologist

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    I cull mine after two years whenever egg production slacks. I use them for meat as they are dual purpose birds.
     
  3. cassie

    cassie Crowing

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    Unless they were pets, most of mine went in the pot at about three years.
     
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

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    Theres no one right answer to this. Each must decide for themselves where that breaking point for return on investment is, or if there is one.
    I, personally, dont keep "freeloaders", those not pulling their weight in production. Previously I was not limited by space and had the infrastructure for hatching, etc. so a good broody, for example, might earn a place even if she wasn't a producer.....or an "old steady eddy" that I could count on to provide good leadership and structure in the flock.
    Now I am limited and eggs are as important to me as the joy of having the birds, so I cycle birds frequently. I replace at least 1/2 my flock each year and keep no birds past the second laying cycle (about 30 months)....this allows me to sell the birds as they still have some productive time left, but over had the benefit of the two cycles that are generally the best of a hens productive life. In your case, I would cull for personal use or find soneo e that wanted retired layers
     
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

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    Regarding hatching, birds past their prime, even on "good feed" arent going to be producing the best eggs for hatching
     
  6. Trux

    Trux Songster

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    Mine rotate out at two years maybe a bit longer. I hang on to them till the new girls hit point of lay.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    There is often a guilt to this decision, but it is unrealistic. They do not need to be forever friends. Treat them well, use good husbandry, and when one needs to be culled for what ever reason, do it as quickly and humanly as possible.

    It is ok to keep a flock, and birds come and go in it. If they have had a good life, and a quick moment, you have done fine.

    Mrs K
     
  8. LunaMarieWolf

    LunaMarieWolf In the Brooder

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    What about roosters? When is the time to cull them?? I have a rooster who is getting mean towards humans and towards the other hens (pulling out clumps of feathers for no reason, leaving the run littered with feathers). And that is not going to fly with me.

    Also, I only consider one hen a true pet, and she is still laying fairly well.

    Almost all my hens I have are dual purpose thankfully.
     
  9. Trux

    Trux Songster

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    When I end up with cockerels, I try to take care of them at or before 12 weeks as they ar still fairly tender. Beyond that they become a stew bird that takes a long hot bath to make them edible.I ended up with 5 last year, 4 went to freezer camp and one got re homed.
     
  10. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

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    Sounds like he's ready to go any time...
     

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