When to cull?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kidhenduckohmy, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. Kidhenduckohmy

    Kidhenduckohmy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have about 40 chickens ranging in age from 3 to young pullets. It seems like I always get about 12 -14 eggs. Mostly white as I have 14 leghorns. I need advice on how to manage my flock. I feel like I am always feeding way more chickens than what I am getting eggs.
    For those who cull according to egg production, how do you keep your flock rotated? Is there a certain age that you cull? A certain time you get more chicks?
    Currently I have leghorns, RIR, Ameracauna, EE, orpingtons, black copper marans and a mutt.
    Subtracting pullets and roosters I have about 35 hens, how many eggs are reasonable to expect during summer?
     
  2. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I keep 20 chickens. 19 hens and 1 roo. Each year I add around 5 new hens and re-home or cull the same amount. I cull based on age. That gives me 4 - 5 hens that will not pause laying for molt. With 20, it takes 4 years to fully replenish the flock so no hen in my flock will be over 3 years old.

    Right now, my new pullets are picking up egg production and size and the rest of the flock is molting. Before the pullets started laying, I'd get about a dozen eggs a day. Now I'm getting 5 or 6 eggs a day and my coop looks like a pillow fight. [​IMG]

    At first, I thought your flock was molting but you say you always get about 12 - 14 eggs. To me, that seems low so lets dig a little deeper:

    Do they free range? Chickens who free range tend to lay less since they put a lot of time and energy into foraging. They're also good at hiding nests.

    Do they have a complete feed as well as oyster shell available to them? Do they get a lot of scratch, scraps or treats? The complete chicken feeds usually have close to minimum protein and calcium and most have no animal protein. Adding too many extras dilute their diets even further. If they don't get to free range, adding a small amount animal protein such as cooked meat, fish or egg to their diets can help.

    When was the last time the flock was wormed?
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
  3. Kidhenduckohmy

    Kidhenduckohmy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens are let out in the evening, about 4:00. I can't let them out too early as they tend to go find treats in the neighbors gardens. :/
    My feedstore calls their feed, egg laying mash. I was told there is not extra calcium in it so it is safe for roosters too. Not sure of the percent of protein. I have fed oyster shell, but I must admit it is sporadic as I often forget to replenish the dish. They do get back most of their shells in crushed form. I never worried about calcium as their egg shells seem hard.
    I do not give them scratch, but they get household scraps. Everything from vegi scraps, fruit scraps, leftover peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, meat scraps.... (6 kids make lots of scraps!)
    And... I have never dewormed. I had looked into it but got frustrated with all the "correct ways" of doing it and to those saying they never do it.
     
  4. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Usually anything referred to as a laying feed or mash has been made with up to 4% calcium for egg production while an all flock or flock raiser feed would only have about 2%. Some of these feed shore owners are old timers and today's chicken isn't what it used to be. I would definitely seek clarification from the ingredients label. Personally, I feed an all flock pellet (right now I'm feeding gamebird chow for molting) so I don't have to worry about who needs calcium and who doesn't. If you have a hard time remembering to fill the oyster shell dish, get a bigger dish. I'm thinking dog food dispenser. Meanwhile, lay off the treats for a week or 2 and see if production improves.

    As far as worming, there are 2 schools. One is that you worm once or twice a year on a schedule. Another is that you worm when you see a potential problem. Low egg production would be one of those problems. Which school you end up in usually is determined by your climate and local worm population. I would think Upper Michigan wouldn't be such a prolific area but they're there.

    Since your birds have never been wormed before, I would say start with Wazine. When the worms die, they release a toxin. When a chicken gets a heavy worm load, you can potentially kill it by worming them. It only works on roundworms (which is most common) but it doesn't actually kill them. It renders them paralyzed or unconscious so the chicken can pass them before they're able to release their toxin. Once they're finished with that treatment, you can then treat with a broad spectrum wormer to get the rest. I like Safeguard liquid for goats. With a chicken's metabolism they basically can't OD on the stuff. I'm another who refuses to stuff a pill or shoot liquid down each chicken's throat. We just don't like each other that much... lol. I make a wet mash with their feed, yogurt, fruit if I have it, and a 0.5ml dose of wormer for every chicken and spread it out on several dishes so they can all eat it.

    Worming the flock takes a couple of weeks and it's recommended that you don't eat the eggs during treatment and 2 weeks after though there are those here who still eat them and haven't reported back dead yet. [​IMG]
     
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  5. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are so many different ways to manage a flock for production that I can't really say which is the "best", but I've found the following to be workable.

    I get chicks in the spring or early summer. They start laying their first autumn, when they're around 6 months of age, and continue to lay for about 12 months, until their second autumn. At that time they're around 18 months of age, and typically go into a fall molt, taking a 2-3 month period off from laying. Unless the hen is a very poor layer, I keep her until the fall of her 3rd year, at which time she will be around 2 1/2 years old. I then cull these hens in the fall, unless an individual hen is a fantastic layer. (I only have a dozen hens and can track production for each individual, which is not possible in your case.)

    Some people routinely cull during the second autumn, when their hens are around 18 months old. However, if you keep good egg laying breeds, I really think it's worth while to keep them until their third autumn, and then cull them when they begin to go into a molt.

    With regard to feed, I've been told by Extension poultry experts that birds tend to waste about 25% of their feed when mash is used. I switched from crumbles to pellets 2 years ago, and noticed there is much less waste and less feed consumption (= less cost).

    I use Purina flock raiser (20% protein), and get very good egg production from my hens. Better than when I was feeding them a layer formulation (16% protein). Some of my hens even continue to lay while molting, which didn't happen with layer feed. I don't know how well leghorns would respond, but my hens (RIR, barred rock, dominique, australorp, EE) have done well on it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
  6. Kidhenduckohmy

    Kidhenduckohmy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the information. I will check into my feeds ingredient list next bag I get. What % protein should I be looking for?

    I already called my mom and told her I will be deworming in about a week, that way I can get her and me some eggs stored up before we are out for the couple weeks. Can you cook up and feed the eggs back to the chickens? And how long should I wait between the Wazine and the other dewormer?

    I am getting goats soon, maybe I will put chickens on goat schedule. But then again, I am not sure yet how far apart to deworm my goats!?

    As for culling, if I got on the schedule of, getting as many chicks as I have hens turning three in spring. Then raise the chicks thru spring/summer and cull 3 year old hens in fall. ? Does that make sense?

    Of course, I do have two "pet chickens" that will be staying. My daughter insists they will be going to college with her. :/
     
  7. Ol Grey Mare

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

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    Where are you getting flock raiser in pellet?
     
  8. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I get it from my local feed store (E&L Supply) in Spring Mills. Because they carry Purina feed products, they're able to get it from their distributor. I think they may have only carried the crumbles at first, but now they carry both the crumbles and pellets of Flock Raiser.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
  9. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You don't want to feed the eggs back to the chickens as they'll be exposed to de-wormer drug residues, which will extend the time you won't be able to use the eggs.

    Yes, the rotation schedule that you mentioned makes perfect sense. Sounds like a good plan. [​IMG]

    I understand the pet chicken part. All of my hens are "working pets". However, my daughter has insisted that some are just too precious to ever cull, so they get to stay and avoid the ax. Luckily, one of them is a very good broody, so she already holds an honored position in the flock regardless of her egg production.
     
  10. Kidhenduckohmy

    Kidhenduckohmy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2012
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    I wonder....do you use leg bands to keep track of what year they were purchased? Some of mine are very distinct and I know when I got them, but if I get another batch of leghorns (which I am planning) I do not think I will be able to tell them all apart. Right now all my leghorns names are Lucy.

    Song of joy and Nupe , So the chickens I purchased as pullets in 2012 should have been culled last fall?
     

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