Why is it so darned hard?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by happyhens1972, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. happyhens1972

    happyhens1972 Songster

    Jul 24, 2013
    Worcester, UK
    I know many of you raise chickens for meat and therefore culling is a part of everyday life. I do not have any issues with this and genuinely believe you cannot get a more 'ethical meat' than a home-reared free range chook BUT my chickens are my pets. I love them dearly and just couldn't bring myself to rear for meat....no judgement involved there, just an inability to detatch emotionally.

    Tonight I have had to cull four of my birds. Two were young cockerels that I just haven't been able to find homes for despite 10 weeks of advertising in a dozen different places. Then there was my 'resident' cockerel as he is a four and half year old cross breed, is blind in one eye and has a heart defect and I have several young, healthy purebred Orp cockerels....it made no 'logical' sense to keep my dear Harvey. He is not in the best of health and his fertility/breed rate is very poor (only about 25% in test hatches) so why keep him and potentially cull another young healthy boy?

    Lastly, there was my dearest darling Hesta. I have been keeping chickens for nearly six years and she has been with me from the start....one of six ex batts who were in the most appalling state when I collected them from the rescue centre. She turned into the most beautiful lady. She has outlived her 'sisters' by three years and has been the feisty top girl from the start. Two years ago she got a respiratory complaint and despite several courses of anti-biotics and numerous vet visits, we have never been able to cure her of it. It has come and gone, she has had good days and bad but the good days always outnumbered the bad tenfold. Over the last few weeks she has taken a real downslide and more vet visits have not helped. This morning I found her sitting alone, gasping for air, comb flopped over, little colour to her. She cuddled up on my lap and I found she was skin and bone....I knew the time had come for me to do the right thing by her but.....

    I am totally devastated. I despise having to cull young, healthy boys just because they are 'surplus'. It hurt like hell to 'replace' my resident cockerel just because logic said he was 'past his best' and breaking the neck of my darling Hesta was just heartbreaking.

    I have nowhere to go with this post really, just needed to share my heartbreak with people out there who would know my pain.

    Thanks guys xx
  2. maggiemo

    maggiemo Songster

    Sep 1, 2012
    Front Range Colorado
    Love hurts [​IMG]
    YOu did the right thing.
  3. cmchickens

    cmchickens Chirping

    Jul 9, 2014
    Bigfork, Montana
    How strong, kind, and responsible you are! I'm am sorry about your birds but you made the right decision for all of them. It is unfortunate that chickens have such short lifespans, but how fortunate your old birds were to have you. You took care of them, from beginning to end. And as for your young cockerels, you did the responsible thing. Extra males are a part of raising chickens and they have to be taken care of somehow. If you were unable to give them away, you did the right thing by culling them yourself. I have known people who just drop extra roos off somewhere to fend for themselves! Thank you for caring so much about your animals, and I am sorry for your losses.
  4. BexB

    BexB Chirping

    Jun 27, 2013
    Northwest Alabama
    My old lady is named Fred. She no longer lays eggs, and has only gone broody 1 time in her life. I keep her in a tractor,unless we are out and about then she can free range, so we can keep a watch on her, I don't think she can see well these days.If left to her own she gets lost and when she realizes she is alone she raises heck.So why do I keep her ?I have a special place in my heart for her.She will be well taken care of for the rest of her days.When her time comes I know it will be hard but as long as I am sure I gave her the best life possible, I think I will be ok. You just have to remember you did the right thing by your old girl,
    My first hatch was about 60%male, I could not kill them, I was overwhelmed with guilt,just thinking about it made me sad. But then I talked to my husband about why we started this chicken adventure in the first place.To raise healthy food, to be more self sufficient,In words I was convinced, but then when the time came I couldn't do it. So hubby said get rid of the chickens, we couldn't have 20 pets.So I gave away all but 1 of the young boys. I was going to kill it no matter the cost.I watched videos on processing chickens at home , then made my husband kill it.I processed it but refused to cook it. it sat in my freezer for a month.But we did finally eat it . I guess I just had to do it in baby steps.The next cull was a bit easier, I still don't feel good about killing them but, I don't want to go vegan, and I know my chickens were healthy and happy creatures.That alone makes me feel better. We are consuming healthy meat.Which in turn will make us healthier people.
  5. happyhens1972

    happyhens1972 Songster

    Jul 24, 2013
    Worcester, UK
    I had discussed the 'keeping for meat' idea with my sister....I would keep and cull for her and vice versa but this has really made me realise I just can't do it. I agree, it's good, healthy, ethical meat. I completely agree it's the best non-vegan/vegetarian way of doing things but.....I can't. I get too emotionally attached. I LOVE my chooks, they are pets that worm their way into my head, my heart, my life....I cannot kill them for my plate.

    These four culls last night were absolutely necessary for the good of my flock, and in dear Hesta's case, the good of her health....or should I say, so that she could have a good, clean death rather than a slow deterioration or, even worse, to avoid her becoming victim to her flock-mates as she became more and more incapable of maintaining her place in the pecking order.

    I am completely gutted, heartbroken, but feel they are unavoidable culls whereas breeding and culling for the plate is a choice, an intentional creation of birds for the killing and although, as I said, I believe in the cause wholeheartedly, I have too much heart to actually do it.

    I think anyone that can follow through in that process is conscientious and caring, is a good person with good ethics.....and someone so much braver than I.

    Thank you so much everyone, for your kind words and support. I knew you would understand and that is a great comfort to me.

    I spent a couple of hours this morning with my chooks, from just as the sun was coming up. It's such a beautiful time of the day and I love to see them all pop out of the henhouse and start their morning routine of pecking and picking, preening and prancing, of chasing early morning bugs and nesting down for their egg of the day. It was so heartwrenching to see Hesta and Harvey missing form the flock but spending time with the others soothes my soul in a way that little else does.

    If I was the religious sort, I'd have offered up a prayer for my feathery friends but instead I looked to the glorious sunrise and smiled for them instead. They brought such enormous pleasure to my life and they will not be forgotten.

    Rest in peace my lovelies xxxx

    One of the young boys....nicknamed 'Muffs'


    My handsome 'Harvey'...father to Muffs and Dave


    My dearest Hesta


    The other young lad....Dave
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    oh honey..... Most of us hate to do it, but sometimes you have to.

    New chicks help, you see the circle of life then.

    Mrs K

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