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Author Topic: Selection for culling  (Read 1890 times)

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Selection for culling
« on: September 16, 2022, 06:09:29 pm »
For a variety of reasons, from Sunday, we're stopping selling eggs. I currently have two flocks - 22 mixed mainly Rhode Rocks with a smattering of white hens hatched spring 2020; 21 hatched spring 2021, again mainly Rhode Rocks with a couple of Bluebelles and a few white ones. We didn't buy any this spring in preparation for this.

Going into winter, I want to reduce the numbers so I'm looking for advice on selection for culling. The older hens are laying between 6 and 9 eggs a day, the younger ones a bit more.

Will they all be laying but with less frequency or will some have stopped laying completely? And if it's the latter, is there any way of identifying those laying and those not?
If not, I thought I'd have a look at each and if they are really thin, have dirty bums or similar, cull them but am very much open to advice.
Thanks in anticipation.

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2022, 06:49:31 pm »
Obviously if they are moulting they won't be laying and all will be in that situation at some stage, so that's no reason to discard them. Check the size of their vents, because you may have some that haven't ever laid. So a small vent isn't laying and may never have done, but the vents do shrink slightly when they stop laying but you will see that they are moulting. Certainly a large vent is laying well. My inclination his to kill (cull means to remove from the breeding group) perhaps most of the oldies and select the best from the younger ones. 6-9 eggs a day from 22 hens is a terribly small number though and I'd want to investigate why it is so low? Ours are getting quite old and some are moulting, but we still get 3 from 6.


Fat hens don't lay much and eat too much and very thin hens may be ill. A good layer will be of modest weight. Dirty bums says a potential worm burden. You should get 6 eggs from 8 good hens most of the year, but they will stop when moulting, when daylight hours are too short to eat enough or when it's too cold and they need the food just for body heat.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2022, 10:26:41 am »
Agree with Chris. 1 and 2 year old birds should still be laying well at this point in the year especially if they are commercial types which yours are. I would expect a dip around November/December but that should be all really.

Get rid of any really fat ones, they are unlikely to be laying much and will obviously be eating more than their fare share. Get rid of any really thin, light birds, they may have an underlying problem. Less thin birds may just be low ranking that have been kept off the feeder by the fat ones.

Depending on how many you are hoping to be left with, it would be worth worming what's left and reassessing in about 4 weeks. Then if you are still left with more than you wish to keep, rehome the remaining ones, just keeping your favourites.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2022, 12:13:59 pm »
Have you checked their housing for red mite and their rear ends for northern fowl mite?  Both have been bad this yar due to a mild winter and hot, dry summer.  Both can take a lot of blood, particularly the NFM, which will make all the bird's vital organs struggle due to reduced availability of oxygen.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
  • Qui? Moi?
    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
    • Facebook
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2022, 12:43:02 pm »
Have you checked their housing for red mite and their rear ends for northern fowl mite?  Both have been bad this yar due to a mild winter and hot, dry summer.  Both can take a lot of blood, particularly the NFM, which will make all the bird's vital organs struggle due to reduced availability of oxygen.
I've had chooks a long time(about 30 years), but only in small numbers(4 wyandottes at present), and so far I've been lucky and had no problem with any serious issues

Where does the NFM appear from?  I don't have any other poultry near me.  Do wild birds carry it?

My girls haven't laid for months and are in full moult just now.  But they are posh things and are very poor layers in general.(My daughter says 'yes but they are very pretty. Mum'  :innocent:

I was given them as a moving in gift about 2 years ago, or I'd have got rid long ago.  I much prefer rescue hens.  Much more friendly and lay consistently till they don't.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2022, 02:51:00 pm »
We had a problem with NFM several years ago and can only assume it came in on wild birds as we hadn't bought in live birds for many years, only hatching eggs for new genetics.  It looks like grey dust around the vent - red mite is five times the size - and proved unstoppable until we spoke to a specialist poultry vet and used Exzolt, which is, apparently, the gold standard for external parasites although eye-wateringly expensive.  Main problem is NFM lives on the bird all the time and reproduces in about five days from hatch!

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2022, 09:11:26 am »
is there any way of identifying those laying and those not?

I once read a forum recommendation to put different colours of lipstick on each hen's bum, and then see what colour was left on the eggs.

Quite what you do with that information Rosemary, is entirely up to you!  ;D
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2022, 10:13:35 am »
is there any way of identifying those laying and those not?

I once read a forum recommendation to put different colours of lipstick on each hen's bum, and then see what colour was left on the eggs.

Quite what you do with that information Rosemary, is entirely up to you!  ;D

I would like to see pictures of the lipstick being applied, and once applied  :roflanim:
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2022, 11:03:55 am »
"For sale, selection of lipsticks in different colours. Each used once only."
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Selection for culling
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2022, 12:46:36 pm »
"For sale, selection of lipsticks in different colours. Each used once only."

"For sale, selection of lipsticks in different colours. Bought for a hen party, each used once only."  :roflanim:
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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