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Culling - reasons for or against

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1 Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:15 pm

Karaandblue

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Food for thought here - perhaps this isn't the correct place to post this - but when do we as chicken keepers make the call and end a birds life?

Most of you will likely believe I'm fairly cold hearted but my belief is that I am raising these birds as potential breeding stock for years to come - anything out of the ordinary needs to go.

For me this includes things such as spraddle leg, scissor beak, weird recessive defects, weak hatchers, poor disease resistance, wry neck, and the list goes on. If it isn't normal here, it doesn't stay.

I don't have time to coddle chicks, as much as I hate to go through all the work of keeping adults and incubating eggs just to cull that chick at a day old, I just can't baby the weak ones. Simply because I don't want that 'trait' continued into the next generation by breeding that weak bird.

Everyone has their own opinion on this, and this is mine.

Where do you draw the line and why?

2 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:22 pm

authenticfarm

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I am with you. Some people are not comfortable with ending a life, but as a responsible animal owner, it's your duty.

http://www.partridgechanteclers.com

3 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:24 pm

lady leghorn


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Most of these things are genetic, you don't want to breed that into your flock, so a cull is a must. Sounds hard, but in the wild, they would be the first to get

culled. Unfortunately getting emotional over it, doesn't make for proper culling. Farming big or small isn't always easy. You get some real heartbreaks now

and then. My line is drawn where, would it make it in the wild? Probably not. Cull them, you'll have much better birds. Keep track of which birds they came

from, they may need culling as well. Instead of passing them on, just eat them, or dogfood. Then they don't eventually end up in a breeding pen again. JMO.

4 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:31 pm

Buff

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I completely agree! It is sometimes a very hard choice to make but in the wild these chicks would not survive. The mother would abandoned them as this would put the other chicks lives and hers at risk. So we aren't doing them any good by keeping them alive. This is my rule with all my animals and livestock.

5 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 3:49 pm

Blue Hill Farm

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I'm with you 100%. Nothing weak, inferior, defective or carrying unsavory recessives known to me will ever leave this farm. I call it selection.  Very Happy

But I didn't always feel this way. There was a time I used to help slow and struggling hatchees or attempt to fix straddle legs and crooked toes. Now I am more ruthless for a variety of reasons, one being I cannot afford not to be. Good quality chick food (or any poultry food for that matter) is expensive and I don't want to waste the feed, time and grow out space on anything that isn't hardy enough to hatch itself (surviving some of my incubation mishaps is a feat in itself, lol) or that doesn't thrive immediately after hatch. This ensures only the most vigorous of chicks go on for me to select future breeders from, which is a very important consideration when thinking about my flocks future health.

And whenever I feel swayed by my emotions, I reread wise words I borrowed and wrote across the cover of my coop logbook in bold, black marker: You have what you will tolerate! It never fails to put things into perspective for me.  Smile

6 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 4:48 pm

Schipperkesue

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I cull perfectly healthy Houdan chicks if their 4th and 5th toes do not measure up to the SOP. As a result of doing this for a few years, I hatch near perfect feet every hatch.

There is not much of a market for Houdans in the first place and my only purpose for breeding them is to improve them so the ones I raise had better be correct as possible from day one.

7 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:19 pm

bcboy

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I try to not call any bird "until" it is of use to me as meat, for me and my carnivore animals that eat meat.

http://www.grizzlycurb.ca

8 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:46 pm

coopslave

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I have made this distinction before here. To me a cull is anything I do not put into my breeding program. They don't make the cut for whatever reason. To me those are culls, but I do not dispatch all of them. Only the ones with health problems or physical problems get dispatched.

So dispatch is to end something's life, cull is to just not use it for breeding in my program. My culls are ones that are perfectly good for layers in another flock.

Just the way I tend to look at it.

9 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:52 pm

coopslave

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Schipperkesue wrote:I cull perfectly healthy Houdan chicks if their 4th and 5th toes do not measure up to the SOP.  As a result of doing this for a few years, I hatch near perfect feet every hatch.

There is not much of a market for Houdans in the first place and my only purpose for breeding them is to improve them so the ones I raise had better be correct as possible from day one.

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10 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:37 pm

Schipperkesue

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coopslave wrote:So dispatch is to end something's life, cull is to just not use it for breeding in my program.  My culls are ones that are perfectly good for layers in another flock.

Just the way I tend to look at it.

True that! As you know I just culled/dispatched my extra Cornish.

11 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:46 pm

Echo 1

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I am with Coop on this one. "Cull" does not have to equal "kill" Culls just can't end up in the breeding groups.

12 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:19 pm

pfarms

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If it is something that keeps it from reaching maturity then I will kill it young. However, I have the room and ability to keep birds separate. I have my potential breeders, ones that hatch great, have no issues, and proper confirmation and color. Then I have those that arent so great. I do not kill them young mostly because I cant hardly keep up with meat bird orders as it is. So, all of those are put in a separate building with a separate yard and raised for food. I still get use out of them, just never to breed. I had some cull hens recently. They were some of my RIR that just didnt measure up to what I wanted to breed and I have a friend up here that every few years will come buy any cull hens I have and they live for many more years on her farm to just lay eggs. A cull here does not mean death. Out of the hundreds of chicks I hatch every year I will pick the best 8 hens and the best two roos and that is what I breed of each breed.

That is just what I do here. If I was in an urban setting or did not have the room to keep them separate and I was raising them just as breed stock, then I would be killing the ones that I would never breed from a much younger age.

http://dtfarm.webs.com/

13 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:24 pm

Country Thyme Farm

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I think using the broad definition of the word cull dilutes the discussion to one of mere semantics. After all, if we're not making selections we're not breeding, just letting our animals make babies.

We can all mince words if we like, but I suspect we're mostly just doing it so we dont hav to come to terms with the fact that when we cull an animal, no matter how or why we're arbitrarily sealing its fate. Otherwise we'd have this little nagging in the back of our heads making us wonder if it really is ok to declare an animal unfit for breeding just because its phenotype didnt match our preferences.

For the record I do think its ok. Domestication is wonderful and artificial selection is the only thing that separates breeds from landraces. But the ethical question is a really interesting one.

To the OP's question directly, I personally think culling particularly weak animals or ones with defects that will negatively impact their welfare is the best choice. I believe all other non-breeding animals should be raised to butcher age. It makes the decision easier having mammals. I would never even consider killing a ram lamb I'm not going to breed with at day-old even though I probably almost always know the second I see testicles. It seems wrong to do the same to a chick or duckling just because I have less emotional attachment to it.

http://countrythyme.ca

14 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:43 pm

bigrock

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I think that those of you who choose your birds based on SOP, have very good reasons for doing so. And, lots have mentioned vigor...There are too many inbred birds around, or ones with the fatal gene..(is that what it is called?), crooked tails, crooked toes, what ever it is that doesn't measure up..... but dispatching? If you are short for room, i can understand it. They can still be useful growing them out to eat, or to be just your egg layers. It all comes down to what your priorities are, and what your plans are. Our plans seem to change weekly..perhaps some of them will eventually stick.
We grow out the roosters to eat, and sell the hens as layers to others if we don't want them. I have pretty nice looking birds, and there are a lot of people out there who just want a laying hen; they don't care if it meets any SOP.... they just want eggs.
As long as you treat it fine while it is with you; that's life.

15 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:25 pm

Karaandblue

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Thanks CTF. I certainly do not 'kill' the birds that might not make a breeding flock, as I too grow them out and those that don't make the grade - I either eat or give away the cockerels, and sell the pullets as laying birds.
Perhaps it would have been wiser to ask the forums thoughts on weak animals or defective animals.
Thanks to all for your honesty.

16 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:51 pm

Buff

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Karaandblue wrote: Like Thanks CTF. I certainly do not 'kill' the birds that might not make a breeding flock, as I too grow them out and those that don't make the grade - I either eat or give away the cockerels, and sell the pullets as laying birds.
Perhaps it would have been wiser to ask the forums thoughts on weak animals or defective animals.
Thanks to all for your honesty.

17 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:27 am

toybarons

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Country Thyme Farm wrote:I think using the broad definition of the word cull dilutes the discussion to one of mere semantics. After all, if we're not making selections we're not breeding, just letting our animals make babies.

We can all mince words if we like, but I suspect we're mostly just doing it so we dont hav to come to terms with the fact that when we cull an animal, no matter how or why we're arbitrarily sealing its fate. Otherwise we'd have this little nagging in the back of our heads making us wonder if it really is ok to declare an animal unfit for breeding just because its phenotype didnt match our preferences.

For the record I do think its ok. Domestication is wonderful and artificial selection is the only thing that separates breeds from landraces. But the ethical question is a really interesting one.

To the OP's question directly, I personally think culling particularly weak animals or ones with defects that will negatively impact their welfare is the best choice. I believe all other non-breeding animals should be raised to butcher age. It makes the decision easier having mammals. I would never even consider killing a ram lamb I'm not going to breed with at day-old even though I probably almost always know the second I see testicles. It seems wrong to do the same to a chick or duckling just because I have less emotional attachment to it.


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18 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:53 am

Schipperkesue

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Ooh, Toybarons, so if you "believe all other non-breeding animals should be raised to butcher age", then do you plan to grow out and butcher all your Houdans that are not of SOP quality this year?

Now for the rest of you, don't think I am picking on TB! We have had this discussion many times and have chatted about this together in our co-breeding endeavours over the last few years. Both of our practices and priorities have morphed and changed as we have encountered surprising problems in this breed and probably will continue to do so.

19 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:27 am

Karaandblue

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Schipperkesue wrote:
Now for the rest of you, don't think I am picking on TB!  We have had this discussion many times and have chatted about this together in our co-breeding endeavours over the last few years.  Both of our practices and priorities have morphed and changed as we have encountered surprising problems in this breed and probably will continue to do so.

This is true Sue - problems with any birds - project or breed - need to be weeded out for the good of their own futures. You mentioned earlier your success with your Houdan feet, and Im certain there are other similar success stories left untold out there Wink

20 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:34 am

Blue Hill Farm

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Cull doesn’t just mean kill to me either. It does mean bound for freezer camp a good percent of the time though.  And I consider that a good thing. Chickens are my passion, but also a food source for myself and my family.  (WCPS needs a finger lickin' good smiley,  Laughing )

Culls just can't end up in the breeding groups.

^ Unfortunately, they often do. As soon as you sell a bird you lose control of whether it’s bred or not. Even with the best of intentions, life happens, cull birds change hands, and many that shouldn’t end up in breeding pens. I’m all for sharing good genetics with others, but am no longer willing to risk defective ones being propagated in my chosen breed. There are just too many variables involved in breeding quality fowl as it is, and the way a chicken looks does not always tell you what’s actually in the bird.

Another thought is one day I may need an infusion of related blood and where better to go looking first then someone I’ve previously exchanged birds with or sold too. And former culls are not what I want to be selecting from then or now! Just my few cents...

21 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:35 am

toybarons

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Schipperkesue wrote:Ooh, Toybarons, so if you "believe all other non-breeding animals should be raised to butcher age", then do you plan to grow out and butcher all your Houdans that are not of SOP quality this year?

Now for the rest of you, don't think I am picking on TB!  We have had this discussion many times and have chatted about this together in our co-breeding endeavours over the last few years.  Both of our practices and priorities have morphed and changed as we have encountered surprising problems in this breed and probably will continue to do so.

Yes.

I agree that the ones born with defects to their bodies, such as deformed legs, I will immediately kill.

I don't breed specifically to SOP. That means I allow my 4 toed Houdans to live. They have a right to life. That includes roosters.

I don't butcher my birds. Never have. Any extras I have I either sell or find homes for. That includes roosters. The ones I don't sell, stay with me. I allow them to live.

It's what works for me.

22 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:58 am

Blue Hill Farm

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Schipperkesue wrote:Ooh, Toybarons, so if you "believe all other non-breeding animals should be raised to butcher age", then do you plan to grow out and butcher all your Houdans that are not of SOP quality this year?

Now for the rest of you, don't think I am picking on TB!  We have had this discussion many times and have chatted about this together in our co-breeding endeavours over the last few years.  Both of our practices and priorities have morphed and changed as we have encountered surprising problems in this breed and probably will continue to do so.

You guys are lucky to have each other. Two heads are better than one my grandmother always said!  cheers 


Anyway, Sue's post made me think of a slightly similar dilemma I'm facing this year in one of my breeding pens.

I have a silver cockbird over two splash hens with the goal of producing S/-s daughters. All the males from this cross will be S/s+ (as well as E/e+) and look solid blue with gold and/or silver leakage. Sadly, I have no use for them and don’t really have a secure space to grow out a lot of extra males on top of the 50+ already planned. I suppose I could let them free range for the summer, but now that we have a young dog running amok in the yard I’m not sure that’s such a good idea either. And I cannot sell them as EE’s because of what they carry. Not that EE cockerels are a hot commodity by any means, heh.

So I’m left with a hard decision I’m trying to come to terms with... Neutral

23 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:09 am

Schipperkesue

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Blue hill, that is a dilemma. I have noticed males are more likely to show leakage than females. Part of the Houdan improvement process was to breed to a dorking a few years back. All the boys were black with varying amounts of silver leakage in the neck. The boys certainly seemed to show it more than the girls. I grew out all those crosses because they had exquisite feet and brought a lot of vigor to my genetic pool. I didn't discount any until I had made my breeding selections. Then I butchered.

And yes, I am lucky to have Toybarons in my life...not just as a breeding partner.

24 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:34 pm

toybarons

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Schipperkesue wrote:Blue hill, that is a dilemma.  I have noticed males are more likely to show leakage than females.  Part of the Houdan improvement process was to breed to a dorking a few years back. All the boys were black with varying amounts of silver leakage in the neck.  The boys certainly seemed to show it more than the girls.  I grew out all those crosses because they had exquisite feet and brought a lot of vigor to my genetic pool.  I didn't discount any until I had made my breeding selections.  Then I butchered.

And yes, I am lucky to have Toybarons in my life...not just as a breeding partner.

 Embarassed 

25 Re: Culling - reasons for or against on Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:04 pm

Blue Hill Farm

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Yeah. I’ll figure it out eventually.


Exquisite feet alone would make that outcross (and all the hard work to get back) well worth it. Nice project and dedication!  Like

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