I received a comment asking me for more about culling our flock of hens. From the comment I am gathering they are wanting to know more about the emotional side of it.
The need to cull your flock of chickens is something that will come up eventually as chicken owners. Those of you new to chicken keeping need to understand that before you bring home your chicks.It is easy to fall in love with those darling little peeps and the dream of having your own birds happily living their lives out in your backyard.
The need to cull our flock is just presenting it's self to us this spring.Although we have had chickens for 7 years now Mother Nature has graced us with the hens dieing on their own for whatever reason chickens die. We have had a couple taken by raccoons which makes me mad as all heck. And now it looks like my hens are all laying again so culling may not happen after all.
We had thought 2 of our older hens, who are 3 years old now, were not laying so what were we going to do? Abby our Black Sex Link is a sweet little thing and will follow me around like a dog,I am kind of attached to her if you can't tell.Then there is Joan the Barred Rock who seems to hear voices in her head and is an odd ball,I am not so attached to her. But both girls have been good layers and have given us no troubles. But we have only so much room here at our suburban homestead and we have the hens for their eggs and the farm sensibilities my parents raised me with overrode any of my feelings for the hens. If they were not laying they would have to be culled.
Now I am not a heartless person we do have one hen left from our first flock who is excused from culling,Miss Cleo. Miss Cleo is 7 years old and has not graced the nest box with an egg in a long time but that darling is one awesome hen.When we have had new chicks she has taken them over and showed them the ropes of the chicken yard,acting as a mother and protector from the other hens. That trait is valuable in a hen,it gives her a purpose beyond the laying of eggs. I just wish she would go broodie and set some other hens eggs,she would make an awesome Mama.
The down side of not culling your non-laying hens is you are left with a flock of pet chickens.Most of the chicken books out there will tell you that hens only live to be maybe 4-5,not true at all. My Dad had a hen much like our Cleo whom was excused from culling because she was such a great Mother to the chicks.My Dad's hen lived to 15,no kidding,15 and she lived through being moved 50 miles away, a cougar on the prowl and the coyotes that lived near by.15 years is a long time, so think it over do you want livestock or pets?
I don't know what to say about how to get your mind set for culling your birds. Culling hens is something I grew up with and is kind of "normal" to me,a part of keeping chickens. I think it is important to start out with some clear ideas of what you are getting yourself into.I tell new chicken owners all the time at work,Chickens are just like any other animal you bring into your life,they need care and are a long term commitment. What are you going to do when your hens are old and need to go? Like I have said in some of my postings about butchering can you do it? Have you thought it ALL the way through?
I have read that in some cities the local animal shelters are filling up with unwanted hens,most likely the ones that are no longer laying or people did not think it through and gave in to their whim. I have a feeling that pretty soon here it will become a problem just like the trend of Pot Bellied Pigs a few years ago. This comes around once more to my burning request to people think it ALL the way through first.
There are other reasons to cull your flock of course.A bird with a bad temper has got to go a peaceable kingdom makes for happy hens who lay. An egg eater needs to go,sometimes a Rooster or one who has become lame. The reasoning needs to be done with a bit of logic applied to your own situation. Try and set aside your emotions and think of the greater good for the flock and your family.
I don't know if I have given the reader who requested this posting any help, maybe my practical side is too strong. Pracicality and old school farm smarts are what I try to bring to my blog,if you are going to live this kind of life you need a dose of both to make it work. This is not a hobby for us it is a life style,hobbies you can set aside and forget but your life is your life. Life is not always peaches and cream so roll with the punches and think things through.