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Tips on how to Resolve when to Cull a Hen {The Story of Little Henny}


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Mar 15, 2024
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How to Decide when to Cull a Chicken {The Story of Little Henny} Whole-Fed Homestead

Little Henny was one among our unique chickens, she was on the homestead for 3 years with us.

The identify “Henny” is as a result of we had 5 Buff Orpingtons who I couldn’t inform aside at first, in order that they have been all known as “Hennys.” As they received older and developed personalities they received extra descriptors… Little Henny was the smallest of the bunch.

We’re wildly artistic.

Little Henny had a horrible molt final fall. The worst I’ve seen. And he or she by no means fairly recovered. She grew sufficient good feathers to make it by way of the winter okay, however she didn’t develop again a gorgeous coat of feathers like everybody else had.

She had a advantageous summer season, basking within the solar and looking bugs along with her buddies.

After which this fall she molted arduous once more. What I imply by that is that she dropped a ton of feathers in a short time (some chickens molt gracefully and you may hardly inform, and a few appear to only drop them abruptly). And as they began to develop again, her feathers have been coming in scraggly, skinny, brittle, and twisted-looking.

How to Decide when to Cull a Chicken {The Story of Little Henny} Whole-Fed Homestead

She appeared to go downhill from there. The next couple months she appeared simply… form of unhappy. She didn’t enterprise far-off from the coop, wasn’t eager about foraging, and didn’t appear significantly enthusiastic about life. And the colder it received, the extra depressing she turned.

Our chickens have entry to all of the high-quality natural feed they need, plus acres of greenery and bugs to free-range, and naturally they’ve free-choice calcium and grit, in addition to contemporary water, mud bathtub areas… every part a rooster may need, actually.

In fact I examined her on a number of events, with no indicators of something incorrect. And moreover, all the opposite chickens have been stunning with beautiful, full, shiny feathers… and simply in time for winter.

I questioned if perhaps she was being bullied and I simply didn’t see it taking place? So for 2 weeks I put her within the run by herself throughout breakfast along with her personal large bowl of meals, so she may eat in peace and eat as a lot as she needed with out being bothered. She appeared to love this, but it surely didn’t seem to alter her conduct, demeanor, dimension, or feather high quality in any respect.

Our egg-layers are half pet and half farm animal. I like them dearly- each along with her personal quirks and character. They’re a pleasure to be round and I can inform they like my firm in return.

Crazy chicken lady ambushed by chickens, How to Decide when to Cull a Chicken {The Story of Little Henny} Whole-Fed Homestead

However the actuality is that also they are right here to supply meals for us. They aren’t fairly the identical as a canine or home cat. That doesn’t imply I received’t give them my all- every part I can in the event that they’re sick, oh no. I’ve had my share of rooster home company. We’ve bathed them, blow dried them, massaged them, super-glued them, and hand-fed them. I’ve even needed to stick my fingers in a single’s bum… it was vital, and it saved her life.

What we received’t do is coddle them. Or take them to the vet- which leaves all medical care as much as us and Dr. Google.

A rooster who’s sickly in a spot the place everybody else is flourishing (once we’ve tried all we may to assist her) isn’t a rooster we need to preserve round. She turns into a liability- she may appeal to predators, and she or he’s extra more likely to decide up a illness from different wildlife.

Little Henny wasn’t getting any higher and there was nothing else I may do for her. She wasn’t including any worth to the homestead, and she or he wasn’t having fun with her life anymore. We made the decision- it was her time to go.

We hatched out some chicks this summer season and had two roosters that we wanted to cull earlier than winter additionally, so we might cull Little Henny once we processed them. It was the appropriate factor to do, for her and everybody else’s sake.

We put rooster butchering on our fall to-do listing, but it surely wasn’t an absolute must-do instantly, top-priority merchandise. We’d get to it once we get to it. Superb how time flies, isn’t it…

Quick ahead a month. Karl put the chickens to mattress one night time and talked about that Little Henny was standing outdoors the rooster home and didn’t appear to need to go in. Not fully uncommon, she’s nearly all the time one of many final ones in. He picked her up, carried her into the home, and put her into one of many vacant nest containers (she appreciated the additional coziness).

The next morning I open the doorways to let everybody out of the coop, and as ordinary all of them got here pouring out, excited to begin their day. I stepped into the rooster home simply as Little Henny got here tumbling out of the nest field. She tried to face up however fell over once more. I instantly scooped her up into my arms. It was 12 levels F out that morning, so I walked rapidly again to the home with her- I’d test her over within the heat of the home.

She was alive and respiratory, however her eyes have been closed, she wouldn’t maintain her head up, and she or he was largely unresponsive. She was very chilly; I sat within the chair, holding her shut in an try to heat her up and let her know that she was protected. However actually, I hoped she wouldn’t get up.

And in that second I knew I had let her down. I felt terrible. We made the choice to cull her weeks in the past, we should always have finished it weeks in the past. She suffered, unnecessarily due to our give attention to different duties.


I waited a couple of minutes for Karl to completed his work assembly, and all of us went outdoors to the chopping block.

Due to Little Henny’s odd well being state of affairs, we needed to see if there was something taking place internally… like most cancers, a blockage, or one thing incorrect with an organ. So after she was dispatched, we carried out a necropsy- all her organs appeared regular and simply advantageous. What I couldn’t imagine was how skinny she was. She had actually nearly no breast meat.

I had picked her up only a week earlier and thought her weight appeared advantageous; she was small, however loads meaty. It should have been the previous couple weeks of frigid climate that took all her reserves and burned up all of the muscle she had. I don’t spend as a lot time with chickens within the winter, so I hadn’t seen how small she had gotten. Together with her spindly little feathers, she couldn’t preserve her physique warmth in.

This was a whole chicken-mom fail for me. I wasn’t paying sufficient consideration and I let her endure for longer than she ought to have. This was not the usual that I supposed to maintain once we first determined to get chickens.

That is additionally one thing I’ll study from- and I hope you’ll too.

Tips on how to Resolve When to Cull a Hen

You could be butchering chickens for the freezer as a result of you will have too many roosters, or your older laying hens are drying up- and that’s simply advantageous… and not likely what I’m speaking about right here.

However if you’re attempting to determine what to do based mostly on the rooster’s well-being- making the choice to cull is rarely straightforward and infrequently clear. And whereas it’s a little bit totally different than making the choice to place down a house-pet, its very a lot the identical in that the tipping level appears to be this:
1. are they struggling, and
2. what are the possibilities that they may enhance in an affordable period of time.

In my expertise in rising up with all kinds of animals, there typically comes a degree within the animal’s sickness while you simply know. It’s the look of their eyes, it’s a brand new symptom, it’s a flip for the more serious… it registers a sense deep inside that allows you to comprehend it’s time. And as soon as your thoughts has made this resolution, there’s nearly a way of reduction.

I believe lots of people run into bother as a result of they aren’t keen to take a rooster to a vet or there are not any poultry vets round, they’ve restricted medical background themselves, and so they aren’t solely certain what’s incorrect with the rooster within the first place to find out what the prognosis could be. That is the place some analysis up entrance can go a great distance.

A e-book like The Chicken Health Handbook is a unbelievable useful resource for each rooster keeper. This isn’t a basic chicken-keeping information, however a reference e-book that covers the illnesses and circumstances that may have an effect on your flock. And when you don’t need to essentially comply with the therapy recommendation on this e-book, it’s useful for a minimum of determining what you’re coping with, so you will have a spot to begin. This can be a e-book it’s best to learn earlier than you will have issues in your flock…

chicken-health, How to Decide when to Cull a Chicken {The Story of Little Henny} Whole-Fed Homestead

There are additionally some actually nice (free) rooster retaining and veterinary rooster assist teams on Fb that I’ve personally discovered to be extremely useful. Simply studying by way of the posts, seeing what different individuals have had success with, and studying what professionals advocate has elevated my data considerably and given me the arrogance to know I’m making the appropriate choices with our chickens.

In case you’re studying this put up, I do know we have now one factor in widespread: we take pleasure in our chickens and we need to do proper by them. When confronted with a troublesome state of affairs, particularly with the well-being of a rooster and the affect of your resolution weighing in your flock and household, all you are able to do is make the most effective resolution you may with all the knowledge you will have. Better of luck to you and your gals!

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