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Friday, April 13, 2012

Thinning Out Chicks for Flock Efficiency

I wrote earlier this week about early sexing on chicks so you can start figuring out who the boys and girls are. This helped us very early on with three White Leghorn chicks we hatched out in January. Using the methods I mentioned, we were able to identify two roosters out of the three chicks and sure enough, they both started crowing soon after.

Since White Leghorn roosters are not efficient to grow out as meat birds (they are strictly a laying breed), we were able to remove them from the flock very early on and sell them to a new home. This not only saves a lot of expensive baby chick feed (growing chicks can consume on average 10 lbs of feed each in their first ten weeks) but also makes more room in the baby pen for the other six chicks we hatched in that group. We knew by the age of 4 weeks that they were definite boys but we kept them until 9 weeks so that we could sell them alone if needed and not compromise their health. We are now left with one White Leghorn pullet (female) we've named Foggy (shown above at 11 weeks above). You can compare her to the two roos of the same breed that we sold at 9 weeks below.

We've also since sold one other chick from that group (a Black Copper Marans) that came from a different breeder, because we weren't happy with some of her physical traits as far as introducing them into our breeding line. We sold her as unsexed even though we are about 80% sure it's a pullet. To keep our flock numbers and feed costs down, and to only allow strict breeding for pure traits, we pull out and sell off birds we know early on we don't want to keep no matter the breed. However in some of the dual purpose breeds, we plan to keep surplus roosters as meat birds.

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