Culling is the identification and removal of birds that do not possess the qualities for giving enough benefit in return for their culture. It is a continuous operation throughout the year and should be practised on every farm, whether small or large. As a very important aspect of poultry farming, it determines the success of any poultry production.
Culling of chickens is done at every stage of their life, whether at day old or at the growing stage. For instance, if a day-old chick shows the tendency of drowsiness, inactivity and remains thinner than other birds of the same breed, it should be culled. Also, if a growing chick’s feathers are growing at a slower rate, or it has a protruded breast or deformed body, it should be culled.
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Benefits of Culling in Poultry
- It helps in saving the feed and water.
- It brings about uniformity of the stock.
- It reduces the cost of production and increases the farmer’s profit.
- It helps to save the cost of medication and vaccination.
- It increases the living space for the remaining birds.
- It reduces the risk of the spread of poultry disease among birds.
- It maintains egg production.
- It also increases bird average growth rate.
Selective Culling in Laying Birds
Selective culling in layers is simply removing non-laying birds from a laying bird. Right from start, all weak chicks should be eliminated. Hens should be culled about 8 to 10 weeks after being placed in laying house. This will give them enough time to adjust to their new environment and reach the peak of production. It also gives slower maturing pullets extra time to develop.
In other words, laying birds can be culled before they start laying eggs and after that. Culling during laying should be continuous throughout the laying cycle. That is continuously separate any discovered birds that are sick, very thin, or which shows evidence of non-production, weakness, or poor vitality.
Parameters for Culling Laying Birds
By observing the condition of birds external or body characteristics, a farmer can differentiate non-laying birds or bad layers from good laying birds. The is shown in the table below;
|Body Parts||Good Layer||Bad Layer|
|Head||Neat and refined||Beefy and warm|
|Eyes||Bright and Prominent||Dull and sunken|
|Beak||Bleached||Yellow at the base|
|Eye Ring||Bleached||Yellow tinted|
|Comb and Wattles||Large, bright-red, glossy and warm||Small, dull, shriveled and cold|
|Abdomen||Deep, soft and pliable||Shallow tough and tight|
|Public Bones||Flexible, wide apart||Stiff, close together|
|Vent||Large, moist and bleached||Small, dry puckered, yellow|
|Spread of Body Cavity||Distance between kneel bone and pelvic bone is less than 3 fingers||Distance between pelvic bones is less than 2 fingers|
Also, according to temperament, good laying birds are usually friendly while bad laying birds are shy or nervous.
We recommend that culling be done in the evening when birds are less frightened and egg production is minimal. Do not cull a flock suffering from a minor disease or moult. Wait until they recover, to avoid removing some of the better layers. Handle the birds as little as possible, so that there will not be a reduction in production.
Culled birds, unless diseased can then be sold or home cooked.
However, eliminating good layers while culling, especially if you are unsure of your culling ability, it is vital that your farm manager and production supervisors learn to identify non-productive layers or to train a team of people on how to cull.