OK, I just posted about not culling your whole flock just because someone told you to and so now I am going to explain the other side of the equation, culling birds to create a healthier flock.
As of January 1st, 2017, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) changed the classification of many of the water soluble antibiotics that we used for chickens from over the counter to prescription only. This was done in an effort to regulate what could be used within the commercial poultry, cattle, and swine industries to enhance growth and feed conversion. At the same time this spread fear amongst the backyard chicken people in that how would they now take care of little Buffy when she got sick?
In all actuality this was a great thing that happened. Over the years, many hatcheries have flooded the market with less than desirable chicks from over bred birds. This has resulted in backyards being filled with Rhode Island Reds that are no longer deep mahogany colored, Buff Orpingtons that look more like gold Leghorns, and Barred Plymouth Rocks that just aren’t barred. But above that they do not have the health and vitality that a well bred chicken should have. Mix all this in with the fact that chickens today are more of a pet than just a farm animal and we have a species on a collision course with disaster.
People must start thinking a new way if we are going to have chickens in the backyard for long. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first one in line and the last one to give up trying to save these feathered friends when they get sick but if the same people are bringing me the same 6 chickens because they are always sick then something is wrong with this picture.
If you are going to have chickens then you need to start with the healthiest chicks possible, raise them on your property so they can become immune to their surroundings, and cull out any diseased or less than quality birds. I know this sounds cruel but it is the only way that chickens, as a whole, will turn around for the better.
Let me clarify what I mean to cull bad birds. Some people have it in them to be able to cull, or kill, the bird which is one way. But another way is to cull the bird from the gene pool. Do not breed the bird. Raise it, let it do what it wants to do, and then let it die naturally never reproducing the genetic line. If you have birds that are constantly sick or with chronic ailments then cull these birds, by your choice of methods, as well. Just because you think it is cute is not a reason to pass on bad traits. The only birds that should ever be bred are the ones that are the healthiest and closest to the breed type as possible. If you want to breed chickens then work to breed back into them what has been lost over the years through over breeding, things like color, shape, broodiness and temperament, keep only the best and cull out the rest.