There will come a time when some chickens may need to be removed from your flock.
As a chicken keeper, culling is an inevitable and common practice.
But when should you cull a Wyandotte chicken?
There is not necessarily a clear-cut age when we should cull Wyandotte chickens. Rather, culling should be considered when a chicken compromises the productivity and well-being of the flock.
Each chicken farmer has different goals and standards for his flock.
Keep reading to learn why it may be time to cull one of your Wyandottes, the reasoning behind culling, and an alternative to culling.
What is Culling?
Culling is the “identification and removal of non-laying or low producing hens from a laying flock.”
However, culling refers to removing any undesirable chicken from the flock, including roosters.
Further Reading: Can Wyandottes be feather-sexed?
As long as these chickens are not sick, they may be sold for meat production or cooked at home.
Several reasons you may decide to cull a chicken from the flock include:
- Genetics that fail to meet the standards of your breeding program
Ultimately, the benefit of culling is to maximize profits.
By removing chickens who are reducing productivity, you reduce the cost of maintaining your flock.
This makes room to replace them with healthier chickens.
When Should You Cull Wyandottes?
In terms of seasonality, people tend to cull chickens in the fall.
This allows chicken farmers to remove poorly producing chickens from the backyard flock and avoid investing in resources to maintain these chickens through the winter.
But generally, farmers cull chickens when they get sick, develop behavioral problems, lay fewer eggs, or reach the age to be slaughtered for meat.
Culling Wyandottes for Meat
Wyandottes are a popular American chicken breed.
They are a popular choice for chicken keeping because they are dual-purpose chickens: they produce lots of eggs and serve as potential meat sources.
As meat birds, Wyandottes are not as fatty as other dual-purpose breeds, but they still produce a good amount of meat.
Wyandotte chickens are considered heritage birds, which means they take more time to reach adequate carcass weight.
The majority of Wyandottes reach this point at about four months of age.
Culling at this time is ideal because it is when their meat is the most tender.
You may also wait until these chickens are closer to eight months old.
But their meat will begin to get tough at this age, and thus, slaughter should not be postponed beyond this.
Removing Aggressive Roosters
Aggression is a common behavioral issue among backyard chickens and commercial birds alike.
This includes the popular breed, the Wyandotte.
Stress and overcrowding are risk factors for these aggressive flock antics.
Problematic chickens may peck at each other and engage in feather picking.
Chickens can seriously injure each other with their beaks and claws.
Chickens are sometimes aggressive towards each other.
But they may also show aggression towards people.
Roosters, in particular, may act aggressively towards people if they attempt to defend the flock.
This type of behavior may worsen during mating season.
Because roosters are more prone to aggressive behavior, culling is often used to prevent excess roosters.
Aggressive chickens are often culled if they threaten the rest of the otherwise lovely flock and the safety of the people tending to them.
Further Reading: How to curb Wyandotte chicken aggression
Sometimes, laying hens will develop a nasty habit of eating their eggs.
Initially, this behavior may start because a hen eats an egg broken accidentally.
Once a hen picks up this habit, other hens may copy her and start engaging in this destructive behavior.
Egg eating may be difficult to stop.
If this is the case, it is beneficial to remove these chickens before they further decrease egg production.
Related Reading: Wyandotte chicken food
Slow Molters Produce Fewer Eggs
Chickens molt their feathers during the fall.
Growing new feathers requires a lot of energy; thus, chickens do not produce as many eggs during molting.
It can take two to six months for a chicken to finish molting.
It is favorable to keep chickens that molt more quickly.
Chickens who start molting later in the fall tend to finish the process faster.
Therefore, some farmers will choose to cull chickens who appear to be slow molters.
Culling Unproductive Hens
Egg production depends on many factors like animal husbandry practices and nutrition quality.
Stress can create unproductive chickens.
For example, hens who are lower in the pecking order may have to deal with other aggressive hens.
Alternatively, a hen may stop laying eggs if she is at the end of her reproductive life span.
Illness or Disease as a Reason to Cull
There are no significant diseases unique to Wyandottes compared to other breeds of chicken.
Like any livestock, chickens may fall victim to infectious diseases like bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.
Many chicken health problems are preventable with routine veterinary care such as vaccines, proper nutrition, and appropriate housing.
However, some degree of illness and injury is inevitable.
Culling may be a reasonable option if a chicken gets sick and treatment is not possible or too expensive.
Rehoming as an Alternative to Culling Wyandottes
Depending on your situation, it might be a difficult or even contentious issue to cull one of your Wyandottes.
A possible alternative to culling is rehoming your beloved chicken.
However, it is not always appropriate to rehome a chicken.
For example, if your chicken is ill or severely injured, it may not be in the best interest of the chicken or its potential new owner to rehome it.
If the chicken you are thinking about culling is a healthy bird, it may be a good candidate for rehoming.
Possible scenarios when rehoming may be appropriate:
- You are a reputable breeder with high genetic standards
- A chicken is the cause or a victim of your flock’s pecking order
- An older but otherwise healthy hen who is no longer laying