Downsizing our Flock

Downsizing our Flock

After much consideration and many conversations, we decided to downsize our flock.

What started out as 5 laying hens in a our first handmade coop just a few years ago grew to 20 and was most recently sitting at 19.  While, in the grand scheme of things, 19 is really not that many hens, it had become too many for the space we can provide.  In addition, with the cost of organic feed rising steadily, we just could not justify spending ~$150 on feed each month.

Last Sunday, in an effort to get everything ready for the garden and coop tour this weekend, we asked a few friends to come over and help with some final preparations, including culling four of our hens.  We intentionally chose which hens would go and moved them into the brooder with some water on Saturday night.  We chose three Ameraucanas (two hatched Spring 2010, one hatched Spring 2011), and one black Australorp (hatched Spring 2012) based on age, temperament and un-breakable broodiness.

I’m not sure that the process of culling will ever get easier for me.  I’m not sure that it should.

After a few conversations with our favorite 8 year old who came over to help pull weeds and such, she decided she wanted to learn about how to cull a chicken and participate in the process as much as she was comfortable doing so.  There were talks about our food systems and the realities of the meat we buy in the store vs. the meat we raise ourselves or buy locally.  Of course, there were talks about hunting and fishing as well.  Last, but not least, there was a learning about the process an egg goes through before a chicken actually lays it. Pretty intense, and very profound.  As it all should be, I do believe.

The culling brought us a little over 12 pounds of chicken, which were rested and frozen and will eventually become stew and chicken stock.

The culling also brought us down to a flock of 15.

  • Two Ameraucanas – born Spring 2010
  • One Ameraucanas – born Spring 2011
  • Three Buff Orpingtons, one Black Australorp, three Ameraucanas – born Spring 2012
  • Five Buff Orpingtons – born Spring 2013

We have decided that 15 is just about the perfect number…for the space we have, for our wallets, for the egg production to feed us and for it to feed a few friends.  Next spring we cull our oldest hens and purchase just a few Newbies to replace them.  And so the cycle will continue.


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Written by Melissa @ Ever Growing Farm


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  3. Lisa Lynn

    Hi Melissa!
    I’m so proud of you for giving your hens a good life and a good end to their lives too. I have dispatched many chickens and it gets easier, but not easy. My heart starts to race the morning that I start the preparations and it doesn’t stop until the whole job is done. So I think it is awesome that you have taken the responsibility upon yourselves.

    Great job and thanks so much for sharing your post on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again tomorrow at:

    1. Bee Girl

      It is a very challenging process, but was part of the deal when we first started talking about getting a few hens. I’ve said this before, but I really don’t think it should be easy…there should always be an awareness that one is taking a life to feed another life. Intense. And delicious 😉

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