Greetings, Asil Club members!:> Whilst looking over some of my previous posts, on Asil Club... I came across one that may be applicable and practical> considering the start of our 2017 breeding endeavors!
Warmest regards, to ALL members!:>
BASIC CULLING TECHNIQUES
By Kenny Troiano
Copyright © 2014 by Kenny Troiano/Maximus Troy Publications
Today we have more beginners than ever before, and the number is growing every day. It is for this reason that we, as breeders, must breed and sell the best fowl possible. The future of the breed depends on it.
Even from the very best of breeders, there will always be a number of offspring showing defects, or they simply don’t meet the standard requirements for their breed. These are birds that must be culled. However, it is my belief that a high percentage of these defective fowl are sold to our struggling beginners. For this reason, it is important to teach others the process of culling, and point out a few things that will help beginners to select better fowl. If there is a practice that needs more consideration, it is the practice of culling.
Throughout the years, you may have noticed that I use the word “cull” often. To cull, simply means to kill or butcher for consumption. Anything that is not suitable for breeding, or becomes sick should be culled!
Every successful breeder knows, in order to develop a solid foundation, it begins with a superior cock and hen. Next, it is a simple matter of selection, and breeding the best to the best and culling the rest. If you don’t get anything else out of this newsletter, just remember that!
SELECTION AND CULLING: Like selection, culling can be more a matter of personal preference. That’s what makes a newsletter such as this so hard to write, for “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Except for obvious defects, it may be necessary to cull for other reasons, such as for size and weight, or for age. It could be for temperament or performance issues. I may also cull due to subtle differences between various offspring; traits others cannot see, only the breeder can see or knows exist. In short, I may cull for different reasons than you, but the results should be the same, to improve our families or strains.
Understanding the Difference in Terms: The terms “Selection” and “Culling” carry very opposite meanings. Since “Selection” is aimed at making progress, it deals with preserving the best the flock has to offer. For example, when selecting breeders, we normally choose the cocks and hens with the best conformation of body, color of plumage, temperament and performance ability. This generally consists of not more than the top fifteen to twenty percent of the flock. The percentage drops considerably when you consider the few that are good enough to improve the strain.
On the other hand, “Culling” refers to the elimination of defects, disqualifications and other undesirable characteristics and traits. It also refers to the elimination of the unhealthy or lower quality fowl. Culling is aimed at prevention rather than making progress.
Keep It Manageable: If a breeder wants to ensure that he’s on the right track in his breeding program, it is absolutely essential that he raises only what’s necessary. There is no room for experimental flocks. Different families have different traits. You cannot raise fifteen different families and have any chance of knowing what to look for in each family. Get yourself two families, three at the most.
Be Very Selective in Your Choice of Broodfowl: Since culling works in tandem with selection, and it is the best tool we have for narrowing the gene pool, good cullers are usually good selectors. To make sure that your breeding program is successful, you’ll need to be very selective in your choice of broodfowl.
The amount of culling necessary will all depend on the quality of the offspring that you have produced. It is in your best interest to cull individual birds that are in bad health and are below your ideal quality line.
A Method for Selection: The great breeders of the past and present vary in their methods of selection. However, most of them select their breeders by how well they represent their breed, variety, and strain. They look for these attributes:
- Proper conformation of body
- Good color of plumage
- Good hatchability and constitutional vigor
- Good performance characteristics
- Good temperament and gameness
- They select on a pedigree basis in the hopes that “like will beget like”
- And at all times, they always test the progeny to evaluate the quality of the breeders and to identify future breeders.
As you can see, culling works hand and hand with selection, and it is important to cull all inferior fowl. You can’t do one without the other!
By culling the inferior fowl, and breeding only to those that show superiority in every way, in the long run, will only make your strain better. It makes no sense to let second-rate chickens take up room that is better needed for your finest fowl. They just clutter up your yard. The fewer chickens you have on the farm the better they do. And if your space is limited, there is much more of a necessity for keeping as few as possible.
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(I welcome all comments and questions)