Nov 11, 2012

5 Conditions Not Worthy of a Death Sentence: the No-Cull Zone

In the past decade, the popularity of backyard chicken-keeping has elevated the status of chickens from expendable, barnyard livestock to valued family pets. Unfortunately, many of the earlier poultry keeping articles and books were written with livestock in mind; frequently in those writings, culling is the proposed solution for certain injuries, behaviors and physical imperfections. Culling means to eliminate or remove from the flock, often by killing the bird. However, for most chicken-keepers, culling is considered the last resort and making a beloved pet the guest of honor at the dinner table, unthinkable.
Culling is a practical solution to problem livestock since they are typically butchered and eventually eaten anyway. Committing time and resources to rehabilitating injured or imperfect livestock that costs pennies to replace does not make good economic sense in larger scale poultry operations. Economics and practicality tend not to dictate pet chicken care, however.  Pet chickens can be rehabilitated when they are injured, can live happy, high quality lives with certain genetic imperfections and can be wonderful companion animals with the dedication and love of their caretakers. The following are five commonly cited reasons for culling chickens that are not necessarily a death sentence for pet chickens: spraddle leg, scissor beak, egg-binding, prolapsed vent and egg-eating. I have had chickens with four out of these five conditions and in every instance those chickens continue to thrive in my flock. 


  1. I subscribe to your blog via email :)

  2. Kathy, please help!? I have had excelent success with splinting chick legs and they 99% out of the time recover 100%. However, I now have my first chick that I have nearly 0 hope for. It's legs function, but they look like they were both squished to one side in the egg. One bows in and is a bit stiff and the other bows out and is also somewhat stiff. i have splinted them. It's still dragging it's legs behind it. :( It's only around 5 hours old. I know the sooner you splint, the faster the healing. I just dont want it's legs to heal in the back position. Before I splint, only one leg was dragging. I have it on soft chips. If you think a firmer surface would hep. I'll change the setup. Please help. I don'tut a chick down unless they are in pain or there is no hope left. I want to give this little one a good start. Thanks so much, So sorry if this is too long or posted in the wrong site. I'm a long time lurker, new poster. :)

  3. TheChickenChick11/15/12, 12:03 AM

    Hi Sarah. A few things: Make sure the hobble is on the right part of the legs; put some rubber shelf liner on the brooder floor, that will help with traction and helping it with the physical therapy I describe in my blog post on spraddle leg is going to be key for this chick.
    Posting on my Facebook wall is probably the fastest way to get my attention with follow-up questions. Please keep me posted!

  4. This is so cool would love to win one :)

  5. Sorry I missed this one!


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