Monday, 10 May 2010

Harsh reality

When hatching eggs the harsh reality is approximately 50% of hatched chicks will be cockerels. If you are very lucky a lot less but possibly a great deal more.

If being raised for the table cockerels aren't a problem but if the hatch is from a laying strain more often than not the cockerels will be 'unwanted'. The only responsible course of action is to dispatch them humanely, quickly, without causing stress to the chicks involved or to those remaining.

This is our first year in such a situation. Before we have only raised a few chicks at a time and luckily last year only had 2 cockerels, which we raised for the table. This year however we are hatching on a slightly larger scale and are building towards raising two, possibly three good quality breeding flocks. Time, space and finance now have to come into the equation and all the cockerels hatched so far from the Welsummer birds have to go.

The Welsummer chicks are now 4+ weeks old and I am fairly confident which are cockerels. At the weekend we are planning to move the 'incubator' chicks into an outside run along with the broody's chicks. By then the cockerels will be quite distinguishable and the fate of all decided.


  1. This is very interesting. Our first incubator chicks are about 8 weeks, and our cobbs bought as day olds are about 4 weeks. They are all being raised for the table, but we would love to know what mix of cocks and hens we have, as we want to start a flock, but we dont have a clue how to sex them!

  2. I'm pretty hopeless...Welsummer are easy as the cockerels of the partridge colouring have black feathering on the breast and the feather colouring of the hens and cocks of the Gold Duckwing Welsummer are very different. Also by 5 weeks their combs are noticably larger and they tend to have an 'attitude'

    I have 6 Indian Game cross chicks of the same age and don't have a clue !!

  3. i tend to raise them all for the table.. having put this much into them so far..

  4. It did seem an awful shame after 3 weeks of hatching and 5 weeks of rearing just to kill the cockerels but we are keeping all of the Indian Game crosses and will also keep any Exchequer Leghorn cockerel - at least to maturity - to choose the best two to keep for breeding.