Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

Paring Down

November 6th, 2014

It’s that time of the year to whittle down the number of birds in my flock. While I’d love to keep them all, they are expensive to maintain over the winter when there is no pasture and I don’t like keeping too many birds cooped up in the winter. I’d rather overwinter a smaller flock so they have ample space.
scovies 1
scovies 2
scovies 3
scovies 4
The guineas all get to stay, they provide the valuable service of tick control. Some of the muscovies will get to stay, I’m hoping to cut down to 2-5 birds. That means I have about 15-18 birds to get rid of. I’m also getting rid of all but one of my Ancona drakes.
With the 15 chickens that hatched out this summer I also need to cull a few roosters, there are probably 3 of those that need to head off to Iceland, otherwise the snowy days in the coop will be lively ones! The hens will stick around to augment our laying flock and make up for some of the predator losses from hawks we’ve sustained this fall.
Broody Hen Umbrella
This is the difficult part of keeping animals. While it would be nice to keep them all, the nature of keeping birds as livestock means that there are far fewer losses to predators and thus more survive. Their numbers will steadily grow until you have way too many birds. The good thing is that I don’t usually have too much trouble getting rid of them. In the spring I sold off most of my extra stock to make way for the new hatches this summer. I definitely am looking forward to paring down on the number of birds I maintain throughout the winter. Feeding fermented feed will be easier and cheaper if I can keep the number of birds below 40!

Do you have to pare down on any livestock for the winter?

9 Comments to “Paring Down”
  1. kristin @ going country on November 6, 2014 at 5:43 am

    This is going to be our first winter without ANY livestock. We got rid of the chickens before last winter, and this spring we sold the last of our sheep. Though my husband isn’t too pleased not having any animals around, he is pleased to not have to worry about hay and water and lambs being born in January.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on November 6, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Susy, no paring here. As I’ve stated before, my animals are wild and free. They are not my responsibility. I don’t really harvest any of them but I’ve heard that others in the neighborhood have. The turkeys take care of the bugs and the feral cats take care of the rodents. Raccoons and possums are not my favorite but learning to deal with them in a humane way so far. Fences are my friend.

    Have a great paring down day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  3. Robin Follette on November 6, 2014 at 10:29 am

    We have four Khaki Campbell drakes and two Silkie roosters to butcher, and the pigs. That will bring us down to 10 Silkie hens, two roosters, two drakes and three Khaki hens. It’s a big change from what we used to over winter yars ago.

    Reply to Robin Follette's comment

  4. tj on November 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

    …”need to head off to Iceland…” *giggle*snort* :o)

    …No paring down here. I have 13 hens and 1 rooster and they’ll pretty much stay ’til they retire to that big chicken run in the sky. Altho’ there are a couple of hens I wouldn’t mind parting with but I’ll wait until spring to sell them off if I decide to.

    …Enjoy your day you two!

    …Peace & blessings. :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

  5. Jennifer Fisk on November 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I have two Muscovy drakes that need to go, a couple of roos, and at least 4 turkeys will go to Jason’s on the 24th. I also have some rabbits that I would prefer to not winter over. Yes, this is the less pleasant part of having animals.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  6. Tommy on November 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Susy, Just wondering, Do you cull the birds, or sell them, or both? I’m guessing since some get sent to Iceland, and you mentioned selling, that you do both, but just wondering how that all works on your place. Thanks!

    Reply to Tommy's comment

  7. Dillon on November 6, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    We just halved our flock of muscovies from 10 to 5, keeping our two original matriarchs (we inherited them so no males – it’s a progressive duck family), two of their hens and one of their drakes. We sent two drakes and three hens to be processed. It was my first time – hard for me. Do you process your own for “iceland” or have someone do it for you? Your ‘scovies are beautiful! :) Do you have any beginners information on fermenting feed?

    Reply to Dillon's comment

    • Susy on November 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Up till now we have processed our own, but it’s difficult to find a place that will process ducks here. I have so many right now with our scovies & Anconas that I might take them somewhere for processing.

      As for fermented feed, we did a podcast about it, check that out for lots of great info. My scovies love their daily soured oats!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Annette on November 9, 2014 at 10:34 am

    We just had to cull some of our hens along with a few older hens gifted from a neighbor. It is tough to do, especially when having to select ladies from ones own coop; a necessary evil and one that goes hand-in-hand with livestock ownership.

    Today is rabbit processing day.

    Reply to Annette's comment

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:

Yesterday was voting day here in the US, one of those days most of us are happy to see come...