chickens
Flock Management
staggered replacement
Staggered Replacement chicken management is when you partially replace your flock with young hens and cull the oldest ones. 

The main advantage is that egg production is more even than that of the All In All Out management system.  The main disadvantage is  that you disrupt the pecking order by introducing new chickens to your flock.


advantages/disadvantages summary

Advantages
  • More even egg production.
     
Disadvantages
  • Adding young chickens to an established flock interrupts the social structure of the flock, sometimes known as the pecking order.
     
  • There is a risk of introducing new parasites and diseases every time you  add pullets to the existing flock.

staggered replacement schedules
A staggered replacement schedule refers to what proportion of the flock do you replace and how often do you replace them.   There are many replacement schedules that you can use.  Below are two suggested replacement schedules for a flock of six hens.  I have chosen six as this number will provide more than enough eggs for the average family. 

It is best to replace chickens in late Spring so they begin laying in December or January (Southern Hemisphere).  Late Spring chickens will miss the Autumn moult and continue to lay eggs through to the following  Autumn.


two year staggered replacement schedule

YEAR ACTION
0 Buy 4 pullets (point of lay young hens)
1 Add 2 pullets to the flock.
2 Cull 3 of the 4 oldest hens, choosing the ones that are in the poorest condition and buy 3 more pullets.
3 + Thereafter cull the 3 oldest hens and replace with 3 pullets each year.




three year staggered replacement schedule

YEAR ACTION
0 Buy 4 pullets (point of lay young hens)
1 Add 2 pullets to the flock.
2 Leave the flock as is
3 Cull 2 of the 4 oldest hens, choosing the ones that are in the poorest condition and replace with 2 new pullets.
4 + Thereafter cull the 2 oldest hens and replace with 2 pullets each year.

If you lose any hens to disease or predators then simply replace them without culling any of the older hens.  If possible try and replace lost birds at the same time you would have done the  scheduled partial cull.




Photo of chickens with red leg bands
Chickens in their second year with red spiral bands on their legs.
banding chickens
To avoid confusion as to which are the oldest hens it is a good idea to band them. 

It is my practice to leave the first year hens untagged, only band them when they reach their second year.  If running chickens using a three year staggered replacement schedule you will need two different coloured bands or simply add an extra band when the hens reach their third year.

I use spiral bands as they are less obtrusive and appear to be more comfortable than flat bands.

Most farm supply shops sell poultry leg bands.  My spiral leg bands were bought from Bellsouth







UPDATED 29TH JUNE, 2016