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Breeding Australorps: When to Cull and When to Keep
By Dan Castle, APA/ABA Judge & APA Grand Master Exhibitor of Black Australorps
(Castle Poultry on Facebook)

Photo Courtesy of Dan Castle

Everyone looks for something different but I have a specific way I start culling.  I'm much harder on male culling then I am for the pullets because I don't have the facilities to house too many adult males.

To start, define what you're looking for in an Australorp.  I'm looking for a very healthy, fast maturing, dark colored bird with excellent body and tail angle.

I start culling when they are only a couple of weeks old.  Aside from obvious things like major defects, poor health and slow growth I start with color.  When it comes to showing, color is not as important as type but when I'm culling my cockerels I'm not thinking of show, I'm thinking of them being 50% of the breeding pens I put them in.  

To me an Australorp isn't an Australorp unless they have a very dark eye.  I cull anything that doesn't have a completely dark eye.  Next, I look for dark legs and then overall dark color tone.  (I raise 4 different families of Australorps.  They all have their strengths and weaknesses.  One of the families has great heads and large bodies but too much fluff and a lighter black color.)

Next I look at the combs.  If they have 5 or 6 points they stay.  Last, I look at body frame, leg position and tail angle.  

I cull in this order because you can quickly weed out birds for color and combs.  It takes the birds a little longer to develop enough of a body to start culling for that.  They sometimes carry themselves differently as they mature so I try not to cull for this too early.

Summary checklist in the order I cull:

  1. Vigor
  2. Fast Maturing
  3. Eye Color
  4. Leg Color
  5. Stubs on legs (sometimes shows up with a new cross)
  6. Plumage color
  7. Comb shape
  8. Number of spikes on comb
  9. Leg Placement
  10. Full breast
  11. Tail angle

Check out the helpful graphics below for more detail on what to look for in the Standard-bred Australorp:

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