To cull the herd is to separate the weak and sickly animals from those retaining desired traits such as strength, size, with the intention of slaughtering those deemed inferior.
Alternatively, it may be used in a figurative sense, for making a selection among preferable and less preferable choices.
The term “cull” has been adopted into English in the 1300’s, from the old French cuiler which meant to “collect, gather, pick and select”.
“Culling the herd” has been practiced in animal farming for centuries, serving as the foundation to selective breeding which got us most of the modern animal breeds, bred for their meat, wool or milk production.
The first documented cases of the phrase emerged in the late 1800’s and “culling the herd” has since been adopted as an idiomatic phrase, used in a variety of contexts.
“Cull the herd” was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2018.
- Thefreedictionary.com – Cull the herd