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How to improve hardiness in my hatchery stock

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
It has been a few years now since we first ordered chicks from Murray McMurray. We have gone through three different batches of birds. We now have 8 grown birds, all mutts, all well loved pets. We have 24 babies in the brooder for this year. We sold most of our grown hens to neighbors who turn them into pets and enjoy their eggs. My DD has earned a little income doing this and enjoys raising the chicks. She has swapped birds and had different breeds in her flock. We have hatched quiet a few mutts from her flock. They did fine and mostly found new homes with families wanting eggs. I don't know if they went into the stew pot. I kinda figured they did or will, given the nature of the business. None of these birds are destined to be in the show ring, and that is acceptable, given their purpose. My question therefore is about breeding hatchery quality. I would like to hatch my own chicks from this new batch and avoid the yearly chick purchase. I am worried that by using hatchery birds, I have no clue about genetic lines or the real potential of inbreeding. Therfore, I see the need to buy cockerels from other sources. I don't want to water down the genetics of the flock, but would like to improve the lines. The end result would not be show quality, but rather just an improved line for consistently healthy off spring. Should I be looking at a purebred line to mix into the hatchery lines, or should I be looking at simply getting birds from a different person or hatchery? Does it make any difference? I bought these chicks from Murray McMurray, as I have had the best outcomes from their birds. Three years in, their birds have not presented with crossed beaks, deformities, or illness. I just want to add genetic diversity going forward, but would also like to improve the genetics as I go. What would be the best way to do that?
Chickens seem to be contagious; we started out wanting three little laying hens and ended up with 52 chickens of mixed genders and breeds.
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Chickens seem to be contagious; we started out wanting three little laying hens and ended up with 52 chickens of mixed genders and breeds.
Reply
post #2 of 5
Are you gonna cross your new birds?or keep them purebred? Crossing the breeds will make hybrids that will fresh ing up genetics. . If your keeping them purebred to sell chicks that are pure.. which is a good idea if you have enough breeding pens.. I'd breed what you have..and when you need more genetics. .just buy some eggs from a breeder.. add those chicks to your line....
If your just gonna mix your breeds.. then you can just change your rooster every few years.. just get one ya like from someone local.
post #3 of 5
Genetic diversity is always good, but I would focus more on your breeding plan then the unknowns like where the birds came from...

Ideally you would want proven stock from a devoted breeder that has already been improving the blood lines vs generic hatchery stock...

But, either way once you get your breeding going then you can focus on culling and breeding for better lineage... Chances are if you get a lot of hatchery birds they could be related but chances are also good they are not directly related, aka brother/sister... Hatcheries hatch hundreds of birds a day if not 1000s a day, and most hatcheries use 3rd party breeders to source their eggs so chances are good the eggs they hatch that day are pretty diverse in the end... The only real drawback is that hatchery birds are bred for volume not quality, if you want stronger birds as said go with a smaller breeder that has been culling and breeding for stronger birds already... Breed in trios, and monitor the traits of the babies, filter and cull out undesirable breeding trios, while promoting the good breeders... Also as the years go by try to attempt to pair up trios from unrelated previous trios, but don't underestimate the value of line breeding every so often to strengthen particular traits, but pay attention to the relationship of those used in line breeding... It's generally much better to breed offspring back to parents or grandparents vs brother sister breeding...
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks your advise. I guess tracking down people who are breeding Speckled Sussexes is now on my to do list.
Chickens seem to be contagious; we started out wanting three little laying hens and ended up with 52 chickens of mixed genders and breeds.
Reply
Chickens seem to be contagious; we started out wanting three little laying hens and ended up with 52 chickens of mixed genders and breeds.
Reply
post #5 of 5

I'm a bit confused as to your question :/. I get you started with hatchery birds, and have mixed them for mixed breed birds. Are you now going forward with those mixed breed birds, or are you starting with fresh hatchery stock?

 

My flock has always been mostly hatchery stock. For years I just interbred them, mix and matching breeds as I wanted. I always had healthy, productive birds. Some were not as pretty to look at as I'd hoped :rolleyes:, but they were all nice backyard birds. That's what I wanted, that's what I got. I played around with genetics a bit, seeing what I'd get breeding different colors together. Learned a lot! Plus, I like having birds that don't look like anyone else's. 

 

When you order hatchery stock, it's a pretty low chance your cockerel is closely related to your pullets. If you look at the videos of breeding barn, there's a LOT of birds in there. 

 

I do change out my male about every 4 years. That's about when mine seem to have a decrease in fertility, and I'm wanting to change things up by then anyway :)

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

Reply
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