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Genetic Hackle; AKA "Fly Tying Chickens" Info for the interested.

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 

I have noticed that several times a year on different poultry message boards someone ask about "fly tying chickens".  Well I raise chickens of this type and fly fish also.  Below you will find some general information on these birds, also if you have any questions I will try to answer them.  I hope the information helps thoes interested in raising these birds.cool

Introduction

Genetic Hackle chickens are some of the most exotic chickens on the planet!  These birds have been bred for many years to produce feathers for use in tying fishing flies.  Their feathers are up to five times longer and thinner than feathers on domesticated birds. There are less than 20 breeders of genetic hackle birds in the United States, therefore they are very rare. 
Genetic hackle birds have been selectively bred for about half of a century for their feather quality and are a testament to the flexible nature of the chicken when it comes to extreme genetic manipulation.

Some history

Feathers have been used on fishing lures to imitate insects and other fish foods for hundreds of years. In the early 1950's a few dedicated fly fishermen, who just so happened to like chickens, dedicated time and energy to developing a chicken that would produce feathers that would tie a better fishing fly.  Better feathers, for those of you who don't tie flies, mean less web to the feather, thinner width, flexible stem, and longer length. 
Two of the best know genetic hackle breeders were Harry Darbee and Andy Miner.  Almost all of the current bloodlines used for producing genetic hackle today can be traced back through their breeding programs. As the story goes these men were very generous with their stock, sending out eggs to friends that were dedicated to breeding better birds. As the sport of fly fishing grew and demand for quality feather was on the rise a few of the breeders rose to the challenge and produced better and better hackle.  This leads us to the breeders of today, there are only a few and most have purchased stock from breeders as they have retired for a hefty price. These breeders continue in the tradition of bringing the fly fishing fraternity quality hackle with which they can tie to a hook, get out on the river, and fool a wise old trout

Sources

You can not buy fly tying chickens from a hatchery! Packages that are advertised for this purpose are simply a collection of roosters with the correct color of feathers, but normal chickens.  However if you are truely interested in raising some dry fly hackle birds there is a source for eggs and livestock. Follow this link: Genetic Hackle Source

Roosters can be kept in many ways but should be kept in an enviroment that keeps them from breaking feathers such as indiviual cages, free range, or low lighting in large pens.

Feathers are sold to fly tyers "on the skin" as capes (the roosters neck) or Saddles (the roosters back) Some capes can sell for up to $150.00 each and some saddles up to $100.00.  The average good cape can sell for $20 + and the average saddle can sell for $12+  This makes just average roosters worth about $32.00 each.  Not bad for raising them for about a year.

I hope this info helps thoes of you interested, I know when I wanted info on these birds I could never find much.  I have birds from Theriault Flies and like them very much (I am not related or associated with them except that I purchased eggs from them).  Please let me know if you have any questions.

BD

post #2 of 79

Interesting post. Thanks Bluedun and Welcome!

Bubba

Edit  PS Can you post some pictures of you're birds? Do you cross breed others to make new colors or just use the stabilized (sp) lines. I will ask for others but ALOT of people would like pictures of not just mature birds but of them as chicks to wink   Also will you be selling birds/eggs this coming spring. Thanks


Edited by Bubba - 12/9/07 at 5:36pm
post #3 of 79

Bubba, there are pics on the website. Hatching eggs are $55 a dozen. :o

Bluedun- Is that your website or just your source for your birds? Just curious because the site gives a Maine area code. The roosters are pretty, I'm a sucker for long tails. smile Great information, thanks for sharing and welcome to BYC.

post #4 of 79
Thread Starter 

I apologize, I should have mentioned this but I forgot while I was posting...I have been a member here in the past but for some reason my account information would not work anymore and when I got a new password it would not work either, so I re-registered.  My former forum handle was "termite"

No, the link is not to my site.  They are the only real source for these birds and it is where I purchased some of my eggs from.  I will post some picutures of my birds shortly. 

I have crossed the genetic hackle birds on phoenix, barred rocks, and others, however I do maintain pure lines I received from the eggs I ordered.  They are not standardized by color like other chickens.

post #5 of 79
Thread Starter 

Here is a blue dun hackle rooster:

http://www.flytyingforum.com/uploads/gallery4752076c4f9ee.jpg

Here is a grizzly rooster:
http://www.flytyingforum.com/uploads/gallery475f3c52af075.jpg


Edited by Bluedun - 12/11/07 at 5:42pm
post #6 of 79

Thanks for the pics. I love the Barred Grizzly as you call him!

Bubba

post #7 of 79

I just love those long saddle feathers. I would love to cross some with my Phoenix. I don't know if I want to spend that much on eggs, though.

post #8 of 79

Oh, my!  I don't think I could ever use the bird for fishing flies.  They'd make too pretty of a yard ornament?

What is usually done with the meat of the bird?  Is it eaten or discarded?

Stacey

Blue Laced Red Wyandottes~EE's~OEGB~Seramas~Silkies~Heritage Turkeys
www.facebook.com/Blisschick
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Stacey

Blue Laced Red Wyandottes~EE's~OEGB~Seramas~Silkies~Heritage Turkeys
www.facebook.com/Blisschick
Reply
post #9 of 79

Bluedun,
The birds are beautiful!  I like the picture on your site of the Theriault Line bird.
I have a question for you...

Are you familiar with the Grey Junglefowl and the feather type?  (I assume you are, since you are a fly tier.)

And do you have any birds with that feather typing?  Especially the "wax spot" on the end of the hackle feathers.
If so, I would like to work something out with you.
If not, and you are interested in that trait, I would also like to work on something with you.
I have a few Grey hybrids, and one especially I think carries that trait.  I want to make a breed that has that feathering.  I will obviously have to take it from the Grey Junglefowl...unless you have some birds with it, in which case I would be seriously interested in getting some eggs or maybe a bird with that characteristic to use in my breeding program.

Thanks.  You can always PM me or Email me to talk privately.

Mixed Longcrowers and Longtails.  GreY junglefowl Hybrids.
Just the coolest chickens ever.  That's all.
Pictures of some Bengals, scroll to the bottom after you click on the link;
http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/NDG/BRKGJF.html
Reply
Mixed Longcrowers and Longtails.  GreY junglefowl Hybrids.
Just the coolest chickens ever.  That's all.
Pictures of some Bengals, scroll to the bottom after you click on the link;
http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/NDG/BRKGJF.html
Reply
post #10 of 79
Thread Starter 

These birds usualy don't have a lot of meat on them, they put a lot of energy into growing feathers. Most breeders that collect feathers from them compost the carcass after processing, however they could be eaten.

wclawrence,
  I know exactly what you are talking about.  I don't have any birds with the "nails" on their feathers however I do have plans on raising some grey jungle fowl in the next few years if everything pans out.

wink

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