Originally Posted by Jake Levi
1. My two breeds are Wyandottes, the Partridge and RC RIRs, with the Wyandottes the higher numbers, next year I hope to have a couple dozen of each. Maybe add the GL Wyamdottes.
2. Rebecca its good to see you here from the rabbit lists, glad you have chickens too up there.
Hi Jake, nice to read your thoughts! Those are two fun selections--the Partridge Wyandottes and the RC RIR. I raised the latter for a few seasons and have thought about the former. With the utmost in rrespect, I can say, though, if I were you I wouldn't branch out into the GL Wyandottes. There is a nice old text I was reading a few weeks back, the title of which escapes me at the moment, but it was by a poultrywoman writing of her experiences in farming poultry. Of course, the date of the text means by default that she was raising heritage fowl. More bluntly than any other writer she stated that any given farm need only one breed of fowl and those with more are flirting with disaster. Now, I'm not so sure I'd go so far, and I can only look at our experience, but I have found--for us if for no one else--that the more breeds we had, the more superficial the work. We found that each breed means more building and more expense. For every breed one has, record keeping is duplicated. Each breed has a different standard to be mastered. Each breed one has, is by definition another strain, which entails another set of breeding tendencies with which one must acquaint one's self if one is to make progress. Moreover, the bigger we got, the more we found that we had to reduce numbers of varieties. It just became too much. We, too, have two breeds, as I mentioned before, White Dorkings and RC Anconas, the former is our principal, the latter a side project.
Don Schrider, who's really quite something as a poultryman, loves to remind us of the rule of "one in ten", meaning that one out of every ten chicks hatched is worthy of being a breeder. However, i would state that (and I'm sure Don would agree) that this a generalization. The rarer the breed, the more complicated the selection requirements, the fewer hatchlings will honestly be worthy of retention. The first lmatter of concern win the breeding a good Wyandotte (in my opinion, of course) is working on those general purpose qualities that made it all the rage. A well fleshed Wyandotte breast may actually have the best over-all intended shape for breast meat production among all of the American breeds, in competition, perhaps, with the Dominique.
One is going to have to hatch a lot of birds to get that ideal, then of course, you want to be able to retain a goodly number of hens, who possess a Wyandotte breat. It may be safe to say twice as many as you want to retain for breeding so that you can then be able to cull yet again for egg production. The end result is that you have females going into your breeding pens that are both meaty and respectable layers. This alone is an outstanding achievement.
Now, trying to then add the added genetic selection for acceptable (I'm not even saying "perfect") penciling or lacing, and WOW! Your hands are full. I think that, for us at least, were we to try to do both Partirdge and GL Wyandottes justice as both worthy farm fowl and birds that meet the Standard in all other respects, I think that we would fail.
This leads into the other awesome comment, meaning the recognition of rabbits. We have a nice small herd (one dozen breeders) of Creme d'Argent rabbit. Rabbit is among our very favorite meats. Of course we have muscovy ducks, and geese (after a season off to give our young fruit trees a chance) are moving back. Did I mention Saxony ducks? Oiweh! Almost all of our meat comes from our farm, which is the tradiitonal goal of a New England homestead/farm. By the time you have one breed of rabbit, one breed of goose, one breed of duck, one breeed of chicken, some muscovies, all with a standard of their own and ou la la! Insanity sets in, and nothing is being done well.