Originally Posted by CanadianBuckeye
I'm a bit confused about when to breed. Should a Buckeye go through their first adult moult before choosing breeders? Or should they just be a year old? My buckeyes are almost a year old now, they were hatched in early May. I'm guessing they will moult in summer or early fall.... I think my rooster continues to improve (yay!) and the hens...... well......... let's just say three is too few to choose from. But they are all I have.
I'm getting some more eggs next week, that were selected from SOP selected parents, but the chicks will be an "unknown" since this is the first time the hens and roosters have been crossed. Now suppose it turns out that I have better hens from this hatch, but my original rooster is still the best of the lot- he will then be around 2-3 years old before I breed him. I am getting fertile eggs now, so far, so good. Is it OK to wait that long? I do hope for better roosters, of course, from this year's hatch but you never know!
Would there be any value at all in crossing him to the best of the three hens his age? Their biggest fault is excess feather, they are too fluffy. One of their hatchmates, the best hen I had, she had good deep even colour and was a good size, disappeared (of course). That cross would be in the spring of 2017, I don't want fall chicks in 2016. Could I learn something from the offspring, even if I don't expect the cross will produce superior chicks? How long are Buckeye roosters fertile?
I do understand that it's best to start with the best, and I do plan to acquire more polished Buckeyes in the future, but this is all I have for now. Any advice for me?
Don't be confused, you has a breeder has to look at the big picture. It really depends on your goals and where you want to take the breed.
Its always easier to select when you know the history or the linage/matings for several generations. You can use your past knowledge to help you predict to some degree what your younger fowl will develop into.
One of the major problems I see is the lack of vision to produce buckeyes that have longevity. The ability to continue producing past one or two years old..."breeders" breed for the here and now with no real patience. As a result, the quality of the mature stock has declined. Fertility and life span of older specimens have declined. Many of the current "top" heavy show breeds like the Rocks and Wyandotte's have suffered mightily from this mentality. One of the best Wyandotte breeders I know told me that he is lucky to get his males to live past three years old....what does that say about that breed/strain of fowl? We don't want the Buckeye to share that fate.
Just because the bird looks great at 10 months old doesn't mean he is going to look great at 2-3 years old ago. This is a problem! As a breeder; YOU need decide what course you want to take. Proper selection doesn't always take place at 7-12 months of age. I cull from birth to death and take notes during the whole trip. Breeding and selection is an ongoing task. Some years like this year...I'll breed and raise 200+ and in a couple years like last year for example, I'll only breed and raise 24. I want to see how many young grow out and get a bead on how my breeding program is really doing.
I want to continue winning at shows so I have my focus on 3-5 years out. But I talk alot about showing...that is all well and good to help the breed amongst the show community but the Buckeyes real purpose was utility! It is of equal importance to ensure the hens are productive with GOOD quality eggs and the cockerels produce nice quality carcusses at a reasonable age. You have to breed for the big picture....utility, longevity, exhibition and to ensure the breed keeps the desired appearance after multiple years. There is not a single strain of buckeyes that has it all...yet
. But there are several that have problems with even one! Its not as daunting as it seems. They are just chickens and desirable fowl is a product of expanded/experimental matings....some matings work and some not so much. YOU have to be the architect and figure that out. As for strain/line specific traits like knowing fertility or fluffiness, that is up to you to figure out because I honestly don't know. Not all "Buckeyes" are created equal. I know my flock very well and I can speak for them but they do a better job speaking for themselves.Edited by Blueface - 4/5/16 at 6:41am