Originally Posted by Mini Meat
I would love to hear about how folks manage their breeders. I would love to see pics of breeding pens and hear about successes, and failures with different breeding plans Pair, trios, quads, what ever.
I'm just small time, small flock breeding here, so nothing to shout about, but I've got my own ideas on some things that may differ from other folks. I've only got one breeding pen and I do a trio or quad breeding there. This spring I'm changing things up a bit to include a small run attached to the breeding pen that will also have an outside roosting area so that the actual pen is used for nesting only.
I've got a few nesting ideas I'll talk more about in the spring that I'm going to try this next year to increase clutch size and ease in sitting a large clutch by my fat girls. I'll be breeding in April and not collecting the eggs from the nests but will let them build up to see if I can bring on that broody feelin' in the breeder girls so that when they get an appropriate clutch they start sitting them as a natural consequence of being bred in the spring and having a natural nesting site in which to lay a clutch. If this method doesn't induce broodiness, I'll breed again in May when they all went broody last year and use the same method. Sure to get a broody or two then.
Hopefully all the breeders will go broody at that time, as that's what I'm breeding towards...WRs that raise their own replacements at the appropriate time of year, raise their family and then get back to laying but no more brooding.
I'll also let any broody in the general population that wants to sit have a go at some eggs, as I'll be buying some good Red eggs from Fred this spring for some color variety in the flock.
My first breeding of an heirloom line male WR was to an ancient hatchery WR female that had many traits I wanted in my line. Those 50% offspring were then bred back to their sire to produce some 75% heirloom genetics birds which I hope will retain the early maturing, excellent laying of the hatchery genetics. So far one of the 50s has done well and is performing the way I wanted and she will be bred back to her son in the spring. She and her sister produced some really nice looking pullets that should be coming into POL this next month, as they hit the 6 mo. mark at Thanksgiving. I'll be banding those that started laying in the 6th mo. and, according to their other traits, I'll be choosing my breeders from that group to go along with their mama into the breeding pens.
The original breeder hen from hatchery lines...5 yrs old at time of breeding and producing these offspring...
The heirloom lines male, via Mr. Weaver and out of Blosl lines...he's molting a tad in his tail in this pic but still a fine bird...
My 50% female as a young pullet....the one that made the grade for breeding in the spring. The other 50% pullet didn't make the cut and will be used for brooding but will be culled next fall.
And a few shots of this year's hatch, at 5 mo.....will take better pics later when they've matured more....
So, there ya have it. My small time breeding efforts to get the kind of WR I like to have....early maturing, excellent laying, longevity of laying life, great feathering, good form, hardy, good forager, good mother but not excessively broody, hard working, calm, good survival instincts out on range, good meaty carcass when done laying and able to turn out meaty males for butchering.
Will take pics later of the flock when they get their mature size and shapes and will show chosen breeders in the pen come spring. Should be an exciting spring as I start the Fox Run line of WRs, all my own line.