Very helpful. I realize I have time to go before picking the tops, and that this is just a point in time, but being somewhat new to this, was wondering if there were other (environmental/husbandry) factors in Tank, especially since up to this point he has been the fastest growing with excellent body conformation (on another thread, someone suggested that he might be getting bullied away from food, which I had not considered, so I may try to put out another feeding station. Heck, that could be going on with Puppy, too.). I've been handling them mindfully every week - best shape and density for meaty carcass are Bane, Apoc, and Tank. While heavy, Dozer is tall and slimmer - all leg/shank, it seems, less body that one would expect from the weight he's got - he almost has a gamebird-like stature and posture. (Do you ever see birds "grow in" to a meatier/more solid body conformation later? Or is the body shape at this age pretty much what you'll have going forward?). Mouse, while smaller, has a great solid body conformation (and the added benefit of being NN in phenotype, like Tank is)... but he is smaller and is less likely to make the top...
Funny - someone asked if I was sure Tank was a boy. I'm pretty sure - but now in my mind (with him not in front of me), I'm beginning to wonder (though that would be odd, I think). I'll have to take a more careful look at him again. But I really do think he's male.
I'll be culling the bottom two boys (Cypher and probably Neo) along with the New Hampshire boys in the next week or so. I'm keeping all the pullets (as we had talked about before, with regard to them having potentially other attributes besides pure weight) - I may selectively breed some of them preferentially, of course, though. Trinity in particular is very impressive (weight, body type, and NN phenotype). Once their coop is done (hopefully in a week or so), pullets will (finally) be separated from the boys.
Good point about the molt - I will check this.
- Ant Farm
Yes, you have time to go before picking the tops. But you know now, what group to select them from. It is time to start evaluating them. In time, you will be able to pick them now, because you will know them well enough. I could pick them now.
You are thinking too much on the possibilities. There are always possibilities. You cannot avoid them. They have to do well in your setting. The numbers do not lie. Your perception will. It always does. We cannot base our decisions on perception unless that is all we have. If that is all we have, we do not have a lot to go on. Do make sure there is more than one feeder and water station, and with some space in between them. That is always a good idea. No matter if you have 4 or more. The less birds, the more attention a bird might get. The more birds, the more competition. I go with the commercial recommendations, and cut that in half or more. Never less than two though.
But, forget about one week. That point is useless.
And you need to decide at what age you are going to evaluate them. Chart them this year so you see it, but you will not want to do that year after year. You are going to want to weigh them at a particular point in time. Is that 12 wks, 14 wks, or 16wks?
You should not have to check on the molt. Suddenly you will see feathers all over the place, and the males growing in mature tail feathers. There is no mistaking when it begins to occur. Who knows, maybe your Tank has started that before the others.
It takes a lot of protein and energy to replace all of that feather. Their growth will slow when this occurs. Much of the energy and protein devoted to growth will be in replacing all of that feather. Afterwards, their growth is slowed substantially. That is why it is a goal to get a good carcass to harvest at this point and benefit from the most efficient gains. Any gain after is less efficient. The cockerels flesh also begins to get more stringy and tough.
Figure out when this molt is. That is your cull date, and forever after, you are trying to get a good and meaty (not grocery store meaty) carcass by then. That will press you to improve them. Your later roasters can be from your top birds that you grew out longer.
You have to be hard on the pullets for type and size etc. They are half of the contribution. They are important. Do not keep a small pullet with poor type. Maybe be more forgiving of them. Maybe not. It depends on what you have. You do not have a lot to choose from this year. Maybe figure on culling half of them for size and type. They are good eating to.
You should be shooting for two trios. Or a quad with two cockerels. Base the families on the sire, and alternate two males on four females. That will give you enough eggs from each sire to hatch. That will give you twenty eggs per week and for two weeks, that is 40. If you get 36 to hatch, that is enough to start two families. Two families will be a more simple start. You will not have any trouble coming up with a Naked Neck that you would be happy with when you need one. Then hatch one family in the spring, and one in the fall. Or one, one year, and the other, the next.
Do as you please. It is just offering ideas.
I really think that two families is the way to go for you. It is simpler, and easy to manage.