Originally Posted by CanadianBuckeye
My goal is to breed for production as well as to maintain the SOP as best I can. Because I'm starting out, I have no idea what the offspring will be like- and I'm trying to breed for a better egg shape (the eggs are too long). But I don't really know how to do that, other than choose the hens with the best conformation, and then cull for the best layers, and then cull for the best egg shape. Does anyone have any advice for me, how to get all three qualities? Is that the best way to do this? How could I reach my goals the quickest?
Until I can import some Buckeyes, I have pretty well all the genes represented from all the stock that's available in Canada, and that's all I have to work with for now. Unfortunately most of the Buckeyes are in Western Canada, I just got 21/2 dozen eggs and most were scrambled in the courier. Looks like a few are developing, but I might only get a couple of chicks if I'm lucky.
Is it possible that I can never reach my goals with the available stock, or given enough time, do you think I could eventually get there? Is there any way to know if your stock's genes are so limited, that you can never do better?
For example, let's say I crossed my best prospects, hatched 100 chicks, raised the hens, and none of them laid a rounded egg- would that be enough information to tell me that it would be pointless to continue with these crosses? How many generations does it take before you give up? I don't mean to sound defeatist or negative, but I don't want to spend years breeding just to end up here if I can find out ahead of time.
Wisher is right about the research. Have you downloaded any of the antique poultry books from archive.org, Hathitrust, and google books? That has been the most helpful to me since I don't have any poultry breeders to talk to. I did find out that there are some judges within what I consider to be an ok driving distance that at some point I am going to see if I can pay one of them to come out and look at my birds and chat with me.
If you cull just for one trait at a time, you're more likely to wind up NOT getting what you want. If you cull for conformation first, you could wind up with getting nothing but bad layers. It's better to go down the middle of the road and make compromises. Which makes it go slower.
There just isn't a way to get stuff done fast if you want production and appearance. You have to make tradeoffs. If you have one thing that is uniform among them, then that can be the lowest priority while you make a compromise on the other traits that aren't quite so uniform among all your breeder choices. You might use a lighter weight bird than you normally would want in order to get better egg production or better type. And you get the heavier bird that represents your meat production but maybe doesn't lay quite as well or doesn't have the best type.
It took us three years of to see our best improvement in meat production - to where we could butcher them at about 6 months and get the same dressed carcass weight as what our first birds had to be a year old or older to dress out to the same weight. Egg laying has been pretty uniform and acceptable to us, so we've put more emphasis on their size and type, because their SOP was written so that size and type is what gives them their meat production qualities. And so far egg production has not suffered by putting a slight bit more emphasis on the size/type/meat aspect.
There is just nothing that fast if you ask them to do both production and appearance.
I don't know that hatching a large volume at one time would get you the info about the egg shape because you just can't fix the problems so quickly. I would be putting the eggs down side by side and maybe even tracing them onto paper and choosing to hatch the eggs that had the roundest shape. Yes, you seem to have the more bullet shaped ones overall, but there may be some subtle differences if you study them very closely and if you made sure to always choose the ones that were the fattest/shortest, that should get you away from the long skinny shape - but I have no idea how long that might take. I had one more space for an egg in the incubator last night and I was sitting there comparing the two eggs that were the freshest laid, nitpicking the eggs to death to decide exactly which one would make the cut.