What? A 19-year-old with her own breeding flock of French Black Copper Marans? And she is following breed standard? Hi everyone! I’m Courtney, a college student who is *slightly* obsessed with chickens. Breeding chickens is quite the adventure, and I want to bring you on mine and show you that- Yes! You can do it!
Me and my first roo Kung Poa
My poultry adventure started (at the ripe ol’ age of 17) almost three years ago. At the time I was a 4-H'er and was starting a fancy trio project for my county fair. I spent months researching basic care and showmanship etiquette. I bought my birds from a hatchery and some hatching eggs from a family friend with a flock of her own. That summer I didn’t do any breeding of my own and guess what, I didn’t place. My birds just weren’t “it”. I did all the training a 4-H'er was supposed to do and learned everything I was supposed to for my showmanship class but I didn’t focus on my actual fancy class. I had in my mind that because this was my first year showing poultry I was at a disadvantage from all the other kids that had been doing it for years, and plus the poultry show world is vastly different from the cattle show world (which was what I was used to). This is a completely wrong way of looking at it! With poultry, you can breed once your birds reach maturity and hatch monthly. This means you can vastly change your flocks' appearance in a year! Now armed with knowledge (and a little bit of stubbornness), I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
My first group of birds with my favorite girl, Bits, up front
That next year was my last year in 4-H and I wanted to go out with a bang (with not only my poultry but my cattle too!). I spent the summer getting serious about my chickens. Researching breed standard was my first step. This meant I was to get choosey with my birds and get rid of some. I wanted to take breeding seriously, and if that meant I had to send some of my girls off to different homes, then that’s what I was going to do. This was a dilemma all in its own. My girls all had names and I cherished each personality. But in my opinion, your breeding flock can’t also be your pet flock. I’m not saying you can’t love and care for your birds. I still have some with names and some that rush to the coop door to see me when I walk up to do chores. But I can also tell you I try not to treat them as pets because I know eventually, I will probably sell that bird when its time to switch up some of my breeding lines to try and get better birds. Honestly getting rid of my sweet boy Kung Poa was very hard, but it was probably the best step I took for the sake of my breeding program. With that being said, I got to taking breeding seriously that summer and it paid off. I ended up with an absolutely beautiful trio that I was immensely proud of. My birds won Grand Champion Fancy Trio at my County Fair. So yeah, you could say I went out with a bang.
My pen of Grand Champions
Currently, I am still breeding my birds and I am now up to hatching and selling chicks to others to further their flocks. And yes, I still have to make tough calls. Your breeding group is never “done” or “established”. You should always be striving to be just a *little* more perfect. I must tell you, I would never had made it this far without the support of my family. I may not have kids, but I do have a plethora of chicks and they really do take a village to raise. I hope you have found my story helpful and if anything, I hope it has given you a little confidence to either start or continue your breeding projects. Chickens can be such a rewarding part of your life, get out there and reap the benefits!
June 2019 hatch
Starting Your Own Breeding Program (And why you CAN do it)
What? A 19-year-old with her own breeding flock of French Black Copper Marans? And she is following breed standard? Hi everyone! I’m Courtney, a...