A Very General Question About Breeds and Breeding

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Pony Trotsky, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. Pony Trotsky

    Pony Trotsky Out Of The Brooder

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    I've only had chickens for a few weeks, but I can already see that the World of Chickens is way, waaay more complicated and fraught with controversy than I would ever have imagined!

    So. My question is about the whole business of "show quality" vs "ordinary" chickens, and what the general trends in this area might be.

    I've been spending a lot of time on this forum, and I really like to look at the pictures - especially of the "SQ" birds, which kind of remind me of hothouse orchids. They're gorgeous, of course, but I can't help but wonder: are these birds as productive and hardy as "ordinary" chickens? Are their traditional breed characteristics being exaggerated for the sake of exhibition, at the expense of more practical virtues? Some of these animals look quite artificial!

    I ask this because over-breeding and exaggeration is very prevalent in certain breeds of horses, and the overall effect on these breeds has not been positive. (I'm thinking here of those freakish Arabians that never leave their stalls, or the halter-bred Quarter Horses whose conformation makes them completely dysfunctional in real life, or even of the Miniature Horses bred so small they become deformed.) Dog people tell me that the same thing has happened to show dogs (witness the GSD!) so now I'm wondering about chickens.

    ~ Are there competitions that judge utility and overall hardiness, or is it always about looks alone?

    ~ Are the Heritage Breeds less prone to this kind of thing?

    ~ What if you'd like to have pretty, but productive, free range farm chickens? Is there a middle ground somewhere - something halfway between homely mutt and blow-dried poodle?



    Thank you! [​IMG]
     
  2. Oldhound

    Oldhound Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pony! to address your questions as briefly as possible. The further one beeds away from the original "wild state" animal the more diversity and issues. As a "horse person" you already know that ie quarterhorses leg problems . The breeds of chickens as well as any domestic animal with the most exaggerations will encounter the most problems. For instance, the rare Scots Dumpy (LF) and Japanese Bantams have a lethal gene linked to the short legs. The Heritage Fowl are from stock that our forefathers raised with very little interference. They foraged on the land and picked up what was leftover from the kitchen and barn. In the late 1800s and early 1900s there was a concerted effort to educate farmers and would be farmers on good poultry husbandry, with emphasis on feeding , breeding and housing as well as culling for productivity.A number of books were published at that time. The breeds of chickens in those books are what we now call Heritage breeds as well as hybrid crosses to make sex links and meat birds. I am fortunate to have three such books copyrights 1912 , 1913, and 1916 . Even these hardy heritage breeds need basic good care and protection from predators. Oh and one more thing The Show Standards were written with the birds function in mind. Disregarding color, the body shapes ,proportions, and size are directly related to function, be it egg laying ,meat production or dual purpose. Hope this helps some. Bill
     
  3. danhonour

    danhonour Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is a very good reply.I can add a little.Attractive birds with show quality,can be healthy and productive.It depends on the breeder and how the birds are selected and kept. If you yearly only breed from the healthy vigorous birds,the good layers,the ones of proper size and good egg qualty,then you will have a good all around flock.If you raise good numbers,avoid close inbreeding and take good care of the birds,then the fancy points like color,type and feathering are just icing on an otherwise good bird.You have balance.This is basically the definition of a good breeder of standard-bred stock.
     
  4. the4heathernsmom

    the4heathernsmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2008
    east texas
    I appreciate that.....it explains a lot in terms easy to understand!!!
     
  5. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 10, 2009
    The difference between Show Chickens and Backyard production chickens is like the difference between a Ferrari and a Ford Pickup. One is very nice looking and seems desirable, but when you come right down to it, the Ford Pickup gets the job done.
    The difference between Show Chickens and Backyard production chickens is like the difference between Gilligan's Island Ginger and Mary Ann. One is very nice looking and seems desirable, but when you come right down to it, Mary Ann wins, hands down.

    The difference between Show Chickens and Backyard production chickens is like the difference between a Politician and a Farmer. One is very nice looking with a lot of show, but it’s the Farmer that feeds you.

    The difference between Show Chickens and Backyard production chickens is like the difference between High Fashion Runway Model Gowns and the Clothes off the rack at Walmart. One is very nice looking with a lot of razzle-dazzle, but it’s the pants you buy while getting your picture taken for the people of Walmart that is more popular.

    The difference between Show Chickens and Backyard production chickens is like the difference between (your turn to write something)
     
  6. Pony Trotsky

    Pony Trotsky Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow. What wonderful answers!

    [​IMG]

    And I must say, the people here are great; very knowledgeable, and very generous to new-comers.

    Thank you!
     
  7. punky rooster

    punky rooster Awesome

    Jul 21, 2010
    I wonder where people get the idea that Standard-Bred Poultry are not productive. [​IMG]

    Let me tell you, they can be unproductive and they can be very productive. I fully agree with Dan. As Dan said "Attractive birds with show quality,can be healthy and productive." Look at my signature: "These historic standards were written at a time when chicken breeds were being used for commercial production within several production systems. Input from the top breeders of each breed was used to establish the particulars of size and other qualities that would produce the best specimen for the role each breed was designed to fulfill." - Don Schrider, Master breeder of Brown Leghorns.
    So generally, Standard-Bred birds are productive and you can improve upon them by selection. The ALBC has come up with articles on improving production for heritage birds. For their definition, Heritage birds must be up to standard.
    Now, some breeders don't select for productivity, some do. To me, they have the better birds. I like to say whats the point of having chickens that don't produce.

    Darkmatter, That is your purely opinion. For many people (like me) "backyard production chickens" don't fit my needs & wants.

    Good luck,
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2011
  8. RhodeRunner

    RhodeRunner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have purchased many birds both from breeders and hatcheries, and found the answer of your question to vary depending on the breeder and the breed in question. Overall, my birds from hatcheries have been more productive in the short run. My hatchery stock has had much shorter lifespans and just as many if not more health problems as my pureblood stock.

    A hatchery cares about the number of birds it can produce and sell. They do not really care about quality of the bird, or longativity of life. If a bird has a cross beak they still toss it in the box.

    Breeders usually care more about quality and health. Have I had breeders sell me birds that were unhealthy? Yes, I even had them ship me diseased stock. But, those were breeders that didn't really care about their birds, or customers.

    I have also taken note that the poodle breeds of the poultry world (Bantam Cochins in particular) tend to have more health problems as their numerous feathers and other show qualities make them not nearly as hearty as a hatchery Cochin. However, my pureblooded non-hatchery Buckeyes are definitely hardier then any hatchery RIR I owned.
     
  9. darkmatter

    darkmatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Ahhhh.......come on punky, didn't you laugh even a little at my opinions? I would wager that your "Buckeyes" breed was intended to be a backyard production chicken. (even if they are nice to look at)
     
  10. punky rooster

    punky rooster Awesome

    Jul 21, 2010
    Quote:Ahhhh.......come on punky, didn't you laugh even a little at my opinions? I would wager that your "Buckeyes" breed was intended to be a backyard production chicken. (even if they are nice to look at)

    Nearly all breeds were intended to be a production chickens. And I intend to use them the way they were meant to be used.

    I will admit, that farmer and the politician was pretty funny..
     

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