American chicken history. How do the heritage breeds now lay so frequently?

Sep 17, 2021
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Phoenix, AZ z9b
I have really been enjoying reading about the history of keeping chickens over the last 100 years (such as this American Heritage article). It turns out, the 1920s were sort of the dawn of everything we see today! This paragraph from the article caught my eye:
They also continued to breed champion egg layers from Leghorns and other so-called Mediterranean breeds. Again, the increase in production has been staggering. At the turn of the century, thirty eggs a year was the norm. A champion might produce fifty. By the 1930s a hen laying a hundred eggs a year was a candidate for a ribbon at the county fair. Today a hen that doesn’t lay two hundred and fifty is a candidate for the cat-food factory.

Now, this makes me stop and think about the older breeds that have been around since the 1800s. Things like Dominiques, Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks, and the Black Java. You can still buy a lot of those breeds today, and they lay way more than 100 eggs per year like they would have back in the day.

My question is, does anyone know the type of breeding that has gone on in these breeds to bring them up to the modern day laying amount?

It seems that with Dominiques, they were basically wiped out due to disinterest and so what we have today is a small fraction of the gene pool and probably brought back with outcrosses. But what about the others whose popularity didn't nosedive?

chickens satisfying GIF
(Gif just for fun)
 
Sep 30, 2021
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181
Utah
I would imagine that hundred years was spent selectively breeding the hens that were more productive layers or else the breeds aren't as pure as they were. Some dog breeds have had to be resurrected by breeding a bunch of other dogs together so maybe that has happened with chciekns as well...just thinking outloud though. The only thing I've ever hatched is a kid lol
 

MysteryChicken

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I think they did it, by only selecting the best layers, & bred back to the father who produced that particular layer, & took the sons, that were produced by that particular hen, & bred back to her.
 

MysteryChicken

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May 31, 2018
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Good point @MysteryChickens ... I'm just looking at Cackle Hatchery and it says that Wyandotte, Barred Rock, and Dominique each lay about 180-260 per year. That's not Super Chicken status but it's definitely more than in the 1800s!
Got mine from Meyer's hatchery. They carry both Heritage type, & hatchery type Plymouth Barred Rocks.
 

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