Any reason not to cross-breed?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Schrebergaertner, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. Schrebergaertner

    Schrebergaertner Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 13, 2010
    We're in our second year of chickens and things are going great. We started with 11 hens (hatchery chicks) and one roo we ended up re-homing when he got aggressive. 3 BO, 3RIR, 3 BR, and 2 EE (third EE was the roo). We figure to sustain the flock and average a dozen or so eggs a day we should add 4 or 5 each year (chicken math, right?). So this year we got 5 more from a hatchery, which ended up being 1 Welsummer hen, one Welsummer roo, 2 EE, and one cuckoo marans. We're thinking for next year we'd like to try getting the next batch the "natural" way, assuming we have a broody hen and our roo is still around. The only "pure" offspring we'd get would be Welsummer, and if the parents are hatchery birds, I don't know if that counts as pure anyway. But the others would all be mixes, which to me sounds fun and interesting. However, we're still new at this and wonder if there's any reason to avoid doing this? We're not trying to show or sell purebred birds or anything like that--just backyard pets and eggs, so we don't really have any "political" reason not to let them cross. I'm more curious if there's any health or genetic reason not to.

    Thanks very much!
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If you are not interested in becoming a seller of live birds or quality fertile eggs, it means nothing, really. I sell birds we breed, down in KY, so to me it matters. For a homestead? Not so much.
  3. tinychicky

    tinychicky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 24, 2010
    Hollis, New Hampshire
    i find crosses are healthier and hardier birds than purebred; in particular rare breeds with small gene pools. not to mention its fun to cross for several generations, you never know what colors will pop up! personally i love my d'uccle , rosecomb and silkie crosses best, they are so beautiful! i have about eight generations from my original flock now. the one issue is rehoming unwanted roos. not everyone wants mutts [​IMG]
  4. RedfogsFlock

    RedfogsFlock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 17, 2010
    Wittmann, AZ
    If your not selling them then there's really no biggie. [​IMG] When we had all our birds we were breeding just for our personal food. We actually found that RIR's & buff's made great sized youngens for food.

    So if your not selling or showing, i'd say go for it. [​IMG]
  5. AccentOnHakes

    AccentOnHakes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 2, 2009
    I'd just suggest not hatching the "pure" Wellies. Since they came from the same stock, you don't know how closely related they are. They could even be full siblings.
  6. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Cross breed are generally healthier than the pure breds; and the colors can be fun. I've been hatching from my EE hen who visits with a RIR/BR roo and a SSH roo. THe chicks fathered by the SSH vary widely in coloring. ALL pretty.

    Have fun!
  7. The Red Rooster

    The Red Rooster Poultry Observer

    Cross breeds are healthier than purbreed. Here's my mixes! Silkie crosses.


  8. dainerra

    dainerra Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 4, 2011
    full sibling matings aren't that uncommon in poultry. Not really in any livestock actually. Mother/son or Father/daughter are most common, of course. It is the best way to set the "type" that you are breeding for. Of course, it requires full knowledge of the genetics behind your birds (It's also a good way to bring out any bad recessive genes to hopefully cull them from the stock).

    about cross-breeds being healthier. Chickens are chickens are chickens. There is no "genetic issue" that one breed has that another doesn't. So it's going to depend entirely on the health of the parents.
  9. Schrebergaertner

    Schrebergaertner Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 13, 2010
    Thanks, everybody, this has all been very helpful!
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There is some misunderstanding about hybrid vigor, also called heterosis. Often you will get a boost in vigor by crossing two somewhat genetically unrelated animals as compared to animals that have been inbred a bit. You really don't have to create hybrids to get this increase. If you cross two chickens of the same breed that come from different flocks, you can get this same boost.

    If you inbreed a while, the genetic diversity in the gene pool can drop. This can result in animals that have a decrease in fertility or general vigor. By increasing the genetic diversity, you can get an increase in this vigor, which could mean larger animals or more fertile animals.

    There are breeding strategies that can allow you to breed birds from the same flock and keep the genetic diversity up where it should be. People do it all the time. You can find recessive traits and eliminate them from your flock doing this or you can enhance good traits.

    By inbreeding a while, even with a mixed flock, you can again start to get a decrease in genetic diversity. You get that nice increase with the first cross, but then you start to lose it with following generations. Sometimes, by bringing in new blood to get the genetic diversity back up, you introduce traits you don't want in your flock. There are always some risks in anything we do.

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