Best age to select "the keepers"?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by KoopOnTruckin, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 33 heritage chicks, but I only plan to keep the best/biggest 3 cockerels and 10-12 pullets overall - the rest will become supper. They are about 2 weeks old now, at what age can I pick out the biggest to keep for future breeding? I know the quick and silly answer is "at any time", but I mean at what age will the biggest likely still be biggest at full-grown?

    I may want to separate the "keepers" from the "broilers" so I can feed them different feed. The broilers will get the higher protein diet, whereas the keepers will get a more regulated diet so I can be sure they don't explode! My ultimate goal will be for the keepers to make me more broilers in the future...
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Honestly, birds have huge variance between how they grow and what they come out to. I wouldn't choose my breeders until they are all fully mature. I've had birds who looked pathetic, real ugly ducklings as chicks, who came out to be the cream of the crop. You just don't know until they're fully grown. Of my current 5 Dark Cornish, all of them looked identical until they hit six months or so when suddenly Weird Eyes (now Big Corn) developed a breast twice as wide as any of the other 4.
     
  3. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with QueenMisha. I also think you should keep more pullets, or one less cockerel. If you have three roosters for 10-12 hens, that is only 3-4 girls per rooster. That might work out, but it is pushing the limit. If you want to be able to have a better breeding program, I think it would be wise to keep more pullets.

    Are your chicks straight run?
     
  4. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, so I will keep them together until they get to what would be culling age and determine at that point which is the best to keep for future breeding. That was my plan originally but (maybe overthinking it a bit now that it's gametime) I started to worry about the keepers getting too much protein in their diet and getting too big to mate successfully. I thought I read somewhere recently that people often pull their selected breeders away from the rest around 5-6 weeks to keep them from growing at a potentially unhealthy weight. They're white rocks, dark Cornish and Delawares, not crosses so maybe it's an irrational fear.

    As for the amount of roos to hens, I have several other laying hens currently (16), so the ratio will be much better overall - they should be happy roosters! I just want to keep the best hens for breeding future broilers.

    They weren't straight run, I wanted to make sure I got at least 5 males so I could pick the best roo of the lot. I'm documenting all of the weights in this thread:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1124100/meat-bird-project-delaware-white-rock-dark-cornish
     
  5. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Overrun With Chickens

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    Oh, ok. It sounds like you are doing everything just fine!

    Maybe you should just feed all of them the better diet, so that the ones you keep for breeding turn out healthier. It would take longer for the rest of the broilers to grow out and they would probably be somewhat smaller, but it might be worth it.

    Hope everything continues to go well!
     
  6. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    With the amount of protein it would take to get them "too large to breed", you'd probably kill their kidneys and liver long before they were capable of reproducing. They're heritage birds, probably hatchery stock (?), they're not likely to get huge in the first place. I raise and keep all my birds on a 22% meat bird grow 24/7 and so far my roosters seem to mount the ladies just fine (and harass them, and pluck their feathers... that reminds me,. I gotta kill some roosters).
     

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