Breeding chickens

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by CreamBruelle, Oct 1, 2016.

  1. CreamBruelle

    CreamBruelle Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 26, 2016
    Ok so was told that if I want to get good silkied Cochins or sizzles, I need to breed them, then when the babies grow up, I need to breed them together and possibly the next generation as well. Is this true? And if so, which ones do I breed?
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    When it comes to breeding, it's really situation dependant. What are your goals? How big of a project are you willing to take on?

    Sizzles and Silkied Cochins are breeds which have taken decades to create. I know a woman, a very good breeder, who has been working on her line of Sizzles for over twenty years. And while they are really quite good now, she's still got probably another decade of work before they're truly fixed and she stops seeing surprise recessive faults pop up every couple generations.

    What are your goals in breeding? Pet and ornamental birds to keep and sell? Exhibition birds? A new color variety or line of your own?

    If you have any intention of selling the birds any time soon as Sizzles and Silkied Cochins, you would be wise to purchase breeding stock from a good breeder's line. That'll shave a decade or two off your project. The same goes if you want a bird who will fit each breed's Standard of Perfection.

    But if you just want a pet/"for fun" line to occupy your time? Please, carry on.

    As for strategy - this will vary hugely from breeder to breeder. And of course ideal strategy will vary based on what your goals are and what you have on hand.

    The genetics of each breed should be kept in mind. You're dealing with a few things; number one, the recessive gene for Silkie feathers. Number two, the dominant frizzle gene. Number three through eight, you're dealing with the huge amount of different genes Silkies possess, including the genes for black skin, five toes, feathered legs, crest, beard (in some lines), and a walnut comb. All this in addition to the type/color of birds which are made of up dozens and hundreds of little genes that work together to form the whole picture. In the case of Sizzles, you're trying to keep a Silkie type (or, if you are not breeding toward SOP, your preferred type), while adding the frizzle gene borrowed from the Bantam Cochin. In the case of Silkied Cochins, you're trying to keep the characteristics of a Cochin (SOP or your preferred type) while removing the characteristics of a Silkie and adding the silkie gene.

    If you wanted to make Silkied Cochins, you would need to breed in Silkie and then breed back to Cochins for a long while to get the type back and remove Silkie genes aside from the silkie feathering gene. Exactly what "type" refers to in this case, again, depends on what you want from your birds. If you want to breed to the SOP, then you'd pick breeding stock with correct characteristics. If you prefer a certain non-SOP characteristic, you would go with birds showing that. First generation cross would indeed be Cochin X Silkie. Of the offspring, pick the birds who have the least Silkie characteristics and most Cochin characteristics. All will be flat feathered (frizzle feathered may be seen as well if your breeding Cochins are frizzled) but will carry the Silkie gene. Your next step is the breed the F1 offspring back to the Cochin again. This will further remove Silkie genetics and improve concentration of Cochin blood. 50% of these chicks will carry the silkie feathering gene. Pick the best of the batch in terms of type, and test breed them with a Silkie to see if they are one of the 50% that will carry it. If they do carry it, use them again. You could cross back to a Cochin, you could do a sibling cross, you could cross back to the F1 parents even. Now that you've made some progress and you have a bird that's 3/4 Cochin and carries the Silkie gene, it's become a matter of selecting the best and breeding them to the best. Type comes first, but some time in the following generation or two, depending on exactly which crosses you make, you should start seeing silkie-feathered birds instead of just birds who carry it.

    For Sizzles, the process is basically the same but opposite. In some ways Sizzles are easier and in some ways they are harder - while it's easier to breed in a dominant gene like frizzling than a recessive gene like silkie, you're also trying to cement in all the characteristics of a Silkie - a breed which is a mess of genetics and difficult to breed even in its pure state. However, it's still the same process as above. Cross Silkie X Frizzled Cochin, select the offspring with the best Silkie type and frizzle feathering. Breed them back to Silkies, then select the best Frizzled offspring from those. And so on - breed the best to the best.

    A few things I've found really helpful in my breeding projects:

    - You get what you tolerate (If you keep a bad bird and let it reproduce, don't be surprised when you get bad offspring)

    - Hatch a ton and cull heavily (e.g. if you hatch 100 chicks, chances are only about 10 are gonna be good enough to make the cut; hatch too few and you won't have enough good stock to select from)

    - Inbreeding is NOT an issue in chickens - if you start with healthy stock and select only healthy chicks

    - Don't cull out birds until they are fully grown unless you see a serious defect (e.g. deformation, obvious lack of vigor)
     
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  3. CreamBruelle

    CreamBruelle Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 26, 2016
    Ok so pretty much I pick the best offspring then breed it back to either a silkie or Cochin (depending on characteristics) and keep going from there?
     
  4. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    Basically. You'll figure it out as you go along. A single season of breeding will be more informative than any book you can ever read. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't read, read, and read some more! I'm currently working with Booted Bantams and Silkies, but just the other day I was getting some marvelous information perusing the Heritage Rhode Island Thread. No such thing as too much knowledge.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016

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