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Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hellbender, Dec 27, 2013.
thank you....it would be a huge amount of extra work and record keeping to achieve nothing
I am sorry to hear about the loss of the lsumtalier hen!
Room for more or your other breeds?
In my first post I told you that "you have to roll up your sleeves and go to work", and "you will do better to be flexible along the way". Again I mentioned that "the best plans , do not make up for smart selection". No matter your plan, it boils down to good selection. You can have the best plan, and pick the worst birds. You can have an inferior plan, and pick the best birds. It is not the plan. It is the selection.
You laid a partial plan. I do not like it, but I saw nothing that would hurt you . . .IF you select the right birds. You would have figured the rest out along the way. "you will do better to be flexible along the way".
For example, you would have learned that your best laying pullets will generally be the best laying hens. You would have adjusted by evaluating a female through her pullet year, which ends at her first molt. She would be roughly a year and a half old. It would probably be advisable to breed your best birds in the late winter or early spring of the 2nd year. The cockerels in their first year, proving them over hens, and judging them by their offspring. They should be retained until their offspring is evaluated. The cock is half of the influence, so it would not be advisable to neglect the influence the male has even in an egg laying flock. You would pick offspring from the best hens, but genetic variability will teach you that all of her sons will not contribute consistently.
Can this get too complicated for a small flock? Yes. That is why you have to come up with "your own plan, and your own rhythm". Adjusting along the way. It isn't the plan as much as it is smart selection.
Egg size is easy to select for. Average the size of your eggs. Decide what your minimum would be. You have to set eggs, so your initial standard cannot be too high. From there do not set eggs below a certain size. As the average improves, raise the bar. "Little by little, bit by bit".
I told you more than you think I did. You did not get what you wanted, but you really did get what you needed. Start with your own plan, and as you learn, you will adjust. A religious adherence to a plan will not make you a good breeder. BUT, as time goes on, you will develop your own rhythm. It really becomes a rhythm of sorts. Your own plan, your own rhythm.
The suggestion to review the "ALBC guidelines" (Which is not their own. It is very basic culling guidelines passed down along the way.) is a good starting place. If you are not blindly and religiously adherent to this "plan", you will learn that there is more to it than that. You would not want to quit learning would you?
If you read this, and then go back and read my last response, you may start to see the connection.
I agree that striving for extreme performance on both sides (meat and eggs) would be a lesson in futility. I do not agree that there cannot be good performance on both sides. I would say that there should be good performance on each side, or it is not a dual purpose bird. A strain that lays 200 extra large eggs, and produces fryers @ 12-14wks is a darn good strain. This strain could pay their own way, and is worth something. This imaginary dual purpose flock would be more economical to raise than two, in a homestead type setting. Thus the reason for all of the dual purpose breeds. Commercialization requires specialization. A homestead or backyard would be better served by a dual purpose bird, where both (eggs and meat) were given equal priority, and the cost of such was a concern.
This sounds like the chicken-raising equivalent of a bit of Army wisdom: "No battle plan ever survives the first skirmish. Change, adapt, and overcome. You go to war with the Army you have right now, not what you think you need. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." I may not yet have experience breeding chickens, but I do have quite a bit of experience in handling constantly-changing "plans" which turn out to be more a combination of goals and guidelines.
I will try to understand. It is difficult while I am still in "kindergarten of chicken breeding" to understand "the synthetic organic chemistry of Australorps".
I have taken the first step, I own chickens, the best that I could find.
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
Start where you are, with what you have........
Someone wiser than I first said that.
I can totally empathize because I'm right there with you. I started a few months ago with some hatchery stock and have finally begun to formulate a plan for a serious production flock...one breed for meat and one for eggs. You've gotten some outstanding advice from some very knowledgeable and wise people here. Just take what you learn and run with it! Eventually things just start clicking into place and you'll have these wonderful "Aha!" moments when those pearls of wisdom suddenly make total sense.
Don't sweat it. It comes along the way.
Are you communicating with anyone that successfully breeds Australorps? Are you part of any Australorp groups like on Facebook etc.? It is important to listen to Australorp breeders more experienced than yourself.
Have you checked out the ALBC information that was referenced? A good old book is "Genetics of the Fowl" by Hutt. Also "The Mating and Breeding of Poultry" by Lamon and Slocum. Some of the old books by gamecock breeders on Amazon are helpful. They were line breeding fowl well before we ever were. A lot of what poultry man know comes from them. After reading these, you will be farther along than most. Books are often neglected. Do you own a Standard?
Are you familiar with different line breeding methods?
This is a production thread, but if you get around other breeders at shows, you will learn a lot. It is not just about the pretty birds. It is also about the love of breeding poultry.
I will still say that with a reasonable foundation, you will learn more by doing.
ocap, I'm a beginner too. My basic plan resembles the above quote, I'm going to learn along the way. My main focus now is to try not to go backwards. As I gain experience I can then fine tune my selection criteria. My basic plan with my NH's and Dels are to breed for meat and large eggs. I want the male and female to both be useful. I don't want birds laying as low as 150 a year, but I don't need eggs to sell, just enough to feed the family. I also don't want to butcher birds that don't have meat either!
As a beginner to chicken breeding it seems daunting all the stuff that's out there to learn. But I look at how my knowledge of dairy farming has come along. I grew up on a dairy farm but basically milked cows, did chores and some field work. After graduation I worked away from the farm and moved out of my parents. After my brothers had a chance to work on the farm but left, I came back to work with my parents. I knew how to do the work, but I didn't know the details or the thought process going into everything. This October will mark the 10th year since I returned to the farm which my wife and I now own. I know much, much more than I knew when I returned to the farm. I'm still striving to learn more.
With the farm, I look back at what I knew when I started, the direction I took, the corrections I made, and what I know now. The most important thing is choosing the right direction. This is really tough as a beginner because they don't know much and everybody else thinks they know what you should do. With a farm it can mean loosing it all if you choose the wrong direction, with chickens I would guess it means starting all over. Second, realize when things need to be adjusted. Sometimes you may have chosen the wrong direction. But often it's fine tuning the direction which is usually based on learning something new. Third, be able to track progress. You need to know where you were and where you are now. With a farm it can be an accrual based balance sheet that you compare from year to year. I'm not sure how the hobby chicken breeder would track progress other than jotting down weights, egg laying, etc. There needs to be data, maybe pictures would do too. Leaning on memory can be misleading. And lastly, enjoy what you do. If I didn't enjoy farming I wouldn't have put 12 hour days in, come into the house and read farming magazines, chat on the internet or taken half a day to go to a meeting or conference. That's where the learning happens.