BREEDING FOR PRODUCTION...EGGS AND OR MEAT.

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hellbender, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    I believe in greens as an important part of a bird's diet. Particularly fresh, young, tender greens that are alive. When my birds are in their breeding pens, they are brought some daily. My opinion is that if we do not bring the birds fresh greens that are confined, we are not doing as we should. Historically, poultry breeders felt the same. BUT, they did not have the complete rations that we do today. That was their vitamin, mineral supplement. So my position is an opinion, not a fact. It would not be true to say that someone was neglecting their birds because they did not. My opinion is in part based on the greens being alive. Their is a lot to be said for food that is alive.

    I am a strong supporter of birds on range, in particular growing birds. I do not believe their can be a better substitute. I attribute this more than anything to access to a variety of herbs, grasses, and greens. I want them to have all three though I understand that coarse mature grasses should not be a large part of a bird's diet.

    I say the above because it is impossible to overstate the importance of fresh air, sunshine, and tender greens.

    On the other hand, our birds are not cows, sheep, rabbits, or horses. They are not high fiber animals. They are not ruminants. They are seed eaters. Sheep or cows do not require the amount of energy that our birds do. Our bird's heart rates are in excess of 250 beats per minute. They have very high respiration rates. They require a lot of energy to maintain this super high metabolism. They are more than anything, seed eaters. They need more energy (seeds) than any other thing.

    Cows are not big seed eaters. They are great converters of high fiber, low protein grass into flesh. They have comparatively low metabolisms and are equipped to get the most out of little. They are not made to process high energy feeds (corn), like a chicken is. It used to put on fat, because people like marbled beef. Not because it is best for the cows.

    Your poultry meat will be more nutritionally dense, because of the added time required to develop that flesh. Also that the birds get more exercise. The flesh will more developed. Any improvement in the eggs would be from the variety of feed stuffs that they have access to.

    So I believe and emphasize the access to greens for our birds, but will hold to that grains and legumes should be the majority of their diet. They need more than anything (in qty) energy.

    Ducks, and especially geese, are better converters of green forage.
     
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  2. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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  3. Heron's Nest Farm

    Heron's Nest Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I finally caught up after vacation!

    I would like 4 eggs a week year round. Dob't get me wrong, an egg a day would be lovely, but 4 a week seems fair. This said, I usually cull after 2 years.
     
  4. Heron's Nest Farm

    Heron's Nest Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And now let's talk culling.

    I'm going to try and be VERY specific about my end goal needs in relationship to my question: If egg production is my goal, and I am breeding specifically for feed to egg conversion (mind you we range our birds and feed ), what thoughts do you have on culling layers (when in life cycle and what are you looking for)? How about males for future breeding (what characteristics would you look for and when would you cull)?

    Keep it short and sweet. I'm really looking for timing calls here. I don't want to keep poor producers around long or raise males for nothing. That being said, Maybe a nice meaty three finger spread on the pelvis is worth breeding INTO a line even if she's not so great on production (eggs per week)? What kind of cockrel traits are you looking at in relationship to egg production?

    It's almost a feeling I get, but if you can put your mojo into words I'd be most appreciative.
     
  5. bmvf

    bmvf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was going to say, "Wait a minute!", but then I got what your saying.

    The organic, no-grain dairy guys don't graze short, lush grass because it's too rich and digestible. They prefer taller, more fibrous grass. Some of the high production dairy herds add a pound or two of straw to the ration to slow rate of passage. Adding straw can also help with some health problems.
     
  6. DesertChic

    DesertChic Overrun With Chickens

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    Very well stated except for one little thing...chickens are omnivores, not "seed eaters", and through their evolution, seeds only made up a portion of their natural diet. While I agree with everything you send about fresh greens, air, sunshine, pasturing, etc., you seem to have excluded the basic fact that chickens and other birds eat bugs and other sources of pure protein because they are omnivores, NOT herbivores (like cattle). It was man that introduced all of the conveniently produced grain-based feeds to poultry. Left to their own devices, chickens select a vastly different natural diet.
     
  7. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    I am finished evaluating my females finally when they did get done molting. I note the hens that come back into lay sooner. It is something that gets done here throughout the year, but if there is a most informative definite time . . . It is when their first laying year is over. We cannot fully evaluate a female until her first laying cycle is over. We can identify some of the poorest producers along the way.

    The males are evaluated by type. A Rhode Island Red's (as an example) strength is the length and depth that gives them the capacity to be good layers. So naturally, I am looking for good breed type in the cockerels. I am with the pullets to, but I am keeping less cockerels. I can be especially selective with the males. The cocks are proven in the breeding pen by their offspring. If they are not helping me forward, then their contributions come to an end. Those that help me us forward are used as long as it is realistic to use them. I want to emphasize his influence.

    They have to be vigorous. Vigor is linked to productivity. All else being equal, I am keeping the more vigorous cockerel. I will not keep a less than vigorous cockerel.

    I do not go by feeling. I leave my feelings out of it.
     
  8. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    DesertChic, I did not say that they were not omnivores. Didn't you notice me emphasizing greens? Did you note the remark on eating insects? They was not excluded. You overlooked it.

    Seeds, make up 60% (roughly) of a JungleFowl's diet. 10% is fruit. That is 70% of their diet devoted to energy. Greens, and animal protein make up the other 30%. What they need in more volume (by far) is energy. That has to be understood to fully appreciate their needs. If you could experience your HR as high as theirs any length of time, you would appreciate their need for a lot of energy.

    You would have birds in poor condition if bugs and greens made up 70% and seeds made up 30%.

    Bears are omnivores to, but that does not begin to describe the needs of chickens. A lot of animals are omnivores.
     
  9. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    Are you familiar with the term "Hunger Gap"? That is where some with cattle etc. might restrain their animals from grazing fully early in the spring. They would consider it too rich, and they would limit graze them, continuing with hay for a time longer. That is precisely the forage our birds would do the best on. The young tender lush growth instead of the later mature, coarse, fibrous growth.
     
  10. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    In answer to geroges question . . .

    ANd to OCAP too!! lol

    I was afraid of making a drastic mistake if I bought good heritage stock. I had read over and over that noobies quit after a few years. I was terrified that I could never do well by these birds . . . so better to not try. Well how stupid was that thinking!!! What IF I WAS one of those that kept at it for 5 years, and if only 5 years perhaps my kids would know enough to one day give it a go themselves in the future . . .and what IF my stock got others started , and what if I did last 20 years in breeding . . . . as I did with horses, and sheep. So about a year ago I did jump in THREE years after getting my box of hatchery pullets . . . . and I still feel like I will make mistakes, and that terrifies me BUT I know if I don't make a move the birds will decide for me, as roosters will have their way, and nature will decide . . . .I just need to jump in and give it a try.

    SO I need to
    1. band every bird
    2. count number of pullets for each of the 3 pens
    3. select one male for each pen
    4. find 3 pens to keep the breeder birds in

    One thing I like to do is watch the males while out and about. I see one male that was picked on and go bloodied. . . should he be culled on that basis alone??? Other males have a waddling gait and I think, he is wide, and moves more like a CX---but is he too wide, does that effect mobility if too extreme, and what is too extreme for a buckeye???????

    Ya, I'm chicken.
     
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