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

  1. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2011
    Midlands, South Carolina
    You certainly can if that is what you want to do.

    That is how I started. With chicks from the feed store. Some were sex linked cockerels that you could get free with a bag of feed. They were not pretty but their daughters made for good layers. They make good crosses with heavy birds because they have very fast growth rates. Plus the males are a dime a dozen. Ironic.

    Some would say that you should not, but I disagree. If you want to experiment with it, go for it. It can actually be fun, and we have access to genetics that we never had before in history. The sky is the limit. Do as you please.

    Check out that ALBC summary. It has some illustrations. Take the time and purchase "Genetics of the Fowl" by Hutt off of Amazon. It is a good place to start for beginners.

    The Hogan method is outdated, but that does not mean none of it is helpful. That is why I suggest the ALBC summary. Just keep in mind, a snap shot in time does not define a layer.

    Ron is right. The best way to evaluate a pullet is by counting her eggs. We can't possible be breeding for production if we are not fully evaluating them. A good layer is the sum of her characteristics. The eggs are the proof in the pudding. Anything less is just chatter and speculation.
    I cannot trap nest. It isn't absolutely necessary.
  2. chickkrzi

    chickkrzi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 8, 2011
    Waco texas

    So how do you evaluate a hens production capabilities with out trap nesting?
  3. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    The spread of the pelic bones is an indicator of SIZE of egg, not frequency. Til now I have not pursued either size or frqency as it was not important to me. I like a bit of variety in my egg basket, as do my customers. However, now that I have buckeyes, I will need to pay more attention to those matters for them atleast.

    I have had two project pens. In one pen the blue male AMercauna covered barred hens, of every breed or mix. Made for an array of egg colors in the olive green spectrum, and were all sexlinks. A fun pen. ANother "breed" I have is the Konza. I am not the originator of this "breed" but have 3 of this breed and have mixed reviews at this point. Honestly, an APA breed that has been selected for meat for generations is better than the 3 Konza I have. THough I do love the looks of the largest male. BUT he totally lacks muscling at this point. Might be late in development, IDK. IMO working with lines already up to your standard is the place to start, even if you decide to cross them in some fashion. Finding GOOD birds is difficult. Took a lot of reading and investigating for 3 years to find what I was looking for. Be willing to do trial and error to find what you want-- you know, gotta kiss a lot of frogs . . . . . .
  4. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    2 people like this.
  5. southernmomma

    southernmomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2014
    North Louisiana
    @ronott1 and @gjensen ~ thank you both for the info....and George for the reading recommendation. That book looks interesting and two of the Amazon reviews were especially helpful.

    I may indeed go for it but perhaps with what I already have as I also shy away from having too much variety and the subsequent lack of direction. lol....I drive my own self bonkers with indecision. I will be working with hatchery stock but am comfortable with that level of investment and any breeding with intention can be viewed as a step forward in the learning curve.

    An acquaintance has let me manhandle her hens several times and it has surprised me several times with the differences I've encountered. I'm sure it will only lead to more questions though :)

  6. DesertChic

    DesertChic Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 13, 2014
    Southern Arizona
    Questions are good because they lead to the search for answers, and sometimes that search is where the fun really hides. The genetics book @gjensen recommended is a great source of information for understanding how to breed for certain traits, but if you're at all like me some or most of the "learning" will come from the "doing"...selecting your breeders and moving forward to find out what you get. Don't be afraid! Just enjoy your birds and your projects. [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  7. LindaB220

    LindaB220 Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 23, 2013
    Portland/Vancouver area
    Quote:Check out the ISA Brown's from Townline. There is a long thread on here about breeding them back to each other several generations. Great results. Search for ISA Browns and you can pull it up.
    1 person likes this.
  8. Heron's Nest Farm

    Heron's Nest Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 11, 2011

    I encourage you to breed for what you want. This thread was started for those who want to bread for a trait and not worry about the SOP.

    My advice is to pick a trait per pen that you are going for. Maybe at this point you just want to "see" what will happen, but it is my experience that it is hard to notice everything. So, pick something to search out and pursue in your program.

    If you have only one breeding pen you can rotate birds out of the pen. Just wait 10 days before using any of the collected eggs for hatching. That way you don't have any other genetics. If you have only one roo you may wish to isolate the birds that you are selecting from (using their genetics) to be sure you are using their eggs.

    You have to start somewhere so just start. It's really fun. and you will learn lots. Take notes and pictures and please share your adventure.

    "Where you start is not where you end." --Graham Cooke

    And that's the fun of it!
  9. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2011
    Midlands, South Carolina
    A number of ways. Trap nesting is the best way. The best selection method is always the most direct path to the end result. You cannot possibly have a better method to select the best layers than positively knowing how many they lay. Then using sons from the best layers, and because there is always variability in the offspring, prove him by his offspring. Then emphasizing those males that have the best producing daughters. That is all easier said than done, but there is no better way.

    I cannot trap nest. Instead I think in terms of point of lay, rate of lay, and length of lay. My birds are also in small enough groups that I can identify and remove the poorest producers. I count by pen. I do have one hand tied behind my back, in that I cannot effectively prove my males on this point alone. I have other concerns.

    I can remove the lowest producers. Occasionally, I can identify the best producers and hope to be able to emphasize her and her sons. I have already removed the pullets that are tardy when compared to their hatch mates. I can also remove the hens that molt the earliest, take the longest to molt, are late to come back into lay, and are last to come back to full rate of lay as the days lengthen. This emphasizing the length of the laying year. It makes a difference.

    Egg size and quality is the easiest. It is simply grading and weighing eggs. Not setting the smallest and poorest examples, and hoping to make incremental progress along the way. That means raising the standard along the way.

    Any pullet or hen that I keep has already met a standard of sorts concerning type, color, and size. I am attempting to emphasize the better producers from this group.

    The reality is that what I try to do is just a bit better than maintenance. You can expect some improvement, but only to a certain point. The reality is also that doing nothing at all is the surest and fastest way to go backwards.

    If we know what they are producing, then we now whether or not we are going forward, backwards, or holding steady. If the birds are not bad layers, holding steady might be good enough.

    None of this or other methods is difficult. It is just a process that goes along with the seasons.

    Most lines or strains have a rate of lay that is acceptable. That is my experience. It is when you have birds that enjoy long seasonal breaks, take forever to come into lay, molt early, then take forever to molt, are slow to get going late into the winter etc. Then on top of it all, lay smaller eggs . . . When all of that is combined, they go from average layers to very poor layers. Personally, these birds are absolutely useless as production type fowl. I will not feed birds like this.

    On the other hand, my expectations would be modified for ornamentals, ornamental varieties, or historic breeds that were never selected for this type of improvement. A lot of people keep many types of birds for many reasons. It is important to know what they are and why we have them. We need to be sober in our expectations.
    It would be irrational to hope a Cubalaya could produce similarly to a Leghorn etc. That does not mean a Cubalaya does not have any value. It would be more interested in raising Cubalaya than most breeds out there. I would only try to realize birds as they were intended to be to begin with.
    1 person likes this.
  10. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2011
    Midlands, South Carolina
    It is true that much of our learning comes with the doing. At the same time, it is to our advantage to take advantage of the generations of experience and the wealth of resources that we have available to us. Otherwise it takes a lifetime to get where others were 100 years ago. Figuratively speaking.

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