BREEDING FOR PRODUCTION...EGGS AND OR MEAT.

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

  1. ocap

    ocap Overrun With Chickens

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    My first choice would be Frank Reese Jr. "Good Shepherd Ranch" Kansas. He is already making Jersey Giants productive enough to sell the meat. I have heard good things about his birds.
     
  2. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    We shipped poultry to Europe after the war as part of a reconstruction effort. Not just Germany. Much of Europe's agriculture was in ruins. Germany did end up in especially bad shape. Whenever we read modern European poultry history, we read a lot of pre-war, and post war references. Particularly what is written by older poultry breeders.
    The Germans, and others, were especially fond of the New Hampshires as we were here at the time. The Canadians loved them, and so did we. They became very popular very fast, because the birds produced. By 1950 we were using breed crosses, and the interest waned. The original broiler crosses were NHs x Cornish. The NH won the first chicken of tomorrow contest, and a NH x Cornish won the next. A strain of NHs did especially well in the laying trials. The NH was one of the first true commercial breeds.
    They did not become especially popular upon exhibition breeders, though some did real well with them. The Red breeders shunned them. They were admitted to the Standard without the Red attached to the name because of the resistance by the breeders of Reds. Therefore it isn't "correct" to call them New Hampshire Reds. The name did stick though, but is still resisted in the exhibition circle.
    The breed was a victim of it's timing. They came on hard and fast, and the interest in them waned just as fast. The industry was changing very fast at the time. What they were noted for was fast feathering ( most of the Reds were slow to feather), their quick growth, and fast maturity. They were popular meat birds, and they were as good of layer as the others.

    The Germans remained fond of the breed, and their exhibition breeders did especially well with them. Their large shows today feature very large numbers of NHs. They are popular all across Europe. Some more so than others. They are many breeding and showing them in South America also. For some reason we did not do the same. Though that has changed some. The import stirred a new interest in them, as fads do. The fad is waning, but some good breeders are working with them, and doing well with them. Not enough, but that is the only thing that secures any breed. Good breeders.

    I started looking for good NHs about 9 years ago. I spent about 5 years looking for decent NHs. I never found any. I searched the country for them, tried the hatcheries etc. I tried all of the popular hatcheries and all I found was junk. Most of the NHs at the hatcheries are not even NHs. I say this to illustrate how far they fell here. It is a shame really.

    When these were imported I was very happy, and spent very good money to get a start. The next year I decided to get them from the original source, and did better. My first batch was American x German strains. Almost all of them have been crossed now. I kept mine pure, believing that though they had breeding challenges, they were the best that we had.

    The bird pictured in my Avatar was one of my original cockerels between 7 and 8 months old. He was weighing about 10lbs then. This picture is a few generations ago. He did fill out a little more, but his color is a little off. His hackles etc. is just a shade too light, and his wings are too dark. His tail did as cockerels do and gained more lift with time. Maybe a little over done. I liked him for his width. He was a good wide bird like a NH should be.

    The birds pictured in the advertisement are strain crosses. The one hen does have relatively even and decent color, but she is light in weight (narrow) and has a pinched tail. Some of the information in the advertisement is misleading, and one statement is just not true. I did not like the statement that they are good four year layers, and that Reds are only good for two. Frankly that would be said by someone that does not know any better. They probably heard that somewhere. I am sure someone else has read it, believed it, and repeated it. LOL.
     
  3. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    It can be true. Once you have your new birds a couple years, you will see the tendencies that yours has and can make good decisions. It is not completely true for my NHs, but I do believe that their size does hold me back. Mine have been too large. I do not have as much of a problem with when they fill out as I do how they fill out. Mine have had more frame than what would be ideal.

    I am a believer in the weight standards. I feel they provide us an anchor of sorts, though a little to large is better than a little too small.

    You are right to have targets, and to be watching their growth curve. It is part of breeding good birds, I believe. What will complicate it is other traits. It becomes a balancing act, avoiding the over emphasis of any particular thing. That has been my experience. I do not want to lose ground on this to gain that etc. I feel like I am juggling sometimes. I might make two steps forward on this, and take a step back on that. Then I have to re emphasize what I took a step back on the following year. The best answer is in the qty. hatched and grown out, but I do have limitations.
     
  4. neopolitancrazy

    neopolitancrazy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yes, sir. I plan to hatch 25 chicks from each of the 4 possible pairs, and cull only deformities and poor vigor until 12-16 weeks of age, when the smallest one-third will make a trip to the freezer. The other 60 or so I would like to raise to ~ 6 months before another batch heads to the freezer. We are good on housing up to the 3 month mark, but need more to grow them out to 6 months. I foresee some hoop housing in our near future.
    Best wishes,
    Angela
     
  5. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    I am in a similar place. I can hatch more out than I can grow all of the way out. I have to start culling, and keep culling. Not to mention the cost. Fortunately it does not seam hard to get rid of culls locally for those that just want "pretty" layers etc.

    25 chicks from each possible pair will give you who is producing what. That is an excellent way to start. That should get you out of the whole in the first generation. I can only hatch 8-10 per female per year. It takes me into the second year to really know. I hope that I do better about fall hatching this year. That should help me manage this more effectively. Even if my fall hatch is only a small hatch. Cull pullets seam especially easy to get rid of in the spring, and they are in there prime at the right time.

    I am at least going to do a fall hatch with my grading project.

    I hope that you keep us posted on your progress. This will be an interested new start, with a great (overlooked) breed, and a beautiful variety.

    The hoop houses (mine are framed) add flexibility. I like my mix of permanent and mobile housing. I have about 700 sf. of fixed housing and 350sf of mobile housing. I would like to add about 150sf of mobile housing this spring. This is still smaller than what I would like, but with some creativity in the rotation, I do well enough. It is funny how so much is empty over the winter, and I do not have enough come summer.
     
  6. Rainey

    Rainey Out Of The Brooder

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    Whew--I finally got to the end of this thread. I'm new to BYC, have had chickens for eggs for a few years. Started with a few birds given to us and then bought pullets and then chicks. Want to start breeding our own. Feeling a bit daunted by the comments about hatchery chicks and confused by the advice to get good stock from a breeder, but lots of disagreement about who has good stock or even if it is readily available. (Same issue last year when we started raising rabbits for meat--we just ended up getting what we could find that was healthy and getting them off pellets and onto feeding mostly forage and hay, growing fodder this winter, already replaced starter does with best from the best does litters last summer)
    This spring we need new chickens and this time I want to get ones that forage well, grow more of our own feed, and start breeding our own replacement stock instead of buying chicks every couple years. We keep chickens mostly for eggs but will eat the extra cockerels if we're hatching our own chicks.Won't expect them to be really meaty. No interest in showing. Enjoy all that grows on the farm but not attached to the hens being a particular color or "style". I'm not looking to sell eggs--just to produce our own eggs. I'm not looking for birds that could compete in a show or to be the fastest growers or record-breaking layers. Is it realistic to hope that over time, by selecting the ones that do best at foraging, coping with the cold and snow, laying the most consistently over the year I could have hens that would be well adapted to this place and our ways of housing & feeding?
    I'll be buying hatchery chicks from a feedstore unless I can find someone in my area that has birds to sell from a backyard flock. Given my goals (and the opinions some hold about all hatchery chicks) does it matter if I start with a mix or with one breed? Any suggestions about what the breed(s) should be?
     
  7. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    If you are happy with hatchery chicks, go with hatchery chicks. Take your time, and pick what you like. If you find yourself interested in an individual breed, in time you will find for yourself what is a good example and not. Then you can make another step if you choose.

    Foraging is as much about management as it is the bird. That said, they are not all equal.

    Most birds do well in a variety of climates. Some are a little better equipped for extremes than others. They are tougher than we give them credit for. Most handle extreme cold better than extreme heat. If you live in a place known for prolonged extreme cold, you might want to consider comb type.

    For a small family flock where the supply of eggs is the focus, it would be easy to manage a personal flock. You will prefer some birds over another for your own reasons. The better layers means less birds, less output, and more available forage. Always have a couple more than you need because everything likes to eat chicken.

    The opinions about hatchery chicks is about whether or not they represent the breed well. Many do not. To start, it isn't a concern. It becomes a concern when you become interested in breeding a particular breed for the breed's sake or selling the breed to the public. For the sake of having some eggs for the family, it only matters that you like them and are happy with their performance.
     
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  8. DesertChic

    DesertChic Overrun With Chickens

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    There's absolutely nothing wrong with starting with hatchery stock. Many of us do, especially when we're just looking for eggs and maybe some meat. Personally, I liked starting with a mix. It allowed me to get to know the personalities and attributes of more than one breed at a time and because of that I'm not better able to decide which breeds I want to stick with and which simply aren't for me. My one warning...if you plan to hatch from breeding your hatchery stock you might want to be sure to invest in an incubator if you haven't already. I haven't heard of many people who get broody hatchery hens unless they purchase Silkies or Cochins or a similar breed that have retained their broody ways. Most of the dual purpose birds purchased from hatcheries don't seem to have retained that tendency. Good luck!
     
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  9. dfr1973

    dfr1973 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With your goals, hatchery chicks are probably the best place to start - their business model automatically selects for egg production. As for breed, try out one of the dual purpose breeds that tickles your fancy. (For me, that ended up being the gold-laced Wyandotte.) Most of the hens should lay quite well, as they have already been selected for laying. The really big part of selection will be in judging which cockerel you allow to grow into roosterhood. By selecting the ones that best fit your area and living conditions and foraging, yes, you will have a flock of chickens best adapted to you in about five years or so.

    For the record, I am starting off with hatchery stock. I know there is at least one hatchery out there with salvageable genetics, because I bought a nice chick from Tractor Supply two years ago. The problem is, that was when they were switching over hatchery suppliers and the local employees weren't sure which hatchery sent the Wyandottes. I have found a "shortcut" in a mostly-local breeder does a similar enough variety (blue-laced red, which throw black phase) that I can happily buy her "culls" ... and she is very happy to sell the black phase chicks to me, as she admires the gold-laced variety. The most I'd show my birds would be the county fair. What I am looking to breed is true dual purpose GLWs - where the hens lay decent and the cockerels grow and flesh out well enough to eat as broilers or capons.
     
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  10. southernmomma

    southernmomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You sound a little like me....and I spent a year reading threads and asking questions, lol. At one point I was completely convinced I needed to find breeder stock but ultimately realized that I didn't need to start at the finish line and for me, the process was what I was interested in. I want to work on penning, selecting, breeding etc without the significant stress of expensive birds (or hard to find birds) being my entire investment. and regardless of where you get your birds, selection of breeders will result in changes in the next generation....either good or bad you will see a result from selection. So I chose 3 breeds that I have been interested in and bought a number of each. I'll decide which I fancy the most in a year and cull the rest. I already know I don't care for 1 of them. You have the advantage of already having experience with poultry.

    Cubalayas have stuck in my mind as an excellent homestead choice. Your choices are significantly wider with not requiring huge amounts of meat.

    M
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2015
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