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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    This is a positive and helpful contribution. I hope that some will consider this.

    Practical experienced revealed this to me, while experimenting along the way. (The dreaded cross breeding etc. that I used to do) What I noticed was that a percentage of the frame would be established before they began really filling out. The birds with the taller and longer frames would take more time for them to be established, and you could even do the slow maturing breeds with big frames harm by pushing them to much.
    What I was looking at was the growth curve, and at what ages they reached an appropriate weight to harvest. What I began to notice was that there was a tendency for the shorter birds (in length) to fill out an fill out sooner, or for the smaller lighter birds to mature sexually at a younger age. Because I was cross breeding etc. I had a lot of variability to look at.
    There is a certain tendency.

    This is how my love affair started with NHs. I came to appreciate the shorter and wider birds. They had better early carcasses. It is no coincidence that they should be shorter and wider than the Rhode Island Red, and that they became more popular than the Rhode Island Red concerning the production of meat. Intentional selection for early weights and maturity from a single breed, bred them shorter and wider. It did help that I preferred the lighter red color, and that the black tail had more contrast, along with the ticking. LOL.

    Other illustrations on this point are the extremes. The slowest of the American Breeds to mature was the Jersey Giant. The slowest of the Mediterranean breeds to mature and develop is the Minorca. Both are the largest breeds with the most frame in their class.
    Someone commented recently that it was advised to avoid selecting the fastest maturing Jersey Giants, and historically this was sound advice. The Minorca breeders warned against the same, believing correctly that the faster birds tended towards the smaller, lighter, Leghorn type birds. The Giants advantage was extra large capons, and the Minorca's advantage was extra large eggs. Neither was expected to mature sexually, or reach the peak of their growth curve at an early age.

    Thompson, perhaps the best Rock breeder ever, emphasized appropriate size and rates. He did not want excessively fast growing birds, or excessively slow growing birds.

    It is no coincidence that the oversized Rock strains are also excessively slow to mature and develop.

    Another illustration is that bantams tend to mature earlier than their large fowl counterparts.

    In the exhibition world it is thought that bigger is better. The bigger bird is more "impressive" in the show pen. I have heard "breed them as big as you can get them". This view is only an example of one, but it reveals a belief in what will win.

    Bigger is not always better.

    The APA is discussing re emphasizing production, and if they are truly serious, the first thing they will do is pull out the scales. The early breeders knew and understood what an appropriate weight for the breed is. The standard weights did not get pulled out of thin air. The standard weights provide an anchor to the breeder. It should correct us from extremes. Another thing they would have to do to re emphasize production is penalize the excessively feathered breeds that are not ornamental. The excessive quantities of feather is a hindrance to proper production fowl. Those two things is all they have to do, and really all that they can do in the showroom. Both would cause an uproar, but all the judge has to do is pick the truly better bird. We have forgotten what better is, in many cases. But the breeders have to get the better birds in the pens.
    These comments are also general and not to imply anything universal.

    Now, these links discussed are not necessary links. Our ability to make improvements is only limited by genetic variability. It is not to say that there are not exceptions to this rule. The modern poultry industry's accomplishments are in a large way overcoming these tendencies and supposed limitations. The commercial broiler is an example. Consider both their size and rate of development. Love them or hate them, anyone that truly knows poultry realizes the level of accomplishment. Love them or hate them, genetically, it is an impressive accomplishment.

    Strains vary as individuals vary. Working with whatever we have to work with, we may realize that our strain is more efficient at a slightly larger size. We are limited within a strain to the genetic variability available. What is important is that we use the standard weights as an anchor, and the range of tolerance as a tool instead of an excuse.

    It is easy to lose size, and very difficult to gain size. The tendency is to drift back towards mediocrity (the jungle fowl), and lose size. It is easy to head downstream, but difficult to head against the current. We should be reluctant to use an undersized individual unless it is paired with an oversized individual. That is if we have any options at all. With some rare and neglected strains, we have to do what we have to do. But . . .if we are stuck, we have to do something. We cannot wallow in it forever. That would be insanity.

    I am guilty of this myself, but not of my own doing as an original cause. My NHs are much too large. They are too large when I started with them. As I rightly selected for wider and deeper birds they have trended even larger, though incrementally. They are at a point where it may take an intentional effort to breed them smaller. My assumption has been that by not selecting for size they would trend smaller. That is not the case if you are picking for early weights and fleshing. My better birds have been wider and deeper than their counterparts, and also heavier. Fortunately their rate of maturity is not bad, though they are not where I would like them to be, or think that they could be, considering where they are now.

    I do not want a newcomer to think we are saying that smaller is better is either. Far from it. Breed appropriate weights is what we are saying so that they are equipped to be as they could. I would rather start a little too large rather than the other extreme. The hatcheries are on the other extreme for the most part.
     
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  2. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    Southern Arizona is hot. Florida is not hot. LOL. Florida is humid.
     
  3. Dead Rabbit

    Dead Rabbit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Buy you a toe punch. They are cheap. And experiment. You can also incorporate both punching and cutting on the same bird.

    I quite punching and went with cutting


    Went to destin area of fl for two wks in mid sept. In 2013. It was 98 degrees one day I was talking to some locals. I was sweating through my clothes. They said yeah it's been a hot summer but it's starting to cool down now. Lol.
     
  4. LindaB220

    LindaB220 Overrun With Chickens

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    No gripes on my Blosl and XW rocks. They are totally worth it. I will be getting the ISA Browns for the egg business. Putting it all on hold for a few months. Today I went to the knee surgeon and set up the date of March 10. That's gonna give me time to get everything done and set up for the SIL to watch over the birds while I'm incapacitated. I'm in such great shape except for the knee and when it heals watch me go. ha
     
  5. Rainey

    Rainey Out Of The Brooder

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    I read the whole post but just wanted to ask a question (as a newcomer) about this last part. For someone whose goal is eggs, not meat, is the direction of the hatcheries appropriate? In the past I've kept (obtained from hatchery) hens described as dual purpose, and I came to the point of thinking that it was not efficient to raise those hens for eggs, that smaller would be better. But I'm still learning and hope you'll tell me why smaller birds are not better.
     
  6. DesertChic

    DesertChic Overrun With Chickens

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    I don't do well in humidity. Even here in dry AZ, my body hurts like mad during summer monsoons and winter rains, but at least the heat keeps it bearable. I grew up in Ohio and went back there after living away for over six years. I could barely move in that humidity. I like the dry heat. [​IMG] And though a summer temp of 110 is way too high for anyone, we don't get that many days that hot down here. That's more of a Yuma and even Phoenix temperature. I live south of Tucson at a higher elevation and summer is gorgeous....in my opinion.
     
  7. DesertChic

    DesertChic Overrun With Chickens

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    Best of luck with the surgery! I can't wait to hear about everything the "bionic woman" does once her knee is fixed. [​IMG]
     
  8. dfr1973

    dfr1973 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Meanwhile, I don't do dry heat very well ... I tend to want to dig and build fighting positions with proper overhead cover for the mortar rounds at night. I spent most of 2003 in Kuwait and Iraq. You could tell who was from the SW desert over there ... they said it felt like home, and didn't seem to be bothered until the temp hit 120F.

    As for Hellbender's comment earlier ... sounds like someone visited down here around Labor Day, a few years back. I'll still take the humidity over dry heat.
     
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  9. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    Breed appropriate sizes is better when discussing pure breeds. The discussion was on pure breeds, and how their standard weights related to their usefulness. It is about being loyal to the purpose and role they were intended for. No different than working dogs should have the appropriate characteristics for the breed etc. The discussion was breed appropriate sizes, and the examples were dual purpose breeds.

    You are shifting the conversation to the production of eggs alone, which is fine. It only matters that we are discussing the same thing.

    If you are only concerned with the production of eggs, you cannot do better than the commercial crossed strains of Leghorns. There is no more cost effective layer on the planet. If you prefer brown eggs, then ISA Browns etc. are a better choice. You can breed them to, but the cost effectiveness of your enterprise seams to be a concern. They are so cost effective to purchase that it is cheaper to replace them every couple years rather than breeding them at all. A single male eats a little over 90lbs of feed in a year, and two at least is better because chickens die. Then the offspring will not lay as well as the initial cross, and their is a loss rather than a gain.

    The cheapest way to produce eggs is to purchase commercial laying strains and replace them every two years.

    Smaller lighter breeds were (and are) favored for the production of eggs alone, because they eat less feed. In that sense smaller is better, but too small is another problem of it's own. The 42 -48 oz commercial leghorn crossed strains are at their limit of efficiency concerning the production of large eggs. They cannot be beat though. Any smaller and they need to be laying smaller eggs. See how we are getting back to breed appropriate weights? The Standard Leghorn hen weight is 56oz.

    Personally, I think the lighter Mediterranean and Continental breeds are neglected and overlooked among those interested in pure breeds.
     
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  10. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    The higher elevations of southern AZ are not as bad. The valleys like Phoenix have very tough summers. At 117 and there is no shade, and the heat is reflecting off of the rocks back at you, humidity is not on my mind. LOL. The sun's intensity out there exposed is tough, and will kill you.

    I used to go out their every year. I would try to time it after the summer monsoons. All the better when they would come later into September.

    I love south of Tuscon. I love the Sonoran desert. I did some wandering around Nogales to. Arizona is a beautiful and remarkable place. Once the summer is over, even the area around Phoenix is nice. I did a lot of climbing in and around the Superstitious Mts. I only love the sea islands of the coastal South East more.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
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