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.