BREEDING FOR PRODUCTION...EGGS AND OR MEAT.

dfr1973

Songster
8 Years
Nov 20, 2011
596
264
186
rural central FL
Pressure canning chicken is not difficult. I just followed the instruction booklet that came with my pressure canners (yes, plural). I make sure a couple pints go to hubby's grandmother, who says our chicken is the best tasting she has eaten in her life - and she's 87 now. I also do condensed stock, from simmering the carcasses to get as much meat off before throwing the bones out to the "rancor pit," as hubby calls the chickens.

I find myself nodding to a lot of the recent discussion on the balance of dual purpose chickens. Right now, I am at the stage where two of three cockerels have started crowing, and I look at the pullets every morning to see if any of them are nearing PoL.
 

Beer can

Free Ranging
5 Years
Aug 12, 2014
8,738
11,991
641
Upstate NY
No, not difficult, just a little more work. Great if your limited on freezer space also. I agree with the flavor, it's almost like all the good yummy chicken flavor is sealed right in. Same with canned venison I can eat it cold right out of the jar lol. I think it stays good almost forever also, I've ate ten year old canned venison a buddy had when he cleaned out his grammas house, it tasted good.
 

gjensen

Crowing
8 Years
Feb 22, 2011
2,965
1,325
313
Midlands, South Carolina
Boy, always a lot of good reading here.
gjensen you mention canning, that's what my mother always did with most of their chickens.
I've canned venison but with chicken I just pressure cook them when we are ready to eat them, easier. I used to just use a small pressure cooker, fit one whole chicken. But I've overdone them a couple times, fell apart little bones everywhere, guess my timing was off Lol. Now I just use a crockpot slowcooker, easier to keep an eye on it, and if you do overdo it the meat and little bones don't get all mixed up.
Bee cans much of hers. I think it is a good way to go, providing one does it safely. Bee gave me a lot of good tips, and would be the right person to contribute here. She gave me so many ideas and good info that I saved the messages.
 

gjensen

Crowing
8 Years
Feb 22, 2011
2,965
1,325
313
Midlands, South Carolina
These old timers did not do it because there was no advantage to it. They felt they were capturing the best of both worlds. GJensen.

To me, this is what most of my personal project is all about. I call it a happy medium between a meat bird and a sufficient egg layer. Utility breeding to provide food for the homestead without breaking the bank and utilizing what you raise makes perfect sense. This is a great conversation.
It is finding our own balance. Everyone's happy little medium is a different place. That is why there is so many different breeds.
 

bmvf

Chirping
5 Years
Apr 7, 2014
126
34
91
Annville, PA
I annoy myself when I talk about feeding my chickens more economically but don't. However, I've gotten very good at feeding my cows economically when I graze them in my pastures. There is a big difference in income between the two!

With so few birds, it's tough to justify extra work... especially when it's during a time of the day when there is other work to do. I do have extra milk when shutting down my milking system. The only problem is that just spent 2 hours milking and need to clean up everything plus do other cow related chores. My NH's are just around the corner so it wouldn't be too much of a hassle. If I have my NH's in a chicken tractor like my Dels it would be tougher to get them milk.

I'm reluctant to fix up my second chicken tractor because I'm not happy with the first. Everything is great, but I can't figure out how to install nests onto the PVC frame. My Dels then lay their eggs on the ground which soon makes them dirty. So I'm thinking of not using the chicken tractors for layers but for raising young stock. I'm not sure if I want to build a portable chicken house to let the birds free range because then I have to deal with predators and I also have to make sure the chickens went back into the house at night. Getting eggs plus watering and feeding would be more of a chore with the extra travel and opening and closing of gates. On the positive side, I have the multi species, diverse pastures like Jensen talks about
 

hellbender

Crowing
6 Years
Sep 2, 2013
3,531
1,142
278
Grinder's Switch
I annoy myself when I talk about feeding my chickens more economically but don't. However, I've gotten very good at feeding my cows economically when I graze them in my pastures. There is a big difference in income between the two!

With so few birds, it's tough to justify extra work... especially when it's during a time of the day when there is other work to do. I do have extra milk when shutting down my milking system. The only problem is that just spent 2 hours milking and need to clean up everything plus do other cow related chores. My NH's are just around the corner so it wouldn't be too much of a hassle. If I have my NH's in a chicken tractor like my Dels it would be tougher to get them milk.

I'm reluctant to fix up my second chicken tractor because I'm not happy with the first. Everything is great, but I can't figure out how to install nests onto the PVC frame. My Dels then lay their eggs on the ground which soon makes them dirty. So I'm thinking of not using the chicken tractors for layers but for raising young stock. I'm not sure if I want to build a portable chicken house to let the birds free range because then I have to deal with predators and I also have to make sure the chickens went back into the house at night. Getting eggs plus watering and feeding would be more of a chore with the extra travel and opening and closing of gates. On the positive side, I have the multi species, diverse pastures like Jensen talks about
If it were me and using cow's milk, I'd curdle the milk with vinegar after heating it to 98*F and allow it to set for a few hours. Then I'd feed it a bit at a time to make sure it didn't scour the birds...adding just a bit more each day. Wonderful chicken feed!!!!!!!
 

holm25

Jr Chicken Wrangler
5 Years
Apr 6, 2014
12,623
5,682
672
MN
If it were me and using cow's milk, I'd curdle the milk with vinegar after heating it to 98*F and allow it to set for a few hours.  Then I'd feed it a bit at a time to make sure it didn't scour the birds...adding just a bit more each day.  Wonderful chicken feed!!!!!!!
We do this. But only give them the whey from it. They love it.
 

LindaB220

Crowing
6 Years
Aug 23, 2013
6,179
879
341
Portland/Vancouver area
Your first point is a challenge in these discussions. The word good. What each of us decide is good or good enough can be different.

I would say that we can have good on each point, but not excellent.

A NH that lays 200 extra large eggs, and sons that weigh 5 1/2 lbs at 12-14wks is good on both points. Egg size does matter, and nothing bothers me more than an average layer that lays medium sized eggs but eats 5oz+ per day. I like to consider egg weights per dozen when evaluating the large birds. Larger birds should lay larger eggs. A 200 egg layer that lays extra large eggs, and some jumbos puts out as much as a 220 egg layer that is only large or less. A dozen extra large eggs is worth more than a dozen large eggs. There is more egg.

Both can be had on the level described above, but to go either way from there will detract from the other. You might tease a few more eggs from a strain like this, but going too far is going the other way.

You could even overcome the genetic antagonist that are limiting, but there is no point when the eggs just cost more and more per dozen. The hypothetical NH describes a balance. NHs were the it bird for a time, around the world, for this reason. To get both out of the same bird. They lost out to the specialization that followed.

They learned this during the laying trials back in the day. Especially when qty. of feed was considered. Many breeds were developed to perform well as layers. Reds, NHs, Rocks, Australorps all had strains that performed well. We base today's reputations on such reputations and nostalgia, preferring to recall the performance of individual birds. The Australorp breeders love to recall the individual birds that set records, but when the averages are considered for the different breeds then, their was not much separation between the breeds as a whole.
Now considering the above, we fail to realize that they were specialized strains developed for the production of eggs. Not meat. They were far lighter than the meat strains of NHs and Rocks, and lighter still than the dual purpose strains. They were almost developed into other breeds all together. In fact that is how two of these breeds come into being. The Australorp from the Orpington, and the NH from the Reds. Breeds intentionally developed to perform. Commercial breeds.
Eventually these birds were left behind for the Leghorn. They laid as well as Leghorns, but the Leghorns ate less feed. They were more efficient producers, and so the development went into these as a priority.

The hatchery dual purpose strains (popular ones) of today are of this type set. Laying strains. They do not perform as well as these particular laying trial strains. That requires very intentional, organized, and thoughtful breeding. They are light in weight like the laying strains however. It costs less to feed them for the chicks they produce. They are not of the classically accepted dual purpose type. Some are better than others. There is some variability. Now are they good enough? Well . . .you can eat them, but I would not call them efficient producers of flesh. And I have had many many through the years. They do however eat less than the larger meatier strains, and often lay better. They have their value, and I believe a more practical option for many. It is not as if they produce no meat at all. I would say that they are still dual purpose birds. It is not as if they are commercial leghorns that have nothing at all (commercial leghorn hens run in the range of 3 1/2 pounds).

A lot of times we think we want this or that, and then realize that we do not. Or we evolve over time, or for myself, circumstances change. Economy does matter, and we have to balance what we want with what we can afford. Historically roasting fowl was a luxury, seasonal, and cost as much or more than beef. There is a reason for that. I still see poultry meat on our stead as seasonal and a treat, though Bee gave me some tips on canning. I intend to do this with spent and cull layers, but not depend on it.

To illustrate, I am working to develop my Catalanas to fit my own balance and ideal. Them being such a rare breed, I do have some room to operate. There is no consensus here on what they should be. I could show them, and frankly, most judges would not know how to best evaluate them. They are much more rare than any of these rare imports selling for a lot of money (that are really worth much much less).
What I want from these birds to do is mature as fast sexually as they do. Reach fryer weights early, be able to cull and eat cockerels very early, but not grow too large. I do not want them to be the heavy hitters of feed eaters that some strains of breeds are. If I want some roasters from them, I will caponize some. They already lay very well, and I intend to keep that.

I could develop a good meat strain in a breed. I could do two. One one way, and another a laying strain. We could reduce the cost of eggs in the meat strain, but we would increase the cost in the other. I think we are better off finding our own balance. Picking the breed that best fits that potential, and developing our own strain. Let the proof in the pudding be in the eating. But, if we want to do both, there is nothing wrong with that either. My thinking is based on that developing a strain and making progress requires a lot of hatching. Maintaining a flock or two is different than breeding for improvement. If I had the time, money etc., I would develop many strains of many breeds. LOL. There is a lot that I would like to do.

One of the worst things we have done to some exhibition strains is breed them too large, and with too much feather. Not selecting for rates of maturity, not culling the poorest producers, not preferring birds from those that molted in reasonable time frames etc. This is not true for all. There is a lot out there.

My opinion is that we pick a strain that is closest to our desires and go to work. Go with the breed that we like the most, or start a project and go to work. There are a lot of genetics out there to work with. We have access to genetics no one has before. Goodness, the improvement that could be had by what is considered waste. A single dime a dozen commercial sex linked male could improve the laying of a heavy over sized strain drastically.

In England before sex linked strains became standardized, traditional simple crosses were common. It was not uncommon to pick a lighter in weight vigorous Red, and put him on a heavy strain of Light Sussex. They believed the lighter in weight male, that they would not use for breeding pen otherwise, made better laying sex linked pullets. They often kept two breeds, or cooperated with another. Laying strains of Rhode Island Reds on heavy Light Sussex was common. They did process the fast growing cockerels. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing this. These old timers did not do it because there was no advantage to it. They felt they were capturing the best of both worlds.
Great post. I have a buddy in south La that is growing out great Lt Sussex's and will get a start of them later. I have only one Coronation Sussex and her demeanor is terrific. The taste of sussex's are supposed to be almost as good as Dorkings. I NEED to get a good NH cockerel or something to grow out. I could sell the POL pullets (or babies for that matter) and caponize the cockerels. Just thinking outloud. I have a lot to do before I get into this.
 
Top Bottom