Breeding for utility value

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by The Yakima Kid, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. The Yakima Kid

    The Yakima Kid Cirque des Poulets

    Utility breeding appears to be a lost art among backyard chicken breeders and those who raise show quality birds. How many of you work for both goals?

    I ask this because many people stress the show quality bird as being the superior stock - yet breeding for show points destroyed the productive value of the Brahma, once the major broiler in America. It has also harmed other breeds because protein is required for feathers, meat, and eggs - and obtaining all three often doesn't work.
     
  2. wolftracks

    wolftracks Spam Hunter

    10,312
    100
    328
    Nov 6, 2009
    Modesto
    I've been thinking about this for a long time myself. Forty years of showing dogs, I did conformation and added working and obedience titles. To me the breeds I have had needed to be able to do their job, not just look pretty.

    I had a bad hatch year this year. Next year I'll do better. I have to. What I want to do next is not just go for SQ which I definately want or egg color which os also important to me. They need to lay LOTS of eggs. So although I think it will be a slow process of marking who lays what and how many, it's something I will be working on.
     
  3. The Yakima Kid

    The Yakima Kid Cirque des Poulets

    What breeds are you raising?
     
  4. The Yakima Kid

    The Yakima Kid Cirque des Poulets

    If you can find an old practical poultry book or old poultry text book, they often include instructions on how to build a trapnest so you can see who is laying and get an accurate record.

    Nadja
     
  5. wolftracks

    wolftracks Spam Hunter

    10,312
    100
    328
    Nov 6, 2009
    Modesto
    Got thing like Sumatras, Games and Polish and then some bantam breeds, but working mainly with FBCMs, AMs, SPPRs and Wellies. Starting to get a little hooked on my JG now that I have one. Hope I don't get too hooked.
     
  6. The Yakima Kid

    The Yakima Kid Cirque des Poulets

    Gotta watch out for those big girls; they'll steal your heart every time. [​IMG]
     
  7. wolftracks

    wolftracks Spam Hunter

    10,312
    100
    328
    Nov 6, 2009
    Modesto
    Quote:Oh yeah

    That's how I fell in love with my FBCMs. My Davis birds were so huge I was in heaven.
     
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Not a lost art here. We take utility, such a size, weight, egg laying and personality into account. In fact, it drives our breeding program. Yes, we put pretty, closer to type birds in the breeding pens, but without meeting the utility criteria, no bird would ever have made to the age of breeding and been eligible for selection. We are hardly big-time, only hatching out a few hundred chicks per year, but yes. Utility is still king.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    20,649
    4,160
    526
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It depends on your goals. And it depends a whole lot on the ability of the breeder and how many chicks they hatch per year. Most chicks from show quality parents are not show quality, even from the best of breeders. You have to hatch a lot of chicks to choose from. That's why some breeders won't sell hatching eggs or chicks. They know most of the chicks will not be up to their standards and they want to protect their reputations. Others will sell eggs or chicks for their own very legitimate reasons. A lot of these chicks will be closer to the standards than hatchery chicks, but they can still have flaws that will keep them from winning th egrand championship.

    Assuming the breeder is good, show quality birds are superior for "show" qualities and utilitarian birds are superior for their intended purposes, whether meat or eggs. I'm not aware of any modern utilitarian breed recognized by APA or such. I'm talking about the commercial broilers or the commercial egg layers, like the Dekalb. Fred may prove ne wrong on that statement.

    Some people apparently have the idea that in the olden days, every backyard or farm flock consisted of show quality purebred chickens laying eggs art a fantstic rate and growing into meat birds in just a few weeks. Not the case. Different breeds were developed for different purposes, but many of the older utilitarian breeds were first developed for that utilitarian purpose, then people wanted to show them. So certain traits were then set down on paper and recognized so peope could copmpete against each other. Sometimes the traits they chose were utilitarian in purpose, like the feather color of a Delaware or a New Hampshire. A meat bird with light colored feathers gives a prettier plucked carcass. But then look at all the various colors and patterns of the Wyandottes or Rocks. Most of those were developed for show, not for utility.

    I find the history of the development of the Ameraucana fascinating.

    http://www.ameraucana.org/history.html

    There are breeders out there that are trying to breed to the show quality qualities but also for the original utilitarian purposes of the breed, but good luck finding them. But don't get confused into thinking that show quality translates into utility. In general, show quality is just eye candy.

    Back to your specific question. I don't work for both goals with my birds. I could care less whether they have show quality characteristics. I will never show my birds. I'm breeding dual purpose hatchery birds for meat and eggs. The egg laying is pretty well already there from most hatchery dual purpose birds, but the size and rate of growth for meat is not all that consistent. But through a few genetions of choosing my breeders, the size and rate of growth improves. I mainly eat my smaller poor performing roosters and hens and breed the ones that come closer to my standards. I hatch less than 50 birds a year, so my improvement is slow, but it is there. My culls are getting better every year.

    For the vast majority of people on this forum, hatchery birds will meet their goals. Good egg laying and pretty birds with reasonable personality. Most of the dual purpose hatchery birds will make plenty of meat for the few of us that grow them for meat, but they won't touch the broilers for the amount of meat produced. They won't meet the standards of the commercial egg laying breeds , but for the majority of people, they are certainly good enough.
     
  10. Gresh

    Gresh Chillin' With My Peeps

    784
    12
    121
    Jul 9, 2011
    North Carolina
    I believe some of what you say is true, particularly here in America. Americans like to breed things for the flashiness, the pomp, and the show. However, as an example, many British poultry fanciers preserve the true representations of many breeds by simply breeding them for what they were originally bred for: namely, utility. Someone here on the Forum also said Americans like to breed "flashy" dogs, whereas the British breeders tend to breed more towards what the breed originally looked like or what it was intended for.

    However, not all American breeders are this way, especially among gamefowl circles. In the gamefowl circles, people have ancient standards they breed by, producing remarkably identical generations year after year. Some gamefowl, like the Asil, are virtually the same as they were 200 years ago.

    The serious breeder will not only breed a chicken for what it is supposed to look like, but also for what it was meant to be like.

    ~Gresh~
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by