1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Breeding silkies/chickens - have some questions **PICS ADDED page 2**

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by The Lisser, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. The Lisser

    The Lisser Songster

    I am a long time animal lover who has become obsessed with chickens. Up until now I have not bred animals, mostly rescued them (dogs, cats, llamas, goats). However, I do find genetics fascinating (majored in Biology) and now I am thinking about trying my hand at breeding quality silkies.

    I know that the best way to go is to start with the best possible quality birds - however, there are financial constraints with this path. I have purchased eggs from some great breeders, and I think I have a good start. However I see that some of the chicks seem to have a few faults. I know one of the mantras of good breeders is CULL, but at this point I have such a small base of foundation stock, I don't want to cull unless it's really necessary (BTW by "cull" I would either find a home or put into a "non breeding pen" [​IMG])

    My questions are these:

    How many generations does it take to breed out unwanted qualities?

    Are there some faults that cannot be bred out? (split wing? single comb?)

    How many generations does it take to improve certain characteristics? For example, if I purchase pet-quality birds of a certain desired color, and want to improve the feathering, how many generations would it take to get to my goal?

    Thank you in advance for any advice. I have done hours of reading on this forum, and I have learned so much. I think this is a fascinating topic, and hope others will join in this discussion.

    [​IMG] Melissa

    Edited to update title
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Silkies have always scared me. [​IMG] [​IMG]
    That said, I actually bid on some eggs a while back until it got too expensive.

    I've heard it can take up to 8 generations to breed a bird the way you want it... and sometimes, even then you'll end up with weird traits popping up.

    I'm currently working on Blue Wheaten Ameraucanas... but it's very slow when they don't LAY eggs!

    I've also got to get some new and better blood into my Marans. It's a slow process that takes PATIENCE!

    Wish I had started this years ago...
  3. Sportsterjeep

    Sportsterjeep Creekside Acres Farm

    Jun 1, 2010
    Mill Hall PA
    Start small and you will progress better. If you have financial constraints pick 1 variety. Trying to do buffs, white, B/B/S, Lavs, partridge, etc, all at once will get overwhelming. This is especially true if you have to start with less that desirable stock. Put your money into 1 variety at a time, get the very best you can get to start, and work up. You will see improvements quicker, get a return faster on your investment, and feel an accomplishment faster in what you are doing. Be picky about what you put in your breeding pen if you are trying to produce the best stock in your area. Starting with lesser stock will take you a lot longer, so pick the best out of what you have and go from there. If you only have 1 roo and 2 hens to start out with, that are excellent stock, its better to start there than to put less desirables in your pen. Buying grown birds is a really good way to start. Then you know exactly what you are getting, and aren't gambling with eggs. It also takes time to grow out the birds to maturity. Since you started with eggs, go through the birds. And be picky. If it has obvious faults, cull it. You'll be better off starting your breeding program with even your very best 2 birds than throwing lesser quality birds into the mix. The pickier you are about your breeding stock, the better off you will be, and your program will bring you more enjoyment.
  4. ultasol

    ultasol Songster

    Apr 30, 2009
    SE Washington
    I would not keep a single combed bird. I would try not to use split wing. Personally, I would allow more leeway with toes and toe splits. Try yo get the best cock you can, as you can put one cock over several hens and maximize your investment in that cock.

    Keep in mind you will have to hatch and raise far more in order to get SQ birds if you start with DQs.
  5. pennie1

    pennie1 Redneck Silkie

    Aug 17, 2009
    You want to talk to Sonoran Silkies. She is the Silkie genetic guru. [​IMG]
  6. Elite Silkies

    Elite Silkies Crowing

    Jun 17, 2009
    My Coop
    I agree, buy the best Roo that you can find. I was told by a very well known Breeder G.M. that a Roo can pull out bad qualities of a hen, but it doesn't work if you switch it around. I guess Roo's throw all lot of their traits to the offspring.

    It will take a long time if you start with lesser qualities birds, and in my opinion.......... JMO, is that you may never get where you want to be. So, I say invest in a couple of really nice hens and a Roo and start from there. It will be worth the investment in the long run.
  7. ultasol

    ultasol Songster

    Apr 30, 2009
    SE Washington
    One last tip... so, here is a breakdown of why, esp when starting, buying started birds is better.

    Ok, so let's take a fee of $40 per dozen eggs and $15 shipping, mixed colors. You have 50% hatch (avg for shipped eggs)... you have 6 birds. Let's say of those, 1 has four toes or six toes on one foot, one has no middle toe feathering or sparse middle toe feathering, and one has a terrible comb. You might end up with one or two, if you are lucky, of showable quality.... but they aren't the same color!

    Additionally, you have spent the time, energy, and money to raise up all six birds, even the culls, to an age where you can see all their faults. With that time and money you could have purchased a decent pair without DQs from a breeder with some show record (I am not saying go buy the most expensive silkies you can find). You could also buy, from the likes of Bobbi Porto, some started birds where an initial cutting for toe./comb problems was done but they aren't adult birds. This would also allow you to start by getting birds of the same or compatible color. You will end up ahead in the long run.

    I will occasionally bid on eggs now that I have established pens of SQ birds in buff, white, black, part, lav/lav splits, and blue/splash... but I understand I might not end up with a single usable bird. Really, even now, it would make more sense for me to buy adult birds....that way I *know* what I am getting.

  8. Smoky73

    Smoky73 Lyon Master

    Feb 8, 2007
    Quote:How many birds do you have currently? The problem with sikies is they do not lay extremely well, and within a short time, they go broody, which will cut your hatching quantity a lot. Truthfully, if you have only like two hens and a rooster, and they are possible cull birds, keep the females and instead of throwing money away on eggs, get yourself a really nice rooster to improve on the hens. It is always advisable to get rid of obvious faults from the get go, red combs, split wing, crooked beaks, off colors, 4 or 6 toes etc, but if that is all you have breed from to get yourself some more females. THEN get a nice rooster. Roosters from top breeders are easier to find (We ALL have too many roosters most of the time) and they will be a cheaper purchase than a good quality breeder or show female. Once you get a good roo, breed like heck, and THEN cull more hard. It is really easy for people to say cull for all faults but when your stock is limited and so is cash, use what you got till you can make one worthwhile purchase. I had lost all my white females at one time all except for 2, so I kept bad feet and all kinds of stuff and still do if my breeders are low. Once I had a sufficient supply to choose from, its at that time I start culling harder and harder to weed out the bad.
    I had a lot of blue hens last year and they were all too dark except one. I FINALLY managed to hatch a nice blue pullet this year and bought one some place else, so this spring, I got rid of all the dark one.
  9. hoppy

    hoppy I'm not all fluff

    May 5, 2007
    central maine
    I purchased eggs, hatched chicks, sold those, bought again but higher quality with the money I made off the first birds etc until I had several nice lines. Now I sell the hatching eggs and use that money to fund my new projects.
  10. SilkieTime

    SilkieTime Songster

    Mar 29, 2009
    Joelton Tn.
    X2 Bobbie and Mary were the best bang for my bucks. Go to all the shows you can and talk to people and look at there stock. Some eggs don't do well for one thing or another, shipping and such. Learn what kind of stock people have that live around you. I hatch all my eggs from my own flock and pick from them. Most of all if you want good stock don't mix colors together. Start with the color you like best. Good luck
    Lets see pictures, we like looking.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by