Can one-eyed heritage SS hen be used for breeding non-show quality???

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Wildflower_VA, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. This is my first spring/summer getting my sustainable homestead up and running. My goal is to start with four heritage dual-purpose breeds that will breed and produce replacement chicks the natural way by next spring. I am not looking for show quality or SOP birds, but don't know if one of my SS pullets should be used as a breeder.

    I started my flock off with black Australorps to so as to have some good layers up front. After I got those near laying age, I decided on the other three breeds based on broodiness, egg laying and large size for meat chickens. I chose speckled Sussex specifically for the broodiness and large body size, especially roosters. My other two breeds are barred rocks and buff orpingtons. I ordered my chicks from Meyer because in mid-July they were the only hatchery with SS available.

    On hatch day, the hatchery had a "incubator disaster" and most people had their SS order canceled, but since I had ordered and paid two months in advance, I got my five straight run. My 11 barred rocks (7 pullets/4 roos) and five BO's (4 pullets/1 roo) were fine, but the speckled Sussex had problems right from the start. Out of five birds three are roosters and of the two pullets, one of them only has one eye. At 10 weeks old, two of the roos are so mean, I don't know if I can keep them until they are big enough to eat. As you can see, my careful flock planning is about to go out the window.

    I know if I was trying to breed show quality the one-eyed girl would be culled. Since my goal is to have healthy heritage birds for a sustainable flock, I don't know if the eye thing might carry over or if it is a result of a hatch gone wrong. Since I will not use the two mean roos for breeding, I am only left with one roo and two pullets, one of them with only one eye. It appears to have an eyeball under a lid that doesn't have a slit so the eye can open. She does as well as the other SS pullet in all ways. They are the same size, none of the other 20 chicks picks on her and she holds her own getting her share of treats, so the eye does not seem to be a hindrance.

    My problem is that I know nothing about genetics or about what physical defects could be passed on to her offspring. What would you do?
  2. Thanks for looking!!!!
  3. Cpprpnny19

    Cpprpnny19 Chirping

    Jul 14, 2011
    I would cull her because as you stated "it could have been because of
    the hatch gone wrong".

    Lynne [​IMG]
  4. breezy

    breezy Songster

    Jan 7, 2009
    Sand Coulee MT
    I know nothing about show birds but I think that if the birds you want to breed for show have the proper confirmation then I would hatch out a clutch and see if all the chicks hatch out heathy. If they do then I would proceed from there. If you hatch a chick or chicks with eye issues then you know the bird is carrying a genetic issue and shouldnt be used in a breeding program. Dont know if thats the right way to go but its a thought. Good luck.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  5. Quote:Thanks! I am NOT breeding for show, so it makes sense to at least give her a chance, since she has no other issues and her missing eye hasn't affected her negatively in any way. She is pretty high on the pecking order among the other pullets. My main reason for getting speckled Sussex was their potential to go broody. If I cull her I will only have one SS female left.
  6. rodriguezpoultry

    rodriguezpoultry Langshan Lover

    Jan 4, 2009
    Claremore, OK
    If a missing eye is her only problem keep her! I have a male that is now blind in one eye from a fight. He breeds as if nothing is wrong. I would bet the deformity was caused by the incubation disaster and not through genetics.
  7. saladin

    saladin Songster

    Mar 30, 2009
    the South
    There are several things wrong with your whole scenrio. I know this is not what you asked, but it was in the story. Here goes:

    Heritage breeds were created to last for years not for one season and then replaced. That's the way folks do it that are raising birds for profit NOT SUSTAINABILITY. The whole object of heritage breeds and sustainability is to produce birds that lay for 4, 5 or even more years. Longevity is part of the whole makeup of these breeds. Yes, we raise chicks each year, but that doesn't mean we are always culling every breeder.

    Secondly, Sussex cock birds are often mean. As a matter of fact, many farm breed cockbirds are manfighters. That is because, unlike Games, they have not been culled for human friendliness in the cockbirds. That said, there are individual breeders who have done such culling, and it takes generations to accomplish. Hatcheries do not generally cull along those lines.

    Third, if you are looking for truly historic heritage breeds then you don't generally go to a hatchery to find them. The exception is those hatcheries that specifically market heritage type breeds like Shady Lane, Sand Hill Preservation and Urch/Turnlund.

    Fourth, there are plenty of individual breeders across the country that could have given you some valuable information concerning your breeds of choice. It would have been worth it had you contacted them; even if you didn't get chicks from them. They would have spent time with you on the phone giving you great insight into these breeds.

    The eye thing: often a bird loses an eye in a fight or even by being pecked by another chick. As a exhibition breeder, I can tell you we use one-eyed birds in our breed pens; as long as the bird lost it environmentally and not genetically (which I've never seen).

    I really hope this all helps you out. I didn't mean to be critical. If you want to be sustainable with heritage breeds then you don't learn how to operate from a commerical farm.
  8. Quote:That is what I am hoping for. I would just like it to be confirmed by people who have had this defect show up either in "incubation disasters" or good hatches where genetics is the problem.
  9. rodriguezpoultry

    rodriguezpoultry Langshan Lover

    Jan 4, 2009
    Claremore, OK
    I had one chick hatch from a batch of eggs that the incubator spiked to 109 for 3 days I was gone to a meeting and the neighbor was checking stuff out. Called and told me about it. One chick hatched. She was missing her entire eye. No socket, just a void. I knew it was not genetic. She didn't have proper type so I used her in my laying flock.

    I knew my line though, this is your first generation. Can you not keep her until laying age? She will at least provide eggs for you.
  10. Quote:My situation is that I am an older (61) disabled female, living alone on my mini-farmstead (purchased last July 2010), with limited resources to get my sustainable farmstead off the ground and up and running. Hatchery birds were the best I could do this year. I tried for several months to work with a breeder within an hour of me to get some heritage breeder stock, but he just strung me along and never produced any chicks until I had to buy hatchery birds or wait until next spring. I started working with him in early April and at the end of June he was still promising chicks "within the next month."

    I don't intend to to "replace" my stock yearly. Heritage birds or not, they eventually slow down on their laying, so will have to have replacements. Although I enjoy all of my chickens, their purpose on my farmstead is for food, not pets or eye candy. I feed Countryside Organic feed and scratch, so when their useful life as laying hens is done, they will become stewing hens, so there will always be a need for younger hens as the originals age out. I have friends who gripe about the price of the Countryside feed, but they view their seven year old hens as pets, and wouldn't dream of eating them, so they get very few eggs for the price of the organic feed they consume. Also, I intend to eat the excess roosters and excess hens, so I will need a steady supply of replacements for the freezer and stock pot. I am going for the highest and best use for all my poultry, which includes eating their eggs and their meat.

    I have been mentoring with Joel Salatin/Polyface Farms for the last two years (I live just a few miles from him) and I really didn't feel the need to contact breeders across the country. I will never be a big operation, nor do I want to be. My intentions are to raise as much food from my organic gardens, fruit & nut orchards, bee hives, and maple syrup from my maple trees, along with eggs and meat from my pastured chickens, raised the natural way, with broody hens, to keep me out of grocery stores and away from sub-standard foods trucked across the country or from China. That's what "sustainable" means to me.

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