Choosing your Breeders Questions


In the Brooder
8 Years
Jun 19, 2011
Sunny So Cal
Hello, I’m a newer flock keeper (well had barnyard mutt chickens as a kid but that was sooo long ago I don’t think it counts, heh.) I’ve picked out a few breed favorites to play with and am in the process of rearing up my first generation. As I’m closing in on the time to make choices on who to keep and who not I’ve been avidly soaking up all the information I can on what I should be looking for. I’m not looking to show but I would like to keep to the breed standard direction.

My main question is how to prioritize defects, that is, which defects are easier to breed out and which should be culled.

I’ve read and agree strongly that a good temperament is something to be strived for and excessive aggression is one ‘defect’ that I will not tolerate hanging around. (Unless it’s for dinner)

Secondly I believe any deformity should also be removed from the gene pool, bent toes, cross beak and such issues.

But when it comes to the grayer conformation issues I can understand the concept of aiming for the perfection (and am becoming a bit of a genetics junky, High School Biology finally pays off!) but I’m thinking there must be some sort of priority list on what to primarily breed for and then what would be the less dominate traits to ‘fix’ in further generations.

When it comes to the point to chose between birds who have some but not all of the characteristics you are looking for, which characteristics are ones to initially strive for and which traits are ones to work on in later generations?

-Body Shape
-Tail Shape and Carriage
-Wing Carriage and Structure
-Comb and Wattle Structure and Size
-Earlobe Color
-Skin and Leg Color
-Feathering Type and Coloration

Would appreciate any input, Thanks!
If you want very gentle, calm, friendly, GREAT laying hens. I would go with a Buff Orpington. But I (And I just mean me) would cull with out mercy. I as of now don't have even on bird that is not a true family member.
Each breeder has to work out his own list and his own map of how to get where he is going.

I just keep the ones that are closet to standard and plan the matings so they are paired with a mate that doesn't share the same flaws.

You want to be both negative and positive in your culling. While you want to remove bad flaws, you also want to keep real virtues. The flaws and virtues must be balanced out.

I've got some issues that I will always cull for. I won't tolerate bad temperament.

But suppose you have a hen with a perfect body, yet she only lays half the number of eggs she should. Do you cull because she doesn't lay, or do you keep her for the body and hope to breed the descendants up to where they lay as they should. You, as the breeder, must make that decision and nobody else can make it for you.

It might depend upon what you have in your flock. If most of your birds have excellent bodies, you might cull a hen who doesn't lay well. If you are striving to improve bodies, maybe you would keep her.

If you are fighting leg color, you might keep a hen with perfect leg color, but thin plumage. If all your birds have excellent leg color, maybe you would cull her because her plumage is thin.

Read the standard. There is no formula to get there. You can't just plug in the numbers and follow a list. There are many routes and you must pick your way. Just keep the standard as your goal and keep working towards it.
Thanks all for the great insights!

I know I'm in for a long and somtimes frustrating journey, but I think it should prove to be a fascinating one. Ill contiune to keep expanding my knowledge of the breeds and genetics as well as keep on following others chicken adventures here on BYC for information as well as that all so important kinship and motivation.

Thanks Again
I agree with Oregon. I'm not a chicken breeder, but I do breed collies. Color is th last thing I breed for, unless I'm trying to avoid color related problems. Structure is most improtant to me. I would rather have an ugly head than a poor rear or front. Other breeders disagree with me, but that's part of the intrigue of breeding. Keep your standard i mind. Learn what is easiest to breed away from in your breed and lines, what takes the longest. Learn what faults you can live with and those you can't. Always keep in mind the whole animal, don't breed like faults and be prepared to cull that juvenile that you fell in love with as a baby. Breeding any animal is a frustrating journey, but so worth it when you help create that "perfect" animal. This from a future chicken breeder, breeder of collies.

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