We have been raising chickens for years. But this past year I decided that I wanted to sustainably breed all of our replacements instead of buying them from big hatcheries. Well, if I am going to do something, I want to do it right. I know from other livestock that it is much easier to start with good stock then to start with poor and breed up. So the hunt was on... I knew what breeds I wanted... all I had to do was find good quality stock. Well it didn't take long (a minute or two) on BYC to realize that "good stock" = breeding towards the breed standards. Cool! I could deal with that! I mean my Rhode Island Red should look like a Rhode Island Red. Learning to understand and truly appreciate the SOP's was going to be challenging but I was up to the challenge. BTW, the reference to RIR's is just an example. We have several breeds. You can replace RIR with whatever breed. I have been raising livestock (the four legged kind) my whole life. As a child my family had a nationally recognized Jersey dairy farm and I successfully showed and judged dairy cattle up and thru the national level. When I got married, the cost of going into the dairy business was prohibitive, so we purchased 10 sheep with our wedding money and never looked back. My husband had a very similar background to mine except in the livestock (beef/swine/sheep) world. So we've been breeding and showing sheep for 25+ years now and I have coached many of our county's successful livestock judging teams. In all other species of livestock, type has been closely related to production. In dairy cattle we are looking for a cow with depth and spring of rib so that she can eat all that is necessary to turn grass into milk. We have very specific skeletal structure that we are looking for so that she has a long and productive life; we know that there is a direct correlation between dairy character and milking ability and her udder is to be designed in such a way to insure that it stays where it belongs - preferably above the hocks! In the meat species, we want specimens that are wide based, long hindsaddled, and show width across the loin. We know these traits are direct indications of muscling (our ultimate retail product). All breed specific classes, be it dairy, beef, or whatever are given consideration to breed character. Do they measure up to the breed they represent; color, appropriate size, distinct characteristics, etc. I get that the standards are very specific to breed character. But what about the rest? Are there any correlations between the body type / correctness and production? Are we breeding to color and "type" to the exclusion of production? I am totally confused?!? Like I said, I want my RIR's to look like RIR's, but they also have to be a productive part of my farm. I can't afford 100 lawn ornaments. They need to be able to lay eggs consistently throughout the year, handle the changes in seasonal temperatures, and forage like they were meant to. I'm not expecting them to be the answer to my ever goal, I have other breeds that I can reliable harvest for meat. But I do think they need to be productive within their niche. Can't we have both?