Crossbreeding dual purpose breeds for sustainable flock

Geena

Free Ranging
7 Years
Aug 17, 2014
973
5,961
521
Maryland
I think that is the original purpose of curtains on nests.
But most of the time, it doesn't really matter, so I think it is mostly a crazy chicken lady thing.
Over last spring I had a problem with egg eating. It started with an occasional egg and quickly progressed to all the eggs. I believe it was stress induced by a bully cockerel I had with the girls at the time. For some reason he didn't like any of the black hens, which was more than half of them. Kinda odd since he was black himself, but who knows what goes on in those silly bird brains. Anyway, he was removed, but they continued to eat eggs. So I put some curtains on the nest boxes and presto, no more egg eating and still not to this day, many months later.
 

HomesteadNowhere

Songster
Dec 2, 2020
180
275
128
Ohio USA
I need to pull out some ugly fabric from my stash to make curtains. Remnants of one eaten egg today again. But I got 10 eggs, plus the eaten one. Two of them are smaller and long pullet eggs so hoping that means more eggs regularly! For 26 pullets the daily egg average is quite low.

I had designed this awesome hutch type pen for separating breeders. But I'm not sure if it will work now. It had wire floor with lots of roost space. 1inch wire floor so the poop falls through. Then I realized that doesn't give them any regular floor space and they'd probably develop problems from that over any length of time.
What size floor wire do people use? Do you just use them for short periods?
I'm doodling with some designs. I think given costs it would make more sense to build a breeder shed that could be divided than building pens or hutches. Have to see.
 
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NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,648
18,918
726
USA
I had designed this awesome hutch type pen for separating breeders. But I'm not sure if it will work now. It had wire floor with lots of roost space. 1inch wire floor so the poop falls through. Then I realized that doesn't give them any regular floor space and they'd probably develop problems from that over any length of time.
What size floor wire do people use? Do you just use them for short periods?

I don't have any personal experience with a wire-floored chicken pen, but I would not expect major problems.

Commercial cages for laying hens have wire floors, and they are specifically designed to keep the chickens alive and producing eggs. That means it does not injure their feet enough to cause life-threatening infections.

Chickens like to sit on roosts. With plenty of roost space, the chickens would be able to get off the wire by sitting up on the roosts. I know that chickens will choose to perch on things during the day even when they do have nice dirt or bedding to stand on and scratch in. (Of course, they can't mate on the roosts, but I expect they would come down often enough for that to be no problem.)

I think given costs it would make more sense to build a breeder shed that could be divided than building pens or hutches. Have to see.
That could also be a good idea.
Which one is more cost-effective will have a lot to do with what materials you have available, so I have no idea which would be better for you.
 

HomesteadNowhere

Songster
Dec 2, 2020
180
275
128
Ohio USA
10 weeks until the earliest I can start saving eggs for incubating.
I have learned so much since I started all this shenanigans! I'm slowly pondering what to do because this past year has given me time to figure out what I actually want and need. My project is pretty much going to start over.

I want to get blue ameraucanas (straight run only available) and some Bielefelder (males). And new Hampshires from freedom ranger hatchery, also straight run only.
My plan is to choose the best Bielefelder and use him over blue ameraucanas and work towards an auto sexing blue/green layer.
Probably keep some pure ameraucanas as laying flock. After I have offspring I need for the project, I could move those hens to the layer flock and being barred hens, I'd be able to breed them to a self roo and have sex link offspring. Which would basically be EEs at that point right? Brown egg x blue egg parents, these being that offspring, then them bred back to ameraucana would be blues and greens for eggs? If bred to an NH they'd be OEs? I could sell them as sexed pullets of easter egger or olive egger.
If I even need to keep them at all, I will probably be up to my ears in chickens and chicks with the breeding projects not to need to do that. But it is an option I thought of.

NHs will be whittled down to the best. Some will keep a pure line going. I have seen some comments that the Henry noll line has inconsistencies which is probably due to scale of sending eggs to a hatchery I'd think. So breeding pure to maintain the line and hopefully make consistent.
Some NHs will be bred to the Bielefelder. I'd work on this line to the goal of the meat and growth of the NHs but also auto sexing. I think this would be so perfect because once they are auto sexing you can separate them and feed the males heavily for butchering and restrict feed the females for further selection of replacements.
Again I'd have barred hens after I have the needed offspring to continue the autosexing project. I could breed the barred hens back to the NH for sex link chicks and they should still be good meaty birds.

The NH project is the higher priority. I may get the ameraucanas and just keep them as a layer flock the first year to focus on the NH.

For auto sexing you need B/B males and B/- females on a base of wild type/duckwing or partridge/brown. I've read conflicting info on which Bielefelder are but after finally finding pics someone shared of a barred partridge roo I see the difference. Bielefelder are duckwing.

So what am I doing with the current chickens??? I'm working on being able to separate the FRs to collect their eggs for sure for hatching. I'm not real worried about which is the father because any chicks sired by the Bielefelder will be barred so I'll know. The offspring will be for fun experiment and the offspring destined for the freezer. The FRs will get fazed out after I hatch some from them.
The brahmas and buff orps seem like they should have the higher odds of going broody. I'm not that excited about them, they are all feathers and won't be useful in a meat project. However broody hens would be useful. So I'm hoping to find out if any of them turn out to be good broodies. Otherwise they will be fazed out to prioritize the chicks I'm hoping to buy for the actual project to begin.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,648
18,918
726
USA
Which would basically be EEs at that point right? Brown egg x blue egg parents, these being that offspring, then them bred back to ameraucana would be blues and greens for eggs? If bred to an NH they'd be OEs?
Unless the NH lay dark brown eggs, their chicks will be also be EEs, not OEs.

I'm assuming the following:
EE = Easter Egger (lays blue or green eggs)
OE = Olive Egger (lays dark green eggs)
NH = New Hampshire

Some NHs will be bred to the Bielefelder. I'd work on this line to the goal of the meat and growth of the NHs but also auto sexing. I think this would be so perfect because once they are auto sexing you can separate them and feed the males heavily for butchering and restrict feed the females for further selection of replacements.
Is there a reason to mix the breeds instead of breeding pure Bielefelders? The mature weights I find listed for Bielefelders are already higher than the standard weights for New Hampshires.
 

ChickenLeg

Crowing
9 Years
Feb 15, 2012
1,896
2,615
337
@HomesteadNowhere I have started an autosexing EE/ameraucana line. I went with a crele EE over white and black ameraucanas. Then crossed the best daughters over the dad. Now I have The best grandson over his aunts/mom and over 2 pure crele sisters. After 2022 the line will be pure autosexing. I'll start having eggs available so others can work on the line with me, so keep me in mind if you want any eggs in spring 2023 🤟 Im focusing on size and egg color, trying to keep males close to 8 lbs, this way all the day old males can be sold or grown out as meat birds. After next year I'll focus on the best egg layers too, just working on getting the colour pattern worked out. Best of luck on your cross, it will be a fun adventure 😎
 

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Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,282
23,552
907
Southeast Louisiana
Unless the NH lay dark brown eggs, their chicks will be also be EEs, not OEs.

I'm assuming the following:
EE = Easter Egger (lays blue or green eggs)
OE = Olive Egger (lays dark green eggs)
NH = New Hampshire
I agree. The actual shade of brown a chicken lays depends on whether the breeder pays attention to egg shell color as a selection criteria when choosing the breeders but New Hampshire typically lay a relatively light brown egg so you will probably get a relatively light green egg from this mix. Not an OE.
 

HomesteadNowhere

Songster
Dec 2, 2020
180
275
128
Ohio USA
Unless the NH lay dark brown eggs, their chicks will be also be EEs, not OEs.

I'm assuming the following:
EE = Easter Egger (lays blue or green eggs)
OE = Olive Egger (lays dark green eggs)
NH = New Hampshire


Is there a reason to mix the breeds instead of breeding pure Bielefelders? The mature weights I find listed for Bielefelders are already higher than the standard weights for New Hampshires.

I agree. The actual shade of brown a chicken lays depends on whether the breeder pays attention to egg shell color as a selection criteria when choosing the breeders but New Hampshire typically lay a relatively light brown egg so you will probably get a relatively light green egg from this mix. Not an OE.
Gotcha. I'm getting a couple darker actually brown eggs from my current mix and I guess my brain went to that instead of cream shades.

The weights listed for Bielefelders might be higher but the one I have still grew slower than the NH, both from mcmurray. The Bielefelder for the color and barring to make the autosexing. The NH will be Henry Noll line from freedom ranger hatchery and have been bred for meat. Basically I want that but in autosexing.

With the Bielefelder x ameraucana I'm wanting blue eggs and autosexing. I want to see how they are looking when I get going with them before deciding on their size. I'd like them to be good layers, which I'm thinking will mean basically an autosexing ameraucana. It would be nice if they aren't too scrawny though since I'll have excess cockerels to put in the freezer. A more dual purpose bird would be good but not taking too much from the laying rate.
 

HomesteadNowhere

Songster
Dec 2, 2020
180
275
128
Ohio USA
@HomesteadNowhere I have started an autosexing EE/ameraucana line. I went with a crele EE over white and black ameraucanas. Then crossed the best daughters over the dad. Now I have The best grandson over his aunts/mom and over 2 pure crele sisters. After 2022 the line will be pure autosexing. I'll start having eggs available so others can work on the line with me, so keep me in mind if you want any eggs in spring 2023 🤟 Im focusing on size and egg color, trying to keep males close to 8 lbs, this way all the day old males can be sold or grown out as meat birds. After next year I'll focus on the best egg layers too, just working on getting the colour pattern worked out. Best of luck on your cross, it will be a fun adventure 😎
Nice! I thought about starting with EEs but they seem to be so mixed and unknown, I wouldn't know whether they were homozygous or not for blue eggs and color and pattern would be a complete grab bag. It seemed faster to start with the ameraucanas and have some known factors going in.
Your birds look nice!
 

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