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Delaware, New Hampshire, and Plymouth Rock do not meet the criteria for heritage breeds?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Bullitt, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The Livestock Conservancy explains the definition of a heritage breed of chicken.

    And even though they list Delaware, New Hampshire, and Plymouth Rock as heritage breeds, these breeds do not meet The Livestock Conservancy's own definition because these three breeds mature faster than 16 weeks, according to their chart. By the way, that seems very arbitrary to me.

    http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/chicken-chart





    http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/heritage-chicken
    Heritage Chicken must adhere to all the following:
    1. APA Standard Breed
      Heritage Chicken must be from parent and grandparent stock of breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) prior to the mid-20th century; whose genetic line can be traced back multiple generations; and with traits that meet the APA Standard of Perfection guidelines for the breed. Heritage Chicken must be produced and sired by an APA Standard breed. Heritage eggs must be laid by an APA Standard breed.
    2. Naturally mating
      Heritage Chicken must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating. Chickens marketed as Heritage must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.
    3. Long, productive outdoor lifespan
      Heritage Chicken must have the genetic ability to live a long, vigorous life and thrive in the rigors of pasture-based, outdoor production systems. Breeding hens should be productive for 5-7 years and roosters for 3-5 years.
    4. Slow growth rate
      Heritage Chicken must have a moderate to slow rate of growth, reaching appropriate market weight for the breed in no less than 16 weeks. This gives the chicken time to develop strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Yes, the ALBC probably didn't notice the apparent self contradiction there? Maybe there isn't a contradiction. But the point is still well taken. In the ALBC's defense, they defined "age" as market weight age. This is probably in contrast to the modern meat bird which can achieve market weight in half that time. Not even the Delaware can achieve "market weight" in under 16 weeks.

    I know of no "Heritage" lines that sexually mature faster than 16 weeks. Our 100 year old line of Barred Rocks do not reach point of lay until 34 weeks.

    Remember also that the ALBC has this definition, but it was developed primarily for marketing purposes. Defining what is and isn't a "heritage" bird is somewhat controversial and does not have universal agreement.

    The APA's Standard for each breed and that to which each breed is judged is a universally accepted standard and is contained within the ALBC's own requirement. But even under the ALBC's definition of "heritage" the Delaware was extremely late to the party and its inclusion raises an eyebrow or two.

    The ALBC's definitions are just one group's opinion, to be honest. I don't think their work has been futile, it just needs to be taken into account through a wider lens that's all.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  3. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well said Fred: very well said.

    Kind of hard to believe anybody would call something developed at an experimental station 'heritage.' I still find that to be the most absurd thought yet.
     
  4. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, 34 weeks seems much longer than average. But I suppose that is the point with "heritage" lines. On the other hand, don't you think the original Plymouth Rocks started laying sooner than 34 weeks?

    I was using their definition. They state a heritage breed can't mature in less than 16 weeks. Then their chart lists when the breed matures. (I think they are referring to market weight.)

    I just found it interesting that Delaware, New Hampshire, and Plymouth Rock, according to their chart, do not qualify as heritage breeds. I think these three breeds were all bred to mature quickly for use as meat. I know that is true of New Hampshire and Delaware. So why disqualify them for something they were originally intended to do?

    It stated that the breed had to be developed before the middle of the 20th century. Delaware chickens were developed around 1940, if I remember correctly, so the breed just makes the cutoff. Again, that seems arbitrary.

    Now that I am learning the definition of "heritage" in reference to chicken breeds, I am a little surprised at how arbitrary it is. To me, either it is a breed that meets the breed standards or it isn't.
     
  5. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I take it you are referring to the Delaware breed?

    They do not have in their qualifications anything about how a breed was developed. For example, I find it interesting they have three breeds of cattle that all came from Spanish cattle being released in the United States. The Texas Longhorn is well known, and there is one breed in Florida, and one in the area of Alabama and Mississippi. To me, the three breeds are basically the same. They are from wild Spanish cattle.

    People have been breeding animals and plants for many years now. But no matter how hard people try, genetics are always changing. That is why it is difficult to maintain a breed according to the standards.

    What do you think of the "heritage" term? What would you change?
     
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I cannot speak for the Dels or the NH as I haven't raised them. But having kept Rocks for over 55 years, I know a thing or two about them. Saladin was merely pointing out the Del was a "produced" bird from the Chicken of Tomorrow program which merged the NH and the BR to make a Del. It is a bred back hybrid. Too late in time. The window for these birds was only a decade and then the modern birds took over and Delaware virtually went extinct. Hardly a "heritage" bird.

    The Barred Rock of times past did not mature quickly. We butchered our Leghorns at 17 or 18 weeks for fryers. They'd go almost 3 pounds back then. Only the breeders have a Leghorn like that now. They were surprisingly meaty and tasty.

    The Rocks have always been slow maturing. The Rock of the 1900-30 rarely laid more than 140-150 eggs a year either. The hatchery stuff of today sold as Barred Rocks are bastardized versions. No kind way to put it. They've got so much Mediterranean blood in most of them to zip them up. Just saying. Lots of Dominique crossed in too.

    I get the whole point of what Frank Reese and the gang want to do with this concept, but like all promotional or marketing labels, it quickly gets perverted and twisted around. Try as they might, they haven't really done much more than create buzz and a whole lot of confusion. Kinda like "natural" or "organic". Both nice words and they have some meaning, but also a ton of confusion. Like trying to nail jello to a wall.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  7. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Many breeds around now were creating by people crossing other breeds, such as Wyandotte, Australorp, and others. Are you saying because the Delaware was developed from crossing that it should be disqualified from being a heritage breed, or that it should be disqualified because it was bred too recently?

    You said that the Delaware is virtually extinct. Are you saying that there is no way to have an original Delaware with the Delaware stock available now?
     
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Yes, in my opinion, for what's it is worth, the Del arrived too late to establish a meaningful heritage. Yes, most of our breeds are composites. KathyinMo took some SOP NH and SOP Barred Rocks and re-created the Del.

    I do wish to make clear that whole Heritage buzz has served a lot of good. It brought an awareness of the necessity of preserving, if we wished to preserve, a slice of our culture, our agri- culture. To me this has been a valuable service.

    It also brought lots of new attention to the old breeds and in some cases, their near extinction. It also has caught the imagination of a whole new sub-set of folks who caught a glimpse of something more altruistic, more cultural than merely breeding SOP fowl for the purposes of the show hobby. This is all good. There are likely hundreds of new people keeping a far superior bird, a better bred bird than in the recent past. Kudos to the ALBC for having accomplished something in their campaign. Lots of folks are being drawn to the "preservation" aspect of keeping SOP birds. I personally think that's a good thing. We'll see what becomes of this as social movements ebb and flow. You're a lot younger than I, it would seem, so you'll live to see the results of this in 10, 20 or 30 years.
     
  9. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree that it is a good thing to preserve breeds. But I question setting arbitrary standards such as a chicken can't mature faster than 16 weeks. Each breed would mature at a different rate.

    By the way, they changed their name to just The Livestock Conservancy. I think they did that to get people to participate outside of the United States.

    It also interests me that there are varieties of a breed, such as with Plymouth Rock, but they just list Plymouth Rock as a breed. I know Barred Plymouth Rocks were first. They list how endangered a breed is. But I wonder if some of the varieties, such as Partridge Plymouth Rock, are getting lost. Or varieties of other breeds, because they do not break down the varieties.
     
  10. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've written more on the whole 'heritage' concept than I care to recall. I did get a good deal of excellent response to the articles I wrote for Backyard Poultry dealing with fowl categories instead of the generic word 'heritage.'

    Comparison of a Rock or Delaware to say an Asil is just ridiculous.

    I believe in historically accurate semantics.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013

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