Farming and Homesteading Heritage Poultry

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the SOP' started by Yellow House Farm, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. C Bar C Ranch

    C Bar C Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    Greetings, all!
    Having read this thread in it's entirety (I just had to say that. It has dominated my sleepless nights for over a week [​IMG]), I just wanted to express my pride at the amount of folks interested in keeping our agrarian heritage alive. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of you all! I am a life-long agrarian, having grown up on a working ranch in the beautiful Arkansas River Valley which, I might add, is the heartland of commercial chicken farming in the United States. Having been born into a family of ranchers on one side and chicken farmers on the other, fowl have long been a part of my life. However, when it came to our home flock we were simply producers of barnyard fowl rather than true poultry breeders. After years away, I am re-starting the family flock! I will be raising Silver-Grey Dorkings, and I must say I am looking forward to it immensely.
    Having given a brief introduction, I was curious as to any advice the "old timers" might give to those of us at the fledgling stage of our breeding careers? One key point I have seen throughout this thread when it comes to breeding fowl is vigor. Vigor has always been an important aspect of my breeding programs with my large stock (Cattle, sheep, and goats). However, could you give some specific signs of good vigor in fowl beyond "healthy in appearance, bright eyed, active, etc." I know shorter claws, and early in and out of the roost were mentioned previously in the thread as signs of vigor. Further, fowl are unique in the ability to run a completely closed breeding population. When laying down the genetic base, using Bob's four house method as an example, how many sources are ideal in establishing the houses? Do you just cull your top 9-12 hens and your best 4 roosters from your initial purchase of 50 chicks? Or do you get smaller amounts of chicks from different breeders and set up each house with a unique initial base?
    Just some questions I haven't seen particularly addressed. With all the other prospective breeders out here I am sure it will be the start of some high-octane information!
    Regards!
    Cal Cunningham
     
  2. heritagehabitatfarms

    heritagehabitatfarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Greetings from Clinton AR... Glad to see more ppl wanting to work with Dorkings... I would suggest getting in-touch with DR Kieth Bramwell at the UofA... I know he has just started with dorkings but he might be able to help u out (I'm not 100% sure what all colors he has)...

    If it was me and with the Dorkings being in as bad of shape as they are i would get from at least 3 different source's... U might even consider using some of "yellowhousefarms" recessive white dorkings in the mix...
     
  3. BGMatt

    BGMatt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For Silver Grey Dorkings your best sources are probably Dick Horstman, Duane Urch an I know there's a third one and I can't remember right now. Hopefully someone else will read this and pick up the spare. My next bit of advice some might not agree with but seeing where the breed currently is, how rare it is...I would acquire birds from all three sources and cross the lines to get some more vigor introduced. The risk is you might have some unexpected cosmetic defects pop up, but the renewed vigor in the new line being created will outweigh it in my opinion.
     
  4. C Bar C Ranch

    C Bar C Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    I see I am misunderstood. I have already acquired my birds :) I was asking the questions in a more general sense for the benefit of the thread and to spark some discussion on selection for vigor and the breeding systems in general. Thank you for the resources though! I may acquire birds from other sources within the next year or so in order to shore up my genetic base before I move beyond vigor and general type. One problem I foresee with crossing multiple lines (And per my discussions with our own Yellow House Farms, there seem to be very few options for the Silver-Grey!) is the loss of uniformity. But then, uniformity is as uniformity does ;)
    Regards!
    Cal
     
  5. BGMatt

    BGMatt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yup I misunderstood, I shouldn't post when suffering from insomnia I guess, my comprehension skills aren't what they should be. I agree with you and YHF about potentially losing uniformity when crossing lines, but if vigor is an issue then I think you accept that loss of uniformity. Reading around the Internet it (I am also possibly starting with Silver Greys as a side project, have the birds but don't know how serious I will pursue the breed) seems that vigor and hatchability are two problems plaguing Silver Greys for some off reason.

    I really like the four clan system you mentioned, learned about it by reading this thread. What appeals to me most is keeping sufficient genetic diversity but not having to keep super elaborate records, nor raise a million birds. As well as keeping the focus on the entire flock. Where I feel other systems might have higher highs, they also lend toward lower lows.

    I'm rambling though so I shall chime back in on this tomorrow with more awakedness.
     
  6. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    Edited for clarity--

    THe ABLC site has extensive info on the dev of the BUckeye. DOn Schrider added a pound of growth, etc using a multi pen system. You might find what ou are looking for there.

    Basically there are 3-4 different sources EACH in a "pen" and you pick the best from that pen for the next generation. Keeping the females in that pen, and moving the selected male(s) on to the next pen. I know there are other methods, this is the one Don and I have talked about.


    I have been trying my skills with the marans and definitely hatching eggs from each pen on a different week or in different incubators is necessary to make sure the chicks can clearly be id'd for each pen. ALso getting a high quality toe punch.One breeder has mentioned that if a bird canoot be clearly identified for parents, it is not kept for breeding. Just my 2 cents as a newbie with chickens.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  7. neopolitancrazy

    neopolitancrazy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very interesting -synchronicity and all that! After 2 years of studying and pondering, I just placed an order for 30 silver gray dorking chicks from McMurray (the third source I believe BGMatt was looking for,) and have contacted Mr Horstman and the Urch hatchery about obtaining SG Dorkings from them. I am planning to hatch/grow/butcher 50/yr for our freezer, more if I can find customers or hungry friends, lol. I am considering adding in some YHF whites in 2-3 yrs if it might benefit the line I produce. I have obtained the most recent SOP, every Dorking book I can find published, and "call of the hen"; have downloaded the ALBC guidelines and the treatise on head type/productivity found by 3 rivers chick, and am now even more excited about my chicken project!!! And I found a locally milled chicken feed with animal based protein, may have found a source of "bone dust" or animal fat/meat scraps, and already have 3 poultry-friendly livestock guard dogs! And I just moved to a part of Texas with active local poultry clubs! As Lt. Col. "Hannibal" Smith used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together."
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    I am certainly no old timer, so take this for what it is worth.

    I would not worry about getting birds from another source until I became familiar with what I had or did not have. After seeing a generation or two through, you begin to get a feel for what your problems are. At that point you can look for some birds that might have what yours do not, etc.

    You can work with any new birds on the side for a generation or two and have 1/2 or 3/4 yours before working them through the rotation. In the mean time, you might have a trait or two pop up in individuals from your original flock that might help.

    If you have already started, you are where you are. Work with what you have, and have a goal in mind as a reason for the next step.

    I think it is important to be patient and maintain some level of control. Taking it one step at a time. For me it costs too much in feed and time to toss a bunch into the pot and stir it up. I would rather make slow steady progress that has a reason behind each step. This idea, for me, gives the project direction and a structure. It takes time to get to know your birds, their strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, etc. I think that you know what you need to do by knowing what you have. That takes time, and with each generation you have all year to think about it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    [​IMG] The A Team ! Looks like you have an A Plan. Good luck!!!!
     
  10. C Bar C Ranch

    C Bar C Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    Neopolitancrazy, I actually know where Bastrop is, interestingly enough! We might have to meet in the middle some time and do an old fashioned swap! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013

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