Farming and Homesteading Heritage Poultry

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

  1. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    Originally Posted by Yellow House Farm [​IMG]

    Hmmm....I'd offer some different ideas. Outcrossing is actually very hard to see through to completion. It takes major dedication, very high numbers, and ruthless on-going culling. There's actually nothing easy there.

    If you keep enough breeders and manage your program, keeping strict records, wing-banding, toe-punching, maintaining multiple cocks, you don't need to bring in new blood as long as you began well. With rare breeds, if one is really intending to work with them, one needs to maintain either alone or with other equally long-term committed breeders a large enough program to be self-containing, or one will be forced to bring in other blood which will likely be a step down.

    @Shellz: Being the bearer if hard tidings isn't easy, but Malines were a difficult choice for beginning. They are not in the SOP. There is no established bloodlines surrounding them in North America. You won't have a standard to breed to or mentors to support you save this fellow who has them. I totally--100%--applaud your move to settle on one breed, but before you open Pandora's box and lose another season or two,, I'd honestly--politely--but honestly recommend recycling the eggs, and getting an SOP standardized bird. On many levels, Malines are dead end. I know this falls as a disappointment, but in the long-run you're going to find yourself fairly alone with your Malines. There's so much fun community to be had otherwise.


    Well, with experience, I gotta agree with Yellow House. I am always seeking the road less traveled and love to take something and make it better, I started in Golden Salmon Marans. The rarest of the Marans colors. Just love the BBR cock with the salmon-breasted, stippled hen. Not accepted in the SOP. I started 5 times in 2 years, trying to find something worthy of a foundation flock. Nada. So out of frustration, I left Marans and decided to maybe try Euskal Oilia. The Basque hen. Also not SOP. I was vigorously studying them when it began to dawn on me from reading various threads on BYC, just how much time and work it really takes to bring back a breed. I was thinking like dogs, maybe 3 generations. But the experts were talking "decades", even longer if one had a difficult color in their chosen breed. As I remember, Malines is a cuckoo breed. It is one of the main founding breeds behind the French Marans. Yes, you could cross a Cuckoo Marans with a Malines and go from there.
    But all this aside, Who was I to think I could accomplish more quickly what the veteran breeders were strongly warning was going to take decades to do and require 1,000's of chicks along the way? Few people have the facilities of breed those kinds of numbers. I don't. I was thinking I could be the exception until it dawned on me, none ( Yup, none) of the experts with decades in poultry agreed with me. There wasn't a single exception out there for me to use as an ally. I sat down and reconsidered. Then decided to go with Light Sussex. An SOP breed with a rich literary history in English. Yes, those translations are a bear to get the nuances out of, sigh. I worked with them a lot when I was Director of Archives for the Marans Of America Club. Now I have birds from a show strain and can spend my poultry time making a bird with a fine heritage even better.
    I also have the camaraderie of fellow breeders to help me, instead of constantly receiving relies to me queries stating, "I don't know"..
    P.S Yes, I still am on the road less traveled, smile. Walt offered me the opportunity to obtain a strain of pure English strain Light Sussex. I am enamored, smile. And enjoying my birds.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  2. C Bar C Ranch

    C Bar C Ranch Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 14, 2013
    What an interesting tale, 3riverschick! I am so glad you found the breed for you. I too am a "road less traveled" sort of fellow, and it is for that very reason I went with the Dorking. Such a historic breed with lots of potential for function. I know the rule of ten applies, but I am hoping to have enough decent stock to begin with at least three trios to give myself a broader genetic base. I think there needs to be a happy medium between the expanse of the gene pool and the quality of the genes in the pool.
  3. Extra Java

    Extra Java Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 1, 2012
    Southern CA
    My Coop
    3riverschick ... I'm surprised our paths haven't crossed! I too have made the same mistakes in rare breed choices. Been there found out. I have t-shirts for Wheaten Marans AND Euskal Oiloa as well (both mammoth project breeds). I'm really enjoying this thread and truly wish I would have found it sooner. What a wonderful group of dedicated and brilliant individuals...I can almost hear the neurons firing. LOL

    Good points made above!

    Speaking a bit on hardiness...last night, I went out with my flashlight to check for mites & lice...a few of my birds have them however, out of 10 Dorking hens...not a bug on any of them even though they're roosting right next to the others!
  4. HawaiianRoo

    HawaiianRoo Out Of The Brooder

    May 28, 2013

    Great thread, took several days to read all. I live in Hawaii and have been wanting to begin a breeding program. I have a small homestead and have been stepping up the scale and scope of my poultry projects. I would like to refine and adapt a breed to the specific ecologies of the Island, and would like to begin on a proper footing. That means, to me, finding a breed that is not a dead end. I have considered HRIR and Basque Hens for their proper fit on the homestead. I have in mind a bird for meat and eggs, competent forager, broody (but not overly), and manageable. The breeds I'm considering might get me into trouble as sourcing hatching eggs can be difficult, and the breeds might be too rare.

    I'm hoping to find a breeder on the w. coast that will send me enough hatching eggs from different lines to establish spiral/clan matings. Does anyone have any suggestion on dependable dual purpose breeds for the homestead and breeders nearby that could supply them? Thanks,

  5. Yellow House Farm

    Yellow House Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 22, 2009
    Barrington, NH
    Basques are, at the risk of troubling the daring, a dead end, but I'd say you're on the right track. One of the SOP Med breeds or one of the SOP old-fashioned Continental breeds--the long-tailed breeds that look like Med breeds. Just pick one and off you go.
  6. Yellow House Farm

    Yellow House Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 22, 2009
    Barrington, NH
    Wow! There's a lot of positive energy here! It seems like a lot of people are starting to get the idea:

    1. Choose one, two, or three breeds depending on how many chicks you can raise. For many (read most) it's one; for some, it's two; for a very few, it's three.
    2. Stick to the SOP. There's something there for every palate.
    3. Moderate what you choose for rarity on the grounds of patience and infrastructure. The fewer birds you can or are willing to raise out, the less "rare" your choice should be. Don't use hatchery catalogues as a meter of what's rare. Don't use the ALBC Endangered list as a means of gauging what's rare. When it comes down too it, almost everything is rare. On another thread, someone's just starting out with quality Buff Rocks--wicked rare! Quality Brown Leghorns--rare! RC RIR--very rare. Sit with your SOP, be very quiet, listen to your heart and choose the one you really want from among those breeds whose potential actually matches your needs and abilities. Thomas Merton talks about this in his autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, when discussing those novices that come to the monastery. He says that those who try to be too holy--saints in a day, and those who are spiritually lazy--waiting for the halo to randomly drop, these two extremes don't last long in the monastery. It's those who enter and obey, and (as Bob would say) choose the middle ground.
    4. Get the very best stock you can. If you're wondering about the validity of a source, come back here and ask. There are some great snoop dogs on the heritage breed sites here. Be willing to spend the money, if you're thinking about this correctly, you're talknging about an investment that's going to last years and years. Don't buy into some "too good to be true" malarkey, neither some "newly imported $100.00 per chick scam!!!!" Get stock from someone who will tell you what's wrong with it--because there is always room to grow.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
    2 people like this.
  7. Yellow House Farm

    Yellow House Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 22, 2009
    Barrington, NH
  8. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2011
    Midlands, South Carolina
    Excellent. How old are the Anconas that are being prepared?
  9. Yellow House Farm

    Yellow House Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 22, 2009
    Barrington, NH
    12-13 weeks. 14weeks at the latest. In French, one would call them poussin [pron. +/- poo-SANG]. It's what traditional broilers are. If they get older than this they'll be tough if cooked in a broiler, hence the term "broiler". This and 14-16 week fryers are ideal useages for Med-type cockerels that are obvious culls. Spatchcocking them works out easily and quickly when you're slaughtering, and it's fine because one's not going to serve them as centerpiece roasters.

    One could also gently sauté them in a cast-iron skillet, and then, after deglazing the pan, surround them with heavy cream and simmer them with a little salt, pepper, onion, and tarragon.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  10. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I'm hoping a few knowledgeable folks can help you Haawaii ROo.

    To Yellow House and others that free range their stock-- how do you manage the young birds? Are they "raised" by older stock that know the area and the routines? Or do you have a broody that also fosters a whole group of chicks? OR do you fence areas to regulate where they go??And how do you promote insects, if you do, for natural protein?

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