From pure breed to mongrel and back

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Primongrel, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. Primongrel

    Primongrel Hatching

    Nov 17, 2014
    Western Australia
    Hi all! My name is Lucio, you can call me Louie.

    I'm planning an experiment with purebreeds (and an easter egger just for good measure (-: ) and would like some inputs.

    My goal is to have a dual purpose, healthy and very friendly new breed.

    My plan is to begin a hen coop with the following breeds:
    Sussex - Legbar - Wyandotte - Plymouth - Faverolle - Easter Egger - Delaware - Rhode Island - Australorp - Ameraucana

    Will begin with Sussex rooster and then rotate roosters same as hens from previous list as soon as rooster is too old. (Which is probably going to take me 20 years...)

    As I breed these I will select for health, frequent laying, large eggs, large size, good quality meat, removing those that dont have these characteristics.

    If my colour gene calculations are right I might end up with a Large Columbian white, silver laced, black tail with green sheen, black neck with underlining white/silver breed.
    No idea of crest, toes, egg colour and other features Ill get there when I get there I suppose.

    Id very much appreciate inputs, constructive criticism, modification proposals, anything you'd like to contribute.

    Thanks everybody!
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    That is an ambition project. Many of us have done or are doing something very similar. I worked on a flock of red mottled and black mottled green egg layers that were decent for eggs and meat and went broody a fair amount. I also bred for personality. And chicken that disrupted the serenity of the flock was gone, other than normal pecking order or, for roosters, flock dominance issues. I got real close but got bored with all the chicks looking alike, so I’ll introduce a buff rooster from outside to create a real variety of colors but still work on the other things I want.

    I don’t know which colors you are starting with for many of those breeds but it doesn’t matter. Within one to two years you will have no idea which hen is the mother of which chick. It sounds like you are going to regularly bring in purebred roosters but use the mixed hens. Once you start breeding to mixed hens, you will get a rainbow of colors and patterns, even if the rooster is pure. I don’t know how many hens you plan to keep, but once you start culling your flock for your desired traits, a lot of the genetics from many of those hens will disappear. That’s what you are trying to do though. Eliminate the genetics you don’t want in favor of the ones you do.

    Unless you specifically cull for a specific color/pattern, you will never get there. The color/pattern genetics will be so mixed you will continue to get a rainbow of colors. Don’t expect them to settle into one color/pattern unless you force it.

    The more criteria you choose, the harder it is to get there. You will continuously get chickens that have some traits you want but not all. If you add color/pattern to your criteria, you just made it that much harder. You might be better off going after a few of those criteria at a time, not all at once. It doesn’t take that long with selective breeding to see some improvement. Once you get your flock where you want it on those specific traits, start selecting for the others.

    Any time you introduce an outside rooster to your breeding program, you take a step backwards. You are introducing genetics that you have not been selecting for. You are much more likely to reach your overall goal if you select new roosters from your flock instead of importing one. Both hens and roosters contribute genetics for egg laying, size, and all the other traits you are looking for. A rooster doesn’t lay eggs so it is hard to determine what “egg” genetics he contributes. If you know what egg he hatched from you have some clues but you really don’t know. It’s generally better to select the hens you keep based on the eggs they lay and the roosters you keep based on personality and size. At least you can see what you are dealing with that way. And if they are from your flock, they are much more likely to have the traits you have been selecting for.

    Chickens can normally be inbred for four to five generations before inbreeding becomes a problem as long as you rigorously remove any chicken with a deformity. Eat the ones you don’t want to eat and breed the ones you do want to eat. There are different technique to deal with this. One is that every four to five generations, introduce an outside rooster to bring back genetic diversity. That is a pretty common model that small farms have been using for thousands of years to maintain a flock. That throws your breeding program back though.

    Another method, spiral breeding, often used by breeders of show champion chickens, is to maintain three separate flocks during breeding season. They can intermingle when you are not hatching eggs. It requires good record-keeping and marking the chickens so you know which one is which, but label the three flocks A, B, and C for example. Or red, blue, and yellow. Whatever you want. All pullets you keep that hatch in the A flock stay with the A flock, but any A roosters you keep go to the B flock. B pullets stay but the B roosters go to the C flock. C roosters go to A. You can go in indefinitely with this system. This way you can select your absolute best to breed if you have separate breeding pens.

    Many hatcheries use the pen breeding system. That’s where they might put 20 roosters in a pen with 200 hens. The randomness of mating keeps the overall genetic diversity up for a long time. How long? With the hatcheries and that many chickens pretty much indefinitely. But I doubt you are planning on that many chickens. How long that works depends on how many roosters and hens you keep.

    Another method is to have a buddy you trust that is working toward the same goals. Every three or four generations, exchange roosters. That really works to maintain genetic diversity yet not bring in a rooster totally out of sync with your breeding program.

    What you are talking about is certainly do-able, but it won’t work out the way you think it will. Keep your goals in place and you will get there, maybe sooner than you think, but be flexible to handle things that come up.

    Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  3. lollipopguild

    lollipopguild In the Brooder

    Mar 13, 2014
    First, I want to say that it's your ambition and do what you will.

    However, I personally think it's a waste of time and all you'll end up with is a mixed flock with no certain characteristics. I do some breedings with other animals as needed and it's hard enough to get consistency within a closed gene pool, let alone the amount of genetics you are talking about with the numerous breeds you want.
  4. Primongrel

    Primongrel Hatching

    Nov 17, 2014
    Western Australia
    I've been researching gene colouring through a nifty Dutch software:

    that allows me to predict hatchling colouring and have preselected a series of colours that give me 50% chance COMPLETE Columbian as described on original post and 25% black, 25% blue.

    I will cull blues and blacks for colour selection. As lollipopguild pointed out I might end up with Splash colouring but thats only if I allow 2 Full Blue parent genes to mix. As I will have no Splash or Blue Rooster and will cull any Blue and Black hens, that risk is very low and can be corrected through preventive culling.

    The choice of continuosly using a purebred Rooster is born of 2 reasons:
    1- Retaining full or partial Hybrid Vigor throughout generarions
    2- Mantaining a fairly wide pool gene for health and disease resistance by avoiding eccessive inbreeding.

    Keep in mind that when hybridazing one should have 100s of chickens to avoid inbreeding but I will have 1 hen per breed + 1 different Rooster every 2-3 years. If I get this right I can avoid both balding of feathers and loss of fertility in hens and roosters, the former usually occurring with eccessive interbreeding and the latter with eccessive inbreeding.

    Both pen and spiral breeding require much space for hens and rooster, in the breeding technique I'm theorizing I preselect hens and roosters to restrict colouring outcome to 50%-25%-25%, culling the 25% black and 25% white chicks for both colouring and the remaning 50% Columbian Match I will cull for human friendly, dual purpose, fowl size, egg size and laying span and frequency qualities.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: