Gonna show my ignorance here. Chicken breeding questions.

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Citron_d'uccle, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Citron_d'uccle

    Citron_d'uccle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 15, 2011
    Fort Worth, TX
    I have raised chickens for years but have never really gotten into the whole genetics aspect. We had three or four breeds and if they had offspring we just raised them and harvested the ones we wanted to eat and left the rest to keep laying eggs.

    My question I guess is how do you cross breeds to achieve a desirable trait? Would any of the following crosses produce a good quality dual purpose bird?

    Red Sexlink X Barnevelder

    Delaware X White Brahma

    Delaware X Cornish Rocks

    Leghorn X Plymouth Rocks

    Please bear with me. Never intentionally bred chickens before.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    The main thing is what quality stock do you start with. If a chicken comes from parents that are good egg layers, then they will most likely be good egg layers. If they come from parents that make good meat birds, they will probably be good meat birds. Breed is important because breeds have tendencies. Without knowing better, you can make assumptions about them that are better than just shooting in the dark.

    But lets take a breed at random, say Delawares. Some Delaware have been bred as good egg layers, some as meat birds, some as both, and some as neither with people just letting them breed at random. The way you develop a strain of Delaware to have the traits you want is to select the breeders that have the traits you want and do not allow the others to breed. After a few generations, you get more of the offspring that are closer to what you want. But you have to continue this process each generation.

    So my basic answer to you is to select good stock to begin with and carefully select the breeders that have the traits you want.

    I'll comment on some of your options given, but these are generalities. I don't know the quality of stock you have. And some of this is just my opinion.

    Red Sexlink X Barnevelder

    Red Sexlink really does not tell me much. Some RSL are from commercial lines that have been developed to produce a lot of eggs in a short time in factory conditions, then often burn out. They often do not do well in the rough and tumble of a backyard flock. They are bred for good food to egg conversions and are often too small to provide much meat anyway. Then they might be crosses from two good dual purpose breed that produce good robust egg layers but also a decent sized carcass. The second ones here are probably a good choice for yoru breeding program. The first ones are probably a pretty poor choice.

    I'm not really familiar with Barnevelder, but they are a dual purpose breed. If you have good stock that meets your goals, probably a pretty good choice.

    Delaware X White Brahma

    It depends on your particular stock of course, but the Delaware could be a real good choice. I'll mention this here. If you pluck, a light colored bird will give you a prettier carcass than a dark colored bird. You cannot see the pen feathers on a white (Delaware or White Rock) or a buff (Buff Orp or New Hampshire) as well as you can on an dark bird. If you skin, it does not matter. But that is why the White Rock, Delaware, and New Hampshire were the primary commercial neat birds before the Cornish Crosses were developed.

    The Brahma tend to get larger but mature slower. If you are feeding them most of what they eat, your feed to meat conversion or feed to egg conversion is not great. But if you mostly free range where they find most of their food and you are not in a big hurry to harvest them, they can work out. I don't use Brahma.

    Delaware X Cornish Rocks

    I'm not sure you really mean Cornish Rocks, which are the broilers that often have serious medical problems after two or three months age or the basic Cornish breed of chickens. The broilers are hard. You have to restrict their diets to keep them alive and a size that they can even breed if they live that long. I would not attempt it. If you mean the true Cornish breed of chickens, they add more breast meat to your flock but tend to not be real good layers. It depends on your strain of Cornish. You may have a strain hat has been bred to be good layers, but if you go by breed tendencies, you may have some tradeoffs on egg laying ability versus more breast meat.

    Leghorn X Plymouth Rocks

    Leghorns are not dual purpose birds. The are too small to give a good carcass. They are, however, usually great egg layers. A lot of the commercial laying flocks have a lot of leghorn in them. If you are going to eat the meat, these would not be on my list.

    The Rocks are a good dual purpose breed. It depends on the strain, but these are probably good ones to have in the mix.
     
  3. Citron_d'uccle

    Citron_d'uccle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 15, 2011
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    Sorry I was not more specific. My birds will free range on our 10 acre farm. When breeding they will be kept in a 6' X 12' A-frame tractor that gets moved every other day.

    All the stock that I buy comes from a small scale breeder who is very reputable and are high quality birds. The Cornish he has are heritage Cornish so not the hybrid, TNT heart Cornish Rocks so sorry for the confusion. Also, he breeds his stock to be dual purpose birds.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Sounds like you have a great resource better than me or anyone else on this forum. That breeder knows his birds. Let him know what your goals are and pick his brain about which ones will best suit you. Wish had a resource like that.
     

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