Hatchery quality vs. Breeder quality

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by chickenbuddy, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. chickenbuddy

    chickenbuddy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2008
    I have never raised anything but hatchery quality chickens before. I know that breeder quality is of course better, but I was wondering if anybody could refer me to a picture comparison of the two or had pictures of their own to share. This is mainly out of curiosity, but I also have future chicken purchases in mind. Any help would be great.

    LOVEIGEE Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2010
    I'm in..........[​IMG]
  3. chickenbuddy

    chickenbuddy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2008
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop

    LOVEIGEE Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2010
    Okay....so kind of like a "such as life" deal? Everything in life today is like that. If you don't know the vendor, you'll never know, right? Thanks!
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  6. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

    May 13, 2008
    What are your goals long term for your birds ??. Do you plan on showing for yourself or children ??, Do you have a budget issue that your worried about ??. or do you just want to see examples of real birds next to pic's of hatchery birds to make a decision of what to get ?? or if those examples are so much more different ??.

    LOVEIGEE Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2010
    In my case.......does it mean healthier birds? Just wondering.....no showing.....
  8. chickenbuddy

    chickenbuddy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2008
    Quote:I just want to see the differences is general appearance: size, color, shape, etc, so yes, to decide what to get in future purchases.

    Lots of edits, I know.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  9. Gresh

    Gresh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2011
    North Carolina
    Well, here's my take on things:

    Not all hatcheries sell bad stock, but most do not sell the best or anything close to the best. The problems with hatchery birds can sometimes be traced to the hatchery's breeding program, which usually involves putting 20 roosters in with 200 hens. If every chicken in the breeding "barn" is purebred, that's a good thing, but even if they are purebred, show-quality attributes will not be manifested in their offspring because the breeding is too random. Intentional breeding--a specific male bred to a specific female--will produce more reliability in a bird's standard. However, not all hatcheries start with the real deal, and there are many situations in which hatcheries sell mutts that look like a certain breed, but really aren't.

    Another problem with hatchery birds is size. Hatchery birds are almost always too small if they are Large Fowl, and too big if they are Bantam. Size is hard to improve on, even after many generations, and once you shrink a breed it will take you years to beef it up again (though this is possible). It saves time and money to get purebreds of the proper size and weight than to buy hatchery birds that are not.

    Sometimes, a hatchery bird is weaker than a breeder bird in its immune system. Breeder birds have been exposed to viruses and diseases and have roughed them out, and become better chickens that pass on better immunity to their offspring. Hatchery birds are often vaccinated against many things, and vaccinations, though improving the parent generation, weaken the child generation and make it more dependent on vaccines than on the laws of nature for health.

    A last point is this: there are some breeds that hatcheries do better at than others. For instance, Oriental chickens from hatcheries are often terrible because they are doped with egg-laying breeds to produce a bird that is easier to breed. True Orientals, however, are not good egg-layers and are kept primarily for show purposes today. On the other hand, hatchery Leghorns, though imperfect and sometimes plagued with health problems, are closer to the standard than a hatchery Oriental because Leghorns lay eggs like crazy and are easier to breed.

    I say all these things based on the opinions of well-known and well-respected breeders, and also because of limited personal experience. But, as Gallorojo, my friend and mentor, has told me, one must be careful not to judge a hatchery based on just a few of its birds. It is best to get a lot of birds (25+) and cull down to the best before you make your conclusions.

    Many hatcheries, though not perfect, do sell very nice pet-quality chickens that are very healthy and lay very well. These birds would probably be good with people who don't care a lick about breeding true, and who are just interested in quality eggs and meat.

    In summary, breeders are almost always superior to hatcheries. The final decision, however, lies in what your purposes for chicken-keeping are. If you want the very best, choose a breeder. If you want just a cute little pet that gives you some eggs and meat, choose a hatchery.
  10. chickengramps

    chickengramps Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 11, 2011
    southside Des Moines
    This is my opinion. Look at your birds then go to a chicken show and see the difference. I did and now I will go to breeders for my kids to have to show in 4H. Big difference in size and body make up.

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