Keeping genetics straight in free range flocks?

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the SOP' started by Florida Bullfrog, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. Florida Bullfrog

    Florida Bullfrog Chirping

    May 14, 2019
    North Florida
    For anyone that free ranges various breeds in a common farm yard environment and have some desire to keep at least some pure bred examples of various breeds, do you find that its doable?

    Here’s my situation. I have the following breeds:

    13 “Florida Cracker” games (see my thread on Jungle Fowl in the SE for an explanation of the term, the short answer is they’re likely either Spanish games, American game bantams, or hatchery jungle fowl), 11 hens and 2 roosters. 9 hens free range with 1 rooster. The other rooster is penned with 2 hens and those three are separate from other chickens.

    6 white leghorn hens, free ranging.

    6 silver laced Wyandotte hens, free ranging.

    6 Old English game bantams, 5 hens and 1 rooster, all penned together but separate from the other breeds.

    As the OEGBs and a set of FCGs are penned on their own, they can only reproduce with themselves. And where the only free ranging rooster is a FCG, those free range hens will produce either pure bred FCG, FCG x leghorn crosses, or FCG x Wyandotte crosses. The offspring are easy to tell apart as are the eggs. So far I’ve only made pure bred FCGs, pure OEGBs, and leghorn crosses and they’re all easy to distinguish as chicks.

    Here’s my concern: I’d like to make and free range a flock of OEGBs. About 10 birds or so. Yet the OEGBs and FCG eggs are identical looking. Although I think I can easily separate chicks out at the point of hatching due to the varied coloration of the OEGBs, I’m concerned about the inevitable crosses between the FCG roosters and OEGB hens. I am concerned that their offspring won’t be easily distinguishable and that the next generation afterwards definitely won’t be as the crosses get bred back to FCG roosters again.

    I don’t mind having mixed breeds. I just don’t want the mixed breeds to pollute the genetics of my pure bred chickens, namely my FCGs.

    I know that if I mix breeds in the barnyard, it’s inevitable they’re going cross breed. I suppose I’m asking if there are ways to increase the odds that one will end up with at least one desired pure breed flock among a group of many breeds?

    For example, should I aggressively cull cross breeds between the OEGBs and FCGs before they reach maturity? Or is the OEGB genetics so diverse that they will likely always produce offspring that look different and can be distinguished easily from the wild colored FCGs?

    Or should I resign myself to the notion that my flock will all be mutts in 10 years and I should only trust in the penned birds to give me pure bred stock?
  2. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

    Mar 29, 2019
    Northern Minnesota
    My Coop
    I think you answered your own question. Nothing wrong with a mixed flock, but if you want pure bred lines, I think you should have separate pens like you do.

    I know a guy who breds birds, and he takes everything very seriously and culls any birds with the slightest variance from standards. I am happy with getting my chicks from a hatchery and don't worry much about standards. We have different goals with our birds, but it's all good to both of us.


    Nov 8, 2017
    My Coop
    I have a mixed, free-ranged flock, but the issue of pure breds solves itself. Since the breeding season for me is mid winter, my birds stay inside more often than not anyways because of the weather.
    I have established pens in the coop in which I keep my bantam Buckeyes and d'Anvers that I want to use for breeding, meanwhile, the rest of the flock runs free.
    Then during the summer they are loose again, free to mingle as the wish.
    Right now they are in transition. Because they are in quarantine after a show, it was convenient to move them into the pens anyways.
    I have already separated the breeds and penned some of the males and females together. Right now we are giving them a six week period of only natural day light before using a lot of natural light to jumpstart laying.
    Yes, you don't have the issues of climate that will naturally cause your birds to be indoors more often in winter, but the principle is the same.
    Winter= breeding season (depending on your location, may be show season as well)
    Spring=hatching and transition
    Summer=growing season as well as where your adults are free to go. Be sure to separate ages until six months to prevent disease.
    Fall=show and transition
    Obviously your transition dates may be different from mine. Earlier in spring and later in fall.
    gtaus likes this.

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