landrace breeding project to have self sufficient free ranging chickens

gloryblue

In the Brooder
5 Years
Feb 23, 2014
76
4
33
California high desert

Living in high desert in California, has it's own challenges for people and chickens, dry, windy, very hot in the summer, low moisture cold winds in the winter.
Love smart birds who are great forragers, can fly up into a tree to evade predators, so a good strong wing span, laying well and pastel or blue/green eggs, gentle kind roos who are attentive to hen care - protection, as well as chicks.

Very small comb and wattles, or none, wild patterns or colors that camouflage well. I don't like "cookie cutter" so a variety of features shared such as crests, bearded, clean hawk faced, tailed or tailess. Economical and beautiful.
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,905
655
296
Australia
Sounds great, I did something similar with letting them pick their own mates and found they for the most part chose quite well and produced some great specimens. I'd love to help contribute to a landrace sometime, just set them up and let them do their thing and see what they produce over time.

Bearded could be a problem, I read that it's a lethal gene depending on what percentage it's at. So are some of the very short-leg and 'boofhead' genes, personally I'd probably remove all such animals before attempting to landrace the rest. It's unfair on them anyway if they are exhibiting the extreme examples of those genetics. Intermediary examples are probably fine to landrace.

Animals left to their own devices often inbreed somewhat as they are usually attracted to 'like' and in domestics and recent ex-domestics, we've long since bred out some significant natural behaviors like those that cause generational movement that separates parents from offspring. Sometimes it's as simple as the environment needing to be a certain way.

For example in Australia the wild bush turkeys of each new generation naturally migrate outwards from their hatching grounds, but since we've destroyed so much of the bush, they remain in isolated pockets of forest, with young males being driven out by their fathers into the fields to die, and the daughters being retained, since they cannot wander like normal due to lack of forest; the inbreeding is so severe if you clap your hands they fall over spasming like they're having heart attacks. I knew one situation where a very old male was inbreeding with at least seven generations of his own offspring with his own daughters, daughter's daughters, daughter's daughter's daughters, and so forth. (You could identify them by their unique injuries, they made terrible messes out of one another and their legs and feet yet didn't seem to die from such wounds too often). He had an advantage because he could drive out his sons long before they were able to challenge him. They were seriously mangy birds, using that term to describe poor quality rather than a parasite infestation, lol.

If I were setting things up for a landrace to begin, I would look into what mechanism among wild versions of the same species naturally separates parents from offspring and before I allowed them to 'landrace' I'd make sure that mechanism was present; if it's social, I'd make sure it was functional in at least half of the population, especially if there were lethal genes among them, and if it were environmental, that'd need providing too and possibly testing via supervision of the first breeding groups to make sure it was working. I don't think you could go 'hands-off' too quickly, especially given how feed-inefficient and needy some breeds are, and how weak some of their immune systems and parasite resistance levels are.

All the best, I think it's a great idea and I'm keen to see how it develops.
 

gloryblue

In the Brooder
5 Years
Feb 23, 2014
76
4
33
California high desert
Appreciating all the time you put into your views here, was hoping to guide your thoughts to how many breeds of chickens there are which are standardized with muffs and beards...no problems there, but look at the benefits in not having large wattles and single combs for parts of the world with harsher winter temperatures. Perhaps you might have been thinking of the 'eartuft' gene which if doubled up does cause chick fatalities I believe in the shell, you would have to keep an eye on that gene..
It's probably also an interpretation of just how much human involvement with this landrace you would have. I wouldn't leave them quite as left to their own as that.

I do plan on setting these chickens up for success with planting healthy foraging pasture for them ...tree access too to hide and escape predators. ..etc..nothing very new most likely encouraging survival skills which were present a coupled hundred years ago...to be brought out stronger...but keeping in mind too a people friendliness...Is this a bit less vague I hope?
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,905
655
296
Australia
Appreciating all the time you put into your views here, was hoping to guide your thoughts to how many breeds of chickens there are which are standardized with muffs and beards...no problems there, but look at the benefits in not having large wattles and single combs for parts of the world with harsher winter temperatures.
Perhaps you might have been thinking of the 'eartuft' gene which if doubled up does cause chick fatalities I believe in the shell, you would have to keep an eye on that gene..
It's probably also an interpretation of just how much human involvement with this landrace you would have. I wouldn't leave them quite as left to their own as that.

I do plan on setting these chickens up for success with planting healthy foraging pasture for them ...tree access too to hide and escape predators. ..etc..nothing very new most likely encouraging survival skills which were present a coupled hundred years ago...to be brought out stronger...but keeping in mind too a people friendliness...Is this a bit less vague I hope?
Makes sense, will be interesting to see how it goes. Long way in the future I guess but noticeable trends will surface sooner. Best wishes.
 
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