looking for input on breeding

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ki4got, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. ki4got

    ki4got Hatch-a-Holic

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    Initially, I had thought to set up my breeders in smaller pens. Then i contemplated doing a large group at once, for now. But now, seeing the feather damage the rooster is causing on his girls, I'm thinking about something someone else mentioned. She has a rooster pen, and puts the girls and guys together one day a couple days a week, and the rooster goes back to the 'bachelor' pen when he's done. That would involve a bit more work, but at the same time, with no roosters loose, all the girls could free range all day without worry of cross breeding to unwanted roosters... And it would mean fewer birds in a single pen.

    But. There's always a 'but'... I would have to institute trap nesting, and hope that the girls would actually lay IN the nests, not somewhere else on the property. And hope the rooster is doing his job when he's put to it. And, and, and... there's so many factors about all the systems I've contemplated. It just seems that nothing I think of works well for breeding AND free ranging simultaneously, 100% of the time. I think the best alternative is to breed ONE breed as free range, and keep the rest penned up. Or, rotate who's free by breed/color/whatever. Today the extras, tomorrow the mille fleur cochins, the next day the silver grey dorkings, etc.

    Or do I just have a few breeding pens, and rotate the breeds/colors of who's home and only collect eggs for those varieties for sale/hatching? That actually sounds the best, then the rest can be free birds except for the month or two I want to hatch from them. I would just need to determine how long they needed to be segregated prior to incubating to assure 'who the baby daddy be'. That would also assure knowing what varieties of eggs are hatching at any time.

    As to the cochins, another option occurred to me too. Someone mentioned the other day, artificial insemination. That would allow all the girls to range together (or penned) and just the roosters kept penned... again back to my original ideas.

    I just need to start with one, then try another, and eventually find what works best for ME... Because until I have the actual experiences, the rest is just supposition.

    So for now, I think it'll be breeding pens for each breed/color with chicks free ranging. And once the cockerels start becoming a nuisance they go into a bachelor pen to let the girls have some peace. The same for any variety I don't want hatching eggs from at the moment. Hens go free the roos go to the pen. And I can just hope the girls will use the nests available instead of hiding them somewhere.

    I go back and forth the more I try to think.

    What I plan to have are 3 colors of Dorkings, and 3-4 colors of bantam cochins...

    right now everyone is free ranged except for the mature dorking hens and 1 rooster. I'm trying to figure this all out now, so I can plan what coops/pens i need to build for the breeding birds.
     
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Start simple, one breed, couple colors, one or two breeding pens. Definitely have a bachelor pad to hold the ones you want to breed. Keep the hen flock rooster free, that way no long wait to know who the father is. Gather your experience and as you said build on what works for you.
     
  3. DanEP

    DanEP Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Den in Penn has some very good points and makes sense. But just to give one more option what I do is have one big flock And when I want to breed separate my breeders. The reason I do this is that I have a lot of predetors and find I lose a lot fewer birds when the roos are running with them. The draw back to this is that I have to segregrate the breeder hens for 4 weeks before breeding but the roo is only out of the flock for about a week.I have learned from experience that 3 weeks isn't long enough to be sure about the baby's daddy.Just tried cheating on that rule and have two black white rocks in the grow out pen now.
    If I was going to breed a lot I would go with the bachelor pen, if not so much either way will work. In any case you will have to decide what works for you.

    GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR BREEDING
     
  4. ki4got

    ki4got Hatch-a-Holic

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    thanks for the input... I like the idea of having a bachelor pen, but at the same time, i do like having a rooster or 2 with the girls when they're free...

    I think what i'm going to do, at least until the baby roos start crowing, is pen the cochins for breeding (i only have 6, in 3 colors), and free range all the dorkings and youngsters. the only ones I have old enough to breed are my silver greys and a few spare colored girls, but i can tell the eggs apart by tint (colored are darker than the sg's which are mostly white). and i could put the 'extras' in the egg pen and let everyone else range all day...

    now my only worry, at least until they settle in, will be, will they lay in the nests like they're supposed to, or will they hide eggs. the colored girls i'm sure will use the boxes, they've never been free, but one of my sg girls had 2 or 3 hidden nests all last summer. we'll see if she has forgotten that part.

    at least this should work until my colored and red chicks start maturing, but they are only days old right now. and my ee cockerels are going to the sale next weekend so no worries there either. 8)
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
  5. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The separation time is only one thing to think about with the roosters. With as many colors and two breeds,and say you want a couple of each to chose from, the numbers soon add up. Having a place where they won't fight too much is important. Nothing is ever perfect in this world. But striving for it is worth the effort.
     
  6. ki4got

    ki4got Hatch-a-Holic

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    space isn't an issue really, i have 26 acres to play with. but keeping it organized is a quirk of mine. there has to be a method to my madness, so to speak or it drives me nuts.
     

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