My Hamburg Enlargement project has a start date!

LateBirdFarms

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Apr 17, 2020
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I'm so excited to get a start on this! And this isn't for anything more serious than my own enjoyment and hopefully end up with my perfect barnyard mutt! :celebrate

I brought this up before to get a few opinions on how to supersize my favorite breed, the Silver Laced Hamburgs, and increase the size of their itty bitty eggs, but I officially have a March start date, and I'd like some input into how I'm actually going to pull this off.

The basics of what I want are:
  • Feather pattern/appearance of the Hamburg
  • Lays as well (or close to) as a Hamburg
  • Larger eggs
  • Less skittish
  • Much larger in general, with a tidier look.
  • Small comb
  • Egg colour isn't terribly important, but cream would be nice
For starters, I'd like to start with a Hamburg rooster over a handful of hens. Dark Cornish was what a fabulous BYC member had suggested and I really liked the idea, but I'm having some trouble locating where I might actually be able to find some without some serious shipping involved, so I'm looking into eggs to incubate. Now I can most likely get my hands on some Dark Brahmas, who I adore for their more docile temperament, but I don't really want heavily feathered feet on my end results, but I don't mind a light feathered leg. The breeder with the Brahmas also has Silver Laced Brahmas as well, and I'm wondering if that would be a better choice than the Dark.

Does anyone have any experience with the SL variety of Brahmas? Is there any attitude fluctuations between the colour varieties I should be aware of? (I am aware each bird is an individual, and sometimes varies from the norm, but I'm curious about the "norm", though I'll happily take any individual bird horror story into advisement!)

I'm still trying to figure out if the Hamburg Lacing is actually the lacing gene or something else, since it doesn't look like traditional lacing... so if anyone familiar with the breed can shed some light on the matter, I'd be much obliged!

I can't make that silly gene calculator work for me, so I have no hope of using it to work out my odds or make sense of what it says, so I'm really just guessing at my outcome for the first batches. Do I breed grow outs back to the parent stock or cross the siblings? I know there's a proper way to do it that limits the amount of genetic issues from inbreeding, but I can't remember which way it works, and I thought I'd expose my ignorance directly and just ask while I'm rereading all the research stuff I had read previously that obviously didn't stick as well as I thought! 😳
I absolutely have the option to switch out my rooster at any given stage after the first hatch, so theres that as well.

(And yes, the Silver Laced Wyandotte is a beautiful bird, but I've got my own individual personality horror story with these guys and they don't exactly fit with my "vision", so I'd rather play with breeding 😅)
 

NatJ

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I'm still trying to figure out if the Hamburg Lacing is actually the lacing gene or something else, since it doesn't look like traditional lacing...

Hamburgs are usually Spangled, instead of laced.
Genetics should be similar to laced, but lack the Co (Columbian) gene.
Single-laced birds tend to have Co, while double-laced birds and spangled birds tend to not have Co.
Any of those will have Pg (Pattern gene), probably with Ml (Melanotic), and often Db (Dark Brown.) Those three genes are close together on one chromosome, so they often get inherited together (which makes it much easier to get the right combination!)

I can't make that silly gene calculator work for me, so I have no hope of using it to work out my odds or make sense of what it says, so I'm really just guessing at my outcome for the first batches.

I don't use it to calculate offspring, but I do like to change the genes and watch the chicken picture change. I actually figure out crosses that way too: if I have a bird with Pg from one parent, and pg+ from the other parent, what should that bird look like? Or if I start with a Spangled bird, and add Co, what does that do? (etc.)

Does anyone have any experience with the SL variety of Brahmas? Is there any attitude fluctuations between the colour varieties I should be aware of? (I am aware each bird is an individual, and sometimes varies from the norm, but I'm curious about the "norm", though I'll happily take any individual bird horror story into advisement!)

No personal experience with the Brahmas, but you could consider getting some of each color and evaluating them yourself. Then you will know the temperament of the strain that breeder has, which is even more important than what the norm is.

Since you want bigger EGGS, be sure to check the size eggs laid by that breeder's birds. Some big chickens still lay small eggs.

Do I breed grow outs back to the parent stock or cross the siblings? I know there's a proper way to do it that limits the amount of genetic issues from inbreeding, but I can't remember which way it works, and I thought I'd expose my ignorance directly and just ask while I'm rereading all the research stuff I had read previously that obviously didn't stick as well as I thought!

I wouldn't worry too much about inbreeding in the first few generations, given that you'll be starting with such a wide cross in the first place. Inbreeding isn't usually a big deal with chickens anyway (can lead to smaller birds, smaller eggs, poor hatchability: but you will already be watching these things because of what your project is, so if you see a generation where those are worse, you will know to cross in another unrelated bird--probably a Hamburg, given which side you want more traits from.)

If you cross back to the Hamburg, you will get chicks that are more like Hamburgs (good, except for the size.)

Or if you cross the first generation siblings among themselves, you will get birds with a wide variety of traits: big and small, lots of color variations, several comb types, legs with varied amounts of feathering, some birds a lot more fluffy than others, egg colors varying between white and brown, and so forth. The trick is to identify the particular birds that are closest to what you want!

And of course you can cross birds from one generation with those from another generation: so you might cross a half-Hamburg (first generation) to a 3/4 Hamburg (second generation).

No matter how you cross them, I would plan on eating a lot of fried chicken and chicken soup as you sort out the qualities you want.

You can cull for some traits at earlier ages than others. Chicks will hatch with different amounts of down on their legs, so you can identify the least-feathered ones right away. You can select for early growth by culling the smallest ones at a certain age (maybe 8 weeks or so). You can select for early maturity by waiting until some of the pullets are laying and then culling the rest. To select for large eggs, you can do it directly (hatch large eggs) or indirectly (choose bigger birds, because they will probably lay larger eggs.)
 

LateBirdFarms

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As always, you're a wealth of knowledge, @NatJ
You've been a huge help and I'm looking forward to showing off my experiment as it develops! I hadn't even thought about incubating for the purpose of hatching out the largest eggs to start with, which sound like a better plan than the wait and see method I was going to go with if I got chicks instead. I really appreciate you talking this out with me, so much better than bouncing it around in my own head... I probably would have clued into the fact I could have started with the larger eggs while waiting for the first hens to lay, which would have been a bit of a kick in the pants!

Hamburgs are usually Spangled, instead of laced.
Genetics should be similar to laced, but lack the Co (Columbian) gene.
Single-laced birds tend to have Co, while double-laced birds and spangled birds tend to not have Co.
Any of those will have Pg (Pattern gene), probably with Ml (Melanotic), and often Db (Dark Brown.) Those three genes are close together on one chromosome, so they often get inherited together (which makes it much easier to get the right combination!)
🤣 I can't believe I slapped the lacing label on them and went with it! The first person I got my hamburgs off of had them labeled as laced, and I argued with the guy about spangled vs laced! I knew they were spangled, but I guess in my 4am excitement while I was digging through my contacts from last year I was reading his breed list and completely gapped out there. Whoops!


I don't use it to calculate offspring, but I do like to change the genes and watch the chicken picture change. I actually figure out crosses that way too: if I have a bird with Pg from one parent, and pg+ from the other parent, what should that bird look like? Or if I start with a Spangled bird, and add Co, what does that do? (etc.)
I really should have another look at it, even just for that aspect. I desperately want to offer to redraw their chicken models everytime I try it though!

No personal experience with the Brahmas, but you could consider getting some of each color and evaluating them yourself. Then you will know the temperament of the strain that breeder has, which is even more important than what the norm is.
I think that's going to be my plan, do a few of each and I'll have a good idea of who's who by the time they reach breeding age.



I wouldn't worry too much about inbreeding in the first few generations, given that you'll be starting with such a wide cross in the first place. Inbreeding isn't usually a big deal with chickens anyway (can lead to smaller birds, smaller eggs, poor hatchability: but you will already be watching these things because of what your project is, so if you see a generation where those are worse, you will know to cross in another unrelated bird--probably a Hamburg, given which side you want more traits from.)
That's awesome! I didn't factor in the fact that having several breeds widens the gene pool considerably! You really have been an amazing help for this project of mine!


No matter how you cross them, I would plan on eating a lot of fried chicken and chicken soup as you sort out the qualities you want.
I've perfected the art of making chicken in so many different ways to trick the kids into not noticing we're having chicken AGAIN that I'm not terribly worried about the culls, they'll all be put to good use. I found an Indigenous church not to far from me during a the year I just didnt have room in my freezer for soup hens, and I'll be more than happy to swing by them again should I get more duds than I was hoping for.

Other than the egg laying aspect, the first decisions should be pretty easy, and while it's not a terribly complicated breeding plan, I imagine there will be a hiccup or two along the way, and I'm so very glad that there are willing individuals like you to loan out your common sense when I need it and share your already hard one knowledge! :love
 

NatJ

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I really appreciate you talking this out with me, so much better than bouncing it around in my own head...

My housemates are tired of hearing about chicken breeding ideas that I might do someday, so it's fun to daydream and plan with someone else who is interested in the subject :gig

And I agree that bouncing ideas back and forth between people can help a lot :)
 

LateBirdFarms

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My housemates are tired of hearing about chicken breeding ideas that I might do someday, so it's fun to daydream and plan with someone else who is interested in the subject :gig

And I agree that bouncing ideas back and forth between people can help a lot :)
I volunteer my services completely!! Pick me! Pick me! :fl I can talk chickens until the cows, or in this case chickens, come home!

Will the light Brama white screw with the Spangle marking? Ermine I believe it's called? I desperately want a hen off a friend out of her champion LB, but I'm not sure what that means for altering the outcome of the spangling. I've never seen a more docile and MASSIVE rooster in my life that still manages to look regal and dignified while being hauled around the barn like a teddy bear by a 10 year old. If some miracle the LB pattern doesnt destroy the spangled pattern, I may wrangle an egg or two.
 

NatJ

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I volunteer my services completely!! Pick me! Pick me! :fl I can talk chickens until the cows, or in this case chickens, come home!
:lau

Will the light Brama white screw with the Spangle marking? Ermine I believe it's called?

Light Brahma pattern is called Columbian.

If you cross Light Brahma with Silver Spangled Hamburg, I think you'll get single-laced birds in the first generation (probably poor-quality lacing). If you cross those back to Hamburg, and hatch enough chicks, you should be able to get some spangled birds in the next generation.

In case you want to try putting it in the gene calculator...
I'm using this version of the calculator:
https://kippenjungle.nl/kruising.html
It's got fewer gene options (no leg color or comb type), and the labels are just in English, so I find it less confusing when I just want to think about colors.

The + label on some genes indicates what the wild Jungle Fowl probably have, and it's the default setting in the calculator. Any gene I'm not listing is set to that.

I would assume each parent breed is pure for each gene (two copies: Co/Co or co+/co+), and that the first cross chicks get one copy from each parent, so they have a mismatch (Co/co+).

The genes I think are relevant for your project:

E:
e^b or perhaps e^Wh from Light Brahma
e^R from Hamburg

Co:
Co from Light Brahma
co+ from Hamburg

Db, Ml, Pg (These tend to be inherited together because they're close together on one chromosome):
db+, ml+, pg+ from Light Brahma
Db, Ml, Pg from Hamburg

S (Silver) from both parents


Working with just one gene, Columbian, if you cross them you get chicks that are Co/co+.
If you cross those chicks back to a Hamburg parent, you should get half Co/co+ and half pure co+/co+. If you cross those first chicks to each other instead, you get about one quarter Co/Co, one half Co/co+, one quarter co+/co+.

You get a similar pattern with the Db-Ml-Pg group, although you will probably get some birds where the linkage is broken and they have some of the set but not all. I don't know what percent that will be, but they will probably just look a bit different.

If you cross the first generation back to the Hamburg, and 1/2 are pure co+/co+ like the Hamburg; and if 1/2 of those are also pure Db-Ml-Pg like the Hamburg, then you will have 1/4 of the chicks showing the spangled pattern. In practice, the ones with good spangling will be rarer than that, but at least it's a start. You could take the best spangled ones that are also larger than Hamburgs and cross them back to the Brahma to get more size, then cross the offspring back to them to get more Hamburg traits...

Or if you cross the first generation back to the Brahma to get more size, you would want to pick the chicks that look LEAST like a Brahma and most like the first generation cross (but larger) to cross back to spangled (Hamburg or other-generation cross.)

You might want to work with two different lines for a while, one crossing back to Hamburg that tries to keep only size and nothing else from the Brahma, and the other crossing back to Brahma that tries to keep as many not-Brahma traits as possible while getting the large size.

Edit: I forgot, that cross is one where the calculator doesn't have a picture and isn't sure what to call the color :rolleyes: That makes it a lot less fun to play with!
 

LateBirdFarms

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(Whoops! Thank heavens for the "save draft" option, I left my final sentence unfinished and my post unsubmitted!)

Oooh! Maybe that's why I thought I'd done something wrong! When I couldnt get the picture to work, I was sure I fudged something.
So that's Columbian? Lol I never was sure exactly what Columbian looked like. I was sure I read ermine on a breed standard or hatchery site 😅 Just another example of how scrambled my brain is these days! Thank you for not outright laughing at me for my laced x ermine breeding plans! :oops: :gig

And thank you for taking the time to write it up clearly for me, super awesome of you! I think I'm going to try to line up some of the LB eggs too, fingers crossed on my friend having a few to part with! If I'm not mistaken she has a good selection of hamburgs as well, would be amazing if I didn't have to go to the other end of the province to find some.

Fantastic idea, setting up two groups to focus on different traits, I think I'm definitely going to use that one. While I'm waiting for the spring go-ahead on this project and the first grow outs, I think I might use the extra pen to see if I can't get some spotty blue/green layers started! While I've got a SFHxIsbar (and I can never make Silverudd stick in my head) who lays a beautiful green egg and is spotty to an extent but I've got some definite preferences for black and white spotty animals and I won't be truly pleased until I've got a flock of giant dalmatian spotted lap chickens running around!

You've given me a wonderful platform to start with, and clarified the bits that had me stumped, but I'm almost positive I'll come up with more questions as I go! I've sourced out some Hamburg eggs and potential brahmas, but my incubator is lolly gagging in customs so I'm on hold unless I can find a source closer so I can the eggs here before my broody decides she doesn't want to brood anymore! I really wish we had Hatcheries here like the ones in the US with the abundant selection of breeds to chose from. It would make my search a ton easier!
 

NatJ

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So that's Columbian? Lol I never was sure exactly what Columbian looked like.

Yes. Columbian Wyandotte, Columbian Rock, Light Sussex, Light Brahma are all Columbian.
When you make it gold instead of silver, you get Buff Columbian Wyandotte, Buff Brahma, and so forth.
And if you selectively breed for less black, you can end up with chickens like Rhode Island Red, or Black Tailed White (or Buff) Japanese bantams.
Selecting for more black can give Lakenvelder color.

(I don't know exactly what genes are involved in the "less black" and "more black" versions, just that they have the Columbian gene Co, and have the black pushed to the ends of the chicken :D)
 

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