Newbie with startup questions

mrbstephens

Songster
10 Years
May 25, 2009
1,785
5
161
Long Island, New York
Hi there! I've been a chicken keeper for 7 years and am ready to move onto more exciting things. I'm interested in breeding French Copper Marans, Ameraucanas, (and Olive Eggers).

I need information about housing these chickens. Do most people keep them in separate pens by breed? How many per pen and how large of a space? Would just one hen and one rooster be enough or would the hen be over bred? Maybe 6 hens to 1 rooster ratio?

I'd also like some tips about how to choose the right genetics. What should I look for? Which should be culled for what reason? Although I don't actually plan to kill any, but just give away or sell at a discounted price.

Is breeding siblings OK or would there be deformities?

Any other information or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
 

3riverschick

Poultry Lit Chaser
10 Years
May 19, 2009
8,453
3,319
512
Hi !,
frow.gif

Welcome to BYC and the world of poultry !
How much total sq. ft. do you have to use for this hobby.? That includes coops, runs, any storage facilities, and any space
you might want to use to grow fodder ( if any, not required). This will dictate a lot of considerations folks will have in how
to answer you properly.
Best Success,
Karen
 

WalnutHill

Crowing
5 Years
Mar 16, 2014
7,000
2,272
346
SE Michigan
Hi there! I've been a chicken keeper for 7 years and am ready to move onto more exciting things. I'm interested in breeding French Copper Marans, Ameraucanas, (and Olive Eggers).

I need information about housing these chickens. Do most people keep them in separate pens by breed? How many per pen and how large of a space? Would just one hen and one rooster be enough or would the hen be over bred? Maybe 6 hens to 1 rooster ratio?

I'd also like some tips about how to choose the right genetics. What should I look for? Which should be culled for what reason? Although I don't actually plan to kill any, but just give away or sell at a discounted price.

Is breeding siblings OK or would there be deformities?

Any other information or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

Here is the best advice I can give you.

Determine what your goal is. Do you just want pretty baskets of eggs, or chickens suitable for showing in their breed class? Will you be selling eggs, or selling chicks?

Rule #1. Never breed a bad bird. That would be a bird with poor conformation (by any general chicken standards, such as crooked or roach back, stubby legs, stilt legs, crooked neck, crow head, narrow hips, etc that could impact overall health and productivity). Eat those, don't pass them on.

Rule #2. Never breed a sick bird. If a chicken comes down with an infectious respiratory disease, isolate it, identify it, cull it if necessary. Even if it recovers, it can be a carrier that infects your other birds now and in the future. Don't pass those on either.

Avoid breeding a mean bird. There are too many good birds to breed the evil ones. Those you can sell.

If breeding pure breds and a chick hatches that varies from its breed type, such as a chick that should be black and white hatches out brown, sell it as a backyard chick.

Whatever your goal, breed to it without breaking the first two rules.

While breeding siblings won't create deformities, it will exaggerate faults. You can breed daughter to father and son to mother, though, for several generations while building your flock.

Unless you want your expensive stock to turn entirely into "backyard chickens" that can only be sold as Easter Eggers, pen them separately. And one roo to six hens is about the lowest you want to go. One rooster can cover up to 25 hens if he's really busy.

If you want a pretty egg basket, keep some pure BCM, some pure AM, and from their offspring select an AM rooster and a few BCM hens for the OE pen. For an entire season hatch out OEs, then put the parents back in their own pens (cull the roo if need be). From the OE offspring, raise pullets to maturity and identify those that produce the egg colors you find acceptable. Cull the rest. Separate out a new OE breeding pen every few years to rejuvenate your stock, or adjust egg color by breeding the OEs to either a BCM or AM rooster as needed to tweak egg color and again raise all pullets to maturity.

Start with the best birds you can, it will save you years and money later.
 

loribischof

In the Brooder
Jun 20, 2015
92
4
33
Erie, PA
Wow! Read this post because I have many of the same questions. What a great a thorough response Walnut Hill! That's some great information and you explained it so well! Thank you!
 

WalnutHill

Crowing
5 Years
Mar 16, 2014
7,000
2,272
346
SE Michigan
Last edited:

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,098
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
The only thing I would change from Walnut's excellent advice: I would eat any mean birds rather than sell them. If you sell them, some one else might use them for breeders. (of course first, you need to look at husbandry practices to see if you are doing anything in your management to contribute to nasty attitudes in your flock) If we all culled the nasty ones over time, our flocks would be much less aggressive.
 

scflock

Crowing
5 Years
Jan 13, 2015
14,366
2,286
368
Upstate South Carolina
I can't top anything Walnut or Lazy Gardner said, they are far more experienced than I am, but you are about to embark on the same journey I did last year. Chickens have been a hobby for 5 years, but I wanted to get purebreeds and start breeding. Walnut's advice about determining your goal is the best. Once you start looking at purebreds, you may get excited and start with too many different breeds. Pick one or two that you are really interested in and focus on them. When you start learning more about breeding, you will learn that it is much harder than just letting the rooster have his way with the girls and selling all the babies. It's very rewarding, but it is a challenge. Over the next few years, I will probably actually be downsizing to allow myself to focus on my two favorite breeds: Ameraucanas and BCM.
I can't tell you as much about selection and culling as the other guys, but I can tell you some of the mistakes I made. First and foremost is getting excited and buying the first birds I found. BCM are a difficult breed to keep to SOP, and many people sell birds as BCM that are nowhere near SOP. Study about them first, find out what faults to look for, then find a reputable breeder with good reviews. Spend the money on good birds. I will spend 2 years and go through a hundred birds or more just to get to the point that I would have been at if I had done more research and bought more expensive birds.
You definitely need to keep them separate. I started with 6 hens to every roo, and that wasn't enough. The hens get worn out. This year I'm shooting for 12-15 for every boy.
Have a plan for excess roosters, whether you eat them, sell them, or give them away. Pullets are always in demand, but roosters don't sell nearly as well, or for near the prices of hens. I sell pullets for $15-20 each. I sell roosters 4 for $20. Advertising them in groups will attract customers that will buy them for meat birds.
I keep mine in large coops and pens, with plenty of room in the pens to raise birds hatched by broodies. You may also need a grow out pen. I have one for each breed. Day old chicks will sell in the spring, but most people want pullets or started chicks, so you need room to grow them away from the main flock.
Once you start culling, the decisions get more difficult. Like Walnut said, I thought culling meant selling off unwanted birds. The reputable breeders won't sell those. They look at that as putting imperfect birds into the breed, no matter who is raising them, and further diluting the line. Even giving away or selling birds that are severely off target is a no no for major breeders. Even then, giving away birds isn't as easy as it sounds.
I'm not trying to discourage you, I am very happy that I started trying to improve my birds. It forced me to learn much more about specific breeds, and is very rewarding when you start getting quality birds more consistently. I'd love to hear which breeds you choose and follow you along as you start this next phase of raising chickens.
The thread that silkiecuddles linked in her first post is a very good thread with a lot of regulars on it. It's a monster thread, so don't feel like you have to read the whole thing. Just jump right in and introduce yourself
 

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