Penned breeding vs free range?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by erinnyes, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi! I was hoping to get some opinions on this? I have a free range flock of Marans in different colors (mainly wheaten and BC). All of my stock have come from great breeders and good lines, none are hatchery or poor quality birds. Right now I have several hens and two roosters, one wheaten and one BC.

    My question is, I see many breeders who breed for type and quality birds who keep their colors penned separately, and I was wondering if this was important? I like my birds to free range, and as long as the roosters get along, why not? It's true that if I sold hatching eggs I could never tell you what color you might get from which, and I am not sure how potential cross-color breeding might effect color purity. How much does that all matter? Does free ranging my flock mean that I won't be taken seriously as a breeder?

    I would love opinions on this! :) I consider myself a "hobby" breeder now, but I want to do things right!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have done the free-range breeding with multiples of both sexes and process is slow / imprecise. Knowledge of who begets who, as typically not realized in a free-range setting, makes your selection efforts much more powerfull. Long-term it also helps control impacts of inbreeding. I would invest in confinement to improve knowlege over parentage and well as your ability to manipulate it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  3. The only thing with not having them in a seperate pen is that the chicks will not hatch pure-breds I dont breed my chickens but I let my broody hatch once cause she really wanted to. So I have 11 mixes. I like having mixes they are very pretty in my opinion.
     
  4. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you want to sell hatching eggs then you will get more for an assured true bred then a, I don't know what they will be. A two coop and alternating free range days system would get you a way to keep them separate, yet give them range time. If you went to the expense of buying quantity birds why mix them?
     
  5. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I should clarify, the breed isn't mixed-bred, just the color. The only stock I have are Marans so whatever hatches will definitely be a Marans, it's only the variety I can't predict. But you all do bring up valid points, and it sounds like if I want to progress as a good breeder and know who fathered who, I should get some pens. I am curious though, is there anyone out there who free range breeds and doesn't have issues with it?
     
  6. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think the only issues that you will have is that you will not be able to predict color with the offspring. You also won't be able to decide who to keep for breeding and who to cull as you won't have info on your lines. I'm not that familiar with marans but my understanding is that color is important. I guess theoretically you could let them range, hatch out chicks and be very careful with ID and notes so that you can somewhat predict the color as they hatch. But then if you come up with an interesting result, it will be hard to replicate.

    I free range mine. I have mostly JG but also BO, EE, and WLH. My BO hen is hatching eggs right now but I don't know if they are pure JG or JG/BO because they all lay brown eggs. I don't plan on selling just filling my freezer so for me its no big deal.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Ask yourself if color patterns that you have will throw intermediates that are not typical of Marans. If all possible patterns acceptable for Marans then no problems except to purist concerned with feather color. Crossing strains may cause short-term reductions in appearance of some other attribute but the added genetic diversity of a crossed up line can enable long-term improvements not possible with a single inbred line. I am doing similar with my American Dominiques that is based on five separate strains. First generations have been very variable but end product is shaping up and it will be uniquely a product of my efforts, not some reworked or simply increasingly inbred line acquired from someone else.

    With my American Dominiques and American Games I free-range them until they are young adults. Despite that, the breeding system in place enables knowledge with certainty of parentage. The free-range method is cheaper on food side and does some culling based on infirmities impacting predator avoidance and disease resistance.


    With my game I used to keep them on walks where one a single rooster and anywhere from one to three hens where used. Walks were far enough apart that birds for different walks did not interact and hens where either full-sisters or had genetic markers that enabled ID of resultant offspring based on hen in addition to rooster.
     
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If all you want is more chicks, then none of this matters.

    If you want to improve the breed, with precision using selective breeding, sell the chicks as high grade stock, or sell fertile hatching eggs, then selective breeding where the cock bird is known and the hen(s) are specifically known is the only way to go.

    By way of example, if I had both heritage Rhode Island Reds and the very rare Rhode Island White and allowed them to breed at will, the resultant chicks would be considered mutts. Just the truth. Great birds, perhaps, but mutts.

    So, really, this is entirely your choice.
     
  9. Presidential

    Presidential Out Of The Brooder

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    There is more to breeding than color. If you want to do things "right", you need to keep very accurate records and KNOW what you study. This level of breeder knows & records nutrition, health, conformation, color, quality, etc. for each bird.

    If you wish to be a "hobby breeder" of Marans and disclose your level of quality assurance to your customer, than enjoy the journey and free-range.

    You just need to decide for yourself what level of breeder you really desire to be. There is no "right" or "wrong", IMHO, as long as you are honest with your customers.
     
  10. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    From my understanding, crossing strains of different colors has it's bonuses and faults in Marans. The only example specifically I know of is that BC's can get a "mossy" type feather issue when crossed with wheaten. However, I know breeders in the past have crossed lines and strains in order to improve egg color or shank feathering, for example. I for the time being focus on a few things, such as proper confirmation in my birds and nice dark eggs, but I admit feather patterns and coloring have been less of a concern to me until now. :)

    However, you all seem to agree that keeping records and keeping them separated is the way to go, and I feel convinced! I asked myself whether I'd like to stay a hobby breeder or start getting more serious, and I think this post summed it up for me:

    Quote: Yeah, you're right. I guess I went through the cost and trouble to find great breeders and obtain good stock, I may as well breed them the right way and improve the breed rather than just pop out chicks for fun. ;) Until I set up an enclosed pen for my strains I will be sure to let people buying my chicks know that I'm a hobbyist, though!

    Thank you all for reading and for your well-considered answers! :) This is why I love this forum, so many people with advice and good sense! I can honestly say I wouldn't be getting anywhere if not for the help I've received here.
     

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