Production Flock......Question about keeping to breed standards


9 Years
May 6, 2010
SW Iowa
I have been browsing the forum that I do many nights to try to learn about things. I am researching the breeds that I want for next spring. I am getting ready to put together a production flock. Do any of you ever feel guilty for not breeding to standard of the breed but breeding for egg production? I don't have to have show quality birds but I need good egg producers. We about starved last winter in the economy the way it was. These chickens were bought to help provide us food. I have access to lots of corn and I will buy extra feed before I get to our real slow months of the year. We are self employed and in a construction trade to boot.

I just want to have chickens to produce eggs and if I get some extra chicks maybe I can sell a few of them too for others in our same position that need the eggs. How do you all feel about this?

Edited... because I can't spell!
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I'm certainly no authority on the matter, but my chickens are also for production of food, both eggs and meat. As long as i'm not making any claims to others when i sell chicks, (claims about their wonderful qualities, other than their basic breed), then no, i don't think i'm doing anything wrong.
I have the most shameful looking birds in terms of breed standards, but I get awesome giant brown eggs! I've done the selective breeding for type, feather, temperament and color. If I gain a rooster after we move to the country, then I'll only set eggs from the girls who lay daily or close to it. Bonus points for girls who lay through their molt, like my Black Astralorp does.

Main difference is if you sell them. $15 for egg layers, less or more depending on season and location. Show birds.... $20+ depending. You could spend $100 on a trio of breeding quality birds. Same concept as dogs... the blue ribbon champion puppies for $1200 or the back yard mutt from the pound for $50. Both should make great dogs, usually the mutt wins out.

I opted for layers "of dubious breeding" simply for eggs. Why spend $4 a dozen for 12 organic eggs when I can have the whole bird for $15? According to my math, at egg #2,101 I'll be in the black. For what I spent on the birds, and what eggs were costing... I could buy 175 cartons of organic eggs from whole foods. We go through 5 dozen a month, so that's 35 months before eggs are "free". It'll cost me $7 a month to feed them, so once they've paid me back for what I've spent, I'll be saving a whopping $13 a month. That's $156 a year, which translates to 3 tanks of gas.

LOL At least they make good pets, and if I need eggs, they're right there on the counter. I'll save a lot more money if I can figure out how to grow asparagus year round. $3-$4 a bunch, eaten twice a week! Husband LOVES asparagus. And cheese, need to make about 3 pounds of cheese a week. That adds up when you gotta buy it!
In animal breeding there is something called "hybrid vigor" in which in the first cross between two breeds, seems to produce an offspring with more vigor towards life. One gets the best parts of both breeds. The problem that happens as you continue to crossbreed, is that this reverses, and more of the poorer traits become more evident, the farther away that you get from the original cross.

A way that most people in animal agriculture counter this, is with the male. Keep your breeding males as close to confirmation as possible, put them with cross bred females, and you will keep getting pretty good production traits.

Contrary to what is being implied here, most confirmation traits do take in account, breeding and production traits.

Show animals are very expensive, a great deal of time and effort has gone into them. The practice of careful records, and rigorous culling toward the traits that you want, will eventually give you a good flock of production hens, regardless of color or shape of bird.

Random breeding, without culling, without records, will give you a flock that over time, will lose it's optimum production. As stated earlier, it depends on what you want the birds for, a pet, no big deal, serious meat or egg production, well then you should be considering the breeds that emphasize those traits. It will cost the same to feed a poor producer as a good producer, and that is what animal breeding is really all about.

People have been controlling the breeding of animals for thousands of years to increase production, which is what seemed to be your main concern.
There is not a thing wrong with keeping a production flock. There is room for both types of chickens in this world. As long as you are honest in your dealings, what you propose to do sounds like it could benefit other families.
As long as you're representing your birds honestly, I don't see any reason to feel "guilty" about breeding for production. We keep "heritage" breeds, but breed for production and temperament first, breed standard second. (Which, imo, actually brings us back to what those heritage breeds originally were anyway, but that's a different post entirely...) The main cock I held back this year was actually one of the furtherest from breed standard, but for production and temperament he trumped those that were closer to standard by a long shot. I have no guilt over that. He serves our flock well.
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I have a lot of my birds for production, as I sell eggs locally, and need good producing birds. I have some chickens that I breed because they are pretty and Im trying to improve the breed type, but I also have a strain of blue rocks that are just butt-ugly because I crossed them with production barred rocks, but they lay the biggest brown eggs, and lots of them. I do indeed hatch their eggs to put them back in the flock, because they are such good layers. There is absolutely nothing wrong, and there is a lot right, with concentrating on production.

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