Question about Utility breeds vs show quality

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by BirdBrain, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    I was looking around the internet today for information about blue orpingtons and came across this site http://www.bufforpington.co.uk/chickens.html that talks about utility birds. They suggest that the birds that are available today (they are in the UK) have lost a lot of the qualities that made them good "utility" birds and they have become more "frame and feathers" with much of the good meat and laying qualities lost. I presume this is because of the show quality focus and is what has happened here in the US as well. For those of you who read his article,Is what he is talking about the same as preserving genetic diversity? Is this what places like Sandhill do?

    I guess as I dream and plan for the ideal flock (and those 40+ acres my DH owes me [​IMG]) what I really want in chickens is a flock of birds that are first of all healthy, genetically sound, and then lay decently and have enough meat on their bones to be called meat birds....I know, it probably sounds impossible. Am I dreaming? I wonder if I order from XYZ hatchery if the "good representation of the breed" birds are really where to start or do I fork over the extra $ to get birds from somewhere like Sandhill or go out on a limb and try Braggs Mountain Buffs. Has any one tried Braggs?

    I guess I am still pondering this whole issue of utility bird...aren't they all utility birds unless you take them to show?

    By the way, the site I mentioned above has some links (through the TROUP link) to some genetic information that I found interesting.
     
  2. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    So.......32 views and no one has any opinions? [​IMG]

    Ya'll surprise me! [​IMG] After all, this is a very opinionated group.[​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. ella

    ella Chillin' With My Peeps

    That's pretty much what I'm doing. Breeding individuals that have the qualities that I want.

    I started out with standard hatchery stock and picked the best -for what I wanted- first of all healthy, decent layers, NOT heavy layers- too many health problems involved, good personality, not too aggressive OR layed back and lastly good looking.

    I wouldn't go for high buck. I think most of the expensive ones are that way because of how they LOOK, not for any other qualities like laying or meat.

    That's just my opinion, since you asked for it! [​IMG]
     
  4. prariechiken

    prariechiken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 9, 2007
    Midwest
    I don't think he is talking so much about preserving genetic diversity as he is talking about breeders selecting away from the desirable traits that were envisioned by Mr Cook. It happens all the time in "show" breeding. Dogs are a good example, where some breeds have been bred too close genetically or so far away from their initial purpose that they lose ability and viability as a breed. I think places like Sandhill are looking at diversity as well as getting breeds back to original inception and usage standards.
     
  5. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    Prariechiken, So do you think it is worth the money to buy from Sandhill? At 5 dollars a chick on some birds (and straight run only) it seems a bit high. Are the Braggs Mountain Poultry http://www.braggsmountainpoultry.com/ (in your opinion) worth the money? It seems like they have done "the work" of breeding a good bird but the price, again, seems high. I wish I knew if anyone had any of these birds and how they have turned out.

    Ella, When you start a breeding program like this are you dealing with just one breed or do you mix your breeds to get what you want? My kids have their own ideas of what they want in birds (americaunas, Marans and Orpingtons) and I have some other ideas. It seems like I would end up with a bunch of mutts or two different pens so the kids could have what they want and I could really get down to doing something with the other bunch. [​IMG]
     
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I don't know that much about show vs utility(although I can usually tell a bad example of the breed when I see it), but it is worth buying from places like Sandhill if there is a breed the other hatcheries don't sell. I cant pay $5/chick plus shipping for straightrun birds and that is why I hatch my own Blue Orpingtons now. If you already own a bator, it is well worth the effort, even if you only get a few at a time. Then you can pick the best ones to keep rather than have them send you what they have in stock. If you dont own a bator, you almost have to find someone selling a rare breed like that, so in that case, yes, if I didn't want to hatch or couldn't, I would buy from them for those unusual breeds.
     
  7. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    Cynthia,
    Where did you get your Blues from? Did you hatch or get a few birds from someone?
     
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I have purchased hatching eggs from two different breeders; the first breeder's pullets had just started laying so weren't proven breeders and I got the eggs cheaper than I normally could have. Suede and Velvet and their brothers (sold) came from those eggs, but some of her stock came from Sandhill. Now that Velvet is laying and my younger pullet, Skye, isn't too far away from it, people are wanting hatching eggs from them. Definitely, it's cheaper to hatch your own in the long run aside from the purchase of an incubator, but you can also make your own bator.
     
  9. prariechiken

    prariechiken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 9, 2007
    Midwest
    What it all comes down to is your goal in your breeding program. If you are looking to raise true to "show" type representations of a certain breed and don't want to go through years of breeding and selecting from your run of the mill hatchery stock, then a more specialized hatchery or a good breeder of what you want to start with may make your goal alot easier. Just think of it this way, all the culling and feeding and hatching to get ideal type birds will be alot more $ than the slightly more expensive amount a rare breed or true to type breeder will get for their birds. I have paid a lot more than $5 a chick for fowl, it is all in what you want and what your willing to pay for it....

    If you are just looking for some production type, put meat and eggs on the table fowl, then where you get em shouldn't matter. You can always gradually select for chicks from better producing individuals to increase your flocks production.

    I don't know much about these high production strains, would wonder if they shine early and then burn out faster than some of our standard breeds, would have to find out from someone who has more knowledge of em than me.

    You can't go wrong with whatever you decide, as long as you are getting enjoyment, satisfaction and such out of it.
     
  10. rufus

    rufus Overrun With Chickens

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    May 17, 2007
    Well there are show chickens and then there are utility chickens. It all depends upon what you want out of the birds. For me, the true test of the bird is in the fying pan, either in eggs or fried chicken. Some really ugly hens can be great layers. I really don't care how they look.

    Rufus
     

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