Selection of chicks for use in a breeding program…...

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by TR the ROOSTER, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. TR the ROOSTER

    TR the ROOSTER New Egg

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    Hello,
    I am relatively new to breeding poultry. I wanted to begin breeding chickens with the end goal being showing my chickens. I have read quite a bit about selection for breeding and most of it concerns choosing which two chickens to breed together. I would be interested in peoples opinions on how they choose chicks to keep as potential breeders. Like lets say you hatched out 100 chicks in the spring. Obviously for most people you could not raise all 100 chicks to adulthood due to space concerns. The question is then how do you select which chicks to keep and which to sell. Obviously some might have clearly visible flaws like a crooked toe or beak etc., but which stages of development are most critical for determining which chicks will grow to be beautiful birds. For example at 6 weeks should you begin to look at comb development or 8 weeks for proper feather development or conformation to type. I was hoping someone could provide some guidance for how I might most effectively cull and sell chicks which will likely show less promise. Thanks..
     
  2. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    My Coop
    Hi and welcome to BYC,
    No wonder no one has answered you. This question, with all due respect, is too broad and would take a book. First you need to decide on a breed. Then you need to decide what you want to do with that breed. Are you raising it for eggs, meat, dual purpose, ornamental? Show winners can be bred out of any of these specialist trends within a breed.
    Then you need to select a strain. The veteran breeders will tell you not to strain cross to found your flock. Because there are so many sex-linked genes in poultry, it takes years of line breeding and inbreeding to stabilize the gene traits in a gene pool. If you cross gene pools, the equilibrium is upset and it can take years to get it back again. The veteran breeders will tell you to choose a prize-winning veteran line bred strain and continue line breeding on it. Because of the plethora of sex-linked genes in poultry, there is plenty of "wiggle-room" within a strain to tweak it a bit in different areas of excellence and to meet your artist's eye while still breeding towards the Standard of Perfection.
    Ok, all this preamble has a purpose. That being that you need to decide all these things before you learn how to cull your chosen strain. Talk to the breeder/creator of that strain. How do they cull and when? What are the norms for this breed? They can vary a lot from breed to breed. How do the norms for the breed and that strain differ? Why? ("Why?" doesn't have to be a bad thing. The breeder/creator of the strain you choose may be selecting for certain traits which mean culling sooner or later than the average for the breed). Study the history and origins of the breed. How the early breeders selected ( and when) in developing it. If there is not already a written thesis on this, your study will help you understand it. Plus, you will get a feeling for the nuances of your chosen breed. Understanding these nuances will help you understand how to select for proper breed type.
    So sit down, decide what breed you want and your area of specialization within that breed. And the name of strain, if you have already chosen one. Then come back and ask again and you'll find ready, much more useful answers. If you need help making these decisions and you're interested in Heritage Large Fowl, please come over to the BYC Heritage Large Fowl thread.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/400344/heritage-large-fowl-thread/17660#post_12470078
    It's a wonderful place to get input. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their years in poultry. The list was founded by our late, beloved mentor Bob Blosl with the intent to encourage and support the preservation of Heritage Large Fowl. Interested folk can get advice, and the list will help them find top quality birds in their chosen breed.
    Best Regards
    Karen
    Waterford English Light Sussex
    in western PA, USA
     
  3. TR the ROOSTER

    TR the ROOSTER New Egg

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    Thank you Karen… I suppose I was a bit broad in my inquiry. I was trying to open the question up for more general protocols, but you are probably right in that specificity will breed clarity. I would like to begin breeding large fowl white Wyandottes for exhibition purposes. I have already acquired a pair of beautiful birds and they are now about 4 months old. In the spring I intend to begin hatching out many chicks in groupings which will yield about 20 chicks per hatch. My plan was to spread these out by about a month to a month and a half apart. This way I could keep the best chicks and sell the less than perfect chicks as production or pet type birds. I wasn't sure however if there were any specific times that I should pay attention to, which would be instrumentally important in allowing me to intelligently cull flawed birds. I have a large coop but not nearly large enough to accommodate hundreds of birds so I would need to try to relatively quickly (i.e. preferably before they are grown all the way to laying age) be able to determine which chicks have show potential and which are not ideal for show and was hoping for more guidance. Anyone out there that raises Wyandottes of any color your advice would be most appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Joe
     
  4. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    You really should only cull chicks for obvious faults such as comb issues, obvious color issues, and clear physical imperfections. Young birds can go through some serious ugly phases, and yet grow into a beautiful specimens of their breed. Sometimes birds that mature at an early age end up being smaller and less productive then their slower-growing relations. In particular if you are looking to breed for performance ( such as egg production) in addition to just looks, you need to keep birds until they are production age. Breeders of top-quality show birds breed many chicks, and keep as many as possible to adulthood.
     
  5. NYREDS

    NYREDS Overrun With Chickens

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    I'd suggest being careful about culling too early for colour issues. There's a big difference between juvenille & adult plumage.
     

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