Selectively Breeding Barn Yard Mixes

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,611
670
291
Memphis, TN
I was just wondering if anyone has applied good culling and selection practices to barnyard mixes? What would happen? Would the type and style eventually move towards some consistency, or would there always be wide variation if ONLY selecting for production, type, and hardiness with no eye towards color/aesthetics. Or would it depend on the dominance of traits in the original stock?

I am love love loving my mixed up chickens, and they just got me wondering.
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rtroxel

Songster
9 Years
Nov 26, 2010
355
6
111
Northwest Indiana
So if you picked type and production as your parameters and your best bird/birds happened to be one color like dominant white, for example, then you would use those birds as your parent stock. This would skew the color gene pool toward the color that you accidentally chose as your parents because their color genes would be given preference over everyone else. Also, if you eliminated most of your roosters and kept only one, his color genes would immediately be passed to all the offspring, so the next generation would have a much smaller color gene pool. If the next generation rooster happened to be the same color (seems to be somewhat intuitive that he could be, since half his genes come from dad.), then you get a double dose of the same color. Now your flock could be approaching a uniform color.

If you wanted to keep a variety of colors, you would need to keep a rather large pool of birds to breed from in order not to eliminate color genes from your flock. If you have a small flock and you actually do cull based strictly on production, etc and not on color, I would expect you to eventually move in a certain direction. You're doing the selecting and the birds that you first select for parent stock would get to skew the gene pool toward their genes. Eventually, unless you used several males of different colors, those genes would likely continue to become more and more prevalent in your gene pool because they accompany the genes for better production and type (they are not linked, but they come from similar parents).

This all works in reverse as well. Say a black hen has poor characteristics. If she is your only black and you cull her, you have eliminated black from your flock (unless it's somewhere hidden--maybe under dominant white, for example). If you keep inferior birds due to color, you are likely to eventually cull them based on other parameters (type, production, etc.) unless you make color one of your selection criteria.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,611
670
291
Memphis, TN
Hmm, interesting. Well here's how things are shaping up for me:

I live in the city and can't keep a rooster, but I can borrow roosters, or I can take my hens to board at a friend's house with roosters, so the options are endless. Roosters will be selected for good type and structure, hardiness and general observable characteristics, since I won't have much else to go off of. Within those parameters, the possibilities are endless, and I could use different roos for different hens, or bring a new one in for ten days every month.

My hens, right now, are Cochin EE crosses (blue and black), BLRW x EE crosses (currently showing both blue/red barring and lacing patterns), non-bearded spangled Orloff, and a just hatched rumpless duckwing Araucana x RC Brown Leghorn cross. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that the Lavender Ameraucana and Mottled Houdan eggs I am expecting hatch, and I will keep a hen of each and give/sell the rest to friends who will let me use the roos.

It's a pretty collaborative effort. None of these breeds are really known for production, but I find them all fascinating and useful and want to keep them around to see what happens. I am literally not keeping two of any one breed! I am moving in the direction of a smallish, hardy, thrifty colored egg layer suitable to city life. Ideally I will eventually figure out how to get sex-links or autosexing birds within this group, since roosters have to go at an early age and there is a never ending market for pullets here in town.

(I have familiarized myself quite well with autosexing and sex-linking, I am well aware that none of my birds right now will produce sex-links.)

Anyway, it's quite a collaborative flock here. It will be interesting to see how it comes along.
 
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KenK

Songster
9 Years
Jan 23, 2011
1,069
3
141
Georgia
The idea of landrace strains/breeds are fascinating to me. I have personally witnessed herds of ordinary (to poor) grade cattle improve immensly over a period of 10-20 years.

I absolutely believe that a person can "make" a line of peas/corn/cattle/chickens that will perform in their environment better than any other.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
26,967
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
Folks, this thread is the exact direction I am planning to head. I started last year with a flock of 5 (by the time I got done culling the roos) consisting of RIR, BSL, and 3 EE. To that, I am adding this spring: 2 RCBL, 2 GLW, 3 Dominique pullets. I am also in the position that I don't want a long term rooster b/c of the coop's close proximity to the bedroom end of the house. The following year, I hope to get a short term roo. (This is scary for me b/c of biosecurity concerns) If I want to add the genetics that I think would be most fun, it would have to be a black Ameraucana. That would give me sex linked OE (Am x Dom), more EE, more OE, and I'm not sure what color egg the Am x RCBL would produce. (I'm thinking it would be what ever the Am had in his genes.) I would like to think that there is a market for barn yard mix chicks, especially if some SL could be offered, and they were bred to be cold tolerant (in my case). I'm not sure how the Pea and Rose combs will interact with each other in the gene pool, but my understanding is that they are both dominant over straight comb, though they muddy up the tightness of the pea in a S x P cross. Correct me if I'm wrong please.

I'm also working on this concept with my squash. Using seed from locally produced squash last year yielded a 22.5# buttercup. I'll be planting last year's seed from my best couple of squash this year. They may hybridize with an other squash that I grew, but I'm thinking that the mix between the 2 will yield a very nice squash, perhaps better than the parent. I wish I had plenty of land to play with genetics in the garden and coop the way I'd like to!
 
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