Starting a Breeding Program

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TwinWillowAcres, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. TwinWillowAcres

    TwinWillowAcres Out Of The Brooder

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    I have another idea I'm interested in :) Maybe raising four different varieties of Plymouth Rocks: White, Barred, Buff, and Partridge.

    I would have four different pens for them, separated by color.

    How many hens would be advisable? I'm thinking about two or three roosters for each variety. I don't have a lot of space, I would like to keep my breeding program small scale, but I want enough hens to make keeping the roosters economical/worth it. (Roosters will have to be housed separate from each other? Or they can live together?)

    And I'm a little iffy on the whole hen breeding thing. You expose them to a rooster, and they lay fertilized eggs. How many fertilized eggs can you expect to get from a hen exposed to a rooster every day? So if I have maybe 4 hens of each variety (out of maybe 10 or 15? I might have) producing eggs for me, how many fertilized eggs can I expect to be able to put in the incubator in one go? (I am willing to have enough incubators to hatch out all eggs at once.) And hatch rates...I can expect maybe 80%? 90%? Less? More?

    Oh and what age should you expose a hen to a rooster? They start laying eggs at 17-20 wks, but should they be fertilized then? Or should they be older?

    ALSO -- do you know if crossing any of the PR varieties gives you different colors or the same colors?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. cluckcluckluke

    cluckcluckluke Overrun With Chickens

    Good luck and please don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand anything I have said...sometimes I don't either.lol.[​IMG].
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    If you don't have much space, you probably need to narrow your focus. I've been thinking abut 2 projects I want to start this year and all the space I'll need.....

    You'll need a pen for each group/color/breed you're breeding, to house the rooster and hens.
    You'll need a brooder for however many chicks you plan to hatch out.
    You'll need a grow out pen to house the young birds once they outgrow the brooder.
    Then, what are your plans for the birds you hatch? Do you need housing for them? Are you going to keep them to adulthood, to decide who to keep for breeding? What are you going to do with your culls? Are you butchering roosters?

    I'm planning on building 5 pens, 2 to each house a rooster and 5-7 hens, and the rest to be grow-out pens. Minimum of 60 square feet each, so I'm looking at 300 square feet for pens alone. Plus brooder space, and adult bird housing.

    So, I'd say cut down to one rooster for each breed, and think about doing fewer breeds.
    The above poster answered the fertilization question pretty well.
    As far as incubation, I've been looking at that also and realizing it can be a tricky business. I'd suggest hanging out in the incubating eggs section for a while, just reading old threads.

    If you cross colors, you're basically going to get mixed breed birds. You could make sex links by putting your buff or partridge roo over your barred hens. If you mix the white with any other variety, you'll likely just get white or barred birds as rocks tend to have dominant white masking barring.
     
  4. cluckcluckluke

    cluckcluckluke Overrun With Chickens

    Pretty well...I smashed it mate[​IMG].
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Yes, yes you did. Thank you, saved me all that typing!
     
  6. TwinWillowAcres

    TwinWillowAcres Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your response :)

    So basically I can get the regular egg laying rate out of my hens as potentially fertilized eggs? How long can you store fertilized eggs before you have to incubate them? I would like to incubate my eggs all at once so all chicks are hatched on/around the same day.

    I'm thinking maybe out of 3-4 hens for each variety I can get 10 eggs to hatch out of each hen over two weeks? Is that accurate?
     
  7. cluckcluckluke

    cluckcluckluke Overrun With Chickens

     
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  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Once your females start laying, I wouldn't collect eggs to incubate until they've been laying well over a month, and are laying consistently without glitches like shell-less eggs, no yolks, etc.
    At that time, each of those hens should be giving you a good 5 eggs a week. If you have 3 hens of a variety, and they're each laying that well, you should have at least 15 eggs in a week. With your different colors, you could also hatch from different colors at the same time, your chicks will be easy to tell who is what color. There are some great stickies on the incubating eggs section about storing eggs for incubation--how long, and what conditions. Lots of great info there.

    I agree 100% about setting all the eggs at once. Staggered hatches just cause issues and increase mortality rates.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    This will give you time to check the yolks for fertility when you break them for breakfast too.

    Q for the sages.....Wondering....have read that hatching smaller pullet eggs can cause problems because of lack of size in the shell to develop fully, any experience with that?
     

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