Starting with hatchery stock?

Apis mellifera

Songster
Mar 14, 2017
175
339
156
Adirondacks
Has anyone had to start out their chicken breeding plans with hatchery stock, and been somewhat successful?
Just a suggestion, because it sounds like you are looking to get into breeding. You could choose a Canadian heritage breed that could use the help. I love Partridge Chanteclers not just because of their looks but they are a super cold hardy dual purpose breed that do not require an incubator to keep a flock going. The temperament is excellent. Extras are easy to sell or are great for the freezer. Its the only chickens I keep now. Good luck with whatever breed you decide to get.
 

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Canuck88

Songster
Jul 17, 2019
197
685
186
BC
Just a suggestion, because it sounds like you are looking to get into breeding. You could choose a Canadian heritage breed that could use the help. I love Partridge Chanteclers not just because of their looks but they are a super cold hardy dual purpose breed that do not require an incubator to keep a flock going. The temperament is excellent. Extras are easy to sell or are great for the freezer. Its the only chickens I keep now. Good luck with whatever breed you decide to get.
Your Chanteclers look amazing. They definitely come up often in my thoughts! I still have time to make my decision so I definitely won’t rule them out.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
11 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,690
831
311
Memphis, TN
It's possible, if not easy. I'd recommend googling the Buckeye Recovery Project. There are several great articles and podcasts that outlines the effort to take what basically amounted to hatchery quality birds to high quality stock.

The basics are laid out in the Livestock Conservancy's Heritage Chicken Manual. You may be turned off by the notes on "breeding for production" if you feel you're already starting with utility stock, but let me assure you... hatchery "utility" and what's being outlined here are NOT the same. The selection and breeding methods discussed in this project focus on health, structure, growth, physiology etc and are the foundation of any QUALITY bird. After you build that great foundation, study the APA standard and start selecting for birds that have the right paint job and window dressing.

This is something I'm having to do with my Houdans. It's a long slow process, but also fun in a way because you can make a lot of progress in the first few years. Sometimes "good lines" mean focusing on the tiniest or most ingrained details and making very little change from generation to generation, so really, in some ways this is a special sort of gratification.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
11 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,690
831
311
Memphis, TN
How large is the flock of Houdans that you are working with? Do you bring in other genetics or do you work with what you have?
I started with a big batch of 25 from Cackle last year. Culled down and hatched from 3 cocks and 9 hens this year, I have one original hen, and two pullets and three cockerels from this year. Hatched over 100. Most of the selection from the chicks was loss due to respiratory illness, but what's left all passes muster on appearance (toes, beards, combs, wattles, lower percentages of white, etc) and now I know they'll stand up to crud that wild birds and such bring in, too. I'm happy to work within this line. If I had access to another line, I'd breed them separately. No point in crossing them.
 

Apis mellifera

Songster
Mar 14, 2017
175
339
156
Adirondacks
I started with a big batch of 25 from Cackle last year. Culled down and hatched from 3 cocks and 9 hens this year, I have one original hen, and two pullets and three cockerels from this year. Hatched over 100. Most of the selection from the chicks was loss due to respiratory illness, but what's left all passes muster on appearance (toes, beards, combs, wattles, lower percentages of white, etc) and now I know they'll stand up to crud that wild birds and such bring in, too. I'm happy to work within this line. If I had access to another line, I'd breed them separately. No point in crossing them.
Nice! I started 6 years ago with 25 from a breeder and so far so good culling and keeping the best. Im not sure if I will get hit with high infertility or poor hatches eventually. It seems some breeders never have issues and others do. Im not going to worry about until it happens and like you not looking to out cross, happy with what I have. Ive read that out crossing can bring its own set of issues. Wishing you the best with your Houdans, beautiful breed.
 

Canuck88

Songster
Jul 17, 2019
197
685
186
BC
Part of me is wondering if I would be better off getting my feet wet with breeding quality birds by choosing a different breed that I can get quality stock from.

Then once I’m more comfortable making “decisions” and have a better idea what I’m doing, trying to get the New Hampshires from the hatchery and doing my best with them.
 

HaikuHeritageFarm

Crowing
11 Years
Jul 7, 2010
1,690
831
311
Memphis, TN
Part of me is wondering if I would be better off getting my feet wet with breeding quality birds by choosing a different breed that I can get quality stock from.

Then once I’m more comfortable making “decisions” and have a better idea what I’m doing, trying to get the New Hampshires from the hatchery and doing my best with them.
I think this is a great idea. Brown Leghorns aren't the breed my eye and heart love the most, but I was able to obtain really top quality stock from a top breeder in the US and I have learned SO much from them. You can FEEL quality when you put your hands on them, and I realized I had never experienced what a quality bird felt like in hand before. I'm not working hard on them, but I'm keeping them around as a quality benchmark for other breeds and they help me realize how far I have to go, and how much more important type and substance and vitality are than the things that we can all judge from pictures like combs and patterns.
 

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