The Frugal Small Flock SOP Breeder

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the SOP' started by 3riverschick, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    This thread is for those of us who breed small numbers to the SOP on a budget.
    Those who hatch less than 51 chicks a year. Are you a successful small flock
    breeder? Please come and share how you did it! We are here to share and learn.
    Convinced small flock breeders can be successful? Wondering if success is even an option with small numbers? Come on over and share breeding plans, management techniques, sourcing ideas. All the things
    you do to be successful which can help other small flock breeders. Share questions and worries. Let's work together to make us all successful.
    Best Success!
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I have a rather small flock. Normally ranges from 30 - 100 birds.
    I think the key with a small flock is to focus on a single breed. Find your favorite breed, hatch a lot and cull hard. With 40 birds you can make progress.
    Another thing that helps are multiple breeder pens. A single flock will get you nowhere fast.
    Pedigree birds by using pairs or trapnests.
    At the very least track the sire.
  3. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    Hi Chickencanoe [​IMG] ,
    I have a flock of 10 with 2 strains. They are high quality birds, which I have
    read is a must if one has a small SOP flock. I have one strain with 9 birds and
    a strain-cross hen. This year I hatched 20 inbred chicks from the one strain (A)
    and 9 chicks from the outcross hen ( A ex B). It's been real interesting to see
    the genes sort themselves out. Interestingly, the cushions which plagued the
    egg flock last year aren't 100% in this year's inbred breeding. I am not seeing
    them at all in the strain-crossed chicks. Happy day! I know it's harder to succeed
    with a very small flock. However, when I found out Dragonlady had done it with
    her Buff Orpingtons...well I only need one success to convince me its possible.
    Best Success,
  4. Caitlin_VT

    Caitlin_VT Songster

    Jul 3, 2011
    I'm a complete beginner, but would also love to hear how other people manage their small numbers! It has been hard narrowing down to one breed, but as ChickenCanoe mentioned, it is much easier to maintain. Next year I plan on doing single mating's with both an out-cross cockerel and F1 cockerel from this year's hatch (of 22 chicks). My ideal plan is to keep the flock of hens and pullets together without a cockerel or cock bird, and remove the one(s) I want to breed and place them in with the cockerel (or cock) of choice. Personally, I don't have much pen space and find growing out birds to be the most difficult aspect! Especially with a slower growing breed that is hard to sex... For small scale, is it more efficient/cheaper to just leg band? Or should I look into wing banding?
  5. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    Hi Caitlin,
    Growing out is tough here too. Takes a lot of set up. I put the birds out in the grow out pens when
    they are fully feathered or 4 weeks old whichever is later. I was out of ideas until I went to Aldi's Food Market
    and got 3 ( soon to be 4) watermelon corrals. They are the triple-thick kind. And have the corners flared out
    to give stability. They fold up to transport in the car and then set up nice and flat with a bottom. Went to
    Tractor Supply and bought a couple of 6 dollar white bales of their pine shavings. Found some old broom sticks.
    Cut notches in the opposites sides of the corral and laid the broomstick in them. use to hang feeders. I got an
    old dog collar and used that to affix the feeder to the broomstick. That way I can raise or lower the feeder as needed.
    Now this particulate corral has a hole in each corner. I wanted a grit feeder. So I got some pop bottles and
    cut them like cups 3/4's of the way around. leaving a long tab on the cup. Then mounted the cup ( with the tab going
    thru the hole) and duct tape on each sode t hold it in place. Working fine.
    put 3/4 inches of chips on the bottom of the corral. Cut chicken wire or hardware cloth to fit and weighted down
    the edges to make a lid for the corral. Mounted the waterer on a pedestal as I was worried the chicks would splash
    water on the floor. Each corral holds 7 birds thru the grow out stage. That would be about 3-4 months here.
    Then just add extra chips as needed. I have room for 4 in the garage.

    1 person likes this.
  6. Huntress78

    Huntress78 Songster

    Jul 17, 2012
    NE Wisconsin
    Started out with zero infrastructure and have slowly built up over the last few years. After hatching about 65 chicks this spring and growing out 50 this summer I think I’m ready to start seriously breeding to the SOP next spring. Everything I’ve done up to this point has been a test to see how many I can raise and house over winter.
    My coops were built with all new materials but (in keeping with the frugal theme of this thread) I’ve cruised CraigsList for things like used incubators, fencing and feeders/waterers. I’ve also stopped at a few rummage/garage sales and picked up inexpensive to free dog kennel boxes, rabbit cages and fencing. I’ve used the kennels for hospital housing, the rabbit cages for separating broody hens from the flock and my best find was a free small mammal cage that I’ve used every year as a brooder.
    I’ve made some inexpensive fence panels by ripping 8 foot 2x4s in half to make a 4x8ft frames covered with chicken wire. I set these panels up as temporary fencing for young chicks to get them out on grass. After they outgrow the pens I freerange them to cut down on the feed bill.

    3riverschick, can you post a picture of your watermelon corral pens? Also what was/is your breeding plan to get rid of the cushions? It’s good to hear that you’ve had some success with your plan already!
  7. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    Hi Huntress,
    Will get some pics and post them tomorrow. Well, the strain-cross hen doesn't have a cushion so I was breeding her into the Boese strain to eliminate it. I was surprised when I inbred the Boese strain dam to son that it looks like 1 of 4 or 2 of 5 are showing up without the cushion. Which seems to show that the characteristic was not firmly set in the flock. Looks like I will be able to breed away from it either strain-crossing or inbreeding.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  8. neopolitancrazy

    neopolitancrazy Songster

    Apr 1, 2011
    Bastrop, TX
    Thanks for starting this thread, Karen, it sounds like it will be just the thing for me and my flock!

    I got a trio of Silver Grey Dorkings last autumn, of the best available quality. I eventually culled one hen, and the remaining pair are more than satisfactory. I moved to a new property last summer, so am building infrastructure, training new LGDs, and learning my strain all at once. I plan to attend the Texas State Fair in October during the poultry show. I doubt if I will see any Dorkings there, but hope to be further inspired in SOP breeding. I think I have plenty of brooding space, now am working on cat- and coon-proof grow-out space for 4-12 week olds. We can only eat about 50 chickens per year, but I may have found 1-3 other families who will take chickens to butcher for themselves if I grow out more than we can eat/sell.

    Best wishes,
  9. Chestnut

    Chestnut In the Brooder

    Jul 3, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    I'm hoping this thread takes off as this is what I'm looking to do with my red dorkings. Right now I'm first year and just growing out everything. Unfortunately I've lost all my cockerels so I'm looking to find some nice starter reds. I contacted Rudy Troxel and he's given me some leads. I posted a question about this very thing on the Heritage LF thread trying to figure out my needs as far as facilities. I'm leaning towards making two 4x8 breeding pens to pair mate. Will separate the cockerels out sometime when they start getting stupid and try to grow them out to 16-22 weeks for fall assessment and butcher when its cooler. Pullets will be either butchered or egg layers. I mostly plan on keeping two families going with spares because, as I've already proven, you could lose some. I'll see how I'm doing with that and decide how I want to proceed. This isn't my sole interest (far from it) and so I don't want to commit to something that I can't maintain or will require to drop other projects. Slow and steady.
  10. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Songster

    Aug 11, 2014
    Magnolia, Texas
    My husband and I just purchased three Black Australorps - two hens and one gorgeous rooster - from a breeder in Central Texas who has shown her birds in the past.

    We are hoping to start our own SOP flock with linebreeding/inbreeding. I know that after a few generations, you should introduce another gene pool into the flock to prevent genetic disorders from popping up, so we will see what happens.

    We're also hot on the trail of some hatchery BAs that we would use as egg/meat birds. Unless any of those exhibited exemplary conformation, they would be our "production" flock.

    I'm so very excited to begin this journey! We are looking forward to showing!

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