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Author Topic: Starting to breed chickens  (Read 8748 times)

shrekfeet

  • Joined Sep 2008
Starting to breed chickens
« on: December 16, 2008, 07:45:35 am »
We've just moved to a smallholding and there are some 'native' chooks that were left by the previous people. They scratch around all day and roost in the rafters at night. There are some handsome birds and I have now identified that I have two pure bred New Hampshire Red cocks and one hen. I read in Poultry Keeper that these are quite unusual and great utility birds. There are not many breeders around acording to the article. I'd like to start a breeding programme and wondered whether anyone could offer some advice as I have not bred poultry before. I'm not sure if the hen is still viable but at least one of the three we inherited is laying in the barn. Where do I start?
Thanks
 :chook:
  ???

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2008, 01:28:50 pm »
Either an incubator or a broody hen!

Seriously if you intend to breed poultry on anything other than a pottering about type of scale, the best thing you can do is go on a course - one similar to Rosemary's on this forum - she may be able to give you the name of someone local to you.  Then you need to decide on breed, and then stock up with breeding hens - 2 cockerels and one hen isn't a good start especially as you don't know their history or ages.  You need decent accommodation for them and equipment, and a good quality incubator.  Good luck!
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Birdie Wife

  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2008, 03:34:50 pm »
Decide also if you want to breed for utility (egg laying ability/ meat production) or for show (feather pattern and overall conformation to Poultry Society standards).  There are more show breeders than utility breeders it seems!  It would be great to get more utility breeders, and as you've already pointed out, Hampshire Red are a brilliant utility breed. 

Once you get chicks underway, to find out how good the utility qualities of your birds are, you would ideally need to keep records of weight gain/month, age at first egg laid and number of eggs in the first/second year. You would then keep your best birds for breeding on and cull out undesirable traits such as poor egg production (or keep as pet quality, but don't breed from them).

If you're serious about starting up a breeding flock, you'll definitely need more chickens! It's by no means for sure that the birds you have are good examples of the breed. I was advised by the lady at Kintaline Poultry Farm (they have an excellent website and lots of utility breeds) to get a dozen hatching eggs from as many breeders as I had space to raise, take the best growers and put them into trios/fours and keep records on the chicks produced.

Broody hens raise healthier chicks than those reared in an incubator (generally), downside iis you have to wait for them to go broody.  Unless you get a Silkie or a Pekin, which seem to be permanently broody, I gather!  ;)

johnmac

  • Joined Dec 2008
  • Perth
Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2009, 08:27:50 pm »
Hi all. I've hatched a few ducks, but never chickens...the reason being that i never wanted cockerels!

Am i right in thinking that most breeders give the cockerels the chop once it's been dscovered that they are male?? Also, whats the usual male to female ratio? and if you keep a couple of males and they have some quiet time with their sisters will frankensteins children be the outcome!?!?!  ???

Last but not least, in tis day and age of GM crops, has no-one developed an "all female" strain of chicks...ie every off spring is female?? I know its unethical, but i know that for example in fish farming its been done for decades...... every fish on my farm 1,000,000 plus if female!

Thanks,

John.  ;)

rlucas

  • Joined Oct 2008
Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2009, 09:03:20 am »
Hi all. I've hatched a few ducks, but never chickens...the reason being that i never wanted cockerels!

Am i right in thinking that most breeders give the cockerels the chop once it's been dscovered that they are male?? Also, whats the usual male to female ratio? and if you keep a couple of males and they have some quiet time with their sisters will frankensteins children be the outcome!?!?!  ???

Last but not least, in tis day and age of GM crops, has no-one developed an "all female" strain of chicks...ie every off spring is female?? I know its unethical, but i know that for example in fish farming its been done for decades...... every fish on my farm 1,000,000 plus if female!

Well, if you keep a useful utility breed like Sussex or Ixworth, every cockerel is a potential Sunday lunch! The male to female ration is in inverse proportion to the owners' wishes - if you want pullets, you get cockerels, and vice versa!  At least, it seems like that, it's nearer 50/50.
If you keep an autosexing breed, like Rhodebars, you can sex the chicks on hatching, and cull the unwanted ones.

http://www.rhodebar.co.uk/index.html




Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2009, 10:33:34 am »
I know what you mean, John. Even with an autosexing breed, you get a waste product, whether you cull at hatching or weeks later.

I was reading about sexed semen for cattle in one of the farming papers, which will be useful in eliminating the "waste" bull calves from the dairy herd.

It is kind of unnatural though and will support the extreme breeding in the dairy herd. Makes me slightly uneasy in principle although I can see the practical advantages.

johnmac

  • Joined Dec 2008
  • Perth
Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2009, 10:55:15 am »
Thanks for the replies. It's an interesting subject, as Rosemary says, i believe there is something on the way with cows, though many now use IVF style treatments, so sexing or at least choosing sex is easier.

It's a real shame to have to kill an animal simply as it's male (maybe i wouldn't think that way if i was female!!) But i'm surprised no one has developed an all female strain. Like is said, of all the million plus fish on my fish farm, and indeed almost every fish farm in the uk...the fish are female... which means no waste or loss of condition through early sexual development.

I would very much like to hatch out a few eggs in the house,  and whilst i could handle one cockerel, six from six or even three from six would be a bit much! But at the same time, i wouldn't want to killl them simply as they are male! Dilemma or what!!

Also...i'd be a bit squeemish on eating any spare males...... what a disgrace I am!!!!!!  :-[

Any ideas??

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2009, 12:00:50 pm »
I would very much like to hatch out a few eggs in the house,  and whilst i could handle one cockerel, six from six or even three from six would be a bit much! But at the same time, i wouldn't want to killl them simply as they are male! Dilemma or what!!

Also...i'd be a bit squeemish on eating any spare males...... what a disgrace I am!!!!!!  :-[

Well, I am a disgrace too - I have only ever bred one or two chicks at a time for exactly the same reasons as you.  One chick that turns out to be a cockerel isn't a big issue - half a dozen would be.  I've been lucky in the past that out of 10 hen and duck chicks hatched over the last few years only one turned out to be a cockerel.  I had his father too and they were both absolutely stunning, plus I had a big yard totally enclosed in 6ft fencing well away from neighbours bedroom windows.  The duck chick was hatched by a hen and boy, did she go bananas when the chick went anywhere near the water!  It is fun to raise chicks though and in another situation I'd do it again.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

MrRee

  • Joined Jan 2008
Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2009, 12:09:55 pm »
Keep the advice coming peeps,I've just taken delivery of a young Marran Cockerel to shepherd my 3 RIR-lookalikes and have my fingers crossed that at least one of them will go broody soon......Ree
They don’t join cliques — more times than not, they stand alone — but they recognize and gravitate towards one another. Only warriors understand other warriors.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
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Re: Starting to breed chickens
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2009, 12:18:02 pm »
Good luck with that.  I have never tried incubators - always used a broody. But you can't plan ahead - just have to wait for the hens.  And they can go off brood as well so you are left with half cooked eggs - not nice if you open them (sometimes get pecked by others if hen leaves nest.)
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

 

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