Re: Interesting article

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Posted by STEVE on October 17, 19103 at 12:47:10:

In Reply to: Interesting article posted by Rog on October 17, 19103 at 11:40:05:

Thanks "Rog" great article very interesting. Question for you in a situation were new blood is introduced to your flock does the bad traits show up right-o-way or can it show up latter, an if so is it better to just start over,are trace back to were the mistake started. steve

: Mating strategies

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: Breeding your own chickens... this is where keeping chickens gets really interesting.

: It's one thing to just KEEP chickens, but another thing entirely, to create your own strain of your chosen breed. It is by careful selection and breeding of their birds, that the famous chicken breeders around the world have made their mark and now it's your turn to take the first step.

: There are a number of different breeding strategies the serious breeder can use to improve his stock. However, first we have to know just what our chosen breeds should look like and what traits are important. In most countries, the governing bodies in cooperation with various breed clubs, have drawn up Standards for each breed. These are word pictures describing in detail, the features which make up both male and female birds, detailing colours and any serious defects and allocating points for the different parts which make up the breed. The points loading are different for each breed and often different for varieties within a breed. The Australian Poultry Standards Committee, American Poultry Association, American Bantam Association and the British Poultry Club are just some of the organisations which publish books of Standards. It is in your interest as a breeder to obtain a copy of the Standard for each breed kept as it is impossible to know the important features and what to look for without one.

: Once you have read your Standard, looked at other folks' birds and have a firm mind's-eye picture of what your birds should look like, it's time to take a very critical look at the birds you intend breeding with. The selection of the breeding stock is vitally important. It is useless to try to breed good quality fowls from stock which are of poor quality and riddled with bad faults (the exception to this is when you are trying to breed very rare breeds where stock is in short supply). Do not discard a bird if it carries a fault which may be easily rectified with judicious breeding. Look at the whole bird and make your own judgement or seek the advice of an experienced breeder. It is always wise to find a mentor who is experienced with your chosen breed. If you decide your birds aren't good enough to use, discard them and purchase a trio of the best quality birds you can afford.

: The methods which may be employed to breed fowls are as follows:

: Line breeding
: This is where two unrelated birds are mated, with the offspring of subsequent generations mated together in a systematic way to produce two lines of fowls based on each of the parent birds. The lineage of any of the offspring, no matter from what generation, are traceable back to one or other of the original parent birds providing accurate records are maintained. In theory, the gene pool of the first generation can be recreated endlessly. A chart depicting this may be found here.

: Inbreeding
: A variation of line breeding, where a brother to sister mating is used. Generally, this is done to "fix" certain traits in a line of fowls. Inbreeding can be risky if used too often and most experienced breeders will only use it once in a strain.

: Outcrossing
: Is where an unrelated bird is brought in to add new blood to an existing strain. Mostly used where a strain has become weak from a closed gene pool. Out crossing is risky as many unwanted traits can be brought in if the new bird is not selected with the utmost care. A strain of fowls created from line breeding should not require an outcross for many, many years if the system is followed carefully. Never, (and I do mean never) use an outcross only in a breeding year. Breed a number of birds from your existing stock, so that if the outcross does not work, you have your original stock to go back to. Always toe punch chicks from an outcross and keep accurate records of each one. If an outcross does not work, discard all the chicks from it. One drop of tainted blood can wreck years of breeding and some strains never recover.

: Compensatory mating
: The process where a bird with a particular weakness (eg. poor comb) is mated with a bird strong in the same area. The theory is that the offspring will show improvement in the area of the weakness. It can be risky if particular attention is not paid to all attributes of both parent birds as other faults may become apparent.

: Other strategies worth considering are:

: Single mating
: This is where a male is mated to a single female. It may be the first mating of a line breeding strategy, a compensatory mating, and inbreed mating or an outcross.

: Double mating
: This is where two distinct lines of fowls are created, one for breeding exhibition males and the other for exhibition females. Breeds like Pencilled Hamburghs and Black Leghorns must be mated this way. For breeding exhibition pullets, generally the females used are of exhibition quality, with the male being from a pullet breeding strain. The males of this line would not be suitable for showing. The reverse applies in a cockerel breeding strain.

: Artificial insemination
: Mostly used with breeds where mating naturally is a problem. Pekin (Cochin) bantams and Indian Game (Cornish) are such breeds. The male is "milked", the semen is diluted and the selected females are inseminated with it. Many females can be mated with the semen of one male, far more than would be the case with natural matings. Taken too far though and the males of the strain may lose the ability to mate naturally.

: Most breeders use combinations of these methods and develop their own working model. Remember the aim is to always strive to improve the quality of your birds. What works for your neighbour's strain may not work for yours. Do not be swayed away from the vision you have for your birds by judges' decisions or fly-by-night fads which all too often crop up. Take the words in the Standards as literally as possible and do not deviate from your path, unless something goes terribly wrong. Providing you have made your matings carefully and kept good records, the risk of this is minimised.

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