Whew! I'm almost done (chickens)

I am almost done doing a job that is very, very long overdue. I finally have all the pens I need to do it properly. I will have all my different flocks separated & all my unneeded roosters in their own specific pen awaiting their fate, um, trip to freezer camp, on a cool day.

It has been a bit of 🥴 🤔 😵‍💫 overwhelm in some respects. I thought I kept good records, but some lose their leg tags (that makes confusion if you want certain ones of the same breed separated later), some die, which messes up numbers, some succumb to predators, and some get moved temporarily somewhere else for whatever reason (like they are getting picked on & need to quarantine, then can't go back).

I prefer to not keep my birds mixed. If they always stay separate, there is no question about purity moving forward. It is also easier to keep track of everything.

😮‍💨 It is good to know this huge job will be complete today. It is a good day.


  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning That sounds like a lot! Kudos to you for all the hard work. I keep my ducks separate but I don't have roosters so I don't keep any chickens separate unless they need quarantine or something. I really don't have a great place set up for that though. I guess you finishing a huge project is a reminder to me of one I need to work on soon.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I know that the standard in breeding birds is for purity of lines, and I can see the benefits of that, especially if you want to sell birds.

    But I wonder if the same focus on heirloom vegetables that has lost a lot of genetic diversity has caused the same effect in breeding animals. We know that a lot of genetics have been lost through heirloom lines dying out, but are we also losing a lot of hybrid vigor and getting inbreeding depression through constantly keeping lines separate?

    Should some breeders be considering crossing a lot of rare heirloom breeds indiscriminately, and then selecting the best resulting lines?

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,102 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning It is indeed a huge project. Happy you will have yours finished soon. We still have three coops to build to get ours where we planned as well as the corresponding runs. Unfortunately our chicken separating will be put off a bit longer.

    Rain has finally arrived here. We have gone from extremely hot and dry to flood warnings on some creeks and smaller rivers.

    Been trying to clear some property to make room for the new coops a permanent garden spot and where we hope to get started soon building our house. Way more to do than we have time for.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    We have several bird coops we're needing to build too. However, getting and keeping the land cleared to prep has been challenging. Not to mention we're still working on the renovations of our house that are taking forever. I'm looking forward to having that finished myself.

    So I can understand your excitement about the completion of something that you've been working towards for some time. Congrats, @LaurieLovesLearning!

    I hope you send some pictures now that they're done.😊

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,515 admin

    @JennyT Upstate South Carolina Its nothing fancy, but it houses what I have. Some of the pens are nothing more than hardware cloth covered long "boxes".

    What I like it is the new closures (for the coop doors) that my husband thought might work. We all like it better than what we had before. It was a great idea. I'll have to post it on here at some point.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes, please post it. If it's a good suggestion for a door I'd like to see it for sure.😊 Even if you think it's not fancy. Often times simple is best.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    That's awesome @LaurieLovesLearning! I hope freezer camp is comfortable for the roosters since they will be taking a long winters nap lol.

    @VermontCathy That is definitely an interesting idea. It would probably result in new breeds of chicken, but not necessarily a recovery of genetic diversity per say, as these new breeds would then be kept separate etc. It would allow for some genetic mixing of some traits that have probably been artificially separated for some time. One big issue is just like the heirloom seeds that were lost, many heirloom varieties of livestock were also lost. Another issue with animals is that while seeds can last for thousands of years under the right circumstances eggs cannot.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,515 admin
    edited August 2022

    @Cornelius Exactly! Also, some of these heritage breeds may not ever be able to be replicated due to loss of their foundation breeds (due to weather, crossing of breeds...always a big issue, lack of interest in a particular breed for whatever varied reason), or due to breeders no longer knowing for sure the specifics of what one or more foundation breeds were used in a particular instance.

    It is very essential to keep heritage breeds going.

    @VermontCathy I apparently have a lot to say on this subject, and I was trying to avoid touching on it unless someone brought it up specifically because I was afraid I'd go on & on. So, hang on! 😬

    That's what some like to claim in the chicken world, yet I've read it isn't actually true. "Hybrid vigor" is a myth that some like to promote. You will read why I don't agree with the hybrid vigor belief when it comes to chickens. You'll find it woven amongst other things below.

    Inbreeding depression will only happen if a person is not taking care in their breeding practices to avoid it. All it takes is the wrong pairing (siblings, for example). It isn't difficult to avoid either. You just have to follow some basic rules.

    Did you know that by developing a breeding program using "clans" developed out of a trio (1 roo, 2 hens) you can develop a line that will not need new input for over 100 years? If you have 6 foundation birds, you can go longer with more clans. That is a fascinating thing. There are already so many genes present in each poultry breed, that inbreeding depression or lack of vigour should not be an issue. You actually always want to select those with vigour for your breeding birds! 😄

    I had one guy tell me I should cross my Giants. I said I would not compromise their genes. If I wanted hybrids, I could go to the hatchery. I am in the process of not only helping with conservation of a rare heritage breed, my goal is to keep improving them. In the process of doing so, I can sell offspring and eggs for a higher price. But, this money really covers keeping them and working on them. To be honest, it won't even cover that. I do it because I love this breed and appreciate all if its traits...that I can totally count on except for possibly minor differences.

    The guy said hybrids are more vigorous...he obviously does not know the Jersey Giant. These are more vigorous and hardy than any hybrid, hatchery bird or landrace I've seen here...and what they give for reliable traits is about perfect (in my opinion, of course).

    He didn't like my answer. He planned to cross them. He still bought chicks from me. I wouldn't have been able to sell him any had I already crossed them. 😉 He even asked me what other heritage birds he could use for his cross to get the traits he hoped to get. No offspring will be consistent with any of his crosses for many generations and only if he is selective & keeps meticulous records. I don't know if he realized that.

    I also had to defend my purebred chickens when my aunt had an issue. She challenged me on "why them". So, I laid it out quickly, simply & respectfully. I know my birds well. Lol She begrudgingly conceded & then quietly admitted that she wasn't sold on the hatchery birds anyway after all the years of having them. 🤪 😂

    This doesn't mean I might not experiment a little, but those experimental birds will always remain separate from my purebreds. Right now, I have a beautiful Jersey Giant×Bielefelder rooster that is in with his own JG hens. He is huge, calm, and to date, appears to be hardy. I'd cross it back to Bielefelder again if I had any left (but they aren't known to be very hardy...thus why I no longer have them). Any crosses I've done give me a variety of sizes, colors and other traits. Nothing is overly consistent, even with a second generation.

    I currently have easter eggers that are supposedly ameraucana...which the "breeder" still insists is true, but it isn't. The person I bought them from was not honest and didn't tell me these were a project bird before I paid. I bought 7th generation eggs, and to cover her butt, she said that strange traits would show up. They did in the 7th and 8th. I have no way of continuing with this project properly either, so I'm now stuck (for now) with expensive Easter eggers. These are black ameraucana crossed with chocolate orpington origin. I will hopefully get true ameraucanas (finally) next spring.

    There are landrace "breeds" of chickens. These have no standard, even though each bird may have similarities. I am not a fan of the landrace breeds, something about them just doesn't appeal to me, but some people are fans.

    Some people do cross heritage birds. These are commonly called "project birds" and there are rules to that, otherwise you get inconsistent "mutts" and issues. Very meticulous records are kept when this is done. It takes very many generations of breeding to develop a consistent in traits bird. Even so, there can be throwbacks (surprises that have traits like or look exactly like an ancestor from way back).

    To breed indiscriminately is foolish. The only way to have an actually landrace develop would be for many unrelated breeds of birds to have free roaming lives and not just with one farmer's flock. I'm talking out in the bush, an out in the boonies by themselves type of roaming, to let nature pick off those that would not be hardy. If you kept birds and just let them pick & choose, you would have little diversity and inbreeding showing up pretty quickly by being indiscriminate.

    Okay. I rattled on long enough with my opinions. Here are some links if you are interested in hearing other perspectives.

    Greenfire imports from overseas. They are based in Florida. They sell both heritage & landrace. They are THE primary importer for poultry breeds into North America. Their prices reflect it too.