Some backyard chicken hobbyists enjoy breeding their chickens instead of buying new batches of chicks from a hatchery or feed store.
Other hobbyists do it just for fun and to help create a flock of chickens that has all the appearances and traits that they personally enjoy.
Whatever your reasons for breeding chickens, this introduction guide will give you a basic understanding of what you need to know.
Getting Started: Five Basics of Breeding Chickens
To breed out unwanted traits and improve your strain of chicken, you need to have a working breeding plan that includes the following steps:
1) Establish a long-term goal. Find out exactly what you are trying to attain.
2) Begin with the best birds that you can get. It’s easier to start with quality chickens than to work hard to breed unwanted traits out of an unsatisfactory batch of birds.
3) Keep accurate, detailed breeding records. This is a must!
4) Mark chicks (common ways to do this is through wing clipping or leg bands) to track their lineage, and be sure to carefully control matings to faster achieve your goals.
5) Cull cull cull, and again cull. Remove birds with negative characteristics as soon as you see them! Don’t keep chickens with unwanted traits. This will waste precious time and resources, especially if you’re doing this as a commercial project.
Obviously, you must first know what you want before establishing a long-term goal. Your goal depends on the quality of birds you are starting with, and what you want in the end. In selecting the breeding pairs, avoid birds with poor lineage and look for good ancestry and individual superiority.Experienced breeders concentrate on one particular breed and only one or two varieties within that breed. This allows you to focus your time, energy, and monetary resources on improving your quality line. Each year, raise the standard for your line a little higher. It will take a while, but with determination you will achieve your goal! As the famous quote goes, “Never ever ever give up!”
Additional offline book resources:
1. Feeding Poultry: The Classic Guide to Poultry Nutrition for Chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, Geese, Gamebirds, and Pigeons
2. Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens
3. University of California: Feeding Chickens