Tell Me About Your Breeding Program

Discussion in 'Breeds & Genetics' started by CountryMama, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. CountryMama

    CountryMama Junior Member

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    Hi there! Next spring (2013) I intend to begin breeding my Silver Gray Dorkings. I've done much reading on the subject of breeding programs but have not been able to make up my mind as to which would be the best one: Line breeding? Spiral breeding? Clan breeding? So I decided to come to all of you to hear about your experiences. I pose these questions:

    1. Which type of breeding program do you use? If it isn't generally well-known or is of your own design, would you please briefly describe it?

    2. How many birds do you have involved in your program and how many chicks do you hatch out each spring? How many do you cull down to?

    3. How did you decide on the type of breeding program you use? What do you like best about it? What have you found has been the most difficult aspect of it?

    4. Tell me a little bit about your record-keeping.

    5. If you had to do it over again (as far as chosen breeding plan), would you? What, if anything, do you plan on changing next spring?

    6. For those of you who use broody hens to hatch eggs, what are the benefits and drawbacks that you have discovered?


    Thank you so much for your feedback--I can't wait to hear what you all have to say! =)

    -Heather
    Hill House Dorkings
     
  2. Energyvet

    Energyvet New Member

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    Well welcome to Chicken Forum aka Chicken Land. Glad to see you here among us.
     

  3. Jeremysbrinkman

    Jeremysbrinkman New Member

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    What is spiral breeding? I understand line is father-daughter, mother-son, or even brother-sister.
     
  4. CountryMama

    CountryMama Junior Member

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    Well, spiral breeding is a form of "clan breeding" or "family breeding". You start with, ideally, 3 families of one cock and at least 2 hens. Let's call them A, B, and C families. In the spring, put cock A in with hens B, put cock B in with hens C, and put cock C in with hens A. Mark all resulting chicks maternally (I guess some mark them paternally, though). All chicks will be pedigreed since you will know who both the mother and the father are. Keep the best cockerel and the best one or two pullets (or more, if you need to replace hens) from each family. Some cull the cock and just keep the cockerel, others keep both and then cull one next year to replace it with a better boy. That results in a family of two cocks, which I think would make for difficult record-keeping.

    Now I've read descriptions wherein the following year, cocks A, B, and C are bred to the hens within their own family and then the year after that, they are shifted off to the next family again. And other descriptions maintain the shift every year. Therein lies my confusion. Which is correct? Either way, I've read in all descriptions that done correctly, you shouldn't need to add new blood for at least 10 years.

    I, myself, have three families of trios set up. I'm just really wondering how I'm going to keep track of who lays which eggs. Once I've collected them until I have as many as I need--marked with the hen that layed them, if I can figure out the best way to be sure--and then put them back in nests according to the hen (one nest per hen), I'll know who the chicks belong to and can punch their toes before they leave the nest and get all mixed up.
     
  5. BuckeyeChickens

    BuckeyeChickens New Member

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    1.) Felch Line Breeding method, been using it for Buckeyes now for over a decade and it works great! I've attached the I.K. Felch chart below.

    2.) I have multiple breeding pens with 60-80 adult breeding pens and I hatch hundreds of chicks each spring....about 300 are grown out to the age of 12 weeks and culled down to about 100 and these grow until 18-20 weeks of age typically before culled again.

    3.) Researched the I. K. Felch method, it is tried and true, used on poultry for over 2 centuries! You must be willing to keep good records, ID your offspring and cull them hard for any defects.

    4.) Records are kept on ALL offspring, chicks are toe punched and leg banded, each breeding bird is basically pedigreed so we know who their parents, grand parents great grand parents are (or were). A computer comes in handy for record keeping!

    5.) Don't intend to change a thing...if it aint broke don't fix it.

    6.) If you are SERIOUS about breeding invest in a good incubator or several good incubators....using broody hens is a waste of time in my opinion but as you can see I'm breeding tons of chicks not a dozen or two!!!

    [​IMG]
    Note: when following this method (line breeding), you are NOT breeding brother's to sister's....Mr. Felch and others considered this "in-breeding" and yes, some folks are "in-breeding" more often than you might imagine! (Someone buys Leghorn chicks from XYZ hatchery, grow them to maturity and breed them together....chances are these were brother/sisters)

    Finally, you can combine "line breeding" with the "spiral breeding" plan, too! If you start with 2 or 3 breeding pairs you can build 2 or 3 "line bred" groups and select males from one group (or family) to "cross" over to another group and create as many of these new families as you like. One RIR breeder in the mid 1950's claimed he used the I. K Felch "line breeding" method for over 60 years and NEVER added any outside blood nor did his birds show any signs of loss of vigor or reduction in size!!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  6. BuckeyeChickens

    BuckeyeChickens New Member

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    This is one of the best definitions of "Spiral Breeding" I have found and it comes from a Dark Leghorn Breeder (Don Schrider);

    "Spiral Mating is a system in which three or more matings are setup every year. In the first year you divide the hens up into three or more "families" and give each family an identifying name: such as "1," "2," and "3," or "Blue," "Red," and "Pink," or "Albarado," "Belanger," and "Schrider." Males are chosen to mate with the females—as long as any given male is used, he will always be mated to females from only that one family. Offspring are marked and named for their mother's family. So pullets and cockerels from the "Blue" family are marked and called Blue family. In the second and following seasons, the pullets join their mothers and are used with that family; so Blue family pullets are added to the Blue family hen flock for breeding. Blue family sons, however, are only ever used on the next family hens—in this case Blue family roosters are used on Red family hens and pullets; Red family roosters on Pink family hens and pullets; and Pink family roosters on Blue family hens and pullets. The rotation, or spiral, comes from males of one family being used only with females of the next family. So in your records, you will know each season that Blue family roosters are always used with Red family pullets and hens.

    The advantage of Spiral Mating is that close relatives are never mated and you can go many decades without adding new chickens. If you choose to add new chickens, new roosters can be substituted in for one family of males, and new hens can either start a new family, replace an old family of low quality, or be added to the family which they most resemble."

    As the above description of "Spiral Breeding" suggests one can go many years without the need for new blood so this system also has a lot of merit if you are in for the long haul. To me the "Sprial Method" is a much easier system to put to use in terms of record keeping than some of the others but that's just my take on it?!?!

    Regards,
     
  7. Energyvet

    Energyvet New Member

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    Thank you! That was exhilarating! And informative. I appreciate your effort on our behalf.
     
  8. BuckeyeChickens

    BuckeyeChickens New Member

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    Least I can do for such a GREAT group of folks here at the Chicken Forum!!!
     
  9. CountryMama

    CountryMama Junior Member

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    Thank you, Jeff! Great information. I'm going to do more reading on the Felch method. I've also been looking into incubators the last couple of days. Even though I don't plan on having hundreds of chickens I do want to be sure my breeding program is efficient. I'm also getting some Cream Legbar eggs (just for fun chickens, not breeding chickens) and those buggers are expensive!! I want to make sure as many hatch as possible. :D
     
  10. Chickenboy

    Chickenboy New Member

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    I have American games and I have a couple cocks and I let one cock run till my first hen goes on the nest and then the second one runs till my third hen goes on it.