This grow out had a number of challenges, the least of which are that I got chicks at three different times of the year, so they have to be compared to where they are fair more then If I had been able to get all of them at the same time, then I could compare them much better to each other..
Having said that, there are a number of things that I do want.. so the check list is not changed, just getting the info for it is up and down on value points.
I ended up with six speckled that I am keeping back to watch them grow out, the others had something I did not like an will go to the stew pot..
So Farmgal Tip of the Day
5 Top Basic Things to look for in Chickens
- Body Shape, Laugh if you will but I have seen some truly bad looking chickens in backyard flocks and it rarely surprises me when they tell me that the hens or the roosters are poorly producing birds, you want a good laying, producing flock, the number one thing is body shape, you need a good beak, good depth of breast and body, good strong bones matched to body type and great feet. Examples of poor body shape, narrow or concaved breast area, hollow body, short or super long legs, bent or twisted toes etc
- Feathering, While I live in Zone 5 and my readers are from all over the world, good feathers are a tell all in so many ways, a healthy bird will have good feathers, it helps them in the heat and the cold, it protects them in many ways and its a window into how you are doing on meeting their nutritional needs, often the first signs of something being wrong will show in the feathers both in general and for sure in feathering out.
- Temperment , we have all seen the ad’s, free rooster looking for a new home, free to good home, bully hen.. yes, chickens are little itty bitty raptors, and those that live with them know that they are bullies, and mean.. but lets not encourage it.. if you are careful, you will end up with calm, steady birds, treated well, they should consider you to be the goodie person.. they should come running to you, not away from you. I am very firm on this one, I will stewpot anything that attack’s me, (lets be clear a peek for when chicks are hatching is not a attack, its a good momma) but losing it if I try and get a egg out, is not ok for a hen, and a full on spurs going from a Rooster is grounds for freezer camp on the farm. Buy for good temperament, raised for good temperament and cull for it..
- Laying, Sitting and Broody Ability, to a point this is up to you and your program on which or all of these is important to you.. if you are raising mainly for meat, then laying is not going to be a standard.. must produce x per year to make the grade but I do expect you to say that 80 or 90 percent will reach this weight within this time frame. If you only do your own hatching, then broodness is moot for you and you would in fact choose hens that do not like to sit, but if you are into having hens hatch their own, breeding it into your lines are very important. I think all three should be considered, how many eggs given is important, you can not keep back all your roosters hatched in a natural way, so you are going to end up eating at least 50 percent of your hatch, so growth rates and reasonable to good body weights will count in the long run and broodiness is a trait that is good to have on a small farm, homestead
- Wattles or something you want.. This one is open to you.. do you want fancy color in the tail, do you want small wattles and comb due to weather issues where you live, pick and choose, that is what breeding programs are all about, some want small and super hardy, almost all free forage and so they go for smaller to increase the ability to fly, others want them huge for the stew pot, others want them so sweet and steady as to have their children hug them hello.. for me.. wattles are big.. I need smaller wattles and combs on my birds.
What are you breeding for???
So here are pictures of my pick rooster.. what do you think.. do you like him, what do you see me picking for having read the above, I also will use photos from my other large meat dual breed rooster for a few examples of things I looked at.
Ok chicken folks, I did not get a under the wing photo of the speckled boy but I lifted each birds wing, and blew on the feathers to get a look at the skin under it, hubby pointed out, I should get a photo of it.. so what am I looking for here and why would it go under general health and also quality.. do you know the answer.. if so let me know in comments..
Here is the pick hen at the moment..
I had no luck today getting good body shots, we had moved the logs out of the edge of the pen and as you can see in the first picture, they were into that spot like it was candy.. but when I can get a few I will add to this post, the hen is much smaller then the rooster, she is quite sturdy in herself but compared to him, she appears light.
Got that promised photo of my pick hen.. Updated
I instead to grow this little flock out and will do a revamp once the hens are laying, the roosters have finished filling out and see what we have in the spring, I am very much looking forward to seeing what next years breeding brings me.
They come from high end show stock, their parents were Royal Fair Winners and I am hopeful with a bit of breeding, hard culling, I will turn a awesome looking flock of birds with a few tiny tweeks into pretty birds that meet my own farms needs.