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#1 2012-06-25 03:07:44

ChestnutRidge
Member
From: Western Virginia
Registered: 2011-07-05
Posts: 251
Website

Spiral breeding idea - what do you think?

I was trying to come up with a way to do spiral breeding with just one rooster and a small number of hens.  I want to par down to have just one coop with 16 or fewer birds each winter.  I also don't want to tax my neighbors with excessive crowing.  Still, I would like to try spiral breeding with three family groups. 

In spiral breeding, you have three or more "families" or groups of hens: A, B, and C.  Each year, the hen family is mated to a cockerel from the adjacent family.  Thus, A-hens mate a C-cock, B-hens mate an A-cock, and C-hens mate a B-cock.

I don't want to have three breeding pens and three cocks every year, but I want three families.  So, I came up with the idea below.  Maybe someone else is already doing this.  Ideas?  Do you think it would accomplish the same thing, albeit in three times the number of years?  (I explained my little subscripts in the note below. Sorry it ended up so large.)

http://scratchcradle.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/extended-spiral-breeding.jpg

The main issue is the age of the hens when they mate - three years, except for the initial matings for each family.  Still, it may be a strength if the hens can reproduce at that age.  It would mean they are certainly healthy specimens. I wonder if a three-year old hen lays enough eggs that you could gather a decently-sized clutch to incubate from a small hen group.  Dropping down to a two-family system would mean just two-year old breeders, but how long would a two-family system last before it needed new blood?

Still - a normal three-family spiral breeding lasts 12 years before new blood is needed.  If this system accomplishes one year's worth of matings in three years, then theoretically you could go 36 years before bringing in new blood.  And so much depends on how closely related the initial stock was... (Oy...)

I'm just messing with ideas at this point and thinking about how many birds I'll want to keep.  Thoughts?

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2012-06-25 03:07:44

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#2 2012-06-25 11:20:51

poplar girl
Administrator
From: Athabasca, AB, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-30
Posts: 3159

Re: Spiral breeding idea - what do you think?

Hummmm....trying to wrap my head around this.

So essentially a rooster would be selected from each year's hatch and then mated to hens that weren't his mom the next year. So the rooster would be kept one year then replaced?

I keep coming to the thought that it might just be smart to keep the option of borrowing, tradeing or buying a rooster from someone in the area every year open as well depending on the quality of your birds vs. whats out there.

I would also pair/group your hens not just on the basis of a rotation but with the idea of complimenting traits. For example, maybe a really large rooster if a hen is small but nice otherwise. Or a yellow shanked rooster with white shanked hens.

So worry less about the "system" of breeding you use and more about the intent of the breeding if that makes sense?

The reason is i feel spiral breeding has less conscience thought and decision than that it could (or should). Why just rotate groups if you can hand select and thoughtfully group birds that compliment each other?

Either way you will want to keep track of your birds pedigrees to see what's working well and to know relationships to assess inbreeding etc. .

Or you could just build a bigger chicken coop =D


Raising red cuckoo (marraduna) Euskal Oiloak and self blue (lavender) & black Belgian Bearded d'Uccles.

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#3 2012-06-25 11:56:26

Flat Rock Farm
Member
From: Branchton, Ontario Canada
Registered: 2011-07-03
Posts: 3359

Re: Spiral breeding idea - what do you think?

My whole approach to breeding is to make it the least complicated and simple as possible.  I am breeding with birds that I keep track of what birds they came from and breeding to select birds that compliment each other to hopefully get some good results.  I have only had EO's for one year, so I was first breeding with what birds I hatched from last spring, keeping the best of what I had.  Now with the introduction of EO's from other sources, I will be selecting breeding groups for next spring with two of my best roosters from this years hatch from other sources and my best hens.

CR it looks good and I can see you have put some time and thought into it for sure :applause:

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#4 2012-06-25 15:04:40

ipf
Member
From: Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Registered: 2011-08-29
Posts: 168

Re: Spiral breeding idea - what do you think?

I think a 3-year old hen should still produce enough eggs, in the peak laying time at least. I recently hatched out a bunch of eggs from my 8-year-old bantam Cochin - I was amazed at how many eggs she laid in late March through April and early May. Hasn't laid a single egg in June though.  Using older hens is, IMO, a good idea - you know what their potential is, as many traits don't express fully for a couple of years, and you're certainly selecting for longevity.

My opinion as a geneticist is that what matters is the inbreeding coefficient. You want to slow down its increase  as much as possible. Haven't done the math, but the proposal above looks like a very quick increase in inbreeding, due to starting with only one roo.

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#5 2012-06-29 15:37:47

ChestnutRidge
Member
From: Western Virginia
Registered: 2011-07-05
Posts: 251
Website

Re: Spiral breeding idea - what do you think?

ipf wrote:

My opinion as a geneticist is that what matters is the inbreeding coefficient. You want to slow down its increase  as much as possible. Haven't done the math, but the proposal above looks like a very quick increase in inbreeding, due to starting with only one roo.

Ahhhh - I hadn't thought of that!  It's basically the same as a regular spiral breeding plan, but you are completely correct - there is only one rooster in the beginning.  I wonder how closely related the three beginning roosters are in a regular plan - if they are just part of the hens' existing family/line or if they are outside blood meaning that you would be beginning with six different lines - three groups of males and three of females.  Hmm.

I do like the concept of breeding the best and offsetting faults, but I want to be able to keep the increeding coefficient that ipf is referencing down so that I would not require outside blood.  If we move to a state with no other EO breeders, or the economy becomes such were the postal service or driving long distances becomes an issue, or etc.,  I want to be sure that we are okay.  I am hoping I can do that kind of matching within my family groups - choose a "B' cockerel that benefits the "C" hens', that sort of thing.  Looks like I need to do a bit of research.  I guess like everything it comes down to what level of diversity you are starting with...

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#6 2012-06-29 15:39:02

ChestnutRidge
Member
From: Western Virginia
Registered: 2011-07-05
Posts: 251
Website

Re: Spiral breeding idea - what do you think?

ipf wrote:

I think a 3-year old hen should still produce enough eggs, in the peak laying time at least. I recently hatched out a bunch of eggs from my 8-year-old bantam Cochin - I was amazed at how many eggs she laid in late March through April and early May. Hasn't laid a single egg in June though.  Using older hens is, IMO, a good idea - you know what their potential is, as many traits don't express fully for a couple of years, and you're certainly selecting for longevity.

That is really good to know.  Wow - 8 years old!  I will hold onto that aspect of my idea.  Hmmm.... :thanks:

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