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#1 2014-03-22 16:37:45

Island Girl
From: Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Isla
Registered: 2011-07-06
Posts: 1403

Do we cull our original EOs or keep them in the breeding flock??

I have cut and paste my last post this morning from another thread I started about bringing in spring with new chicks, if a mod wants to fix it up please go ahead. I  did choose 'challenges of the breed' but it could also fit into 'genetics',  not sure which is better? 

I so know what you mean about processing the older hens, somehow processing the new cockerels and the odd 'bad boy' roo is something I seem to be able to do now BUT the hens oh dear me how will I be able to do that and really should I??? Some of the hens are my original stock from the very first eggs I got from Claire and then Susan too. Should a person really cull them now because they are older or should they stay in the breeding plan very simply BECAUSE they are from Claire's first roo.  I really don't know and am very hesitant to do so. I am thinking more about the genetic side of this vs the legistics of keeping too many birds  ...  I need to be sure I am doing the right thing for the breed. Again you know me thinking it to death  :oops:  hmmm I am feeling the need for a new thread pg shall we??    :happycrowd"

XOX Monika



2014-03-22 16:37:45


#2 2014-03-22 18:55:04

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

Re: Do we cull our original EOs or keep them in the breeding flock??

Again, I am thinking along the same lines as you Monika and I am not sure what to do either.

Here are some thoughts and experiences I have recently had.

Experience #1
I have two marraduna roosters that are pure Black Horse Ranch (BHR) lines with their original rooster straight from Quebec as the father. Both will be two this spring. I used both for breeding last year and they both have flaws. Side Sprig has a huge...well...side sprig. And a bit too much grey. He lived with the turkeys all last summer as I planned to retire (read butcher him) last fall. Tried half heartedly selling him as well with no luck. He produced some nice chicks last spring and has never been mean. Little Guy has been to a few shows and judges really like him. He has no major visible flaws. His chicks last year however I was less impressed with and he had a bad month last fall where he attacked me a couple times although not since.

I had hoped to replay both these roosters this year with cockerels better than them. Well that has not happened. I kept one son of Side Sprig although I am not impressed with him, the judges that saw him were not impressed either. And his attitude sucks, he is crazy flighty and unfriendly.

So come this breeding season, I have ended up using Side Sprig to father way more chicks than the other two. Little Guy is seeming infertile and Wenge (crazy cockerel) i am not that keen to breed although I have some chicks from him.

Had I lost, sold or butchered Side Sprig where would I be this breeding season?

Experience #2
This year I have reveredted back to mating 2 hens which I had not previously used for breeding. Honey is an original from Claire so she is turning 4 this spring (I think). She has white legs and beautiful mottling (which I am not breeding for) but she has also been in perfect health and feather condition every day of her four years. And she is still laying perfect eggs, about 4 a week, as I found out this spring.

The other is a gorria I hatched from BHR birds I purchased the same summer 4 years ago. Cinnamon is daughter to my Old Gorria hen, her mom now 5 or 6 is still with me. Cinnamon represents some unique genetics, has been in great health and condition her whole life. And again, is laying about 4 eggs a week. She has feather stubs and some black in her feathers.

Had you asked me last year I would have called these hens "non breeding quality". Perhaps my chicks from them this year will show I was right. Or perhaps results will show that had I sold them or butchered them I would have done my self and my EOs a disservice....only time will tell.

Moral of my rambling... I believe i need to keep as many EOs as I can for as long as I can. I want to breed for birds that are healthy with a good long productive life. To do so you need to keep them around long enough to know what you have. Know how their sons and daughters turn out. Know how well they breed or lay eggs at the age of 4 or 5. So with the space I have I am trying to keep as many as I can as long as I can. This means that I need to focus on EOs, there is no room for other breeds in my large fowl flock and I need to keep this in mind when a pretty breed of Chicken catches my eye!

But there still isn't room for everyone and I need to keep space for new pullets. And with roosters it's even harder to all the old boys around! So how to decide who stays and who goes?

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



#3 2014-03-22 23:56:08

From: Saskatoon, Sask, Canada
Registered: 2011-06-28
Posts: 2540

Re: Do we cull our original EOs or keep them in the breeding flock??

I am in a bit of a different situation. One of "waiting mode". I am not currently breeding many if any birds this year. So that makes all my birds more valuable to me I guess. But I still think even if you aren't actively using them, they have a place in the flock. (Of course I feel gratitude to my originals and they therefore have earned their place in my coop until they die naturally). But on the other side of my thinking, we are still far too new and inexperienced with this breed to just "throw away" the original genetics we started with. If gives us a back up to return to when like PG said, things may not be going as planned. It also gives a good picture as to the big picture of what this breed can do. If they are culled after three or four years, how will we know? If I can breed from a hen that has lived a healthy life and is eight years old, I think I am providing the next generation with some petty hardy genes. We are still a long ways from standard birds. I don't think it's a good idea to get too selective in the name of pretty feathers just yet.



#4 2014-03-23 13:38:17

From: Louisa County, Virginia
Registered: 2011-10-05
Posts: 1980

Re: Do we cull our original EOs or keep them in the breeding flock??

Good stuff Susan and PG -

Here are some chicken nuggets (of wisdom) that I chew on while looking at my birds... (No particular order)

"If you're not improving your flock, then it's in decline"
"One 'good' bird in 100, one 'great' bird in 1,000"
"Always vigor"
"The secret's in the dam"
"Like begets like"
"Three years to settle a line out"
"You start with what you have"
"Build the barn then paint it"
"Linebreeding preserves the traits of the sire and dam"

These are just a few of the things that come to my mind when pondering a question like yours, Monika. And in my situation, there's no way in heck that I can approach those kinds of hatching numbers, so to me it's imperative that I be able to know and recognize a good bird when I see it. The EO is a utilitarian bird, producing meat and eggs for what I would imagine to be a subsistence style farmer, e.g. meaty carcasses grown in a reasonable time on run of the mill feed and forage (not fancy, expensive blends) and ample egg production (to the standard), again with economical feed conversion for the end result.

So with that in mind, it becomes clear how to move forward with a flock, preserving and maintaining (and improving!) the qualities of the foundation stock. That's why it's so important to build the barn first, because if after three or four years you have a beautiful flock of birds that match the color standard, but thy are kind of scrawny and only lay a few eggs, what do you really have? So yes, if your foundation stock has vigor and production qualities approaching the standard, then by all means keep them in the breeding program, or at least in reserve, because longevity (in my mind) should be an important part of a subsistence flock. 

I just reread Susan's post and realized that she already said this... :oops: Oh well, it bears repeating!

There is no quick, easy answer to the perfect birds that fit the Standard. Having a clear picture in your of where you want your birds to be, enjoying them year in and year out, and hopefully providing some budding youngster or serious chicken noob with quality foundation stock and sound mentoring along the way is (to me) what it's all about. It's the journey and the labor of love that goes with it.

Well, it's taken me an hour to put these thoughts down... and PG and Susan have already covered it.  It's so much easier to type out a smart aleck one liner than to speak from the heart.

I love these birds.




#5 2014-03-23 23:30:57

Island Girl
From: Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Isla
Registered: 2011-07-06
Posts: 1403

Re: Do we cull our original EOs or keep them in the breeding flock??

Easier yes but I just love reading and then rereading these thought provoking answers. I truly do appreciate the time and effort that goes into these responses. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut and don't even see another way of looking at something until it is said in someone else's post. Then it becomes so clear and I can take it on as a solution in my situation, whatever that may be. Now I will go and reread these Posts!  :EO: and so are you Guys!!

XOX Monika

ps just to be clear I do also thoroughly enjoy your smart alec one liners, md!




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