Why do we breed? Different breeders have different answers to this question, and their answers will determine what they have available for others to purchase, as well as what their short and long-term goals might be. Here at Green Grables I have several goals, both common goals and individual breed goals. You might be surprised at how much thought and planning goes into chicken breeding!
Main Common Goals:
1. Breed healthy chickens (parental and chick nutrition, vaccination programs, coop and run cleaning protocols, life expectancy and disease resistance, proper parasite control, population density, incubation techniques and more all go into breeding healthy chickens.)
2. Breed towards the standard of perfection or SOP. The American Poultry Association, or APA, and the American Bantam Association, or ABA, produce books written to guide breeders. The Standard of Perfection (APA) and the Bantam Standard (ABA) give much needed guidelines to breeders, helping us breed chickens towards the physical and mental characteristics that define each particular breed. Each season, breeders are selected in order to maintain lines that adhere closely to the SOP. No bird is perfect, which makes this an ever changing and constantly interesting process.
Then we move on to specific breed and color goals. I will add my specific goals at the bottom for those whose eyes will glaze over at the detail involved! But suffice it to say, the very last goal, one that is not even written down, is to sell friendly, healthy birds. I would love to make enough to break even, but supplements, good breeding stock, maintaining facilities, etc make that a losing battle. I breed for the love of it, pure and simple. I love seeing the faces of new owners - I have a routine for all of my chicks with the end goal being this: to provide my customers with birds who are not only beautiful and healthy, but who are also interactive, happy, playful, and trusting. I breed chickens, but I also breed family members and pets in many cases. And often birds that don't qualify for my breeding program become the best pets in the world.
Here are some of my present breed specific goals:
(Note: When I say something like "hatch 2-3 nice hens," that means I will hatch at least 4-10 times that many and pick the best, according to the SOP and according to specific characteristics that I am looking for.)
Self blue (lavender) bantam Ameraucana
1. Personality: I want engaging, intelligent, interactive (watch out for super smart bullies).
2. Body characteristics that I am looking specifically to improve this year: Beard size, large and full. Necks, full. Wing carriage, higher. Maintain wide body stance and chest.
3. Feather quality (The recessive lavender gene can be associated with feather quality issues). Decrease ticking and shredding. Maintain even coloring.
4. Future lavender cuckoo and frizzle lavender cuckoo projects: Grow up lavender cuckoo large fowl Ameraucana girl and frizzle cuckoo large fowl Ameraucana girl. Breed next season with lavender bantam Ameraucana. Work towards smaller birds in these colors.
1. Maintain large crests and well feathered bodies.
2. Breed a sizzle male for next year.
1. Maintain a show potential line from my Vaughn Mille Fleur birds. Hatch 4-8 nicely patterned, well built Vaughn MF girls for breeding next season. Hatch 2-3 nice boys - look for medium spangling, nice beards, wide chests, small stature, friendly personality.
2. Hatch 4-8 smooth Golden Neck girls for next season. Breed them back to Vaughn MF to get a consistent background color. Work towards smaller spangles and maintainence of gold color.
3. Hatch 3-6 frizzle MF Cockerels for use over a nice smooth flock next breeding season to continue increasing the quality of the frizzles as compared to the SOP. Look for nice patterning, small size, large beard and muffs, wing bars, small wattles, short beaks, etc. Pick 2-3 to keep.
4. Hatch 2-4 nice hens from light buff hen x Vaughn rooster - looking for nicely patterned and correctly proportioned light buff hens as a second smooth MF line.
5. Blue MF Project: Hatch a blue baby split to MF from splash x Vaughn MF pairing. Breed back to MF next season, keep blue MF. Watch for incomplete BMF and blue Columbian.
6. Recessive Blue MF d'Uccle Project: Hatch out MF split to recessive BMF babies. Pick 2 boys and 2-4 girls to keep. Breed boy back to recessive BMF hen in the fall. Breed boy back to girls in spring. Keep BMF and verify breeding.
7. Lemon MF d'Uccle Project: Breed Lemon MF Booted Bantam to Vaughn hens. Keep MF split to gold with beards for lemon MF project. Feed non-bearded back into booted bantams for genetic diversity.
8. Future Blue Lemon MF d'Uccle Project: Breed BMF into LMF to obtain BLMF d'Uccles.
Lemon (Citron) Mille Fleur Booted Bantams (Sablepoots)
1. Enlarge flock.
2. Breed in MF to increase flock diversity.
3. Breed towards booted bantam SOP
4. Future Blue Lemon MF BB Project: Breed BMF into LMF to obtain BLMF booted bantams.
Wow, did you make it all the way to the bottom??? You are a trooper! So to reward you, here are two chicks, a blue who will enter the BMF project (came from splash x MF), and a MF split to recessive blue who will enter the recessive BMF project (came from MF x assumed recessive BMF)!