Sunday, April 5, 2015

Breeding Stock

We moved all of the whites into one pen.  There were two roosters in with them that I moved out.  One was an original rooster, the other an offspring, both with large combs and wattles.  There are 13 whites total now, including at least two younger roosters with smaller combs and wattles.  There might be a third rooster with even smaller comb, or it might be a hen with a larger comb.  It's still young enough to keep me guessing.

This pen will be my breeding stock, unless or until I can find a nice roo with small comb and wattle.  Hopefully a chantecler rooster unrelated to my girls.
I am very pleased with my cross breeds.  They haven't started laying yet, which is one of the reasons for the move.  They all survived the winter, and compared to the other hens, almost thrived.  They are well feathered and fluffy, and heavier than all of the other hens.  No frost bite damage, which is clearly visible on some of the others, and such a calm demeanour after all of these months of being trapped indoors.  The reds in particular seem to be a little stir crazy.

I have two buff coloured hens from the second batch of chicks.  They're healthy, heavy, and have small combs.  I didn't move them in with the whites, although I am leaning toward including them as breeding stock.  If it weren't for their colour I would have included them as chantecler crosses.  They may be, and just happened to get their colour from their dads.  It is the small combs, heavier weight, heavy feathering that I want in my flock going forward.  If that white that I'm not sure of turns out to be a hen, I may remove her, since her comb is bigger.

For now the whites are being spoiled - all of the scrap buckets with egg shells, sunflower seeds daily, fodder daily, as well as their regular feed.  I want to bring the younger ones in to lay as soon as possible.  The older girls (the moms) continued to lay through the winter.  Once I start getting 5-6 eggs per day from them I will start saving them for the incubator.

I will also split them back into two pens once I deal with the rest of the birds.


  1. I know the smaller combs are less likely to freeze. But, why do you want the combs to be small on the rooster and hens? Is that characteristic related to other characteristics you want in your flock. I wish I had more room to try the things you can do.

    1. Yes, the goal is to reduce the risk of frost bite. Frost bite weakens the chickens and can lead to other illness and death. Since our winters are long, with extreme temperatures, I want to increase my chicken's welfare, survival rate, and egg laying ability.

      Since I only had the two Chantecler hens last year, and cross bred them with the Frey's Special Dual Purpose rooster, their offspring do not have as small, tight combs as they do. So I want to select the smallest combed offspring for breeding stock. That way the smaller combs will continue to be a trait of my flock.

      I also want good feathering and weight over the winter. Since the birds spend so much energy just keeping warm, they tend to lose weight through the winter. Then they take a long time to return to optimal health in the spring, while eating me out of house and home, before they start laying. The chantecler's and crosses maintained their weight quite well through the winter. The chanteclers continued laying through the winter. I am hoping to start getting eggs from the crosses soon.

      Good feathering keeps the birds warm. Even when they're on their perches, the chantecler's feathers cover their feet. Some of the others lose a lot of their under side feathers, which exposes them to greater frost bite risk- thus the missing toes.

      If I had started with a purebred Chantecler flock, I would just keep them all, since they really do seem to be the perfect birds for our northern climate. But I didn't, so I will have to keep picking and choosing the traits that I want to see in the future.