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Let's talk about "Barnyard Mix" chickens!

 
Posts: 19
Location: Oshkosh WI
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Hi guys,
I posted yesterday regarding a writing project I'm working on.  I've been working on a section/chapter on small flock chickens.  Raising them, breeding them, etc.  

I'm especially interested in crossing different breeds.  In people who raise "barnyard mixes".  This is what we used to do when I was raising chickens as a kid with my grandfather. I don't recall every buying any birds.  If we needed chicks, we would use whatever rooster we had or could borrow from a neighbor, and cross it with whatever hens we had milling around.  The flock was a weird and beautiful collection.  

I think it fits very well with permaculture, and constant emphasis on "diversity".  Just like with pure bred dogs having all kinds of genetic anomalies due to many generations of inbreeding, and mutts almost always being healthier, it's my belief that a mix would be an excellent way to go.

It's something I would like to discuss with chicken raisers. I'd love to see photos of whatever multi-way crosses you might have.  

Trying to spend my pandemic down-time doing something productive...
 
pollinator
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Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
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That's sort of like the feral chickens on Kauai.  Though they've also no doubt seen some changes owing to the more Darwinian nature of survival being feral rather than still domesticated.  You could definitely still see certain breed characteristics in individual birds, though pretty much all of them were mixes of some sort.
 
pollinator
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John Kestell wrote:Hi guys,
I posted yesterday regarding a writing project I'm working on.  I've been working on a section/chapter on small flock chickens.  Raising them, breeding them, etc.  

I'm especially interested in crossing different breeds.  In people who raise "barnyard mixes".  This is what we used to do when I was raising chickens as a kid with my grandfather. I don't recall every buying any birds.  If we needed chicks, we would use whatever rooster we had or could borrow from a neighbor, and cross it with whatever hens we had milling around.  The flock was a weird and beautiful collection.  

I think it fits very well with permaculture, and constant emphasis on "diversity".  Just like with pure bred dogs having all kinds of genetic anomalies due to many generations of inbreeding, and mutts almost always being healthier, it's my belief that a mix would be an excellent way to go.

It's something I would like to discuss with chicken raisers. I'd love to see photos of whatever multi-way crosses you might have.  

Trying to spend my pandemic down-time doing something productive...



I have very few "purebred" chickens left.  Mine are a mosh of whoever I let breed with whoever.  The only thing I select for is survival and as close as possible to no comb.  Our winters are terrible on chicken combs.
 
John Kestell
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Yes--I'm familiar with the feral chickens in HI.  They also have a large flock in Key West, and another in Los Angeles of all places.     I think my project is also similar to the "development" of some of the Landraces.  Like the Swedish Flower Hens.  Nobody really set out to "develop" a breed.  Presumably, the vikings pillaged some chickens from England and took them home. Then more or less let them go.  Not really planning or doing any sort of selective breeding.  Whatever withstood the cold, and didn't get killed by birds or foxes made it to the next round.  
 
John Kestell
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I have very few "purebred" chickens left.  Mine are a mosh of whoever I let breed with whoever.  The only thing I select for is survival and as close as possible to no comb.  Our winters are terrible on chicken combs.

That's exactly what I'm talking about.  I also live in a cold climate.  Small combs would be an absolute must.  Also, hopefully markings and coloration that made them somewhat camouflaged while ranging.  I have a small flock of hatchery birds.  Some RIR, some barred rocks, etc.  My plan was to make some more or less random crosses between these and some roosters from different breeds.  Maybe some speckled sussex (they are just gorgeous), or if I can talk my buddy into loaning me his Swedish Flower rooster for a week.  

I am trying to drum up interest with local enthusiasts.  The idea would be to employ a "spiral breeding" program, hopefully over several locations.  every breeding session, the roosters would be moved to the next location.  That would create 2-way crosses in the first round, 4 way in the second, 8 way in the third...    

Another thing  I was thinking about--you can buy fertilized barnyard cross eggs off of people on Ebay.  One of the sellers has an enormous range of roosters and hens.  I think I counted like 15 breeds.  It would be fun to hatch out a bunch of them, maybe 30 eggs, and select a small handful of the most interesting.  

My real criteria are A)  solid egg production B) some degree of camo to help with predators and C) foraging instincts.    Then, I would actually run them on pasture, and with observations see which ones are doing a really exceptional job.

Do you have any photos of your mixed mutt-chickens?  Sometimes these random crosses can produce some super interesting things.    I am very interested to try and cross chickens with speckling with chickens that have barring.  And maybe to mix in some genetics from some of the very large breeds.  I know Jersey  Giants never became immensly popular because of their very slow time to full maturity.  But I suspect crossing it with something more vigorous (I don't know--a rhode island? A wyandotte?).  I'm very interested to try and launch a project like this.  I'm already raising a small flock, but they are over 2 years and I need to be thinking of bringing in more chicks....
 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
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John Kestell wrote:
I am trying to drum up interest with local enthusiasts.  The idea would be to employ a "spiral breeding" program, hopefully over several locations.  every breeding session, the roosters would be moved to the next location.  That would create 2-way crosses in the first round, 4 way in the second, 8 way in the third...    



I'm not real far from you.  I would be open to this.
 
Posts: 41
Location: Ontario zone 4b/5a
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I haven't been at this long enough to have any interesting results to share, but I plan on hatching my own eggs going forward maybe adding a new breed here or there. The first two years I bought chicks in an assortment of pure breeds, usually larger birds to withstand cold winters and make a decent meal. I don't have the time right now to do careful selective breeding so I just pick eggs I like and let a broody hatch them. Last year my "breeding project" was to create some olive eggers, and I was pretty excited about that. I currently love the rainbow of egg colours I have. All my mixes have been brown (and a couple grey) feathering, and I think they're pretty.

(If you're curious, the breeds I have currently are: Speckled Sussex, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Buff Brahma, Barnvelder, Welsummer, Easter Egger, Delaware, Buff Chantceler. Roos are a Barnvelder and Oliver Egger. And the mixes are Barnvelder x Sussex and Easter Eggers)

Where I am, colouration for camouflage changes on the time of year. White chickens are great in winter, the buff colours blend into the dry spring grass, etc.
 
Posts: 44
Location: Michigan, USA
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A lot of hatcheries offer really good bargains on packages of random chicks - all the extras that they hatched to make sure they had enough of each breed to supply individual orders.  You can get chicks are a real good price that way.  Also, watch the chick bin at your local TSC/Farm store.  I have picked  pullets (females) for less than 50 cents each by being in the right place, at the right time.  When the chicks get big and "ugly" or when they are trying to clear the bins for the next shipment, they will really mark them down.  Then I go find the manager and offer a value for all the chicks - "I'll clear all your chick bins for 50 cents a chick" or something like that is really appealing.  Last year, I also got some banties in the mix, oh well.  
 
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