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wellington womble

mulling over my table bird flock

Mr Poulet de Bresse (who was going to be the father of my flock of both pure bred PdB and my DIY crossbred table birds) has started attacking Jenna, so he needs permanent penning, or roasting. This is a shame, as he grew fast, forages well and is looking like a good weighty bird. But I can't have an aggressive cockerel around, and he's the only male PdB.

If I pen him, he will need some companions. Shall I pen him with some adult females (I could rotate them if he bothers them excessively) or see if he will settle down with another male bird? I also have Dorkings, Faverolles, Transylvanian Naked necks, Croad Langshans, Light Sussex and Ixworths. I was planning to keep hens from all of them and see how the crosses with Mr PdB ate next year, along with the pure bred PdB (I have two strains, but hatched mostly females. Typical!)

If I do keep another male bird, which would make the best father for my flock? I'm wondering about the Dorkings, as they grew quite fast and are looking nicely stocky. I am interested in meat birds only, not dual purpose.
dpack

penned with another boy chances are one will be dead or damaged to the point of a kindness being needed very quickly.

he might be ok penned with ladies but that means looking after a savage beast which isn't easy or fun

imho an aggressive boy is unlikely to become tame but he might make a nice dinner if you don't fancy a "wild beast" in the flock ( i wouldn't ).

so either:

get some hatching eggs from him and penned ladies before a short walk in a fish landing net with a machete awaiting ( or just shoot him in the head, i hate fighting with vicious chooks ) after he has done his job might be the best option and then choose a friendly one from the youngsters.
aggression has a genetic component hence breeding is the way for having the " best" fighting cocks Mad so his kids might also be a bit "difficult"
or
eat him first and get some nice new boys to chose from as a replacement .
Chez

I think Dorkings crossed with things are supposed to be good, but I've never tried. Faverolles crosses work well and if you have the right strain they are docile.

Whichever you decide to keep, don't handle him and don't hamd feed him ... it confuses them about whether you are the boss or not.
wellington womble

Keeping him wouldn't be a problem, per se. He doesn't bother me at all, he just goes for Jenna, so he needs to be kept separate from her. I wont keep him long term, I was just hoping that I could start next years meat birds from him (none of which I will keep, because they can't be bred with the parent stock, and I'm only keeping one cockerel. I will hatch some more unrelated stock alongside)
Chez

You can breed father to daughter or mother to son for a few generations before hatchability etc starts to drop off. So long as the stock are healthy to start with it's fine. You shouldn't breed siblings.
wellington womble

I quite agree.
Chez

What are your reasons for not breeding back, then? Just that you want to try different breeds?

I'm going to have to bring in a new cockerel next year I think ... hatchability has gone right down this year. I don't want to ... last time I did it ... four or five years ago, it took me this long to get the birds looking right again. One of the issues with a mostly-closed flock Sad

ETA: I am considering sacking off the idea of pure breeds and keeping a small mixed flock to give me good dual purpose utility with hybrid vigour. Dunno.
alison

We had a RIR that used to attack my eldest. Turns out he didn't like his red coat. He did fly up at Chris' face though, so we had to pen him in the end.
My feelings now is life is too short for a potential injury, I would eat and renew.
wellington womble

What are your reasons for not breeding back, then? Just that you want to try different breeds?


Well, I mostly meant about not breeding siblings. I think it's good practice to keep unrelated breeding stock if you can. I'm not breeding for show or sale, only for the table and my own amusement. When I bought the Poulet de Bresse, the lady was selling was selling two strains especially so you could breed your own birds for the table in subsequent years. And they seem to be very nice table birds, they forage well and grew more quickly than the Dorkings and and Croads I hatched them with. They hatched well for my first hatch with posted eggs, too.

My plan was to breed the Poulet de Bresse, but also to raise crosses from all the other traditional meat breeds I have, to see if I can find a hybrid that works well for us, while keeping only one cockerel and not having to bother with penning anything. I'm looking for something that forages well and finishes in around four months for good roasters on a traditional diet and tastes good. Obviously that would mean occasionally buying in new parent stock, which means that someone has to raise pure breeds. I could contribute to that by raising PdB, which are supposed to be good dual purpose birds. In the interests of fast(ish) finishing to good weights (for a traditional breed) Mr PdB is the best choice to keep. Only he's taken exception to Jenna. So the choice is pen him, start again by hatching a replacement cockerell next year, or choose another bird for the crosses, and forgo the purebreds for this year at least.

I really want to start hatching homelaid eggs. The hatch rate for posted eggs is depressing, and means I have lots of small groups of different aged birds. Which is a pita. I know that won't be automatically better with my eggs, but at least they won't have been bashed about by Royal Mail.
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