Yes, the Altex is still out there. We've never had any, but occasionally I hear of someone keeping them. From what I hear, different people have gotten different results. Some folks have said their getting better fryers, using the Altex bucks over NZW does. Others say, they have not seen any improvement. I would think, it depends on the genetics of a particular heard. If a NZW grower was having problems getting their fryers up to weight by market time, then they might see an improvement using the Altex to create terminal fryers. However, some NZW growers are already getting 4.5 lb. - 5 lb. fryers by 8 weeks. Therefore, using the Altex would simply add to their operating costs, without showing any improvement in growth rates.
Some report that their Altex and Altex x NZW have greater tolerance for heat. Some say, they have seen no difference.
It seems to me that keeping Altex would add to our expenses. When ever a new buck was needed, we would have to purchase a new one. Otherwise we would have to raise our own Altex just to have a new buck, every now and then. And we would still have to have NZW bucks and breed pure NZW litters to create replacement does. Of course, for those who breed smuts, they have to keep two herds anyway. Californians and NZW.
Now, I have limited experience. But through reading everything I can find and asking a lot of questions, I have found the following. Most growers who have fryers reaching 5 lbs. in 8 weeks, are keeping two herds. Californians and NZW, to create smuts. Some growers have developed herds of NZW that reach these numbers, without crossing. Some have developed herds of Californian x Champagne D'Argent that produce as well. These herds of Cal. x Champ. have been developed to the point that crossing is no longer necessary.
We see a definite advantage in keeping only one herd. Therefore we have decided to expend the effort to create are own Cal. x Champ. blood line. At the same time we are experimenting with Cal. x S.F. We understand that this will take time. If we wanted to get there in a hurry, we would simply do the smut thing.
One other thing that may be having a negative effect on Altex and other crosses, is that some processors will only except pure NZW. This is probably because of contracts with pharmaceutical companys that require pure albinos.
Note that these remarks are only my perceptions and that others may have a different point of view.
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