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Ok, so I know some of you are doing some cross breeding and also free ranging chickens. My question is, how are you making it work? What I mean is. Do you cage some in order to breed, then let them range free when not breeding or collecting hatching eggs? Or do you limit your Rooster to one breed so you are assured of the cross. I have a few roosters now in separate pens that I like, and I have some roosters roaming free with the chickens. But today, if I was to collect eggs to hatch, I could not insure who the daddy was? I am thinking I will have to either cull down to a few of the same kind of rooster? Or try to pair up some hens and roosters in pens for breeding purposes. I just hate the idea of pairing them up, then having to wait for them to go back to laying after the change?? So what good ways have you all found to do such things?

Thanks in advance for the info. (I know some of you got this figured out already!!)
 

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With my ducks, during breeding season, I keep the males penned with the females I want fertile eggs from. When I am not breeding, they go out in a group. It's the only way I know to be sure of the right father. Also, with poultry, the sperm can live a couple of weeks in the hen, they have to be separated well ahead of time - at least the hens will settle and get back to laying before you would start to collect eggs. It's a pain, but that's the system that works for me.
 
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Do you cage some in order to breed, then let them range free when not breeding or collecting hatching eggs?
That's what I've been doing with my broiler project, but I'm finally at the point where I can just leave them free ranging and collect the eggs for hatching. I have 4 carefully selected roosters with the flock.
 

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Thanks for the info. That is kinda what I thought as I had not thought up any simpler way to do it. I just thought maybe somebody was thinking of something I was overlooking as a possibility. I bought some chickens form a lady who was free ranging and I kinda wonder looking at a few of them of the exact breeding lineage. I do not want that right now, as I have bought distinct lines and when I start hatching I want to be sure of the cross. I guess I will be making a few more tractors to use for breeding purposes.
LC, I am very interested in the Maran x RR,CC that you have. That is the direction I intend to go with some of mine. Please let me know when you get ready to sell some hatching eggs or chick's, as I would be very interested. I am also very interested to see some carcass info. once you start processing some also. The pictures of the birds you have from that cross look very promising as broilers.
 

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You can make brood pens just big enough for a few hens and one rooster, and although sperm can theoretically live for two weeks, usually four days with an active rooster will ensure that the vast majority of offspring will be his. There are other scenarios like suppose you have a mixed flock with Leghorns, Cochins and RIR with a RIR rooster. In that case you would only keep brown eggs, and if you had feather legged chicks you would know they weren't pure RIR. I(f you didn't set any real pointy oblong eggs (cochin) you probably wouldn't have any feather legs) If everybody has the same features and same color eggs, then it is a bunch of little pens, but it doesn't take that long to gather hatching eggs. Starting with pure stock makes the goofs a lot easier to spot when they do happen.
 
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LC, I am very interested in the Maran x RR,CC that you have. That is the direction I intend to go with some of mine. Please let me know when you get ready to sell some hatching eggs or chick's, as I would be very interested. I am also very interested to see some carcass info. once you start processing some also. The pictures of the birds you have from that cross look very promising as broilers.
I haven't decided if I'm going to start selling hatching eggs from this generation or wait until the next.

I'm going to be making a blog post with more detailed info about my broilers. I have the pics uploaded to my blog, I just need to write the post.
 

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We just have one breed (Dominiques) so it makes breeding easier when we free range. When I want to breed the best ones or certain ones for certain traits, we have a brooder coop and pen we can put them in and I will just collect those eggs or let them collect and mark them for a broody to sit on. Also, culling is extremely important. It's hard to do for me because I always justify keeping a hen that has a default for laying, etc. or some other reason and then I inadvertently end up passing the bad trait on to the next generation by not being careful to separate them before one goes broody.
 

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I've often wondered when separating breeding stock at breeding time..... is there a stress factor that adds time to the process due to cessation of laying or maybe even mating? Maybe the time needed to 'clear' out the hen is enough time for recovery from any move related stress?
 

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I free range the turkeys until late February and then set up the breeding pens. I hatch what I want when the hens start to lay in mid-late March, and then release everyone to general population free range probably by mid-May, early June.

If it's a single hen or two, I generally just grab the appropriate tom off of free range, observe the breeding and turn him loose again (turkey fertility from a single breeding can last a very long time, a month or more, although fertility drops off after three weeks).

With chickens, my numbers generally remain small for the breeding population, so they stay inside year round where they are protected. Other chickens get to run loose. I'll hatch a lot of eggs, but I get small numbers of "keepers" since I'm looking for a lot of different alleles that have to be matched up for the phenotype I want. That makes those birds extremely valuable and can't be risked.
 
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I've often wondered when separating breeding stock at breeding time..... is there a stress factor that adds time to the process due to cessation of laying or maybe even mating? Maybe the time needed to 'clear' out the hen is enough time for recovery from any move related stress?
They may slow down laying a little when you move them, but in a couple weeks they are laying normally and by that time the eggs are fertilized by the rooster you put them with.
 
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LC, I am very interested in the Maran x RR,CC that you have. That is the direction I intend to go with some of mine. Please let me know when you get ready to sell some hatching eggs or chick's, as I would be very interested. I am also very interested to see some carcass info. once you start processing some also. The pictures of the birds you have from that cross look very promising as broilers.
I'm going to be making a blog post with more detailed info about my broilers. I have the pics uploaded to my blog, I just need to write the post.
I've got my blog post partly done. It's a big post and I'm a 2-fingered typer. Hopefully in a couple days...
 
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