Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Two Strikes And You Are Out!
Culling - Avoiding Breeding Temptation
After reading yesterday's blog you must realize how anxious I am for my birds to come into breeding condition! Well after I posted the colony breeding blog, I went out to look at the birds again.. I saw this young Stafford hen on the bottom of her cage. Thinking something was wrong and maybe it was more pasted vent, I quickly caught and examined her. To my surprise, unlike any other hen in the aviary, she has developed a brood patch! I carefully, gently, palpated her lower abdomen and I could feel an egg which was so developed it would be laid the next day. At first I was so excited that I promptly began catching all the hens., maybe there are more? Alas she was the only one!
How tempted I was to set her up with a cock but there are clear reasons why I should not! First, the eggs would likely be infertile, even if they mated immediately, as the best fertility is when mating occurs about five days before the first egg is laid. At best, only the last egg or if she lays five eggs maybe two would be fertile.
More important, do I really want to breed this hen? I use a "Two Strikes and You are Out" principle to help me make the right decision, a decision which will lead me toward my goal to breed better birds. Let's apply the principle to this hen. If you look at her head, the crest is definitely oval. That would be strike one! If she only has one strike, I can find the cock who would improve that fault in her offspring, she is not out yet!
She is a mosaic, so I looked at her rump to critically evaluate her color, her color is definitely orange. That's it, Strike Two and OUT, OUT of the breeding program!!
Reflecting on my two strikes rule, it is consistent with the way I separate the winners from the losers when I judge birds. As I placed them, I am always counting on each bird how many strikes. Many good birds have one strike but two means your out!