Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Poultry decisions and planning

OK thoughts on paper. . so to speak. I am trying to get my future plans for poultry breeding sorted out. I know I am full of plans and then everything changes but in a couple of weeks time the ' minority and rare breeds poultry' auction is taking place and if I know in my mind how I would like my flock to develop. 1: I am less likely to buy on impulse and 2: More persuasive in my argument for buying !

So, how far have I got other than the usual cry of ' I just need more land ! '

Starting with definite decisions ..
The paddock geese must go, they are unproductive, noisy and eat too much grass.
Rather than keep any turkeys back for breeding I shall either hatch bought in eggs or buy in poults, each year. Poults are more economical and the timing works well for housing.

Laying flock: I keep my laying flock at home and being restricted on space my choices are limited, making decisions much easier.
I have room for 10 - 12 hens, plus broody arks during the summer.
So my laying flock will consist of the 2 Cream Legbars, 3 Welsummer, & 2 Dorking ( although I may use these in my breeding flock) that I have already, leaving me room to buy in more layers or swapping around the breeding and laying flock when necessary.

Broodies: I am hoping to use more broodies this year rather than the incubator, so do I buy in a couple of silkies who can run with the laying flock or do I use the birds that go broody in the flocks?
Silkies are more reliable, although probably can cover less eggs than a larger hen.
If I am using them as broodies I won't 'miss' their egg production, however if any of the flock birds - egg or breeding - go broody I would then have to 'break' them so might as well use them.
As I have space in my laying flock I am leaning towards a couple of Silkies.

Breeding /Meat flock: My main aim is to breed birds that are a reasonable size for the table rather than a particular breed or standard. As next year will be my first year I can start from scratch. From this years hatches I have a Light Sussex cockerel, that has looked well from the start so I would like to 'try' him out. I also have a couple of Light Sussex pullets and two Speckled Sussex, all of which look on the sturdy side, so these birds may be the nucleus of the flock. I would like to add Cornish game to the mix. I am still undecided whether to buy a trio and run two flocks with both cockerels. This would give me greater variations and also the chance to rear a few pure birds, possibly for selling.

So decisions .. . as mentioned above ...
Geese to go.
Turkeys buy in annually.
Of the birds I have already
Geriatric gang of Light Sussex to go
Of this years hatch
Welsummer cockerel and three reject pullets in the freezer
Light Sussex cockerel and 2 pullets keep for breeding along with the 2 Speckled Sussex.
The brahma? from the same hatch as the Sussex if hen add to laying flock as a possible broody.
The young Ixworth chick if hen keep for breeding, if cockerel sell or eat.
Black unknown chick of same age eat.

To buy in - possibly a couple of silkies and a trio of Cornish game.

Now my only problem is where to put them all.


Anonymous said...

very organised! - I'm impressed (though were does the breeding sow go? :) )

we too were thinking about what to breed next year.

Anonymous said...

One of my silkies has been an excellent broody mother in the past, though she's yet to hatch any "big" eggs for me. She even batched and raised three chicks last winter, when temperatures were frequently 3/4 degree below zero!