If you have never gone to a poultry show to see for yourself the difference between birds that were bred to a standard, compared to the
average backyard/feed store chicken, you would be shocked at the differences. Poultry that are bred with little attention to their breed
standard start to look like a generic bird silhouette. These generic looking birds may have pretty colors and they may look nice when running
around your yard, but stand them up next to a bird that was bred to the SOP, and they aren't very impressive looking. But until you see the
difference for yourself, it's hard to believe that the difference is that significant. We were awed the first time we saw the difference.
When you're doing any kind of serious breeding, it is a somewhat slow process. Because Javas (and some other *heritage* fowl) continue to
mature and grow even after they reach sexual maturity, it takes a year or more to hatch and raise a group to see how your breeding choices
affected the birds appearance and productivity. And when you're breeding for both appearance and productivity, you have even more traits you
need to look at which makes the going even slower to see improvements. It is easier to do barnyard breeding, but you will not have as much
control over how the offpring turn out.
If you try to improve your flock's traits too quickly in one area, you may find yourself making other traits worse. It's better to take a more
middle-of-the-road approach. Breeding is a balancing act. Ideally, you want to be at a place where most of the birds are uniformly good in
appearance and production, so you can simply choose the birds with the best traits to *cement* those good traits into your flock. But most of
the time, especially when you're first starting out, you are doing more to match mating birds together that have good traits to hopefully offset
the flaws in the bird they are mated to.
Not every chicken that hatches will have all the best physical traits to be a "show bird". And not every chicken that hatches is going to have
the best production of meat or eggs. (This also means that if you buy "show quality" eggs or chicks, you need to ask the seller what their
definition of "show quality" is. There is no way to guarantee buying excellent specimens that conform closely to the SOP unless you buy fully
mature adult chickens. And just because the parents of the birds/eggs you buy happened to win at a show, does NOT mean that their
offspring that you raise will be "show quality" either.)
Genetics that you have no control over does play a part in what characteristics your flock will have. But your breeding selections, and
husbandry, are also an important part of the equation in both production and appearance breeding.
Raising and breeding chickens is not an exact science and there are any number of different ways to do it. But since we have found that
there seems to be similar problems and questions that come up routinely, we offer some information to help you on your journey with
breeding Javas. We've learned some things about poultry raising & breeding through formal education and personal research. Other things we
have learned the old fashioned way - through trial and error with our own flock and watching other people's mistakes and triumphs. Hopefully
what we have learned can help others to improve their Java breeding without making too many errors.
If you have feel like you've made errors in your poultry breeding experience, don't give up. Remember that you're not the first person to have
questions and feel like you're flying by the seat of your pants. Poultry keeping and breeding is a dynamic process and just when you feel like
you've gotten a good routine going, something changes and you have to go back to the drawing board. Again. :)
Breeding to the Standard of Perfection
Breeding For Production
Some General Thoughts on Breeding
There is more to breeding than just putting a rooster with some
hens and hatching eggs if you have a goal in mind for either
appearance traits or production traits in your poultry.
There are people that say that you cannot breed to the
Standard and have a productive bird. And some folks don't
place a high priority on production qualities because they
simply want pretty birds to take to a poultry show or to run
around their yard. But the current 2010 edition of the Standard
of Perfection from the American Poultry Association says that
birds should be bred for both their breed specific appearance
traits and productivity. After all, what good is a pretty bird if it
can't reproduce itself by laying fertile eggs, or if it can't provide
much meat if it is a bird meant to be eaten?
Polaris Star Farm
Kaufman County, Texas
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