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Please visit, http://thesmallfarm.blogspot.com for current posts.

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Web Design

I like to mess around with designing websites sometimes, and I thought I would let my blog readers know what I have done.

I have designed Highland Grove Farm, a website for our farm.  It has information on all of our animals and stuff.  Lots of pictures too.

I also designed Performance Quarter Horses, for a horse breeder.  It is completed now, but I still need to get some more pictures from him, so in some areas I have “picture comming soon” or something like that for now. 

For our farm, I made the website from scratch, for the horse breeder, I started out with a template from a page, then modified it and stuff, until I had my desired template then made all the pages from that. 

So, you guys can go and look at them, and if you would tell me what you think, that would be great!

A Little Update

Well, for the most part, this blog is educational, but I thought I would through this fun little piece of informaiton in here. It is kind of relavent.

So I like to play with genetics, and I know this has been done before, but I have not done it, I have to give it a try, so I can see how my results turn out!

I am playing with the Ameraucana breed.
My plan was to cross it with white egg laying breeds because in theory it should not effect the egg shell color, but in realilty because of the rate of lay it might, but that is just why I have to try it, to find out! Last year was the first year I ever bought a white egg laying breed so they were finally ready to breed this spring…so I am giving it a try. I finally got one of my sweet bantams that gives me at least one batch of chicks every spring, to go broody so I set my eggs just a couple days ago. I am also crossing the Ameracaunas pure, I had 2 roosters and around 7 Ameraucanas and 3 brown leghorns and 2 or 3 white. I can tell whose egg is whose by the color. I wanted to put 12 eggs under my bantam, and I really should be able to, but these ladies are giving me BIG eggs, so the poor girl can only handle 8. If I remember right I set 3 white eggs, and 5 blue eggs. I only set the blue eggs, if they where green we just put them in an egg carton to be sold…the people who eat our eggs do not really care , but I do when I am breeding.

Hopeing to get some of these!

Hoping to get some of these!
So in around 18 days, hopefully I will have some cute chicks hatching! I sure hope it works out for me to get all peacombs and green leggs, ect. So they have the confirmation and everything of the Ameraucanas. I have one more bantam that just went broody, so I am going to collect enough eggs to get her sitting for me, and then I will start breeding the Sex Links. I think I am only going to breed black sex links, but I may through a few of the whites in there to get a few red sex links, just because I can, not sure yet. Last year we bred these things and I got a TON of roosters, I am hoping to have better luck this year. Of course we can not just kill baby chicks like that because they are boys, so we grew them out and butchered them to eat…it just seems better this way.

It is kind of funny because last fall I had one black sex link rooster that got away and hid, so the naughty guy is still alive and running around like a proud boy! Those sex link roosters really get big when you let them grow out all the way!

*Exciting News—We finally got a peahen! For a few years now, we have had a peacock and the poor guy has had to put up with just chicken and guinea friends for the most part, but none of those guys are impressed by his tail, so finally this year he has a mate…maybe we can make some babies .

'Captain'

‘Captain’

Hopeing to get some of these!

The second one from the left is a RIR…I think he is trying to hide.

The Rhode Island Red is a fairly common breed, found at most hatcheries. Although there are many shades known to the Rhode Island Reds, the best show quality birds almost look black because of the deepness of the color.

Specs
American breed, found in both bantam and standard size
Heavy weight dual purpose breed
The breed is also found in white, but the white is much less common
Single comb (most common) with clean legs and 4 toes
Tend to have nice personalities

History
Originated from crosses of Red Malay Game, Leghorn and Asiatic breeds. Originally they had both straight and rose combs, but now are bred specifically for each type. They were bred to perfection in RhodeIsland, just as the name says.

More…
They are known to be one of the best brown egg layers of the purebred dual-purpose breeds. For more information on all the hybrid layers they can be used to breed read my post on which hybrid chicken to choose, along with tips on breeding them. Some red males have been known to be aggressive , but are known for it. The hens tend to be nice and calm good layers, that weather the cold well.

My Opinion
I love this breed, along with barred rocks they hit my favorite brown egg layers. They are pretty and although they do not seem to lay as much as the “statistics” say, they lay really well. They like a breed of any other chicken will have times when they are laying an egg a day and when they do not lay quite as often. I also really like the offspring they can produce with the black and red sex links.

So have you ever wondered which hybrid chicken to choose, or even if you should use them? Or maybe you are wondering if you would want to try a hybrid chicken…

I will start off by giving you some of the hybrid egg layers commonly found:

*NOTE-The names, especially for the red sex links often vary from hatchery to hatchery, the names I have here are just basically a rule of thumb. not the rule everyone goes by. 
(Male X Female)
Black Star/Black Sex Link
Rhode Island Red (RIR) X Barred Plymouth Rock or New Hampshire X Barred Rock

Red Star/Red Sex Link
RIR X White Leghorn

Cherry Eggers
RIR X New Hampshire Red

Cinnamon Queen
New Hampshire X Silver Laced Whyandotte

Golden Comet
New Hampshire X White Rock

Red Sex Link
RIR X Rhode Island White or Production Red X Delaware

Ambers
RIR X White Rock

Hybrids used for meat use:
Cornish Cross
White Rock X Cornish

Silver Barred Hybrid
Barred Rock X White Rock

So which ones are best?
Much of it is really up to you and what you want. As you probably noticed most of the high production egg layer hybrids are bred to be sex link (the sex of the chick can be determined at birth based on the color). This gives you 100% accuracy sexing without having to do that very invasive sexing done at hatcheries. I have looked up how to do it, but I think I will leave it to the pros, plus there are many physical characteristics that quickly appear, allowing for determination of sex.

I personally like to buy for the most part my purebred chickens and breed all my hybrid chickens, that keeps my breeding stock fresh. For my own breeding of purebreds I will also mix different strains of the breed to make them healthier and more productive.

So when you look at the hybrid layers, you will probably notice there are two main groups, red sex link and black sex link, the red sex link is easier to clean if you butcher you own birds once they are finished with their laying career, but the black sex links tend to have a longer laying career. I personally have bred more black sex links because I like them better.

Black Sex Link
The roosters will look like a barred rock, with a slight tint of red when full grown and black with a white dot on their heads when babies. The females will look all black as chicks and black with a red/brown breast when full grown. These guys tend to lay larger eggs for an extended period of time.

Red Sex Link
The males look white as chicks and when full grown look white with some odd colored feathers mixed in. The females hatch out buff/red and their adult feathers either look buff or red or some color in between, it really depends on the cross you used because as you can see there are quite a few to choose from, since all you have to do is cross a reddish and a white chicken.

Why does the crossing work?
Many chickens are inbred. If you are familiar with inbred animals, you will notice that they are weak and less productive. This same concept is true for chickens, when you cross the breeds, it introduces new genetics and if they line up just right (called nicking in the horse world), you will end up with an exceptional animal. The crosses listed above are some common crosses that hatcheries sell, they seem to line up the genetics just right to make a good producing chicken, but I am sure there are other crosses that turn out good too. You however should not use the offspring of the hybrid chickens for breeding, the reason being you will end up with bad traits showing up, the first generation is always the healthiest. It is entirely different story when you are developing a new breed though.

Which ones can I breed on my own, and which ones should I buy from the hatchery?
Most of the egg laying breeds are easy for the common poultry owner to breed, in fact since many of us pay attention to the production of our poultry you may end up with an even better chicken than you could buy at the hatchery. With any one of those I would say GO FOR IT! It is fun and rewarding to grow your own chickens, especially when they are good producers.
The Cornish Crosses on the other hand I would not recomend breeding, the reason being they really have the genetics stacked on the birds they breed. If the average poultry owner was to try to breed these, it would be highly unlikely they would be the fast growers you could buy at the hatchery. But to look on the positive side, Cornish Cross birds tend to be the cheapest birds in the whole hatchery because of the large quantities they are bought and sold in. Often times these hatcheries do not breed these birds on there own, but instead buy the eggs from some other company and then distribute them to us.

Note–When you breed a male and female sex link to each other, their offspring will not be sex linked, it just has to do with the genetics. Because apparently a female chicken tends to take their characteristics from the rooster, and vise versa. This does not always work, but does in the case of the sex links, I do not have a scientific answer to this one, but if I find one, I will post it.

Here are some interesting hybrids that I found someone selling on the internet once, they are a play on some more rare breeds, making them lay better:
Nova Ranger
Based off the RIR, they did not specify what it is crossed with, but it is red colored, so not quite as dark, sounds something like the production red.

Cuckoo Nova
Based on the Cuckoo Maran (prised for their really dark eggs), color is blue/grey and has a cream striped/speckled plumage, once again they do not give away what they crossed them with.

Amber Nova
Like the Nova Ranger, but instead is based on the Rhode Island White. Weighs slightly more than the RIR.

Blue Nova
No breed origins disclosed, all they say is it is one of the most popular and has a blue plumage.

Black Nova
RIR X Barred Rock, Basically a Black Sex Link.

Nova Noir
BAsed off the Resh Copper Black Maran (must be a relative of the Cuckoo Maran but solid black rather than barred).

Sussex Nova
Cross with the Light Sussex.

White Nova
Based off the utility Leghorn.

Silver Nova
Like the Sussex Nova, but instead based off the Silver Sussex.

Columbine
Based off the Cream Crested Legbar (blue egg laying chicken, an established breed that I believe is a spin off of the Aracauna, like the Amaraucana is but they are sex linked naturally, always)

Leave a comment talking about what you have done for hybrids, or with your questions. Everyone’s feedback is appreciated!

Welcome

This blog will be dedicated to poultry, cattle and everything in between. Including genetics (I will do my best to include the scientific side and write it in simple terms everyone can understand), breeds, saving money and increasing productivity.

Antibiotics at our farm are a last resort when it comes to saving an animal’s life. We do not use hormones to fatten up our beef, nor do we use the antibiotics to thin their intestine walls making them absorb more nutrients, but doing more bad than good in the long run, I mean everyone has heard of antibiotic resistance. The poultry are free range and are mostly brown and blue/green egg layers. The horses are happy all around horses that do everything from showing Western Pleasure to working cattle.

Everyone knows Holsteins make good dairy cows, but has anyone ever heard of the Normandy? How do we keep our chickens healthy and respiratory infection free without antibiotic use? Ever wondered what the genetics where behind egg color? Or maybe which breeds lay best, or cross best for laying hybrids? Is growing broilers on a mix of scratch grass and corn effective? These are just a few things I am planning on including in my blog.

Thanks for visiting, I am hoping to make this a great educational blog! If you want information on horses you can check out my blog http://allaroundhorses.wordpress.com.