Episode 7 – In this episode we explore the many reasons you should consider raising hybrid chickens in your backyard or urban chicken flock.
Update on The Colonel
The Colonel is our portly Light Sussex rooster. In a previous episode, Suzy expressed her concern that The Colonel was not fertilizing his flock.
When a rooster fertilizes a hen, she hangs onto and meters out his genetic material to her eggs for up to three or four weeks. Once we removed two other roosters that The Colonel grew up with, we had to wait four weeks to make sure their genetic material was no longer present in The Colonel’s hens. With that ‘drying out’ period finished, we inspected the eggs from his flock one afternoon, and The Colonel is indeed in command of his flock. We look forward to some very cute Light Sussex chicks in a few weeks!
Cluck Norris and the Chicken Saddle [04:19]
Our Rhode Island Red rooster likes to fight, so we named him Cluck Norris. His hen gal pal is Scarlett Crowhenson. We began noticing that Scarlett was getting a bald spot on her back from the over-amorous Cluck. We fitted her for a ‘chicken saddle’ to protect her back and it seems to be working well. It has stayed in place and her feathers are growing back!
Chicken Witness Protection Program [06:20]
In a previous episode, Suzy expressed how much she hates our Barred Rock rooster. He has gone after her a few times and left a few bruises. Before she could murder him in cold blood, I relocated him to a farm around the corner for his protection. The farmer who took him has purchased Rhode Island Reds from us in the past and he knows how to earn their respect.
Meanwhile, we have a Barred Rock trio that just finished growing their feathers and have been moved from the brooder to their new coop. The rooster is very friendly so far and doesn’t run away like the hens do, so Suzy has named him George (as in Curious-George).
Why You Should Consider Raising Hybrid Chickens [09:54]
In the last episode, we discussed why you should consider raising heritage chickens. Today we look at why you should consider the other option: hybrid chickens.
Before we start, by hybrid chickens we mean intentional hybrids created for a specific purpose, not a random mutt chicken.
We raise and maintain both heritage and hybrid birds in our flock. Most are dual-purpose heritage breeds, but we also have a few Dotte Rocks, a hybrid we bred between our Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster and one of our Barred Plymouth Rock hens.
So why should you consider hybrid chickens?
Hybrids are Specialists [13:40]
If you are looking for a chicken who is a phenomenal egg layer, there’s a hybrid for that. If you want a phenomenal meat bird, there’s a hybrid for that. More on meat birds later.
Because of hybrid vigor, the hybrid product of two good layer breed parents will have even better laying ability than either parent breed.
You cannot mate two identical hybrids together to create another identical hybrid. Instead, you will end up with a mutt chicken. Only that first generation cross is predictable in it’s outcome, and only that first generation cross benefits from hybrid vigor.
Sex-Linked Chicks [16:19]
Sex-linked hybrids can be accurately separated into males and females the same day they hatch. This is the most reliable way to make sure you only get female hens if you are not allowed to have rooster in your neighborhood.
Hybrids Tend to Be More Friendly [19:30]
In the last episode, we listed the relative skittishness of heritage as a positive, but it is certainly easier to raise friendly birds. Most heritage breeds will become friendly if they are handled often enough from a young age, but hybrid chickens seem to get to the friendly stage quicker than heritage birds do.
Quick & Tender Meat Birds [21:10]
If you think meat birds are in your future, you may want to consider the mainstay of the U.S. meat industry: the Cornish X. This hybrid between a Cornish rooster and a White Rock hen grows in half the time of heritage meat birds. This save a little bit of feed and a lot of time. One benefit to faster growth is that the meat is more tender and gives you great flexibility in cooking options.
One downside for some is that although Cornish X are more tender, they are also more bland than heritage chicken.
You can also look into other meat hybrids as well.
If you live in an urban environment or anywhere you are only permitted a few chickens, you should seriously consider hybrid chickens. The fact that you can select just the hens, added to their being super egg-layers and very friendly make them a great choice for those circumstances.
Also, if you want to raise chicken meat that grows fast and is tender, hybrid meat birds might be for you!