How many breeds is enough?

How many breeds is too many?

Smart Farmer How To
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Over the years, Bruce Pattinson's experience with the really great breeders is they only have a maximum of three breeds or a few colour varieties within one breed.

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CHOOSE: Bruce Pattinson believes choosing one or two breeds is a more viable option than having a large number of different ones. Photo: Shutterstock.

CHOOSE: Bruce Pattinson believes choosing one or two breeds is a more viable option than having a large number of different ones. Photo: Shutterstock.

It's been raining a fair bit up here on the Hinterland since I've moved and it has given me time to read.

One book I've read is 'Hen Fever' by Burnham (1855) and much of what he says is replicated in our breeders these days.

He talks about the obsession with new breeds and more breeds and where this leads.

He said it's a 'disease' which afflicts breeders to the detriment of the birds.

Talking to a young breeder the other day, it struck a chord as this young man was looking at all the 'new' imported breeds.

He was investigating how he could obtain as many as possible, and in my opinion, at somewhat great expense.

Over the years, my experience with the really great breeders is they only have a maximum of three breeds or a few colour varieties within one breed.

Those people with more than a dozen breeds and 'second best' pens as such never seem to do well and the breeds suffer.

It is hard enough to breed show quality fowls and maintain a standard without having too many breeds.

We've all been guilty of looking at a particular trio at an auction and thinking they'd be great to take home, but it is eventually false economy.

Sometimes a few of the rare breed brigade have quite a few breeds, but this is to maintain breeds and diversity.

If you're breeding to win shows - it won't work.

Burnham points out the folly of chasing numbers of breeds or even 'investing' in breeds that you intend to sell on.

Like everything, poultry has its fashions and the older breeders have seen it all come and go.

But, it is the traditional breeds that keep on and have their own breed clubs.

If you do need to experiment and feel like a change, I'd recommend one breed from the rarer or new imports which you follow through for a couple of seasons.

This is the most sensible approach and the one the young enthusiast and I agreed upon.

Think about what you are doing and what you are trying to achieve.

This is the best approach for you and the birds.

If you have any questions, problems or comments regarding your poultry please let me know.

I'm always happy to answer any requests.

Best wishes for the autumn season as things begin to return to normal.

  • Bruce Pattinson is a past president of the NSW Exhibition Poultry Association. Email questions to smartfarmer@theland.com.au or post to: Chook Feed, PO Box 25, Kogarah, 2217, with your name and daytime contact number.
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