We use cookies to track usage and preferences. See Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
CA
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Christmas Presents
   You are currently viewing the Canada version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions >  Latest Articles > The art of breeding

The art of breeding
Practical Poultry

The art of breeding

Posted July 9, 2015   |   1318 views   |   Family & Home   |   Comments (0) Part 2: Andy Marshall continues his guide for would-be pure breed breeders, with a look at housing needs and stock assessment.

Having thought about the options available to you and decided that keeping your own chicken breeding flock is what you want to do, getting the housing right is a vital requirement.

Poultry houses for breeding chickens need plenty of ventilation, to be well lit and provide lots of floor space so that the birds get the opportunity to exhibit natural behaviour. Birds kept in conditions where they’re unable to exhibit natural behaviour will become stressed, which is far from ideal in
breeding stock.

Important choices
Nowadays, of course, there’s a huge range of hen houses available to buy, but other options including building your own or converting a garden shed. Internal space is important and, while the traditional recommendation for floor space is 0.28m? (three square feet) per bird for breeding stock, I prefer to give them a larger area for daytime activity. This helps reduce the risk of vices developing, which is always a good thing.
Some hens – and males for that matter – can take a personal dislike to one individual in the pen, and will bully them incessantly if space is limited. As a result, the bullied hen will be less capable of producing eggs containing good, viable germ cells.

If hatching times aren’t important to your breeding programme, then giving the birds a house and grass run is probably all they need in terms of housing.

However, if you want to hatch chicks earlier (late winter) then, for chicks  during January-March, the breeding birds should ideally be mated in October and November.

Chickens are known to be long-day breeders (breeding when the days are longer than nights). Sheep, for example, are the opposite and shortening day length provides the stimulation for them. So the houses for breeding chickens need to be very carefully considered if early chicks are required.

Access to grass
Preferably the birds will need access to a grass run when the weather is dry and sunny but, during the prolonged wet and windy days we have in the Northern Hemisphere, a good breeding house should allow to scratch around inside happily on deep, dry litter.

With this in mind, a useful feature to go for is a specific type of window known as a ‘floor light’. These are positioned low down on the side walls, and are designed to allow light and sunlight directly on to the floor during the winter.
Breeding house location is another important consideration, and there are a number of fundamentals you need to get right. The back of the house should always be faced into the prevailing weather, to avoid the wind and rain driving in through the windows and making the litter wet.

The side with windows should face the sunny side of the location, normally the South West in the UK. Every location is slightly different, though, so study you own situation carefully before making the final decision. Where the breeding house is a portable structure, it should be raised off the ground to improve floor ventilation. This is another key factor, as winter air humidity is often close to 100%, so anything to help keep the fl oor litter dry is important.

Current chicken keepers will know that litter always lasts longer in the summer than it does in the winter. This is because dry litter straight from the bag will absorb moisture from the air over time, more so in the winter when the relative air humidity is higher.

Of course, raising the house on blocks and floor purlins can increase the risk of rodent activity underneath, so allowing your cat or terrier regular access to that gap to fl ush out any interlopers is advisable. Alternatively, you can use weldmesh sections to close off the space and keep the vermin out that way.

Some house designs are set well above the ground to provide space for the birds themselves, and this can prove very useful if overall space is limited.

However, which houses of this type, my advice is to make sure that they retain easy access for you to get inside; there’s nothing worse than scrabbling about trying to catch a specific bird who knows exactly where to go to stay just out of reach!

Read the full article in issue 137 of Practical Poultry

For more great articles like this get the No.137 Welsummer issue of Practical Poultry below or subscribe and save.

Single Issue - Jan-Feb 2018 Replica Edition included
$3.99
Or 399 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.08 per issue
SAVE
23%
$39.99
Or 3999 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.68 per issue
$3.99
Or 399 points

View Issues

About Practical Poultry

Practical Poultry magazine is packed with helpful advice from incubation to housing, feeds to breeding and shows to marketing.

More great content like this...

For more great articles like this subscribe to Practical Poultry today.

Most read articles this month


How do digital magazines work?

How do digital magazines work?

Digital magazines can seem like an alien experience for devoted magazine fans. Where will you be without that new glossy magazine smell? The sound of the page turning? A quiet half hour to just devour the latest news and views on your favourite hobby? More...
7 Ways to Stick to Your Workout with Your Fitness

7 Ways to Stick to Your Workout with Your Fitness

Whether it’s a busy schedule, life commitments or simply a lack of motivation, it can be tough to stay on track with your exercise regime. Your Fitness magazine asked Jim and Fiona Crossley, the founders of F45 Kingston (f45kingston.co.uk), for their tips on how to keep up with your training and achieve your fitness goals. More...
 3 Vegan Nice Creams from Vegan Food & Living

3 Vegan Nice Creams from Vegan Food & Living

The shades are out, the sunscreen is on and all you need to complete your summer chill is the best ice cream! More...
Carping4Heroes weekend raises £10k

Carping4Heroes weekend raises £10k

More than £10,000 was raised for Help for Heroes during the Carping4Heroes weekend, held for the first time at Cudmore Fisheries, Staffordshire. More...
STAFF PICK: Look magazine

STAFF PICK: Look magazine

Kate Ashley reviews Look magazine More...
Nadiya Hussain's Tiramisu Cake

Nadiya Hussain's Tiramisu Cake

Nadiya tells Great British Food magazine: “The smell of strong coffee makes my stomach turn, but strangely enough I can just about bear the pain if I know it’s about to be mixed into cake, or tiramisu. Or – best of all – tiramisu cake!” More...
STAFF PICK: F1 Racing magazine

STAFF PICK: F1 Racing magazine

Steven Mikellides reviews F1 Racing More...
Christmas Gifts for Her

Christmas Gifts for Her

Stuck for gift ideas for the lovely lady in your life? The Pocketmags team have pooled all their best ideas for gifts for her this Christmas. Get ready to earn some serious brownie points! More...
Failsafe  fingering

Failsafe fingering

In answer to a reader’s question, Graham Fitch addresses the complex subject of how to find fingering that works for you More...
7 reasons we love digital magazines

7 reasons we love digital magazines

Devoted to digital or passionate about print? Whichever side of the fence you're on, at Pocketmags we think everyone should give digital magazines a go. Here's why we love 'em. More...
Vouchers Gift Cards A magazine subscription is the perfect gift but you'll need something to show on the big day. View All
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points