Thursday, April 28, 2011

Java Breeding 101 part 2

Well, You made it, it is here, the 2nd class of our Java Breeding 101- the basics! This class is all about BREEDING to Standard Of Perfection. It will cover breeding pens, breeding method  and how to exactly start breeding your birds to see the results you want in your bird conformation. And our wonderful teacher, Mr. Robert Blosl has some great tips! So lets get to it, let's learn about breeding our Javas.

Tacey Perkins - Vice President of Java Breeders of America

Getting Started With Black Javas
by Robert Blosl


Setting up breeding pens is the first step towards breeding for success. There are a number of styles you can use for your breeding pens. They can be a simple wire mesh cage, or complex like a chicken tractor. It all comes down to what you would like. The style is up to you, but there are a couple of things that it must have. 

1. It must be large enough to allow the rooster to have no interference while doing his thing.  Javas are large and need their space, height and width.  

2.Feed and water and nesting box.  

3. It has to accommodate enough birds. So, to figure out how many birds will be in each pen, lets say you start with 6 hens. And you will have to make 3 pens, you will have 2 hens per breeding pen. Remember, you don't need them to be fancy. They just need to be able to keep the hens apart and separated till you get enough eggs from each mating. Here's some ideas I liked!

Breeding pen #1


Breeding pen #2

Breeding pen #3

A simple Breeding Method-
Here is a simple method I started over twenty years ago with Rhode Island Reds and White Plymouth Rocks that can be used on any breed of large fowl and today we are going to focus on getting started with Black Javas. A great old breed that was used by early poultry farmers and used to make many of our American Breeds we have today. You don’t have to have a lot of breeding pens, 2-4 will do fine. This method is so simple to use, it would be easy to adapt it to use with a breeding partner. (more on that later) Let's start by setting up your pens, You have a pen of two to four females in which we will call pen 1 it is painted red. All eggs from pen #1 have a number written on it and the date. You can use pencil to write on the egg. Then you have breeding pen #2 it’s painted white. All eggs from this pen are written #2 and the date. This is exactly the same thing for pens 3 and 4.  All eggs are hatched in separate incubators or you can have a wire egg separators called a pedigree wire baskets, with one of the sets of eggs in each of the separated sections in your incubator. You can easily make some that fit your incubator from hardware cloth or chicken wire. Or you can use plastic baskets. Here's an example of one, and an example of a chick toe punch.
3. It has to accommodate enough birds.
So, to figure out how many birds will be in each pen, lets say you start with 6 hens. And you will have  to make 3 pens, you will have 2 hens per breeding pen. Remember, you don't need them to be fancy. They just need to be able to keep the hens apart and separated till you get enough eggs from each mating. Here's some ideas I liked!

chick pedigree basket

Toe Punch

Once you remove the chicks from the incubator you will need a way to tell them apart. I suggest to punch a hole in their toe to ID them to the breeding pen they came from. You will need to make up your own toe punch code.  For example, see the toe punch chart we have on our website.  You raise your chicks up, let’s say, thirty chicks per breeding pen. Then, you keep the best females for shape and color and vigor. Always check your birds against a copy of the APA Standard of Perfection. You want to  have your birds conformation perfected first and foremost. Then, you keep the best of these females to see who starts laying first. For example, If you have say eight pullets per pen and you get two or three that start laying two to three weeks before the rest. You keep them and breed from them. You may have two or three or four you like. Put them back into the same colored breeding coop that the original egg came out of. Example- if the egg came out of the #1 red pen, then that is the pen the chick goes back to. Now, you can order large fowl leg bands from a poultry supply house and you need red, white, blue and green. Slip these leg bands on your best birds as soon as their legs get big enough to keep them on without falling off. Now that you have a second generation that is grown and selected for your breeding program, you can now revisit your original hens. Since most of the Java stock today looks nothing like it did back in it's hay day, the majority of you will want to replace your original hens with these newer better conformation pullets. But, that is not always 100% set in stone. If you have a fantastic female in every way, don't ever just get rid of her because you have used her for a year. Keep her till she breeds something better, or she stops reproducing. So, now you have all the appropriate pullets in their appropriate pens, You are ready to go for the following year of breeding.

 Now for the males. Last month I told you that I use a separate grow up pen for the cockerels and pullets. You have four males in this separate pen that are mature and each have a leg band on them for the breeding pen they came out of.  Look over all the cockerels that came out of pen #1 with the red leg bands. Pick the best cockerel and put him in pen #2. Remember you are looking for largest growing, vigor and basically the best in the bunch. Next, pick the best cockerel from pen #2 and put him in pen #3. And  you pick the best cockerel from pen #3 and he goes in pen #4. And finally your favorite pick from pen #4 goes into the #1 breeding pen. Each year they rotate just like this.

 If you have an extra back up rooster he can be kept in your conditioning coop to use later as a spare and to share half the mating season with the other male. Just make sure to give the females a rest of about ten days after you pull out the first male to make sure his semen is free. Remember they are mating a clutch of eggs and once the clutch of eggs are mated the other males semen cannot cross in to mess things up. It’s not a big deal in this method you are not going to hurt yourself as this is a family mating. Do you know hatcheries will flock mate with twenty females and two to three males in a pen. So don’t get head strong over this issue.

Now you repeat this over again, every year, as I stated in the beginning of the article. Put the pen number on the egg, hatch those in separate incubators or in pedigree wire baskets. Toe punch your chicks and ID them as soon as they hatch and watch the chicks in the brooder box for the first two to three weeks and ID these chicks for fast feathering and early development. Watch your roosters for when they start to crow. Jot down on a 5x7 card their band number and the day they start to crow. Cull out all slow growing and maturing birds as you want vigor as your number one trait, then breed type or shape then egg production then color. \

Summary: This is a very easy system for the beginner. I use it with my bantams and I only have pair or trio matings hatch about 20 chicks per female and only keep the best chicks that are better than their parents. This way you are breeding them up each season and improving them as if you where scoring them under the old point scoring system used in the 1920. You need to get an APA standard of perfection book and read the good points and bad points for your breed. You need to take the pictures of the standard and make copies of them and put them in a frame and put them in your chicken house so you can look at the pictures in contrast to your birds. One day your mind’s eye will quickly be able to spot a bird with a trait or a type you are looking for. This is the way to become a master breeder of your favorite breed. You go slowly at first don’t hatch too many chicks that you can’t afford to raise. You must cull hard as you are only keeping two to four females per mating and you are only keeping two males per mating. Go small stay with pairs or trios if you want. Large fowl cost a lot of money to raise and maintain per year. Stay down the middle of the road. Don’t get caught up in fads like leg color or points on a comb. Don’t get caught up in color as your first three to five years you are breeding genes for breed type and high egg production. Also, in doing this you will see improved feather quality and your birds will have tight webbing in their back feathers. The skirts on some of the breeds will not drop down to the floor but will be carried high as the picture in the standard of perfection shows you. You can share your surplus birds with others and maybe if you can trust them you can get birds from them later to cross into your closed flock again if need be. But don’t count on it as most people you share your birds with will sin and out cross other strains onto your strain thinking they will hit the jackpot and get a good bird to win with. This is Russian Roullete breeding and it won’t work and before you know it these folks are out of the breed or out of chickens in no time. You alone or a good partner can take a flock of say Black Java large fowl and in three to five years have these birds improved using this method. If you wish to learn how to even speed up this method of super typed Java’s you can use a method called the Hogan Method of breeding which a book was written in the 1920s on the subject. It works as the Buck Eye movement ten years ago was based on this and they took near hatchery typed birds and turned them into wonderful fowl true to the Heritage Breed. And they did it without crossing and trying to reinvent the breed.

I hope you will take this old method of Rotational Line Breeding which I have used for over twenty years. I learned it from a commercial Turkey farmer in Wisconsin. They use it in their farming methods and they can go on forever without crossing new germ plasma into their strain. May the gods in poultry heaven watch over you and keep you from straying away from the successes that they passed onto us in this wonderful hobby~ Heritage Poultry Farming.

Just don't get caught up in one phase like eggs or meat. These chickens you want are dual purpose chickens just like a Short Horn Cow. You have to breed them for meat, eggs and looks. Nobody wants to get a breed that you say you have worked on for ten years and they look like mutts. They want something that looks like the breed did thirty to fifty years ago.

-Robert Blosl

This method of breeding can be done quite easily with another person. Just split everything in half. Share your stock with them and he shares his with you. You can have 2 breeding pens and he can have 2. He will do everything that you do the same way. Breed, collect eggs, incubate, hatch, cull and raise the exact same way. And in a couple years time, you both will have some great looking birds and each of you will have the ability to share birds with each other if you need to breed in new blood. Support the old breeds that made our hobby popular and always breed them to a standard of perfection to preserve their original traits so others may have them in the future.

Yellow House Farm wrote:
Thank you, Bob!  This is exactly what I intended by working four pens.  A couple of questions:

1.  Do you remember the title of the book that contained the Hogan Method?

2.  Do you propose replacing all the females every year with new pullets?

3.  What do you think is the minimum stock required to begin this plan?  If one's plan is to maintain 4 pens, how does one build up to four pens if one does begin with four separate breeding groups?

Thank you for all of your input.
 I read the book a couple of times (The Call of the Hen by Walter Hogan ) for what I wanted out of it. It was written to help teach the new farmers in the Heritage days how to breed up white leghorns to lay 300 eggs per year. They did not do that out of a hundred females but it sold books.


BOB -Do you replace the females? Not if you got a killer strain. But you take the breeds that many of you want, they are mutts today. They have to be breed up! They have lost all their genetic base from when they once where a good breed of chicken. I don't think the average person understands the state of Poultry that you all wish to own. Its in the toilet. No good breeds left anymore and no buddy will stick with them long enough to learn how to breed them. So we can share with others who want them. You cant count on the hatcheries to do it. They want to make eggs and hatch chicks. They don't breed by a standard, they know the average person who buys their chicks are going to get ride of them or they will die from varmints or poor treatment. But all of us have to start some where.

I have a breeding pen of a white rock pullet which is the best type female I have seen in years. I have her and her mother in a breeding pen. That's two females. I have her mated to a young cockeral. When it warms up I am putting in the cockerals father, a cock bird, and he has type that wont quite. So I plan to hatch about 25 to 30 chicks from this pair. I have two other females that are o.k but nothing like these two queens.  I will then put together a family of two from this matting. I will only have two trios per year and breed them and raise about 50 chicks cull very hard and only keep the females and males that have the type that I am looking for. My goal more pullets like the little girl I hatched and raised this year. I hope in two to three years all my females will have the low top line and lift like she has.

I have kept my best hens for up to 7 years. If they are a franchise type female why get rid of them. I am talking about a 95 point female  and if you mate her in three years to her grandson or great grandson you may hit the jackpot. In large white rocks I had a hen 7 years old we mated her to her son who was three years old. We got two killer cockerals and three pullets from this mating. She died from the extreme heat this past summer. But her germ plasma lives on.

When I wrote this article its like getting started with so so chickens like black Javas or buff rocks that score about 92 points. You must breed them up to get better birds remember most of these mutts can't hardly lay many eggs. They are loose feathered and just not good chickens.

Now if you get some Light Brahmas from Charlie Voda from Minn. You might breed them differently. There are other methods to line breeding. If I get a killer pullet like I got this year and I get a
cockeral that is a knock out I will mate this cockeral back to this pullet next year. Then I will hatch another cockeral from that matting and cross that cockeral back to his mother again. This is inbreeding but I don't worry about lack of egg production or hatchability a I breed first for vigor. I do this for say three to four years then I find me another killer bird from a different family and do it all over again. Always breeding them up.

Some cull and weigh their birds at age 16 weeks and measure the girth, the skull etc.
Once you start raising your birds and learning how they look as young chicks you will be surprised how you will be able to see the super stars.  I had a friend who raised dark Cornish and he could spot the leader of a pack of say 11 chicks. He would keep this chick and sell the other ten for $100 as started chicks he told me once a chick gets out in front most of the time the others can never catch up and this will be the super chick of the year. You will learn how to check for fast feathering and early development as time goes on. I have come to the conclusion every time I start a new breed it takes me about three years to get it down pat. I am now on my third year with white leghorns. I can spot them right away and I can spot the birds with that old fashion Schilling leghorn top line I have done the same with the call ducks. I have not been able to learn when they hatch by looking at their skulls but at about two months of age I can spot the ones I want with the bull necks. I am always trying each year to build the neck another quarter of a inch to where I can get the necks on the drakes to be about 4 inches. It is a slow process but it can be done. It took me three years of inbreeding my red bantams to get the females to have the top line like my old large fowl use to have. Remember it took me 20 years to shrink down a large fowl Rhode Island Red to a bantam. It took me three years to get my male line to turn into a female line. I just breed my best male back to his daughters for three years. I have a chart on this method and will post it if I have it in this lap top. It is the easiest way to fix a trait you are trying to improve. Again the secret is vigor. If you are skirmish about inbreeding and worried you are going to get poor this and poor that don’t do it. Go with something simpler. But if you have a outcross like I do you have vigor as you crossed bantam blood onto large fowl blood and when you have such a drastic cross you can do things that other breeds can’t do. Hope this helps the person who sent me a personal message. Now hatch what you have raised and then raise them up and worry about what you will keep this fall. You will learn a lot in this time period if you read these breeding techniques, as we are really getting down to brass tacks on what it takes to be a good Heritage Breeder.

My point to you Home Steaders who want to take a grand old breed is to use thier methods. If you want a dual purpose breed such as a Java or a Dominique or barred plymouth rock breed is to do what your suppose to be doing and not what you want it to be. Your role is no different than a judge who says I like a big big Rhode Island Red. He likes big Rhode Island Reds and will place these big mutts first and the birds that are standard weight or a pound over that lay 190 eggs per year loose under his eye. If you judge you judge by the law or the words of the standard of perfection.  If you are a Heritage Breeder you breed by the Standard and die by the Standard if you dont you will never be able to obtain the breed that you are trying to improve. I hope I make this clear if you dont many will not want your birds as they are not what they want and if they ask me where they can get a start I have to send them to the folks that I feel are breeding them the way they should be. We have a long way to go to get these old breeds half way to what they once where but we have to start where we are with what we have.
Buff Brahma Bantam

White Leghorn Bantams

White Rock Bantams
Intense Inbreeding Chart
This is the chart and method I used to inbreed or line breed my Rhode Island Red Bantam females to get the top line I wanted.
This year I am going to breed the best two typed females with the sire of the male I have pictured above. He is five years old and I hope to inbreed him to the best female for two or three years if he lives that long.

Here are some of the breeders I have pictures of for this years breeding pens that I will put together using my method of line breeding. All of them will be used in just two families per breed.

RareBreedFancier wrote:
Thank you Bob!

That breeding pen info is brilliant! So simple too. I have read about similar systems but none I liked as much as that. The small numbers of females I think is good. Many things I've read talk about around a dozen females in a pen and it would really make sense to cull down to just the best. I had hoped to keep breeder numbers down to 20 - 30 birds and that would be easily achievable with that system even counting the bachelor pen of spare roos.

Smaller numbers also makes planning my pens so much easier. I want pens I can move around the paddock so smaller pens are much easier to deal with.

Now back to the problem of finding starter birds... Don't suppose you have a way to breed up from a pair or trio? I may have to wait for spring to buy hatching eggs.

Bob-Yes there is a way and I just got done reading Walter Hogans book on line and he talked about I K Feltch a old timer like him who started a method of line breeding with a pair or a trio.
In a way that is what I will do with the trio of White Rock Bantams I have. I have the mother and the super daughter. You will have say the mother in pen one and the daughter in pen two.
Then you have a male the ckl and the cock bird.

The next year you mate the best male to the hen and the best pullet to her sire.
Then in year three you have to use his chart. It is somewhat confusing and gives me vertigo when I read it.

I am lucky I am not starting with so so birds. All my white rocks score very high and I just got to try to keep getting them to that level I was reading Hogans book and I think one of the key words is pre-potency can the parents pass on the good traits to the offspring. I have done it with the Rhode Island Red bantams. I have in breed them to the point that this year in three shows the females of this line beat the males. Three years ago these females had top lines like the current red bantams have today like a Plymouth rock or a new Hampshire bantam. I have got the pre-potency of the females to have flat top lines. My job is to fix these traits and try to keep them going down the middle of the road with not wondering to high or to low.

I enjoyed reading Hogans book again its been about 15 years since I read it. The computer is a wonderful thing and so many of the books I read at Vet Library's or on library loan are now on the computer to read.

 You all are becoming such good students of the craft of breeding poultry. -Bob

You can find all the supplies you need from today's article at Randall Burkey. Including chick toe punches and leg bands size #11 for Adult Javas. Also, SAVE A SPECIAL 10% JUST FOR OUR CLUB MEMBERS! Click on here and check out their website. Be sure to use the special code JAVA at check out!

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