Aspects of a Specialty Breeder

What makes one a specialist may be up for discussion. The fact that someone keeps only one breed, strain, or line doesn’t necessarily make one a specialist. What makes a specialist is that someone takes a single breed, line, or strain, and takes special interest, study, practice, and breeding. The egg farmer that has only White Leghorns or Barred Rocks can or can’t be said to be a specialty breeder. Sure he may make a specialty of the line of work but isn’t necessarily by definition a specialist in breeding. Whether one is a specialist, a utility breeder, a broiler farmer, or similar there are certain advantages of handling only one breed or line of birds.

Specialization and niche markets are how many companies run. This means that a company can spend all its energy and resources going forward into one direction with one thing more efficiently than its competitors who may focus on several things. Developments made in poultry in the last 10 years have came along in very short order. Competition between commercial layers and broilers has lead to astounding progress in the production of eggs and meat. It is in this limited field that more progress can be made whether you are interested in show quality, production, or broilers.

The poultry keeper who keeps several varieties can all but hope to be at the same level as most of the others who keep those breeds. It seems the interest in the work is more along the lines of a collector than it is a specialist breeder; always looking for some new breed or strain to come into fashion. Either that or for the time being catch his or her attention until something new comes along. Generally one will find that as it works out by the time her stock has grown in there is some new fad already coming along to take its place.

There are many breeders who keep and raise a dozen or dozens of breeds and varieties. When something new comes along it is added and something older is dropped. This is more of a collection or hobby than it is of serious breeding. There is nothing wrong with that if it is what you want to do but it isn’t a specialist breeder. Perhaps it isn’t really a breeder but a gamble or chance to make a few dollars. More often than not is for recreation and the average hobbyist may fall into this in the chance to keep several breeds and fulfill curiosity about the strains and breeds. Selling and buying breeds will never afford that type of knowledge in breeding those strains or varieties that keeping one will. It will hinder the breeding efforts of keeping and maintaining the proper birds for breeding programs that will give her the edge at shows.

Whether or not a poultry keepers land is large or small it is of the highest benefit to give the most room to the breed than can be afforded. It requires much less work to run a large mixed flock in one run than it does to manage 4 or 5 flocks of 25 in separate runs and coops. It is easier to fill a large run with birds and breed at random.

To properly breed for selection one needs to keep separate coops so that different qualities of birds can be housed and managed properly. In order to sell hatching eggs and chicks for profit there should be two or three different pens for different grades and matings. There should also be a way to separate the pullets from the cockerels. Raising the chicks in a separate pen should also be a norm to provide them with the different food and care that the adults need. If keeping a multitude of varieties, or even a small handful it can be seen rather easily that the needs to do so properly and to progress with the breed satisfactorily will require a number of coops and runs and a lot of work to give them the proper attention. Breeding a number of bird varieties does give a customer a number of breeds to choose from. There is no arguing that. However this also means that they are not getting the best that can be obtained. While the customer knows they are getting a choice of birds they know that they are not getting the absolute best they can.

Keeping and breeding only one variety and stick to that variety and the people will know who to go to get the best quality bird of that breed. Keep up your stock. Manage it well and improve it. There will be more people wanting to get your stock because they know that you are dedicated to improving your birds rather than collecting the work of others and selling it. It doesn’t make much difference what breeds you choose as long as you pick one that you are comfortable with and want to work with. It is probably best to avoid experiments and fads that are sure to come and go.

Egg producing flocks can be managed in the same way as any of the exhibition strains or broiler birds. While there are a few customers that like to have a couple blue or green eggs in the carton most people like to have eggs that are all one color, and roughly all the same size and texture.

Keeping all one breed simplifies things as they all will have the same habits and requirements. Their characteristics willall be the same and there is some attractiveness in keeping a uniform colored flock. Keeping coops and runs will likely be easier to as you won’t have to worry about a few flighty birds or a noisy one here or there. A tall fence isn’t necessary for heavy birds like light Sussex, but to keep one or two leghorns a tall fence is a necessity.
Keeping to one breed, strain, or variety is all around more economical and easier to do than keeping a mixed flock. Keeping a mixed flock of birds has its advantages, but becoming proficient at one breed isn’t one of them. Keep one variety and you will surely gain the most headway in improving that breed than a competitor that keeps a large number of breeds. The old adage, jack of all trades, master of none applies here just as well as it does elsewhere.

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