Try out the online Genetics Calculator to see what colours might occur amongst your chicken breeds.
Trying to find a breeding chart for poultry? Poultry clubs are a great and reliable source of information.
Clubs really know their breeds with a wealth of experienced breeders to ask. Up to date books are also available through the clubs on their breed interest/s which are available to club members (and often sell direct to the interested public, too). Clubs are here to help keep breeds to correct standards.
There are two types of poultry clubs:
Websites and Facebook pages that are very breed specific also offer great charts especially for colour and their throws.
Often on eBay, breeders handbooks become available, but they do come with an OUT OF DATE warning.
A handbook's definition of each breed will change over time and location. What is a good standard for one state may not be acceptable in another state or country. What was popular in 1960 will not be the same standard as of today.
There are two types of breeding charts:
Locating your nearest Poultry Club
PLEASE NOTE: I do NOT stock any charts
Searching for chart about cross breeding poultry is like searching for a needle in a haystack. The possibilities are endless and the results can be interesting. Throw backs to previous generations often peak through in a new generation.
When looking for cross breeding charts, you are more likely to only find COLOUR CHARTS instead.
Breeds are a whole other level because it is so much trickier to track unofficial breeds.
It is important to ask yourself – WHY DO YOU WANT TO CROSS BREED?
Keep in mind: If for the purpose of selling, be aware that many people do not search for cross-breeds, preferring known breeds instead.
What is a cross breed?
The term hybrid and utility are terms used for indicating that a poultry breed is cross bred.
Cross breeding involves breeding with two parents who are of different breeds to create a different breed. This is taking advantage of Heterosis (Hybrid Vigour) which can produce a superior offspring by the choice of specific genetic traits that both parents possess.
Strains are different to Cross Breeds. A breed can be slightly altered to increase a trait so long as the original heritage breeds are used; this is a strain. This will not result in a cross breed.
Breeding characteristics that get passed down include:
Problems with Cross Breeding
Breeding with poultry that are already crossbred brings up many problems. The most common trait found is the lack or inability to lay eggs, or a very reduced laying life. Do not be tempted to breed with ISA Browns, as an example. Instead, go back to the original heritage parent breeds to breed the new ISA Brown generation.
When cross breeding does not produce the desired results, this may mean that your parent breeding stock may be lacking the right genes. Some hard decisions have to be made if you are approaching breeding with serious intent.
Inbreeding issues are the most likely to come up and this may affect their egg laying ability, as well as other health and physical problems. Chick morality issues.
A good breeder will try with more than one set of parents to get their own unique breed started, so as to minimise inbreeding issue.
The characteristics and colourings are always going to be the lottery. You never know what you will get when you cross breed because there can often be throw-backs to previous generations that you may not have planned for.
Breeding stress is also a consideration – too few hens means hen stress and lack of laying – too many hens means rooster stress and lower fertility. A good breeding ratio for best genetic outcome is to have one rooster to eight hens. (1:8)
One Time Event of Cross Breeding
If you are planning a once off event of crossing a rooster with any of your hens, make sure they are in the best of health and have traits you would love to see carry on.
This may lead to a full on chicken addiction. You may be delighted.
Be prepared that genetics may not be perfect and this may throw in a few interesting situations in the hatch. This may result in physical traits of the chicks that you never expected to see or a need to cull due to defects.
Creating an Official New Breed
Do it properly and do with it with more than one breeding pair; give your rooster at least 8 hens to work with.
Cull and pick and choose the very best from the offspring. It may take a few generations before you have the right breed standard you are looking for. Be prepared to invest many YEARS to create a new breed.
It will take many generations and a fair bit of room in your yard to perfect your program. Please be aware that roosters are not permitted in many council districts, so please check with your local council before starting.
Cross breeds can become a whole new official breed with time. Getting the recognition amongst poultry peers is the struggle for any new lines.
Then you need to convince the public to buy your new breed.
Benefits of Cross Breed Poultry
It’s necessary to cross breed to produce new breeds. It’s all about perfecting the breed to reproduce consistently (naturally) with the traits desired.
Cross breeds can often have exceptional health and longevity if the parents were good stock. If their health is strong, their chicks will have a great start. If inbreeding is avoided and the parents are of exceptional health, this really can work out well.
There are trade-offs in every breed. You may have produced an outstandingly beautiful breed, but their egg laying may be poor. Or a great layer who moults easily.
A current breed can actually be strengthened with cross breeding when a trait starts to diminish. Going back to the initial breeds that helped create that strain will bring some traits back and keep the breed true (this needs to still be monitored within in the following generations).
Names for Cross Breeds?
If you visit many poultry forums you may find that there are other breeders who may have already tried cross breeding the same breeds that you are – and quite possibly have a name for that breed.
Breed names are quite often hybrids of the original names.
The “ORP” in Orpington and Australorp indicate their heritage connection.
Your strain of a cross breed might be slightly different to another breeder’s attempt, so creating your own breed name will be entirely up to your imagination.
You can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl. As an ex-Barossa gal now living in suburban Adelaide, South Australia, Janine Zschech is not only a serious chicken lady but a genuine advocate for self-sufficiency and education of children to the knowledge of gardening and animal rearing. Skills for life!