7 Steps of Successful Game Fowl Breeding (Part XI)

This is a continuation of our weekend series discussing the basic concepts and considerations in breeding game fowls.

It is originally published in the site gamecock care.

Step 6. Managing Brood Fowl

It is often said that if two cockers were given identical bloodlines, it would take just a few generations for the descendants of the original parent fowl to look and act completely different. Most of this phenomenon may be related to a different emphasis on specific traits when selecting brood fowl, and it is also related to differing environments (soil, water, climate, feed). However, another significant effect is due to management.

For example, one management technique is to supply artificial lighting to stimulate early egg production. Early eggs mean earlier chicks, which tends to produce larger adult fowl than those hatched in late spring. This simple management technique can have a significant impact on body size. Another example is the effect of the health of the brood fowl upon the health of the offspring. Since health is one of the most important traits we select for, we must manage the brood fowl to maximize health.

The following generic recommendations should be considered to optimize the productivity and performance of the brood fowl. Specific management techniques should be employed in certain situations (e.g., disease; predators; environmental conditions, etc.).

  1. Employ a regular de-worming and de-lousing program.
  2. Control the body weight of the brood fowl through diet and exercise. Fat brood cocks tend to produce a lower percentage hatch. Likewise, fat hens lay fewer eggs. Trim the feathers around the vent of each cock and hen to maximize the mating efficiency.
  3. Provide enough pen space to minimize stress from overcrowding. In my experience, the minimum floor space for a single mating brood pen (one cock and hen) is 4’ x 5’ or 20 square feet.
  4. Provide a round roost pole, approximately 2.5 inches in diameter. In flock mating system, adequate roost space is an important detail, as the dominant hens will force the submissive hens off the roost until it is nearly dark. This is stressful on all of the fowl.
  5. Provide clean, fresh and dry bedding material in the pen.
  6. Provide a nest that is big enough so the hen can turn around freely and is protected from the weather. Use clean straw, shavings, or other material in the nest. In a flock mating system, use one nest per 3 hens if the eggs are picked up daily.

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