If you start with undesirable breeders, you end up with undesirable offspring. It’s just this simple; so be cautious when selecting breeder stock from your stock or from someone else’s.
The following suggestions help with selection of the best breeding stock:
- Buy only from reputable breeder dealers. Get the best breeder birds available; your future in the business depends on good breeder stock.
- Join associations, you will get to know other breeders throughout the region. Locating a source of birds in your own area is always best since the birds are acclimated and are exposed to your environmental conditions and problems.
- Visit the breeder’s farm, with permission, and look at the facilities, birds, records, and equally important size up the management. Usually a quick look around will tell a lot about an individual’s management. However, practice good disease security to prevent spreading disease
from or to your farm.
If you plan to buy birds or eggs —
- Check the breeders for conformation in size, shape, and color according to the species.
- Check for off color, size, body or leg deformities, and other abnormalities.
- Check records for past history of disease and mortality, if these records are available.
- When purchasing eggs, insist on uniformity in size and shape of the eggs. A large egg produces a large chick; small egg, a small chick. An extra large egg seldom hatches. A mixture of sizes results in unfair competition and can give the birds a poor and slow start.
- When purchasing chick quail for future breeding stock, check the points mentioned above and then look for alertness and vigor in the chick quail. Demand close culling; do not accept cull chicks with the idea you can bring them out.
If you plan to keep birds from your own stock (this is most advisable), select those that show best growth, stamina, and feathering. Save birds from your earlier hatches each season prior to peak production. These birds usually are stronger, healthier, lay more eggs, are more resistant to disease, and have fewer blowouts during egg production.
Always save more birds than needed for breeder selection. This allows for continual culling of undesirables as they appear and still gives the number of breeders desired. Having a few extra cocks and hens is advisable so you can quickly replace an infertile male or nonproductive hen.
The type breeder desired is determined by the market. Larger birds are desired for table meat, but may not make good flyers. Some hunting preserves, however, use these slow flyers for beginners and poor shots A smaller bird (around 6-7 ounces) is desirable for the hunting preserve catering to experienced hunters. This size bird is more active and moves faster. Larger birds do not lay as well as smaller birds of the same species.
For those who carry the same breeders over for 2, 3 or more years, close observation and culling should be carried out throughout each laying season. Using the same breeders for more than one laying season can lower egg production, fertility, and hatchability with weaker offspring, and less disease-resistant birds.
With small breeding operations it is often advisable to introduce unrelated breeder stock at least every third year to prevent inbreeding problems. You may exchange males with another breeder who has an unrelated strain, purchase new birds, or buy eggs and raise your own new blood line. When bringing in new stock, it is advisable to quarantine these birds for 3 weeks before placing with your stock. Then you can observe them and eliminate any appearing to have a disease. Purchasing day-old unrelated chicks or eggs from unrelated stock is highly recommended for introducing new blood into your breeder stock.
Some large producers do not drag out egg production. Shortly after peak production is reached, they cut off production. They report that after peak production hatchability tends to get poorer. As an individual producer you must determine whether cutting off production is a good practice to follow. Often, because of their individual attention to management, smaller producers surpass achievements of larger producers.
The last, but not the least important, suggestion is to have your breeders blood tested each season, prior to egg production, for pullorum typhoid disease. Waiting to test until the birds are laying affect egg production. A number of approved and qualified testing agents are located throughout the state.