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Why Crossbreed?

June 21, 2012

While we value the unique characteristics and looks of our rare breeds, we also value their contribution from a practical standpoint. While many are aware of the influence of Angus in beef cattle, or Holstein in dairy, it’s less likely small stock is seen the same way. After all it’s just a rabbit or chicken right? Who BREEDS purebred stock?

We do! And like others we take it seriously. There are pedigrees maintained on our rabbits. This means we have recorded their parents, grandparents and great grandparents. We believe that be it cattle, hogs, horses, rabbits or chickens we’re more likely to get what we select and breed towards. We want healthy, productive animals and, in the case of the rabbits, would like them to show reasonably well.

So why would we crossbreed? For a specific trait. For example, we might cross a Giant Chinchilla buck on a more common Californian doe, or a Silver Fox doe. This results in a larger, hopefully productive litter. The does are held back for production while the bucks will serve our meat customers. The does may be bred to the best buck that suits her, with a goal of getting top quality, healthy and fast growing meat animals. The color of these, because we sell direct, doesn’t matter, unlike commercial operations that want white fur.

Dominique chicks

What about the chickens? We have practical crosses there too – some that we’re working towards. For example, we could take a few barred rock hens and put them in with a Rhode Island Red. When the chicks hatch, the males will have the white dot on their head, characteristic of the barred gene. The females would be solid black. This would allow raising he females from day one for customers who want laying pullets. The boys could be pulled out and fed as meat birds. We could do the same with the Buckeye crossed on Dominiques, which would have a more flat comb rather than the prominent straight comb.

This same type of characteristic can be brought about crossing some other breeds – it’s called sex linked and the males are different from the females from day one. The Rhode Island Red roosters can be crossed on Rhode Island Whites to result in the pullets hatched red, the males white.

This gives these breeds a productive future. It provides food for people as they’ve done for over 100 years. They’re not “outdated” as some say, but are for a different type of production than large confinement operations.

Food choices mean farm choices. We’re at 168 votes in the quest to qualify for the Mission Small Business grant and it’d help with the development of both purebred and crossbred for function lines.

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