Monday, March 16, 2009

Which Hybrid Chichen to Choose?

So have you ever wondered which hybrid chicken to choose, or even if you should use them? Or maybe you are wondering if you would want to try a hybrid chicken...

I will start off by giving you some of the hybrid egg layers commonly found:
(Male X Female)
Black Star/Black Sex Link
Rhode Island Red (RIR) X Barred Plymouth Rock or New Hampshire X Barred Rock

Red Star/Red Sex Link
RIR X White Leghorn

Cherry Eggers
RIR X New Hampshire Red

Cinnamon Queen
New Hampshire X Silver Laced Whyandotte

Golden Comet
New Hampshire X White Rock

Red Sex Link
RIR X Rhode Island White or Production Red X Delaware

Ambers
RIR X White Rock

Hybrids used for meat use:
Cornish Cross
White Rock X Cornish

Silver Barred Hybrid
Barred Rock X White Rock

So which ones are best?
Much of it is really up to you and what you want. As you probably noticed most of the high production egg layer hybrids are bred to be sex link (the sex of the chick can be determined at birth based on the color). This gives you 100% accuracy sexing without having to do that very invasive sexing done at hatcheries. I have looked up how to do it, but I think I will leave it to the pros, plus there are many physical characteristics that quickly appear, allowing for determination of sex.

I personally like to buy for the most part my purebred chickens and breed all my hybrid chickens, that keeps my breeding stock fresh. For my own breeding of purebreds I will also mix different strains of the breed to make them healthier and more productive.

So when you look at the hybrid layers, you will probably notice there are two main groups, red sex link and black sex link, the red sex link is easier to clean if you butcher you own birds once they are finished with their laying career, but the black sex links tend to have a longer laying career. I personally have bred more black sex links because I like them better.

Black Sex Link
The roosters will look like a barred rock, with a slight tint of red when full grown and black with a white dot on their heads when babies. The females will look all black as chicks and black with a red/brown breast when full grown. These guys tend to lay larger eggs for an extended period of time.

Red Sex Link
The males look white as chicks and when full grown look white with some odd colored feathers mixed in. The females hatch out buff/red and their adult feathers either look buff or red or some color in between, it really depends on the cross you used because as you can see there are quite a few to choose from, since all you have to do is cross a reddish and a white chicken.

Why does the crossing work?
Many chickens are inbred. If you are familiar with inbred animals, you will notice that they are weak and less productive. This same concept is true for chickens, when you cross the breeds, it introduces new genetics and if they line up just right (called nicking in the horse world), you will end up with an exceptional animal. The crosses listed above are some common crosses that hatcheries sell, they seem to line up the genetics just right to make a good producing chicken, but I am sure there are other crosses that turn out good too. You however should not use the offspring of the hybrid chickens for breeding, the reason being you will end up with bad traits showing up, the first generation is always the healthiest. It is entirely different story when you are developing a new breed though.

Which ones can I breed on my own, and which ones should I buy from the hatchery?
Most of the egg laying breeds are easy for the common poultry owner to breed, in fact since many of us pay attention to the production of our poultry you may end up with an even better chicken than you could buy at the hatchery. With any one of those I would say GO FOR IT! It is fun and rewarding to grow your own chickens, especially when they are good producers.
The Cornish Crosses on the other hand I would not recomend breeding, the reason being they really have the genetics stacked on the birds they breed. If the average poultry owner was to try to breed these, it would be highly unlikely they would be the fast growers you could buy at the hatchery. But to look on the positive side, Cornish Cross birds tend to be the cheapest birds in the whole hatchery because of the large quantities they are bought and sold in. Often times these hatcheries do not breed these birds on there own, but instead buy the eggs from some other company and then distribute them to us.

Note--When you breed a male and female sex link to each other, their offspring will not be sex linked, it just has to do with the genetics. Because apparently a female chicken tends to take their characteristics from the rooster, and vise versa. This does not always work, but does in the case of the sex links, I do not have a scientific answer to this one, but if I find one, I will post it.

Here are some interesting hybrids that I found someone selling on the internet once, they are a play on some more rare breeds, making them lay better:
Nova Ranger
Based off the RIR, they did not specify what it is crossed with, but it is red colored, so not quite as dark, sounds something like the production red.

Cuckoo Nova
Based on the Cuckoo Maran (prised for their really dark eggs), color is blue/grey and has a cream striped/speckled plumage, once again they do not give away what they crossed them with.

Amber Nova
Like the Nova Ranger, but instead is based on the Rhode Island White. Weighs slightly more than the RIR.

Blue Nova
No breed origins disclosed, all they say is it is one of the most popular and has a blue plumage.

Black Nova
RIR X Barred Rock, Basically a Black Sex Link.

Nova Noir
BAsed off the Resh Copper Black Maran (must be a relative of the Cuckoo Maran but solid black rather than barred).

Sussex Nova
Cross with the Light Sussex.

White Nova
Based off the utility Leghorn.

Silver Nova
Like the Sussex Nova, but instead based off the Silver Sussex.

Columbine
Based off the Cream Crested Legbar (blue egg laying chicken, an established breed that I believe is a spin off of the Aracauna, like the Amaraucana is but they are sex linked naturally, always)

Leave a comment talking about what you have done for hybrids, or with your questions. Everyone's feedback is appreciated!

Added 2/7/10
To learn more about egg color genetics read this article I wrote today.

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

so I have a question what happens if you breed black or red sex link hens witha a male New Hampshire red or male Barred Rock ?

allaroundhorses said...

You will probably get nice chickens, but you will not get "true" sex linking. So you will not be able to tell at birth and the feathers will probably be a mix of colors. The reason is, they are no longer pure for the color they are carying.

Where you thinking of breeding some? If you do, you should tell us what you get!

Thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

if you breed a sex link with a purebreed then you will have a better chance of retaining the favorable egg laying characteristics

allaroundhorses said...

If you breed a sex link with a purebred, granted they are not from the same breeding stock, you should get a chicken of about the same quality. They will NOT be sex linked though, the colors will be pretty random. Obviously they will not be the same quality of the sex link, but that cross would be better than a sex link X sex link.

Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

I have a question. What kind of hybrid chicken do you get if you cross a french black copper maran and a white leghorn, or a french black copper maran and a auracana?

allaroundhorses said...

The Black Maran and the White Leghorn cross may be similar to the silver hybrid. I do not know as much about this type of hybrid so I am not sure if you will have a "sex link" by color or not.

Breeding the Maran to the Araucana would not make any "documented" hybrid, but you could make your own name for them like the one breeding farm that bred the Amber Novas ect, or just call them a cross. Due to the variations in color of the Araucanas you will not end up with a "sex link" by color of fuzz at birth.

They will probably make great hybrids, and the brown color is dominant, so when breeding the Maran to the Leghorn, the offspring will also lay brown eggs. Also due to this, instead of having a blue egg from the offspring of the Maran/Araucana cross, you will get a green egg. The reason is the shell of the egg is blue, and the brown color is coated on the outside, since both the blue and the brown coloring is dominant. This creates the common green color seen by hatchery bred Ameraucanas more properly called Easter Egg Chickens.

Good luck! I would love to hear how your chicks turn out.

Anonymous said...

ok, very interesting...They are starting to hatch now. The first chick hatched from a white leghorn egg, the daddy is a french black copper maran with the feathering on the shanks. The chick however resemembles a white leghorn (is light colored), and has no feathering on shanks. It seems to be a good size chick that is comparable in size to my french black copper maran chicks.

allaroundhorses said...

Hmmm...interesting! I wonder if it will be a male because it took the mother's charecteristics of no feathering and the white color? But I just did a quick check on feathersite because I knew he had a pic of "Silver Barred Hybrids" on there. There is no picture of the female but the males are barred. The cross for that was a barred rock male and white rock female. You can see the picture at http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGP/Sex-link/BRKSexLink.html and scroll down a little bit. They also have a few comments regarding then too.

Anonymous said...

5 more chicks hatched now, they all look like carbon copies of their daddy, lol (french black copper marans). They have the feathering on their leggs too.

allaroundhorses said...

Super exciting! I hope you get some nice egg laying hens and they keep that really dark egg laying.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can give me an answer, I had 7 white leghorn barred rock cross the cockrels looked like mamma/ white leghorns and the hens looked like dad/barred rock, but white. Out of the seven we had 5 cockerels we did give away the cockrels and kept our 2 hens, they seemed to grow extremely fast compared to the ones we bought would that be because it is cold out? The other we bought in the spring. We kept them in the garage with mom for a month or so, I can't remember if it was sept or oct when they hatched, mom was missing thought she was killed a drug off then shows up with babies we found her nest eventually and found unhatched frozen babies, why would she abandon them? This was a second batch. And do you know or have an idea of the color of egg to expect? Any info would be great. Tk you very much.

All Around Horses said...

It sounds something like the silver barred hybrid, which is a white and barred rock cross. They are said to grow fast, at feathersite.com if you find the "sex link" chicken page, he had some photos on there of male silver barred hybrids that you can view.

For the second part I am a little confused. Sometimes a mother will abandon her chicks if something scares her off, we had this happen with our peahen. Also if those eggs were added later and they still were not going to hatch for a couple days, she could have left them to take care of her other babies.

Oh, and according to genetics, they should lay brown eggs!

Anonymous said...

hi i,m interested in the cross beeding i have just hatched an egg from a cross of welsummer cockerl and an ancona hen,the chick at about 11 days old is black bodied with a white breast and white wing tips do you think it will stay this colour.

Anonymous said...

I found previous comments very interesting. I have red sex link cross, RIR x White Rhode Island bought from a hatchery. My rooster is white with brown feather highlights. If I hatched out some of the eggs could I assume that their genetics would be sufficiently far apart to not compromise vitality? I realize the chicks would not be of sex link coloration, however, could I expect them to be of similar size, color and productivity as the hens they came from? Thanks for your insight.

Anonymous said...

I have bread many different breeds of chickens over the last 50 years. Presently I have White Leghorns, standard and miniature, commonly called bantam (this wasn't done of any chickens that had a standard size 40 years ago.)Also have Campine miniatures, Rhode Island Red miniatures as well as the standard size. Also have the true Rhode Island Reds (very dark, like the miniatures.)
Just wanted to say, I also like the Black Sex Links, and have raised from them with no apparent side effects. But a couple yeas ago I received eggs from a friend that were "supposed" to be Barred Rocks. When they hatched some were solid black (no white dot) so I assumed I had Sex Links. Then as they feathered there were little tuffs on the side of their heads. These grew up and they looked exactly like Sex Links except the tuffs. So I asked her and found she had a Araucana rooster get into her Barred Rock pen. I liked them but the young they raised looked like the Araucana, so I sold them! :)

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't anyone in the US breed Gingernut Rangers? It's a RIR X Light Sussex hybrid that's very popular in the UK. Omlet.com lists them as one of the best of the hybrids. Cold hardy, medium sized, great layers, not broody, good dispositions. I WILL find a couple and hope that they live up to what I've read in multiple places about them.

Amber said...

I honestly do not know the answer to that. It is a variety I am not familiar with, however it does sound like it could be very productive. I would love to hear about it if you do get some, sounds really interesting.

It seems like much of the "push" from the hatcheries here are the "sex-link" varieties, so that may be one of the reasons.

Anonymous said...

Very new to chicken keeping.I have a trio of silver qual bantams at present. but would like to have a go at breeding the following. What mix of breeds would be sex linked and produce blue eggs please?

Anonymous said...

So, I have a Black sex link rooster, since he is a hybrid should I hatch eggs that he has fertilized to my purebreds? I have RIR, cuckoo maran, barred rock, red production, buff orpingtons, and black aust. We got the incubator set up and were going to put about 14 eggs in, this is our first time hatching our own eggs. My daughter is 6 and is very excited about the not buying chicks this year and being able to watch our own hatch. But since the rooster is a hybrid already, would that be ok?

Amber said...

It will be just fine, just keep in mind they will be a "mutt" of sorts, but sometimes they are the best and most affectionate chickens :). They also will not be sex-linked by color, so do not expect that.

I would go for it if I was you, unless you are using them for show birds or something like that. But they should be nice healthy chicks.

I wish you luck on your hatching!

Anonymous said...

Okay what about breeding RIR roo over white cochin hen?

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm thinking of crossing Maran with Leghorn, to try and get chicks that lay a good quantity of brown eggs. Woudl it be best to get a Leghorn Cock with a Maran Hen, or the other way around?

Thanks

Amber said...

I believe to get the result you want, you should use a Maran rooster and leghorn hen. As a general rule of thumb (that allows for sex links), the characteristics in the pullet will come from the cockerel (father) and the cockerels characteristics will come from the hen (mother).

In theory, this should help pass down the egg color to the pullets. Honestly I am not sure if this general rule of thumb works exactly the same for egg color and it does feather color, but if I was doing the cross, it is what I would do. Feel free to share with me photos and how it worked out. I might even feature your story on this blog if you would like.

Thanks for reading my blog!!

Oh and to the commenter before, a RIR rooster to the white cochin hen should give you the result of a red sex link in color and will have thinner feathering on the legs and about halfway between the RIR and cochin in size.

Anonymous said...

I have a brahma rooster and a couple of cornish cross and a few Black Australorps and two plymouth rocks. I have two hens sitting on about 16 eggs what type of chicks should I get

Anonymous said...

well the eggs are hatching. If anyone one is reading I will post atleast what the chicks look like.

Amber said...

Awesome, very exciting!

Amber

Anonymous said...

well we have 10 chicks not bad for the hens first time. 1 looks like a dark brahma, 2 look like plymouth rocks and all the rest are little yellow chicks. the strange thing is all but 1 chick has featherd legs like to rooster. Cant wait to see what they look like and how they lay when a bit older. Oh and for anyone wondering my cornish cross where never feed grower feed and are all normal sized and great layers about 5 eggs a week per chicken and very friendly

Anonymous said...

What kind of chickens would i get if i crossed a rhode island red roster with a red sex link hen? Any comments would be appreciated. Respectfully, LLOYD

Amber said...

Interesting. They sound like very cute chicks!!! I love them at that stage :). Yes, it will be interesting to see how they lay. That is interesting that the cornish cross lay so well for you. Do you restrict their corn diet as well to prevent them from plumping up too?

LLOYD: You will probably get a nice laying chicken, but there is no breed name for that chicken. They would be 3/4 Rhode Island Red type rooster and depending on the type of red sex link 1/4 white bird (most likely a leghorn or a white rock).

Thanks for posting and reading!

Anonymous said...

Are you saying the roosters will be red and the hens will be white? If so, what will I get if, in turn, I breed these white hens to the same Rhode Island Red rooster? LLOYD

Amber said...

If you breed the Rhode Island Red rooster back to the red sex link hens, the color would no longer be sex linked. The color will be somewhat random and a mix of red and white. If you are going to do that cross, I would possibly recommend using a difference rooster to keep the line fresh. This tends to be better for egg production.

Anonymous said...

Do you restrict their corn diet as well to prevent them from plumping up too?


Yes they started on chick feed and at 8 weeks switched all hens to scratch and free range only to be put up at night, at about 6 months old they all get layers mash. I do have to watch the treats as the cornish cross will fatten up to much. I do have to say that my cornish girls are about the most friendly hens I have.

Amber said...

That is really interesting. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What will i get if i breed a rhode island red rooster with a black sex link hen?

Amber said...

A mixed color chicken (red/black) that is:
3/4 Rhode Island Red (or similar red breed depending on what was used to create the black sex link) and
1/4 barred rock.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, will these mixed chicks grow to be good layers? because im interested in breeding my chickens to try to make something unique haha. And is it ok for my rooster to eat laying mash only, like the hens or should i mix the feed with something else?

Amber said...

They should be just fine as layers. I would just recommend that the rooster not be related to the hens for the best results.

It should be just fine for the rooster to just eat the layer ration, we have never had a problem with that.

Anonymous said...

Ok. Thanks for the info

Amber said...

Not a problem, thank you for reading my blog! I hope you have a great week and good turnout with your poultry breeding!

Anonymous said...

Thank You, you have a great week also. I have 2 more questions. What is the largest chicken breed in north america? And is there a chicken known as the georgia giant? because everybody (mainly old farmers) around my hometown is always talkin about them, but i cant find one.

Amber said...

Honestly, I am not sure on the largest breed. I have heard of a Jersey Giant, not sure on the Georgia Giant. Hope that helps. Sorry that is not my area of expertise.

Anonymous said...

I have a New Hampshire rooster with one black leg, why is that? I thank he is a New Hampshire...He looks more of that than a RR.. He is Gorgeous!!! Please Help

Anonymous said...

Any experience with this cross?
Production Red Rooster on Jersey Giant Hen.
Referencing a previous post, result might be good egg laying hens and meaty roos?

Anonymous said...

Are white plymouth rock hens good layers? im interested in buying a few chicks but i dont know to much about them.

Amber said...

In my experience white rocks are ok layers, but not as good as some other breeds such as Rhode island reds. Of course, the quality of bird from the hatchery makes a difference too, some a better layers and some breed more for the "breed qualifications" rather than laying capacity.

Anonymous said...

Wow thats a lot of different ideas going on.
have just hatched my first eggs from my Marans. I decided to set a couple of the Barred rock Hens too as my Wheaten Maran Roo had access.

I have 2 cute little black fluff balls that have yellow tipped wings and toes.

Am presuming that provided both Chickens are purebred, I would have 2 baby boys that have taken their BR mums genetics.

They are taking far longer to grow and feather too-synonymous with the BR growth rate.
They look like little penguins waddling around:)

The Maran purebreds are easy to sex by 2 weeks-boys have dark wing and hackle feathering and the girls have the wheaten wings.

Anyone able to tell me how the cuckoo maran was developed.

Regards K

Anonymous said...

I got a batch of full grown hens from a relative a few days ago. i noticed they havent laid any eggs yet but my cousin said they layed normally at her house. how long will it take them to start laying in the new environment?

Anonymous said...

Rhode Island Red rooster X Cuckoo Maran hen ( as opposed to the Barred Plymouth Rock ) to create a the black sex link?? Would the pullets then lay really dark brown eggs?

Anonymous said...

I have an all black sex link rooster. He accidentally came with my hens. The above article states black sex link roosters should be like a red-tinged barred rock as males keep their mom's traits, so what's up with my rooster? Who was his mom?

I only have 3 chickens left after killings by a chicken hawk. Thought I'd breed my accidental rooster with the hens to see how that goes. They are all black sex link. I've kept chickens for years for eggs as I would buy chicks every few years to replenish. I have never bred them. Figure I'll try it just for fun late winter/early spring. Would love to let them make more chickens on their own. I know I shouldn't breed the babies that come from breeding hybrids, but would breeding the hybrids for just one generation be okay? They are not father daughter, but a remote possibility of siblings, however some surviving hens may be from a previous batch, too. No way to be sure.

signed,
Need More Chickens!

Anonymous said...

what color are minor blue chicks when they hatch? also what color are pumpkin hulsey chicks when they hatch?

Anonymous said...

would crossing an light brahma roo and australorp hen get you?? Love the light brahmas but would like in increase in egg production. THank YOU

Anonymous said...

What is French black copper maran and a RIR cross called is there a name for them ? I had purchased a couple for a lady they are a nice big hearty bird

rushemery said...

Hi,
I'm planning on crossing my rir rooster over my white jersey giant. Hens. Anyone done that? Also anyone sex linked the rir banties over anything. Just bought 4 2 males 2 females. I may put one over some white leg horns just to see what I get

Anonymous said...

Have you ever. Crossed a barred rock roo with a blk copper. Maran?

Anonymous said...

I crossed buff Brahma with black sex link and Brahma with game hens. What would be their name for both kinds? They all have feathered feet. Some are black, some blonde, some multi colored.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone crossed a white giant jersey rooster with a Delaware ?

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