Anyone who has read my blog will know my favourite breed above all else is the Welsummer - a breed that offers all that is required of a hen. Beautiful to look at, friendly, prolific layers of lovely, large dark or speckled brown eggs. Birds happy either free ranging or in a back garden setting. What more could you ask for?
Next year I plan to run 3 breeding flocks.
Flock 1 will be the same group as this year - a 2009 Gold Duckwing Welsummer cockerel with 3 of his daughters. This time however I will use all Partridge (spilt for gold ) in colour or all Gold in colour as I am interested in noting any difference in the offspring of the two colours e.g higher percentage of gold chicks, size of birds, colour of eggs laid by the resulting pullets etc.
Flock 2 will be the son of the 2009 Gold Duckwing Welsummer cockerel hatched in 2010 and as yet untried. I will run him with the hens not used in the above flock i.e the 3 Partridge or the 3 Gold hens. This will be a sibling mating and will more than likely throw up any genetic faults, so careful records will need to be kept and any undesirable birds kept out of any future breeding programme.
Flock 3 will be a trio of Partridge Welsummers.
The Gold Duckwing Welsummer pullets hatched this year I'll keep for a year before adding to any breeding group. I am eargerly awaiting for them to come into lay as there has been mention of Gold Duckwing Welsummer eggs lacking in colour. So far, with the 1st generation hens,(pullets from a Gold Duckwing cockerel to Partridge hens) it is not something I have noticed. The eggs produced have been a good colour, a very good size for 1st year hens and very good in number.
Fertility and hatch rate has been extremely high. The chicks produced, strong and healthy.
The only other breeding flock I will now keep, having decided not to run a 'table bird ' flock will be the Exchequer Leghorns.
My main aim with these is to try to increase egg size. All other traits of the breed I am extremely happy with. Despite their reputation my birds are not at all flighty, they lay well and have good markings, but their eggs are smaller than I would expect from a Leghorn. They are however only 1st year birds so I may be judging them a little unfairly.Once again fertility and hatch rate has been very high and the chicks are adorable.