Thought of the day is: Goals
Without setting goals I have no idea if I am making progress in my breeding. I can be losing at shows but still meeting my goals for progress. I can only control the breeding and selection decisions I make. I cannot deny I dislike losing but losing forces me to look at my stock with a critical eye.
Why do I set goals? Because without them how do I know I am making progress. I do sort and select birds based on goals. Sometimes I come up short on my breeding goals and have to rethink how hard do I select and what will I do differently next breeding season.
My goals are tempered by the limitations of facilities and my physical abilities. I have found I cannot have over 300 young birds running here at a time, and keep on top of all cleaning and health need of the birds. Being honest with myself has forced me to cut back on the number of varieties I work with. Painful but liberating at the same time, but we can try to do too much.
I breed and exhibit Bantam Cochins, and I have different goals for each variety I raise. I am breeding towards the Standard of Perfection and there are some things that I must overlook in my patterned variety birds that I would not consider keeping in my blacks. Black Bantam Cochins were perfected long before I even knew exhibition poultry existed. The rarer varieties I work with don’t win at shows but are more enjoyable for me to work with every day.
I will not deny I enjoy placing well at shows. I can only control what I take and the condition they are in. I cannot control what others do or bring. I am in awe of Mark Peterson who consistently brings quality birds to shows. He has made me get better because he regularly brings superior birds to mine to the shows which we both attend. I may never compete equally with him regularly but I am usually bringing better birds than I did 5-10 years ago, or even a year ago.
Goals require hard selection of your flock, which is the hardest part for so many people. For me I find I cannot go through a pen and remove more than 5 birds before they all start looking the same. Watching that pen for a few days lets me easily pick out the lesser birds again. Breeding birds towards the Standard of Perfection is an ongoing process, but goal setting will help direct your program and help you see progress within your flock.
Written by: Craig Hansen, APA Member