Small vs. Flock Matings

This article is discussing small vs. flock matings and is being republished from Acorn Hollow Bantams website with permission from Lou Horton.

I have found over time that small matings made up of high quality birds which are well matched are to be preferred over large matings in which high quality birds are mixed with mediocre ones. I understand that the thinking behind the large mating philosophy has some merits: it maximizes the affect of extraordinary birds (especially males) because it gives them a chance to affect the quality of a larger number of offspring. It also increases the likelihood that there will be more offspring from which to select come fall.

silver appleyard ducks, small vs. flock mating

The advantages of the small vs. flock matings are even more compelling, in my view, however. With the small matings made up of the highest quality birds available, a larger percentage of the young will be of good to excellent quality. That means that limited space and feed will not be wasted on birds that may not be worth what it costs to raise them. Also, with a smaller number of offspring, it is easier to keep good records and therefore to keep track of the genetic background of each bird through web marking. If a trio mating, for example, were involved, it is often relatively easy to know which of the two females laid each egg if one takes the time to observe the size and shape differences in the eggs. That would permit the breeder to know with certainty the sire and dam of each duckling, gosling, or chick produced. Such information can be worth it’s weight in gold, especially if the mating clicks.

I should also mention one other advantage of small, single male matings. In multiple male matings, the larger, more aggressive male often dominates and the vast majority (or all) of the offspring may well come from him. The result is, (in bantam breeds) the smaller, perhaps better male is wasted.   As a matter of fact, a male that has been bullied by another consistently often will not mate even when given a pen and females of his own. Such males may take some time to get over their timidity and part or all of a breeding season may be lost in terms of gaining his offspring.

By Lou Horton