January 10, 2015
Some of you were following my “A” vs. “B” lines of Black Copper Marans last year. The rest of you don’t know what I’m referring to, so I’ll post a recap.
The Black Coppers I originally started with did not lay super dark eggs. Then I got some new stock from a well known breeder, and when they started laying, I was amazed! I’d seen pictures of eggs that dark, but I didn’t know I would end up with some myself!
So now I had two lines of Coppers. The original hens were laying the eggs on the left in the below picture (the A eggs), and the new line laid the eggs on the right (the B eggs). Specifically, the eggs on the B side were from one hen that I’ll tell more about below (my egg machine hen!).
I immediately realized just how inferior my original Coppers were, but since I had such a tiny gene pool of the new ones, I was worried about severe inbreeding, so here’s what I did:
I got rid of the A roosters, and placed B roosters with the A hens. And of course I put the two B hens with the remaining B rooster. I very carefully kept the eggs separate. I incubated all the B eggs for a couple of months, and none of the A eggs yet. Then early summer I incubated some A eggs. I kept the A and B chicks completely separate, and the ONLY roosters I kept were the B X B’s.
This year I have B x B hens with B roosters. And I have B x A hens with B roosters. (again this year, I’ll keep the chicks separate)
I need to backtrack a little and tell more about the two B hems.
One hen started out laying a #8 egg, and her egg lightened up fairly quickly. By the time she’d been laying 3 months, her eggs were a couple shades lighter in color. This same hen was also mossy (I only kept her due to the tiny gene pool and I didn’t have much choice). I recently culled her since I have so many second generation hens from the good bloodline.
The other hen started out laying a #9 egg, and her egg stayed dark for an amazingly long time. It was several MONTHS before her egg lightened to a #8, and then a good while longer to lighten to #7. And remarkably, this hen proved to be a laying machine! From her first pullet egg, she rarely missed a day laying. Then in the summer time when it got hot, I put everyone on a lower protein diet to force them to slow down laying so they could rest a few months. But this one hen wouldn’t stop! She just kept laying and laying almost every day. She finally slowed down around November (still at #7), and currently she has finally stopped laying, but no doubt she’ll be laying again soon due to the increasingly long days. I’m anxious to see what her second year eggs will look like.
For this year, I have two new bloodlines. I got Coppers from both Ernie Haire and Donna Prahl. I’ve only gotten a handful of eggs from them so far, but I am pleased that they are very dark!
I will hatch and raise the chicks from all 4 bloodlines separately this spring, and I will keep roosters only from the darkest eggs. Then the next generation, I’ll start blending the bloodlines with great care to not lose the dark egg genes, and to keep the type as close to the SOP as possible.