Breeding refers to mating poultry for either maintaining/increasing the current flock or for selecting specific individuals for improvement in one or more characteristics (e.g., for size, weight, egg production, meat quality, behavior, plumage, comb type, or a combination of factors).
An understanding of general genetic principles is important when breeding for flock improvement. The University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center has an excellent website exploring the principles of genetics. It is important to note, however, that genetic sex determination in birds (including poultry species) is very different from that of mammals (such as us), as shown below.
Genetics of sex determination in mammals versus birds:
(e.g., humans, cows, etc.)
Male = XY
Female = XX
Males determine the sex of the offspring
(including all poultry species)
Male = ZZ
Female = ZW
Females determine the sex of the offspring
Every individual has two sets of chromosomes - one from the mother and one from the father. Each set contains a sex chromosome which is important in determining the gender of the animal. In mammals there are two possible sex-chromosomes - X and Y. Females have to X chromosomes (XX) while males have one of each (XY). Male mammals, therefore, determine the gender of the offspring. In birds, however, the two sex chromosomes are Z and W. The females are ZW and the males are ZZ. For birds, therefore, it is the female that determines the sex of the offspring.
Toe punch guide (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
Chicken assessment for improving productivity - Selecting for meat qualities and rate of growth (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
Chicken assessment for improving productivity - Selecting for egg production (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
Chicken assessment for improving productivity - Ongoing selection of breeding stock (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
Traditional breeding programs for the home flock (Backyard Poultry magazine)
Selecting your best turkeys for breeding (Animal Livestock Breeds Conservancy)
Breeding turkeys - Genetics and breeding stock (Poultry Pages)
Breeding turkeys - Raising good stock; Breeder management (Poultry Pages)
Breeding turkeys - Mating turkeys (Poultry Pages)
Breeding turkeys - Incubating and hatching turkey eggs (Poultry Pages)
A management program for raising breeder duck flocks (North Carolina State University)
Pigeon breeding (Racing-Pigeon_Fancier.com)
Hybrid fowl - gallery (messybeast.com)
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