The discovery of a means to distinguish between the sexes revolutionized the industry. When commercial interests demanded high production from layers, and rapid development from meat birds, the old dual purpose birds lost their place in the scheme of things. They are indeed exceptional layers for at least their first couple years. A few unfortunate ones are only given numbers. Yes, they mature very quickly, enter point of lay far too quickly for their body maturity, lay up a storm, sometimes pushed with lights to do so, lay huge eggs in grams and size and can have somewhat lithe little bodies. Their eggs are large and usually a rich brown. The commercial strains have been developed using decades of selective breeding for highly productive hens, and the breeding occurs under highly controlled conditions, so your attempts may not come close to producing similar results. Defenders of Rhode Island Reds and New Hampshires say that over the course of a few years, productive purebreds will outlay sex-links.
Some of these "experts" can sound so convincing, too. The Way Things Used to Be Once upon a time, when chickens were mostly raised on small farms and in back yards, folks didn't try to specialize in types of chickens. What works for the industrial giants, may not work if you try to do your own cross breeding -- or at least not as well as you might hope. When commercial interests demanded high production from layers, and rapid development from meat birds, the old dual purpose birds lost their place in the scheme of things. Unlike the Red Sex-Links, there is a more subtle difference between the sexes at hatching. Forums can be very handy sources of information about raising chickens, but they can also be particularly frustrating when they provide confusing and conflicting information. Red Sex-Links What is known as the "silver trait" is found in hens of many, but not all, white-feathered varieties or breeds and some with silver lacing. I can testify that they start laying earlier than most other pullets, at least among the brown-egg layers. Chicks were hatched out in the spring, and by early fall cockerels would be of a large enough size and still have tender meat. Chicken was such a rare delicacy that a President of the United States would sound preposterously optimistic about prosperity when he promised a chicken in every pot. Types The basic principle of sex-linking is to cross-breed a female with one sex-linked trait to a male with a different trait. It is the breeding that does it. This page authored and maintained by John R. Although the males are consistently Rhode Island Reds or New Hampshires, for the silver-factor in the mother, several different breeds and varieties have been experimented with. Sex-linked cross-bred chickens have been developed for two main reasons: One could take heritage, full bred, quality, long life birds and mate them in the right way to get sex linked, or sexable chicks. Some argue that the high egg production is short-lived, lasting for one laying season only -- which is the life span of commercial layers. In skin color, comb, and plumage, the hens look very similar to New Hampshires, except where New Hampshires have some black in their tail feathers, Golden Comets have white. Up North when it's hot, Down South when it's not. The high productivity and large size of eggs may also be a one-generation phenomenon. Perhaps the biggest objection to sex-links is based on moral grounds. The commercial strains have been developed using decades of selective breeding for highly productive hens, and the breeding occurs under highly controlled conditions, so your attempts may not come close to producing similar results. I've read that the California White and the Tetra Tint are sex-links, but I have also read and been more convinced by better documented sites that they are non-sex-linked hybrids. Amber is also used, but the difference between a Dekalb Brown and a Dekalb Amber is beyond me. Most folks mind immediately go to the commercial, red sex links and some of the commercial black sex links so popular with folks these days. A few unfortunate ones are only given numbers.
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