The rare chicken breed industry thrives on two things; importation and creation. The most well know importer of rare breed chickens is Greenfire farms, with over 70 imports since 2010. Consequently, the rare breed trade has experienced a boom from all the great new breeds and new color varieties of existing breeds. With that in mind, it makes me wonder what will be the future of the industry once the pool of new breeds left to import get slimmer. My answer to that is simply projects/creations. There are endless possibilities with all the existing chicken genetics in the world. One could hypothetically make a new breed or color variety in as little as 4 generations, which works out to be about 2-3 years. How cool would it be to see a breed you created in the backyards of hundreds of hobbyists around the country or even world? In my opinion it’s not only a cool idea, it’s absolutely vital to the rare chicken trade.
So where does one start? First, you will want to envision an end goal of what you want your breed to look like. Maybe you want your breed to have long legs like a shamo, rumpless back like an araucana, black skin like an ayam Cemani, and lay green eggs like an isbar. Now imagine that bird, pretty unique I think. Once you have a goal in mind, you will know what ingredients you need to add in and what existing breeds you will need to use as contributors. Just keep in mind that some projects are more ambitious than others. The more things you want to add in will increase the length of your project significantly. Crossing just two breeds will take you years so crossing 4, like the example above calls for, would be a very ambitious project. I’m not trying to discourage you from that though because the bigger the risk the bigger the reward. Second, you will want to have a good understanding of the exact genetic traits you want to add to your breed like whether it is recessive or dominant or if it’s polygenic. The characteristics of the traits will determine in what order you will want to breed the various breeds into the mix. Third, you will want to grow out a large amount of chicks to select from for every generation and be very selective. You may have to grow out 100 chicks to get 1 perfect chick that expresses the genes you’re mixing. Ask anyone who has started a project and they will tell you it is a long, time-consuming, and expensive endeavor. In fact, most projects that are started never see the end goal realized. Lastly, after you have mixed in all your desired traits and they are expressed just how you like them; you will need their offspring hatching consistently the same with no hidden surprises. It is suggested that you get them breeding true for 4 generations before you consider them a final product.
A few last words of advice would be to just have fun with it, and don’t rush the process. When you finally finish you will breathe a sigh of relief and all the hard work and time will be paid off. You will have done a huge favor to all rare chicken breed hobbyists, fellow breeders, and helped ensure the survival of the rare breed industry.