Tuesday, September 4

H is for Hybrids!


 Our chickens are Hybrids.

Hybrid Chickens After the 2nd World War people’s demands and expectations changed and they wanted fresh eggs all year round, as they now had refrigerators to keep them in. This meant there was a massive demand for eggs pushing prices higher. The hens being kept at the time were unable to reliably produce 300+eggs a year each.

Unfortunately the demand for plentiful cheap eggs also produced the development of what we now know as the "battery cage" system. Genetics were just becoming “the in thing” in the scientific world and known good layers were crossed using genetic formulae to develop the hybrid chicken that would continually lay well for 2 years.

The majority of today’s hybrid hens are actually bred from well-known utility laying breeds such as the Rhode Island Red, Marans or Leghorns. In recent years more people have wanted to keep a few birds in the garden so that they can collect their own eggs. This phenomena seemed to coincide with people becoming more aware of where the supermarket eggs came from. The first commercial hybrid was what we call the “Warren” a mainly brown chicken.(Mabel and Olwyn)

Chicken breeders were quick to realise that we didn’t want just brown birds in our gardens but that some us did want hens that laid all year. So they started breeding chickens that are still primarily a hybrid but are much more varied in colour. There is now a large variety of hybrid chickens available. Ambers, Blacktail, Bluebelles, Columbine, Copper Black, Rangers, Rhode Rocks, Speckledy, Sussex, White Stars.

If you buy two similar looking birds from 2 different breeders, the chance is they have been “named” differently, as breeders name their own hybrids. One thing is for certain, in that all will be prolific egg-layers. More recently differently coloured eggs have been added to the qualities available from hybrid birds. A Maran genetic based hybrid such as the Speckedly, will produce brown or brown speckled eggs. Whilst Columbines bred from selected strains of the Cream Crested Legbar, has a high percentage chance of laying a blue egg. Fenton Blue hens have been bred from the Cream Legbar will produce a blue/green egg.  (Bev)

The list is in fact almost endless, as every country around the world will have breeders with their “own” hybrids. When buying a hybrid chicken you will be paying a fraction of the cost of a breed bird. Hybrid chicken prices do vary dependent on where the bird originated from. Many will have been hatched by commercial hatcheries and done so by the thousand. Many of these chicks will be sold as early as one day old to a second “breeder”, to be "grown on" and eventually sold to us as POL/point of lay hens at around 16-24 weeks of age. Some of the “grown on” birds are now being sold to a third party, garden centres, before eventually reaching the back garden hen keeper. As you can well imagine, purchasing hens through these outlets is one of the most expensive ways of acquiring your hens. I recently saw Warrens marked at £25 per bird in a garden centre, yet a near-by breeder of Ambers was selling POL for £16!

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  1. I worry about how chickens are raised in the US, with these factory farms.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  2. They certainly look happy hens, hyrid or not, Denise. Some of mine are hybrids too but I have one or two pure breeds. As long as they are happy I don't really mind. Do call in if you are round this neck of the woods.

  3. Brilliant post on know your chickens! We have a hybrid here which we call affectionately the "Rookyard All Rounder" but it will never sell as it is - how do I say it politley - a not very good layer! But the eggs are very pretty!!! Browns, blues, greens and whites! The chooks also make good enough table birds as well as excellent garden pest killers and great time wasters so maybe it's not all about the eggs...

  4. A great thing about the ABC meme is that it is educational , often beautiful it makes us inventive and we all enjoy it. Thank you for this great post. Have a beautiful day tomorrow and the rest of the week.
    Wil, ABC Team.

  5. I only ever buy free range eggs. That photo is lovely. I must reconsider about my habit of eating chicken. I must say, that I don't eat it very often.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  6. What can I say... I am so enjoying these post about your chickens.
    There is a large amount/section (?) of people here in Tucson that are filling in their pools and using the reclaimed space for chickens mostly in the valley. Not me though, I love my pool and chicken wouldn't last one night, between the coyotes, foxes, mountain lions and bobcats that live around me.
    So I must live vicariously through you.

    cheers, parsnip

  7. I only know hybrid cars, didn't know that chicken are hybrids, lol !

  8. I grew up with the misconception that hybrid ducks are infertile. Is this true?

    Once we have the "meat" chicken which are giants.

  9. Lovely hen!

    Hygiene, your comment will be highly appreciated.
    Have a great Wednesday

  10. We have some close friends who raise chickens and the eggs are wonderful.Great looking pic.Ann

  11. I love the sound they make.

    Human Nest
    Come and see.

  12. You brought me to my childhood!

    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  13. Hi Denise....They look happy...For a time when I was a girl our family had chickens in the garden. Not so common these days at least in the city.

  14. Absolutely fascinating. I have a question: do the different colored eggs have different tastes or other qualities (other than color)?

  15. Hybrid chickens. H'mm. I learned something. Well done.

  16. My father turned our garage into a battery for chickens in 1948 in Flamborough. I didn't have much of an opinion on it back then at the age of ten, but now I think it was a horrific thing. We have a friend in Bempton who runs a free range business. They seemed to be thriving. I imagine he is still doing it now. He also runs a very nice bed and breakfast which we enjoyed for several years.


Thank you for your comments, always nice to know somebody has taken the time to let me know what they think.