Welcome to Brackenholme Hall

Hybrid - V - Pure Bred

I thought this page would help out some visitors as to how to make a decision on their choice of bird. There are people with views on all poultry, hybrids, pure breds or who knows what sometimes!

But here is some unbiased thoughts, I love them all regardless.

This is not meant for Exhibition/Show people, or purists who simply love one breed, but everyone venturing out into poultry keeping who feel abit lost with all the information and opinions out there.

Firstly, let's think about where ALL poultry decend from...jungle fowl. So perhaps one could argue the only 'pure bred' is the scrawny looking jungle fowl often only seen in zoo's!

Most websites talk about a breed history, how someone or several people had an ideal they wanted to achieve and then selectively bred from other existing breeds to achieve their desired result. In effect, a custom hybrid.

There is a BIG difference between a home-bred first cross hybrid and a commercially bred one.

The home-bred one is simply a mating between two birds not of the same breed. They can be of any shape, size or form, and commonly of unknown productivity. Few people in this day and age manage their breeding flocks to understand egg laying performance - it is a dying art!

These home-bred birds can look sweet, some can be docile, and there is nothing wrong with them. Their productivity however could be anything.

All commercial hybrids begin life in only a handful of hatcheries, and most are NOT in the UK. There are very few infact. Most appear from Europe as Day-Olds and are grown on to POL (classed from approx 16 weeks+) in various set-ups, almost exclusively barn reared ready for their new life.

These hybrids may be sneared at by some, but they are infact the result of serious, mulit-million Euro investment into genetics. They lay more, east less and are incredibly docile to deal with.

Why is that?

Fundamentally they are a bird for commercial purposes, so being easy to handle is required for daily care and living in some less than ideal conditions they need to be docile and VERY tolerant. Eating economically makes financial sense to the 'Egg Producer' (formerly called a Farmer) for maximum profit.

This in effect makes them a great hen to have on the allotment, in the garden and around the small holding. You really can't go too wrong with them.

Due to the massive numbers these birds are hatched in, they are also very reasonably priced to buy.

Many different sellers give the commercial hybrid birds different names in order to try and differentiate themselves in the marketplace, but looking at the pictures will soon start to tell you that, for example:

Miss Pepperpot is also known as a Nero, BlackStar, RhodeRock etc... and so the names go on.

As a farming family who strive to achieve good stewardship, all these hybrids thrive well on our free range system, chemical free diet and family involvement (including young children).

The commercial hatcheries are now producing a wonderful variety of plummage colours aside from the typical farmyard 'orange' hens.

So it is important to understand whether the bird is just a cross mating from a keeper, or a multi-million Euro investment into genetics. Your feedbill is for consideration here.

Pure Bred Birds

This is a bird whose parents are both of the same breed, and theoretically both parents SHOULD BE TRUE TO TYPE.

There have been countless occasions we have seen "Copper Black Marans" advertised that look nothing like a true Marans ought to look. Indiscriminate breeding is the ruin of a lot of breeds worldwide.

Pure Bred birds are not produced in their millions like their hybrids counterparts, and so expect to pay a good price for your birds. Holding quality parent stock, vaccinations, highly quality feed, worming, daily care is all to be factored into the asking price of a HIGH QUALITY SPECIMEN.

Why pay top price for a poor quality pure bred hen when a commercial hybrid is half her price?

If there is a certain breed that interests you, READ, LEARN and EXAMINE what that breed ought to look like, BEFORE  going to view birds. Any breeder will tell you what you want to hear - see it for your own eyes.

Pure Bred birds are lovely to look at, some lay wonderful egg colours from mahogany through to whites and blues, and then their plummage can be totally spectacular.


                                                                                                    ...most commonly Breakfast for you.

I love my pure bred poultry, they are exquisite to look at and I have never grown tired of them.

In my experience if you do not wish to go down the HYBRID route, then I would suggest the following breeds that will provide hardy, sound birds, great egg variety of colour and highly productive too - without breaking the bank to pay for feed - however I am NOT talking about poor examples or hens kept in confined spaces.

  • Created Legbars - blue eggs. Fantastic self sufficient hens (their leghorn heritage)
  • Cuckoo Marans - mine lay as well as some of our hybrids in 2012. Dark Eggs
  • Leghorn - prolific. Tough, great birds if you have alot of space and just want the hens to get on with it. White Eggs

If you have read this far.... a quick summary!

Basically, a pure bred bird tends to live a lot longer than her hyrbid friends.

HOWEVER, every hen regardless of her type, like us humans, only has a limited number of eggs she will ever produce.

The Commercial Hybrid will lay all her eggs within usually 4-5 years, the pure bred potentially 7-9years - but the numbers are the same - it's just the period of time they are laid over AND YOUR FEED BILL.

As with all our articles, they are always a work in progress, and we will add to them as we go along in 2013.