Wendy shares a good article on the value of genetic diversity, over at Sand Hill Preservation Center:
“There’s a good reason why Dorkings aren’t commercially available from many hatcheries. They don’t like to lay eggs all the time. They like to go broody, lots of the time. It’s sad when commercial places will take something like that breed and breed out non visible traits so you get something that looks like a Dorking but doesn’t act like one. It’s a Dorking in toe and color only not in all of its traits. One of our things we do here is we try to keep all the traits that are representative of a particular breed of variety with that regardless of the consequences it would be much easier for me to make money if I bred all of the broodiness out of the Dorking or the broodiness out of the Kraenkoppes or selected only for certain breeds that laid high production eggs regardless of what else went with it. That’s not the point of understanding diversity. When an illness no matter what it is goes through either the plants or the poultry you can easily figure out which ones share similar traits. I think way back to when laryngotrachietis was first introduced to my farm by someone dropping off diseased birds in the ditch. Sussex no matter what color are highly susceptible and I lost almost all of them. Dorkings don’t get it as bad. I watch coccidiosis as I don’t use medicated feed in the young ones, certain breeds are very susceptible others won’t even be phased. Those are true genetically diverse traits something we need to appreciate. To put all of our eggs in one basket and just put into one type opens us up to susceptibility for something we don’t know in the future. I’m a firm believer that there are chicken breeds out there that will withstand Avian Influenza. We unfortunately as a society have selected for only production, only confinement adaptability and have forgotten that we need to expose these birds to the real world so that they can adapt and we can figure out which ones have the traits that we want. We never know what we will need in the future.”
We agree heartily.
In 2021-22, thanks in large part to the inspiration of reading Landrace Gardening by Joseph Lofthouse, we studied and worked on creating landrace chickens, landrace corn, landrace pak choi and landrace pumpkins, with some success and some failures.
Our chickens are a mess of mixed up breeds now, and we’re no longer striving for “pure” bloodlines. We have game birds and Buff Orpingtons, various brown egg layers and Black Austrolorps. We hope to continue adding more types and crossing breeds in future years.
The rest of the seeds in the seed fridge are almost all getting mixed together as well.
Let’s just push it to the limit and grow for survival, instead of trying to maintain varieties bred by different people long ago in different climates.
May the best animals and plants win.