Bresse grazing





















































We Can Work Together to Improve the Bresse Chicken

We have received a lot of interest lately in our Sequoia Bresse breeding program. Spring is coming and it’s time to start thinking about raising chicks for harvest in the autumn. If you’re just going to raise chickens for harvest (farm to table), breeding perfect genetics is not the best use of your time, effort, and feed cost. But if you want to raise Bresse chickens to perpetuate the breed, you’ll want to find quality chicks for your breeding stock. 

Early days

We originally began raising Bresse chickens because they produce superior meat quality, particularly in taste and texture. Then we learned more about Bresse and the breed’s “standards of perfection.” We became curious about breeding our chickens to create our own closed, stabilized flock to create a hardy, disease-resistant breed. Once we ventured down this road, we couldn’t find many farms emphasizing any type of breeding program.

It was a turning point for us when we began studying chicken breeding from Kenny Troiano at The Breeders Academy. We began with the premise that the genetics of the breed originate from one farm. That farm is Greenfire Farms who imported the original family from France and began a breeding program. They sell their Bresse hatching eggs around the country (and possibly Canada). Many small farms in the U.S. began breeding Bresse and selling hatching eggs.

However, there was buzz in the Bresse community. Some farms began complaining about the lack of quality of the chicks they were receiving. (We have no idea if this was true or not.) To address this, the rumor is that GF may have injected new blood into its flock (a breeding term called outcrossing).

Getting our breeding programs started

Our experience with the Bresse chickens we purchased from GF and two other farms: out of about 30 chicks delivered, roughly 20-22 survived. This prompted us to seek Kenny’s help about how to create a proper breeding program. One thing Kenny taught was to “start where we were at” and not introduce anymore unknown genetics into our flock. This created a closed flock. As we discuss in our YouTube videos, Kenny suggested a simple spiral mating program to get our flock started. Linebreeding would be a side program to generate an Adam and Eve for a potential superior strain 3-5 generations down the line. Those superior birds would be integrated and/or replace chickens from the spiral mating program.

Following Kenny’s advice, we hatched eggs from the roosters and hens we received from GF and two other smaller farms. (At the time, we didn’t know those also had GF origins.) From those chickens, we hatched and raised about 80 chickens. About a dozen or more of these have been culled for automatic defects. Recently, we culled 21 roosters from the approximate 40 or so that did not meet the required trifecta – conformation of body, function, and beauty. We found 3 solid roosters as contenders for the spiral mating program. (We’ve got another YouTube episode planned showcasing the 3 we chose.)

It’s a work in process

Presently, we’re still waiting for the last of the roosters to reach the same age as the roosters we just selected. Then we’ll assess them for suitability as potential contenders in the spiral mating or linebreeding program. We won’t begin selling any hatching eggs until we have our final contenders for the spiral mating program. This will be 3-4 of our best roosters and roughly 30-40 of the best hens. The absolute standout rooster and hen will be selected as our Adam and Eve for the linebreeding program.

Diversity in a genetic pool

No matter how you decide to establish your breeding stock, you’ll always have to employ some type of breeding program. This is necessary to maintain some basic diversity in your family. What does this mean? We don’t breed siblings over and over without intervening systems such as linebreeding. This will help prevent inbreeding depression. For chickens, this would probably not happen in the first generation.  But it could start to rear its ugly head in successive generations if we don’t separate siblings by breeding them son to mother, son to grandmother, son to great grandmother, etc. Siblings can then be bred together to achieve certain genetic standout qualities.

The takeaway . . .

We are new farmers, not experts. That’s why we encourage participating in Kenny’s The Breeders Academy. We know we keep recommending his course – and we have no affiliation (maybe we should, huh?). But if you’re serious about learning from an expert, head over to his website. We had a blast learning about breeding, genetics, Darwin and more.

If you’re interested in starting your own family of Bresse chickens, we will have hatching eggs for sale beginning in March 2022.












Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator 9-12 Eggs Poultry Hatcher








HovaBator Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit







Eggs in Brinsea incubator






Wine cooler with eggs

Finding the Right Egg Incubation Equipment

Over the last couple of years, we’ve tried various pieces of equipment to improve our egg hatching rate. Here’s the story of what that entailed.

  1. Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator 9-12 Eggs Poultry Hatcher
  2. HovaBator Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit
  3. Brinsea Ovation 56 EX Fully Automatic Digital Egg Incubator
  4. Wine Enthusiast 6-Bottle Wine Cooler

Magicfly Digital Mini Fully Automatic Egg Incubator 9-12 Eggs Poultry Hatcher

Our Guinea Hen abandoned her nest after a predator removed all of the eggs, one-by-one, over the course of a week. Once we finally clued into what was happening, there was only one egg left. We borrowed a friend’s incubator and hatched the single Guinea Hen.

This incubator is very easy to use and we would definitely recommend it for first time hatchers. It has a no-fuss, simple set-up. Regulating the temperature is easy and it turns the eggs sufficiently.

Unfortunately, you can’t accurately control humidity. Humidity is critical at hatch time. If the egg membrane gets too dry, the hatchling could become trapped. If there’s too much humidity, the hatchling could *drown*. So you have to monitor and add or subtract water daily. This means removing and replacing the lid over and over and that’s not great for a high hatch rate.

Bottom line: It’s an economical way to get started with hatching eggs.

HovaBator Advanced Egg Incubator Combo Kit

After hatching the Guinea Hen in the borrowed incubator, we decided to invest in our own. Turns out this unit is used a lot for school hatching activities.

The incubator has an automatic turner which rolls the eggs six times per day. The eggs just sit on top of the plastic mesh floor above the water tray. The humidity is created by filling the plastic tray on the bottom. The temperature is controlled by swiveling a metal bar on the top of the unit.

The top and bottom of the unit is styrofoam which helps to maintain temperature and humidity. But you still have to monitor both. With some trial and error, it works reasonably well.

We hatched some turkeys in this unit with moderate success. This was likely due to a number of variables, including fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Now we use this unit for hatching when we have staggered hatch dates.

Bottom line: Easy to use, decent value for money.

Brinsea Ovation 56 EX Fully Automatic Digital Egg Incubator

After we hatched the Bronze turkeys, we were hooked on the hatching egg process. We wanted a reliable way to hatch our heritage breed Bresse chicken eggs. We found the Brinsea unit at Tractor Supply Co.

The unit keeps near perfect temperature and humidity levels. Before placing the eggs, I turn on the incubator and closely monitor it for a day or so until the levels are ideal. I’ve found that it only needs minimal adjustments during the hatching cycle. The water container only needs to be filled every other week. The only negative is the replacement evaporating blocks can only be ordered through Brinsea and the shipping is expensive.

This unit was pricey, but results speak for themselves. As mentioned in a previous blog, I had a nearly 100% hatch rate using the Brinsea with my Bresse/Bresse, Bresse/Sex Links trial.

These units are available in various sizes and we strongly recommend them for any hatching enthusiast.

Bottom line: Worth every penny. I love this incubator!

Wine Enthusiast 6-Bottle Wine Cooler

I needed a place to store our eggs before putting them in the incubator. Brinsea suggests they should be kept at 53-59 degrees F. I tried a cooler and an unplugged freezer, but the temperature wouldn’t stay in the range.

My sister (who drinks a lot of wine) suggested a wine fridge. This unit was reasonably inexpensive and was set-and-forget. We set the temperature at 53 degrees and it fluctuates between 53 and 55 degrees, depending on ambient room temperature. A small dish of water in the unit helps keep the humidity up near 65-70%. Problem solved!

Bottom line: This is one of my favorite pieces of equipment.

Note: I am not receiving any compensation for mentioning these units. Just passing along our experience with them.