On Gamefowl Breeding
ON GAMEFOWL BREEDING
By M. L. Fernando
SOME WONDER HOW CERTAIN COCKER-breeders produce outstanding fighting cocks without any knowledge of gamefowl breeding basics. Others do well in game-fowl breeding loaded with all breeding methods found in the book. The former succeed due to their innate talent or "feel" of the gamefowls, while the latter reach breeding goals due to education. Those whom the author have seen attain breeding goals in so short a time, have that "feel" of the gamecock and read a lot of books and magazines pertaining to gamefowls. It is with this thought that the author decided to touch on this subject?
There are lots of breeding theories found in the book, but the two most famous are inbreeding and cross-breeding. Let us first touch on inbreeding, Inbreeding is the mating of closely related fowls. If you want to know how to inbreed gamefowls, Iook at the percentage of inbreeding below.
1. Mating brother & sister- 25% (intensive inbreeding). 2. Mating half-brother & half-sister- 12.5% (moderate inbreeding). 3. Mating uncle & niece; aunt & nephew -12.5% (moderate inbreeding). 4. Mating grandparent & grandchild 12.5% (moderate inbreeding). 5. Mating first cousins - 6.3% (mild inbreeding).
Select the percentage of inbreeding you think will be applicable to your gamefowls. Remember that the purpose of inbreeding is to fix like genes. The more you inbreed; the more like genes are fixed. These will be further boosted by inbreeding birds having the same phenotype characters tied to some genotypes.
When you inbreed fowls, watch out for atavism. Atavism is the recurrence in a descendant of characters of a remote ancestor. It may result in deformed beaks, eyes with irregular pupils, breast defects, crooked toes and backs, etc. Atavism will also result in phenotype throwbacks - especially plummage phenotypes. Throwbacks are homozygous dominant.
A friend of mine once bred a pair of Ray Hoskins Grey. Out of this pair of Grey fowls - two of the progeny were Whites. This pair of White throwbacks begot outstanding cocks - all Whites. He also crossed the throwbacks on other Whites of different strain and still come up with winners. The cross of the White throwback with mongrel cocks also produced good pit fowls. When atavism results in color throwbacks, check if the color phenotype is tied with fighting prowess genotype. When bred, it will give positive results. Genetics is a very tricky business and does not always follow prescribed rules designated by us. Most breeders maintain highly inbred strain of fowls as seed fowls. These breeders do not fight broodfowls; they only fight battlefowls.
Hugh Norman, the "Master Breeder", made famous the Rebel Strain of game-fowls. He was one of those breeders who maintain inbred strains and cross them for hybrid vigor (heterosis). To him broodfowls and battlefowls are not the same. He does not fight broodfowls nor breed battlefowls. In this method, the more inbred your seed fowls are, the greater will be the "nick" or hybrid vigor when they are crossed.
In the Norman Method, we line breed our fowls before crossing. Line-breeding is inbreeding to an individual, each generation we "double up" the genes of the progeny? By line-breeding we try to produce individual(s) genetically as close as the original. Each mating should be carefully evaluated up to the last mating. The progeny from the last mating are kept as replacement broodfowls or be used as seed fowls for crossing.
Let us illustrate how line-breeding is done.
This mating produced two stags of different phenotypes? STAG (9) is hetero-genous Dominant (½) Yellow-leg while STAG (10) has a double dose of (ya) allelle, making it homozygous Recessive (pure) Willow-legs. This proves once again that when we breed back, we "double up" like genes in the progeny making them as close as the original.
If you are a backyard breeder, chances are you do not have enough space to accommodate these fowls for line-breeding. I suggest you line-breed only to one individual. Try to find out which of the pair is more prepotent, and breed back to that individual. Then you can close the line-bred progeny with otherfowls. Hete-rosis or hybrid vigor will not be as strong as that of both line-bred crosses, but will be sufficient to produce good pit fowls. Of course, this will depend upon the performance and prepotency of your original pair of brood fowls and your evaluation and selection of each mating prior to the cross.
Now, let us touch on cross-breeding. Crossbreeding is the mating of gamefowls not related by blood to each other? This is usually done to combine the good quail-ties of the broodfowls. There are three methods of breeding gamefowls by crossbreeding. They are discussed below.
1. STRAIGHT-CROSS--In this method, two strains are mated. One good example is the power-speed blend of Ruble Hatch and Black Traveler. Here, the male offspring will take after the hens. 2. THREE WAY-CROSS--If you have a family of Kelso that cuts better in open sparring and needs more wallop, get an even cross like a Hatch-Claret and breed it over the Kelso hens. The progeny out of this mating will retain the desired characteristics of the Kelso, cutting ability of the Claret, and the power of the Hatch.
3. FOUR WAY CROSS--This is the mating of two straight crosses like the mating of Hatch-Claret to a Kelso-Roundhead cross.
In cross-breeding, remember the following adage. "Cross breeds or hybrids almost invariably pass along their worst characteristics. The good qualities often are the result of the cross and cannot be passed along." This was taken from the book "Modern Breeding of Game Fowl" by Mr. Frank "Narragansett" Shy.
Another method of breeding worth mentioning in this piece is the "Narragansett Method" made popular by Frank Shy, another "Master Breeder" famous for the strain of gamefowls called the Narragansetts. This method advocates the transmission of the blood of a prepotent individual to the progeny in "small doses" by repeated injections of the blood from several mates rather than intensive inbreeding.
Let us elucidate it further. Suppose you have an outstanding broodcock. Single mate him with several hens and as certain which ones throw the best progeny. Suppose you selected two hens that produce very good pit fowl and fight alike. The progeny of the two unrelated hens should be crossed. This will be half-brother and half-sister mating which is 12.5% inbreeding. If you want to infuse new blood, be sure the fowl is the same as your original trio in conformation and fighting style.
Let us illustrate the "Narragansett Method" below.
Dotted lines cock (stag) Solid lines hen (pullet)
From the illustration of the Narragansett Method, we mated COCK (A) to HEN (B) and HEN (C). The mating of HEN (B) and COCK (A) resulted in progeny (1) which are 1/2 blood of COCK (A). The pairing of HEN (C) and COCK (A) begot offspring (2) which are ½ blood of COCK (A). We then crossed progeny (1) and (2) to produce offspring (3) and (4)· These are half-brother and half-sister matings that produced progeny (3) and (4), which are still blood of the original COCK (A).
This is as far as we can go. We cannot breed progeny (3) and (4) to any of the original trio since it will be close cosanguinous matings· We have to procure another broodcock that resembles the original COCK (A) in conformation and fighting style· Get the best pul lets from progeny (3) and (4) and mate them with COCK (D).
These matings will result in progeny (5) and (6) that are 1/4 blood of the original COCK (A).
In order to establish the desirable characteristics of COCK (A), we shall mate the choice pullets of progeny (5) and (6) with COCK (A). These matings will produce offspring (7), (8), (9), and (10) that are 5/8 blood of the original COCK (A). We can still mate progeny that are 5/8 blood of the original COCK (A) with HEN (B) and HEN (C), but they are not within the scope of this article. Figure it out and make an illustration of these matings. We illustrated the point that in order to increase the desired characteristics of COCK (A), we injected his blood repeatedly in small doses.
Another breeding method worth mentioning is Out-Breeding. Out-Breeding is the mating of the same strain of fowls that belong to different breeders but kept almost pure. If you have a strain of Kelso and you do not kow-tow to inbreeding, you can procure a Kelso cock from another breeder and breed him over your Kelso hens. Progeny from these matings will still be pure Kelsos and you did not inbreed at all.
Some backyard breeders blend native Orientals with American gamefowls? If you are in this class of cocker-breeders, better learn the IVY Method of grading Orientals· Ivy favors the 1/4 Oriental either in a two or three-way cross. In this method, you only need a single Oriental cock to produce 1/2 grade hens. Remember that Oriental grade breeding is a trial and error method.
Let us explain how this is done. In the two-way cross, first you mate the native cock with, let us say, a Davis Mims. This mating will produce offspring with 1/2 native Oriental blood. We select the best 1/2 native Oriental hens and mate them again with a Davis Mims cock. This two-way cross will produce offspring that are 1/4 native Oriental grades.
If you want a three-way cross, you mate select 1/2 native Oriental hens (cross between a native cock with Davis Mims hen) with a Davis Mims-Hatch Gull cross· The progeny out of this mating will be ¼ Hatch Gull, ½ Davis Mims, and 1/4 Oriental (native cock). The author favors 1/8 Oriental grades though.
The key to success in the production of native Oriental grades is selection and brutal culling. Select flicking type native Oriental cocks that could cut and always top the opponent every fly. These ring generals dictate the game but have little power so infuse at least % power blood (HATCH). The native cock you should breed must exhibit nothing but gameness when fought at two years old. The author have witnessed many native Orientals run when fought in slashers? They do not last the full route. However, there are a few that last the whole ten minutes and can stand deep cutting when fought at two years of age and above. These native Oriental types are worth breeding? They need very little work when conditioned to fight and are very resistant to diseases.
The articles I write are primarily intended for beginners and backyard breeders? I hope I have helped you even in a small way. Keep your gamefowl magazines coming? More power to you all.