Special Breeding Program

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By Bankert (The Gamecock, February 1995 pages 66, 67, 68 and 69)

The purpose of following this method of breeding is to establish a family of fowl that primarily consists of the genetics of two cocks, with the traits of the two cocks dominant in the end product (specials) so that the furtherance of the family will be prepotent individuals that will instill the genetic lineage of the two cocks.

The important factors initially are (1) that the two strains have similar genetic make-up and (2) that each cock come from a linebred family in which his genetic make-up is set and established. To further explain; the two strains must be compatible. This means that their fighting style has to be basically the same, such as manner of hitting. The Hulsey and Claret both hit in a straight, accurate manner. Roundheads, Shufflers, etc. hit in a swinging, roundhouse manner, with more hits delivered per each buckle, but with less accuracy that the straight hitting. If the two styles are crossed, they will not produce offspring that will be prepotent in passing on consistent traits, as their own make up is inconsistent and conflicting. They may produce gazed battle cocks, but will not produce offspring that will be useful for Breeding, as their genes are mixed up and the offspring the crossed fowl produce will vary. Therefore, the family will not succeed, as consistent individual traits cannot be established. (MY OPINION)

In this case, both cocks come from “pure or linebreed” families, meaning that their traits have been well established through generations of breeding from a closed genetic pool and consistently conform with expected traits.

The Hulsey; come yellow legged, straight combed, usually dark red, occasionally with white in wings and tail, medium-high station. They hit straight into the other cock, breaking about knee high consistently. They are not fast, but quick, as they recover from a buckle and as soon as they land they are in position to hit and usually do, beating the other cock to the punch. They lack overall speed, initial breaking height, and the worst fault is that as they mature, they develop a solid, muscular build which slows them down. They retain excellent power as the fight progresses, and are durable and hard to kill. They lack ring generalship, in that they do not set up their opponent with feints and sidestepping, as they go directly into another buckle as soon as they land from their previous buckle. The advantage is they often catch the other cock unprepared (unset) and off balance. They can be set up by a smart side-stepping cock because of this. They are very game and if hurt bad will hit when upside down, blind or coupled. They are very hard to kill. They are a gentle to fowl, never getting a manfighter or wild, man-shy cock.

So, these traits, good and bad, are genetically set in this strain, and if bred to another of the same strain will consistently produce offspring with these same traits (and have so for generations). Therefore, they can be considered “pure or linebred.”

The Clarets: come white legged, straight combed, dark red with white in tail and wings, high stationed. They are very good, accurate cutters, with good speed, excellent quickness. They lack power. They hit straight, and recover their balance quickly after a buckle, but usually do not go straight into another buckle, but will try to set the other cock up. They do not like to get hit, and often will pass up a shot if they might get hit in return, opting for a clear shot without getting hit in return. They are very game, hit from all angles, and are vicious when hurt. They are not built muscularly, and are susceptible, power blows to the body, in that they to lose what power they have. They are hard to kill. Usually they are easy to tame and gentle, but occasionally will get a mild manfighter. They are somewhat highstrung as stags but gentle down quickly.

So, with these two genetically similar strains, we have well established traits in each (both good and bad). The ideal family would keep the good traits that are found in both strains, and compensate for (or suppress) the bad traits of one with the good traits of the other, thereby diminishing or eliminating the bad traits altogether.

It is now obvious why you cannot start with crossbred parent of conflicting genetic make-up – it cannot pass on Consistent traits (you don’t know what it will produce) especially if the parent is made up of two different hitting styles, i.e. straight or hooking. A family that is started this way. May produce some excellent individuals for battle, the first generation, but, if the crossbred individual is use for breeding, the family will get progressively worse each generation thereafter until you wind zip with a genetically confused, deficient, and therefore useless family. The primary fault will be, when in the heat of battle, the cock won’t know whether to hit, feint, pluck or break. And while he hesitates, the other cock will hit first. The point is, the cock’s fighting technique is instinctual, and if he is genetically “confused,” his instincts will be confused. You do not win with confused fighters. The fighting ability of the cocks is the most important element to establish, so the basic fighting style must be similar (although each strain will have minor differences).

So the desirable traits from both families that we wish to establish, should be simple to do. If both are genetically stable, from a “pure or linebred” family, which in this case they are. These traits are; (less significant first – straight comb, dark red with occasionally white in tail and wings, high to medium/high station), most significant – very game, hit with a straight stroke, accurate cutters, and perform exceptionally when hurt (vicious killer instinct). Both are quick between buckles (recovery of balance), and are hard to kill. Their traits are a simple matter to establish in the new family as both strains produce these traits.

The challenge is to eliminate or suppress the bad, or undesirable traits in each strain by negating them with the positive traits of the other.

To start, you must use individuals that are exceptional from each strain. You can’t use a hen to establish a family (even if she is proven to throw a high percentage of winners) as you cannot judge each of the traits in her. You can in a cock. Another reason is that you can single mate the cock to many different hens, thereby allowing you more choice in the offspring of the matings for selecting individuals for the next generational brood yards. However, if you do have such a hen that, is “pure” and “proven”, so much the better. Your task will be easier, and the success of the family will be enhanced.

Now, the cock; when he is fought, you will be able to see if the good traits are dominant, showing strong, and bad traits seem to be suppressed, or of such a lesser degree that they appear to be nonexistent. In simple terms, the cock to choose is one who is shown to possess genes that are dominant in good traits, (his fighting ability shows only good traits) and suppressing the weaker genes of the bad traits (the bad traits don’t show up). This can be done in any strain, as there is always an individual who is clearly superior, and doesn’t appear to have the bad traits normally apparent in the strain. That is why you must base the new family on the cocks, as you can actually his genetics in action. You can see which dominant genetic traits he possesses, and these will pass on when bred.

Any characteristic, or traits, can be either emphasized, or eliminated, in the family by carefully selecting the individuals this way as each new generation is breed. This point is not a new thing by any means.

Now you have to select a cock from each strain. The best way is to fight them. How else can you judge a fight cock? Of course, you take a chance of losing the potential brood cock, but if he loses, you surely would not want to have used him to base a new family on anyway! The two purebred cocks I used here were both multi-time winners (the Hulsey 3 times, the Claret 8 times) but the amount of wins does not in itself prove everything. These cocks both won quickly the first fights, but each also won a hard drag fight. The quick wins show the cutting and fighting ability, and the drag fights, (when badly hurt) shows their durability, gameness, and desire to kill their opponent (which they both did, as they won by a direct kill, rather than winning on the count). This is very important to my idea of what the ideal traits should be, and I wanted to establish in the new family.

It is important to keep in mind that stags will reflect the traits of the mother, while the pullets reflect the genes of the father. So in this program, the pullets are the offspring that will be used in the next generational brood yard, as they carry the traits of the one of the two original cocks, and they will be bred to the other cocks. Therefore, each generation this will contain more and more of the (2) original cocks’ genes.

Each time one of the cocks is inserted back into the breeding chart, you are successfully establishing the genetics of the cocks. Each time he is bred over a female that is carrying predominantly the genes of the other cock (stag takes mothers, pullets take fathers), you have offspring that will carry more and more of the genes from the two cocks.

By breeding in this manner you will gain hybrid vigor (by crossing two strains) and be able to eliminate traits (such as a manfighter) by not using that individual that shows that trait (a dominant gene that throws manfighter) to breed the next generation to check on the quality of that generation of matings. If you single mated several yards, and if one yard has produced superior stags, then those pullets from that yard should be used in the next generation (back over one of the original cocks, etc.)

Now, you say on the chart it shows that pullets only are saved for breeding after the 2nd generation. True, but the stag in that mating (2nd), as well as the two original cocks that are used and re-inserted throughout the entire program, in every mating, are selected in this manner. And the pullets in every mating are genetically prone to their father’s genetic make-up, which HE is of the superior, dominant genes of which you have seen, via his fighting ability.

You will notice that I preferred using pullets that were white legged. The reason is that they are showing dominant traits of the Clarets, which were superior in ring generalship and slightly better cutters, so the stags they produced would be more apt to show these traits. In the final mating, the Hulsey cock is used over ¾ Claret pullets (to retain the power). These pullets are (genetically) basically the same as the Claret cock. So, in a manner of speaking, you are producing offspring in this final mating that are out of the Hulsey cock and the Claret cock! You have successfully achieved the desired goal of establishing a family out of two cocks – two exceptional cocks.

This system is ideal for small breeders or beginners who may initially have only a few individuals in which to work with, and wishes to start and maintain a family of fowl that fight in a manner that the breeder desires. This system has worked very well for me.

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