Another good article

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Posted by Rog on October 19, 19103 at 13:56:13:

Breeding From 'Unrelated Parents'

In retail, a hook is a gimmick used to draw a potential customer's attention to a particular product. A hook is a selling point that you emphasize to convince the customer that your product is the one to by because, hook.

I am seeing more and more advertisements for chickens that have a hook that states, "from unrelated parents" or " these birds are unrelated". What I guess is being suggested is that the best way to breed chickens is from unrelated stock. This may be derived from many of the animal programs we see on TV that suggest the best way to breed animals is from unrelated parents. I have heard this statement on programs that are about breeding projects of endangered breeds of animals. The people involved make every effort to keep very close records so that they are breeding from parents that are from 'unrelated stock'.

I would suggest that what is good for the endangered species is not necessarily good for our chickens. I would like to back this up with some history about another animal, the horse. More specifically, the Alkhamsa Arabian horse. Alkhamsa in Arabic means hand or five fingers. The Alkhamsa Arabian is different from all others Arabians in that their genetic history has to be traced back to stock that came from the Arabian Desert. No other blood can have been added in. Even if an Arabian stud is from Poland and is registered pure Arabian, it cannot be registered as an Alkhamsa Arabian. An Alkhamsa Arabian can be registered as pure Arabian but an Arabian cannot be registered as an Alkhamsa Arabian unless it meets the criteria. The five fingers represents five strains of Arabians that are bred in the Arabian Desert. These strains are, Kuhaylan, Saqlawi, Abayyan, Hamdani, and Mu'niqi. Why have I gone to all of this trouble when we are talking about chickens? The Alkhamsa Arabians represent a closed gene pool. There isn't such a thing as unrelated parents. I have two books here that trace the Alkhamsa Arabians here in the U.S. back to their desert ancestry and you will see fathers bred to daughters and grand mothers bred by grand sons. You will never see brother bred to sister.

The difference that I see between the endangered species breeders and the Alkhamsa breeders is that the endangered species is breeding to keep a specie from becoming extinct while the Alkhamsa breeder and those of us who are trying to breed to a standard. Now not all chicken lovers are interested in breeding to a standard. They just want to keep some chickens. And that's alright. But if a person has become interested in chickens and wants to set the goal of having a chicken that actually represents the breed and produces offspring that represent the breed, then starting with unrelated parents is not necessarily a good idea. My opinion.

I have said in the past few articles that if you want to get 5 show quality Japanese then you have to set 100 eggs. I know that there are a few breeders out there that chuckle when they read that statement. And rightly so because they are setting 30 eggs and getting 10 show quality birds, and they are doing it year after year after year. How do they do it? An old breeder of Plymouth Rocks by the name of Ralph Sturgeon said it best in the title his little book, " Start Where You Are With What You Have". That's the first step. But the rest of your steps have to be calculated. We are talking about the difference between line breeding and inbreeding. The basic flaw of inbreeding is continually breeding brother to sister, disposing of the parents and taking their offspring and breeding brother to sister. This will eventually end up at the dead end of infertility.

I had a man call last week asking me if I had any good birds to sell. I said I would but good had to be defined. I have what I would call good birds. I am talking about Black Tailed Whites now. I could have sold this man a trio of good birds, but I could not guarantee that they would breed true. Four years ago I got back into Black Tailed Whites by getting breeding stock from four different strains. What I have now are birds that are crossed from three of those strains. I have disposed of one of the strains. I have to set 100 eggs to get 5 show birds. But one of my strains is from a breeder, and he is a breeder, that if he set 30 eggs he gets 10 show birds. The difference here is that I have blended three strains together and he has been breeding the same strain for 50 years. The quality of offspring from his birds is pretty predictable.

I hope you see where I'm going here particularly if you are new to the fancy or if you have been breeding for a while and not having much success. You put your breeders together and when they hatch the offspring look like Heinz 57 varieties. So you go looking for another better male to add in. (Adding another set of genes to the already polluted pool.) Have hope. This can be overcome, but it will take time and patience.

The problem we have in our corner of the Fancy, namely, the Japanese Bantam corner, is that there are not many old strain breeders left. We need dedicated people who are willing to take these tried and true rules and apply them to their breeding projects and produce strains of Japanese that will breed true. Taking one or several varieties of the Japanese Bantam and working with them, applying the principles of line breeding and coming up with some really good breeding stock that will perpetuate itself and influence all of our birds.

I am hoping that this article will stir some strong discussion wherever it is read. I really want to hear from you, pro or con. Please write with you thoughts and ideas about your programs. Terry Wible 5205 Guitner Rd. Chambersburg, Pa. 17201; (717) 375-4573;


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