I just came across this post on Facebook from A YEAR AGO and could find no mention of it when I search the forum, but this seems MAJOR. Can we talk about this post? I feel it's important: --copied content below-- This post was on the American Poultry Association and its author Joseph Marquette is one of MY MENTORS and a well respected APA/ABA judge. From November 2018 Thinking This Through So a week or so ago, I posted a quick note to try to rally the troops to start thinking creatively, yet systematically, about Duane Urch's stock. What began as an exhortation to action became a lament for the retirement of who might be the last true stringman and certainly the last standard-bred hatchery. Now, we are witnessing the University of Arkansas' decision to eliminate its standard-bred poultry program. We may lament that passing, but it is representative of the age. Budgets are not unending, and administrations need to make decisions that support the health of the whole institution. Whether or not they fall in concert with our own agendas, chances are there is a rhyme and reason. If we step back and become reflective, what this is pointing too is a shift. Every so often, we change gears. There are elements that come from the outside to us with which we must grapple and which establish certain limitations within which we must learn to function. However, we are not forcibly impotent; we have choice, even if it is choice within parameters. Again and again we are going to come back to the reality that these birds, this hobby, the APA, the ABA, these exist because of breeders, real breeders. Real breeders built these breeds, created them, culled them into shape, turned loosely similar land-races into picture perfect specimens. Real breeders perfected land races and created composite breeds, each with individual breed character, each capitalizing on genetic potential and revealing unique shapes and colors. Real breeders needed a play book by which to establish parameters, focus, and unified goals which behooved the poultry and created a bull's eye at which to aim. This book, in turn, enabled shows and empowered judges to create community and commitment, competition and consensus. For a hundred years this culture bloomed and remained vital, and then time brought changes and new priorities for industries and for individuals. The world opened up; Paris moved next door. Professions proliferated; urbanization and internationalization have created myriad opportunities with, perhaps, the unintended consequence of eclipsing the barnyard in the name of progress. There's no sense in pretending that past times were better than they were and that new advantages are unworthy of our gratitude, yet we can move forward with intentionality. We lament Urch's retirement and UofA's program shifts because, like many other programs still extant or passed, they felt a bit like community bank accounts. I didn't have to move on such and such a goal because so and so was taking care of it. The great Greek philosopher looked out over the river and said: "panda xorrei, ouden menei--all things flow, nothing stays" So as we flow down this river, the question asserts itself: What are we taking with us? Breeders created these breeds from the dunghills of backyards across the globe; it is breeders that will bring them forward, yet efficacy often depends on a plan, or at least a good outline. We need to take a good long look at the large fowl in the Standard, and then we need to get honest. We can't do everything; not everything is salvageable. Moreover, not everything is real. There are some breeds and many varieties in the Standard that were always peripheral, personal fetishes that were never popular, that never represented established populations with deep meaning. Which then become our sine qua non large fowl, those large fowl that, should they pass out of existence, the fancy would seem hollow. Imagine a fancy without Barred Plymouth Rocks. Heck, what is America without Barred Plymouth Rocks. Color is an obstacle to clarity and quite frequently highly redundant. If breeds are to remain strong, we need to channel our efforts and focus on communal projects that support each other. Breeds have defining varieties, and all of us who are poultry people from the cradle know what they are. Most breeds have one or two breed defining varieties, a few have three, only a couple have four, only one has more. (PS: stop reading at this point if you're starting to find this offensive. I am writing this for a specific audience, and different audiences work, and need to work, with different priorities. Please refrain from reading this and then telling me how inconsiderate I am because I don't think Barred Hollands are a priority) When it comes down to it, you can reduce each class down to five breeds, Continentals and AOSB maybe to six because they're grab bags; e.g., the American class: Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, and Dominiques. Everything else is a bit of fluff and fantasy, and that doesn't have to be insulting; it could just be real. It doesn't mean they're not nice. It just means that a cake without sprinkles is still a cake, yet a handful of sprinkles does not a cake make. Consider Red chickens. There are four red chickens, all of an age. Two were groundbreaking, bedrock institutions, and two were not. In North America, Red Sussex were absolutely inconsequential in and of themselves save that they led to the Speckled Sussex which is the sole impactful variety of Sussex in US history. The loss of the former, well its already gone, and who really cares, the loss of the latter, means the loss of one of the most beautiful birds in the Standard. The Rhode Island Red is one of the most important breeds of fowl to has ever existed. Its history is fascinating; its development is truly unique; its niche indisputable as one of the top ten breeds of fowl in the history of chickens. Its standard type is exemplary to its purpose. It is relatively, as opposed to actually, safe, at this point; it has a handful of anchor breeders and a community of minor breeders, which is frankly better than most. The New Hampshire, like the Rhode Island Red, is one of the most impactful breeds of poultry to have ever existed. It and the RIR are two of the six breeds that established the bedrock of the industrial edifice. Whereas the the color of the Rhode Island Red is a study of beauty in unity, the color of the New Hampshire is that of harmony in diversity. Are there three anchor breeders of American, as opposed to German, New Hampshires? The Buckeye was never important. It grew up in the shadow of these prior two. It was in no way the match of the former for eggs nor of the latter for meat. Like the Holland, the Lamona, and the Delaware, it was just kind of there. It does not mean that it didn't have a few faithful breeders, but it was a fringe breed with little historical importance. A fringe organization chose to mythologize it, and now it has become a staple for a subgroup, yet that doesn't change that it's not the top red chicken. 'Tis more than a bit of a shame that they didn't whip cyberspace up over the New Hampshire which, strong or in decline, will always be the superior fowl. What is the point? The point is that there aren't a lot of us willing to hatch 100 to 500 out each year, so what are they going to be? That doesn't mean that 50-a-year flocks aren't impactful, but they need those 100-500-a-year flocks to go back to every so many years for vim and vigor. If a breed doesn't have at least one 100-500-a-year breeder, it's on thin ice; it's caught in a juggling act. So this post is for the 100-500 a year breeders or up-coming breeders (remember the point above about being offended). What are we doing? I had two breeds: Dorkings and Anconas. I needed to reduce to one because of work demands, and I wasn't willing to reduce to 50-a-year in both, so it had to be one. The community built around Dorkings is fairly active online but hugely sporadic. There are too many varieties in the breed for its own good; the efforts are too divided. I can't think of a single judge working on them, and the only major breeder I know who has them has twenty-four different projects going. The Ancona is maligned online on fora for beginners as flighty and hard to raise. It has a quieter community without a huge online brouhaha in the US, but with them I know two other professionalized breeders working on them that are bringing them to the fore via discipline and a breeder's mentality and there is a growing number of smaller breeders. Hedging my bets, I went with Anconas. Now, I'm not saying that everyone should stop breeding Buckeyes; that ship has sailed. Yet, I am implying that some of us might want to consider tightening up the ranks. Unfortunately, I think we are going to see some breeds, and definitely some varieties, join the annals of history. If we follow the fads, where are we going to be in twenty years? If we create long tales around insignificant breeds, while ignoring real histories around staple breeds, what is the show hall going to look like in twenty years? An example, to my knowledge the Golden Spangled Hamburg has been reduced to nothing beyond one or two hatcheries. On the one hand, it is not the flagship variety of its breed, on the other hand, it has more history and culture around it than all of the Buckeyes, Marans, Hollands, Delawares, and lord knows what combined. That it may be that there is no random hype around them on the internet, doesn't mean that this statement cannot be quickly and easily verified with a bit of honest research. If someone doesn't order 100-200 chicks and fly with them, they will be gone. Is that cool? And I mean that as an open question. Not addressing the disappearance doesn't mean that the disappearance is not occurring, just like internet hype does not actually constitute genuine, heavy-hitting history. The Urchs of our hobby are going to want, or perhaps, simply need, to retire. The UofA's are going to have to redirect their ever battling budgets into the broiler and layer industries because that is where the vast majority of their graduates are going to find gainful employment. If breeders are going to save breeds and the breed-defining varieties of those breeds for future enjoyment, then we need to transform some mentalities, by which I'm not saying all mentalities (go back to the offended bit) Breeds: 1. There are breeds that are huge. 2. There are breeds that aren't huge but are still pretty darn impactful 3. There are breeds that were never important 4.There are breeds introduced to scam the unaware out of money 5. There are breeds that if they disappear, we will hold a collective moment of silence. 6. There are breeds that is they disappear, there will be a hollow in the fancy that will never be filled Varieties: 1. There are flagship varieties that are the leading royalty of their breed 2. There are secondary varieties that hold significant importance. 3. There are tertiary varieties that never were important at all 4.There are colors that "belong" to a certain breed 5.Some varieties are perfectly reciprocal, such that the one is actually the other: SC and RC White Leghorns, Golden and Silver Campines. Their coexistence does little to weaken the breed 5. Some varieties have nothing to do with each other and the existence of the one does little to do with the existence of the other such that they really are two completely different breeds for all intents and purposes: Barred Rocks and Buff Rocks, if we want them both, we have to maintain them both essentially independent of each other. What do you need? Well, you need what you need, and no one can tell you otherwise; hence this post is not written to everyone. The Brits have a great expression: "Not my pig, not my farm." What do the breeds need to be viable populations of excellent stock? 1. What they have always needed: several heavy-hitting breeders willing to stay the path, not in spite of, but in order to generate, steep competition such that the motivation leads to focus and persistence. 2. Without a deep and spacious genetic pool they have nothing. 3. The more that genetic pool exists in unity, the stronger, the deeper, the longer the pool will endure. Five varieties of Dorkings are too many varieties of Dorking. Damn, Australorps are lucky--and it shows. PS: If all of this seems ahistorical to you or like a bunch of egoic raving, you were probably meant to stop reading about midway when I noted that this post was not written for everyone. If you absolutely MUST deliver the Barred Holland from oblivion, than God love you and keep you, and I look forward to seeing the fruit of your work at the shows. If I ever get the opportunity to judge them, then they will get a 100% fair shake, and if you knock my sox off with their excellence, I will place them according. None of this will change, of course, that they are one of the least important fowl in the American cannon; it will simply mean that you have busted for them.