Old and Rare Breeds

BKPUCKETT

Chirping
7 Years
Sep 28, 2012
249
6
73
Dodson Branch TN
I hope I'm not out of place , Saladin or anyone that can help. All the old Gamefowl breeders used mostly Irish blood. Is Irish Gamefowl the best? Does anyone breed any pure Black Irish in the US? Thanks if you can help.
 

saladin

Songster
10 Years
Mar 30, 2009
2,831
132
221
the South
A few things based on what I have read here. One is the sumatras. We have a line of good sumatras. They are great foragers and make the best mothers around here. I have been known to go on long rants about sumatra quality. The thing that gets me most with sumatras lately is that so many judges are placing birds that are HUGE and are loose feathered. They shouldn't be hard feathered but they shouldn't look like an australorp either. In the last few years at shows I have gone to, it seems like so many people thing bigger is better. A friend had a line of sumatras that were around 10-12 lbs but he did great with them at shows, it burned me up inside to see and hear judges going on and on about how "these are the best sumatras I have ever seen", which to me is a slap in the face. I have seen horrible hatchery stock that more closely resembles a normal sumatra than the line of giant show birds.
Way back when we decided to introduce blue sumatras into our flock, we got a rooster from a well known breeder. He talked the rooster up so high that I would think it was made of gold. When I got it, I first noticed how plain it looked. It had a boring farm bird look to it, nothing that made me think "look at that great sumatra". He had a reddish face, huge wrinkled comb, greenish legs, loose feathering, and a very large body. But, he did have a long tail and multiple spurs in addition to good blue coloring. I figured if we used him once to get the color into our flock, the bad traits would be easy enough to breed out, I was very wrong. It took close to 7 years to breed out the loose feathering alone, the roosters sickles had a wrinkled look to them which annoys me. We finally culled out all of the birds that had the genetics of that rooster just because it would still pop up from time to time.
When we select our breeders, we first go by type of course. I always use cockerels with a slightly higher tail, just because as they fill out it always drops. Our flock spends most of the time free ranging in the summer. We never vaccinate for anything around here, so survival of the fittest is another key that helps us choose breeders. Along with free ranging comes predator smarts. I have never lost a sumatra to predators. Our line is smart like that. When they are out in the fields chasing bugs and foraging, they always know how to hide when hawks are around. I never select a bird based on production or age. If it looks good, we use it. Some of the hens lay better than our barred rocks and some hens lay 20 eggs a season. If they look good, they get bred from. I think that a lack of production pressure is one reason that we have hens that still produce great as old birds and also longevity. Like our bantams were 12 when they died this past year but they were still going strong when they died from the cold snap.

For showing crazy birds, I have some things that I have noticed. Birds that are really calm and easy going tend to not show as well. Our sumatras have a crazy 'death scream' when we touch them here at home. Birds that are somewhat spooky and cocky tend to show better in my experience. An example was one of our old pet hens. She used to be carried around like a rag doll and was sweet as could be. We took her to a show as a pullet and she was just droopy so she didn't place. The next year after she had a clutch of chicks and turned into a fierce broody, she showed amazingly.

I am a firm believer in watching birds. What my family doesn't understand is that in order to be in touch with the show birds, you must observe them often. I go out and normally take 45 minutes to do basic chores. For me, I am normally out there for 2 hours just staring at them. I am more in tune with the birds than anyone around here. I am able to tell when a bird is sick or anything just by being around them for a few minutes. Even though I leave for work around 6 am and don't get home until 10 pm and am gone before the sun comes up and get home long after it has gone down but because I am so in tune with them on my days off, I can tell when something is up

I planned to post more but I realize I am more tired than I thought. I just got a new puppy (the future farm protector) and I have been unable to sleep more than a few hours a night before going and working 14 hour days in the city.
I couldn't agree more with those Sumatra comments if I had made them myself!

What needs to happen is some basic 'appeals' when this happens. A bird more or less than 20% on the weight is suppose to be a DQ.
 

saladin

Songster
10 Years
Mar 30, 2009
2,831
132
221
the South
Lacy Blue didn't offend me in the least.

My Black Asil are also yellow legged and yellow beaked. The Blue pictured is in with two Black Asil hens already.
 

saladin

Songster
10 Years
Mar 30, 2009
2,831
132
221
the South
I hope I'm not out of place , Saladin or anyone that can help. All the old Gamefowl breeders used mostly Irish blood. Is Irish Gamefowl the best? Does anyone breed any pure Black Irish in the US? Thanks if you can help.
Lots of Irish blood has been used in the past. Whether you could find straight Black Irish I do not know as I have never looked for it. You could ask at UFF and see what folks have.
 

phoneman

Songster
10 Years
Aug 9, 2009
337
1
109
sumter s.c.
i bought a pr of samatras back in the summer. she laid a dozen eggs this month.and not a one is firtle. can you tell me why not one is fertile
and what i can do to help
 

saladin

Songster
10 Years
Mar 30, 2009
2,831
132
221
the South
i bought a pr of samatras back in the summer. she laid a dozen eggs this month.and not a one is firtle. can you tell me why not one is fertile
and what i can do to help
Could be several different things:

1. Age of the male
2. Did you trim the feathers around their vents?
3. Feed

Sometimes if the male is not fertile you can take him out of the breed pen and put him back in two weeks later and find that he'll tread the female just fine.

Did you see him treading her during the time she was in lay?
 

Yellow House Farm

Crowing
10 Years
Jun 22, 2009
2,050
887
268
Barrington, NH
So, on La Fleche.

We had them several years ago, a mixture of Sand Hill and Ideal birds. The Sand Hill, perhaps not surprisingly, were better over all. We ate them, they were delicious. The meat was truly good, like Houdans and Creve's, we found them to have exquisite breast meat. To come to the long and short of it, they were among several breeds we were experimenting with at the time before we finally narrowed it down to the White Dorking and the Ancona. They were the one breed, though, that I was discarding that I new I really didn't want to. Still, I had gotten it into my head not to overextend resources, and I had come to understand that specialization was the only way to go.

Almost a decade later, I still hadn't forgotten the La Fleche. Nevertheless, I wasn't willing to go the Sand Hill-Ideal route again. Having spent so much time bringing the Anconas and Dorkings up from hatchery quality and still having so far to go, I wanted to find birds that had at least been pampered a bit. I began to think on them more and more,and tried contacting a few people I had met on-line, but the birds I saw either had Minorca written all over their comb or just weren't available. Once, though, while at the Boston Expo, I mentioned La Fleche to a poultry friend and judge, Erik Nelson. He just smiled, and said that I wanted to contact a certain old-timer, by the name of Jack, in Maine--if, that is, he were still around. I thanked him for the reference, and conversation moved on to other things.

Not forgetting Erik's hint, I began the search over the Internet, and came up with an address but no telephone number. Deciding on a Hail Mary pass, I wrote Jack a letter, and dropped it in the post. Not long after, I received a response; well, wasn't I psyched? A few more letters and a phone call later had an appointment set up at his farm, a good jaunt away, but why not enjoy a car ride? When I arrived, wasn't I ever met with a character. Jack is, safe to say, elderly, yet he brims with life. He, too, is multi-lingual, which began a whole array of conversation. If Jack exudes anything, it's good living. He and his wife travel and laugh and are full of stories.

Eventually, Jack grabbed his walking stick, and off we went to his barn. Well, didn't my jaw drop. The door opened up to a whole series of breeding pens, all stocked with better La Fleche than I thought still to exist. Their heads were huge. They had nice corformation and long full tails. They weren't perfect, right away I picked up on this or that need for targetted breeding, but, after these years with White Dorking and RC Anconas, perfect isn't even on my meter. Worthy of "the old college try" is enough to put a grin on my face.

Jack's birds came from an old hatchery in the mid-West in 1975, the year I was born. Try as he might, he couldn't remember the name of the hatchery. No doubt it is long defunct. In thirty-seven years he's never added a lick of blood. Still, the birds are vigorous, and hatched well. Jack saved me two collections of eggs; some of which came from hens still laying at more than ten years old. It was late in the season, already July; I knew that the ideal time for hatching had past. Nevertheless, beggars can't be choosers.

So here's where it's at six months later. I have four quartets. They're not as large as I'd like, but then again they're trying to finish in 20 degree night-time weather. They're definitely hardy; they've been raised for 37 years in the middle of Maine; that'll do it. They're not laying yet. The females are just starting to show the advent of sexual maturity. Ancona pullets, hatched at the same time, have been laying for over a month. Considering all of the literature pertaining to La Fleche, this isn't all too shocking.

When I hold them, they're too light. I make allotment, of course, for when they were hatched, but after years of handling Dorkings, I can tell that these have a ways to go to compete with the our Dorkings for fleshing. They feel like so many show birds, that, when they're handled prove to be heavy in the feather department but light on the meat. Sheer body density is going to be top on the list of selection criteria.

Conformation-wise, they're awesome. Even at eleven and twelve weeks the length of back they were exhibiting was outstanding. They have nice long tails and strong combs and ear-lobes. Feather quality is good. Sheen is alright, but the sheen of our Anconas is better. Leg length is good. Shanks and toes have correct leg color. The birds are about 50/50 for the presence of crest. It's by no means a crest, but rather a small tuft, or suggestion of a crest. Ideally it's not there, but we'll iron that one out over time.

The Standard for eyes calls for "bright red." These all have dark orange eyes. I've never seen La Fleche with what I would call "bright red" eyes, if "bright red" means matching their wattles. So, I'm pleased enough with them for now. Perhaps in further breeding some buried allele for "bright red" eyes will pop up sometime.

My best male has two rusty red hackle feathers, but he's staying. He's the best male I've got, and old breeders of Anconas would use males with a little red in the hackle to bring out green sheen in the females. If this works, that wouldn't be a bad thing. I'll just be clear to cull for it in this spring's hatch.

I have one female with a white tip on one tail feather. This makes me more nervous, but I have a dilemma. The eggs weren't marked. I don't know who's who. I know that they came from at least three pens, which means at least three cocks and multiple females. They could represent a fairly balanced distribution of genes or they could be skewed one way or the other. In short, I cannot be sure that I'm avoiding sibling matings. However, as I've mentioned above, I've divided them into four clans, each with one male and three females. I'm a bit cull shy, though, because I'm not sure about the make up of the birds. I figure that, if I can get some good hatches on the ground this spring, I'll be more able to cull in the fall. I'm hoping that by breeding them forward in clans that enough distance will develop between them such that when I move cockerels about there will be a level of heterosis. At this point, I'm committed not to bring in anything else. I dont want to waste 37 years of closed breeding. I did have one pullet with a crooked beak, which I culled, and we lost one male to a goshawk. After the latter event, I've put them into breeding pens with covered runs to avoid any further loss before I get out the next generation.

Unfortunately, I can't really post any photos yet. I don't really know how too, and I have to borrow my partner's camera. This, however, is on the list to remedy, and I'll try to get some up sooner than later.
 

Lacy Blues

Crowing
7 Years
i bought a pr of samatras back in the summer. she laid a dozen eggs this month.and not a one is firtle. can you tell me why not one is fertile
and what i can do to help

I've read that they need a LOT of room. I had a quad of Sumatra a few years back. I had them in my largest pen, which apparently wasn't large enough, as they were mostly not fertile. The hens all went broody at the same time over a single egg. As it turned out they were horrible mothers. After the chick hatched, they butchered it! I didn't have the means at the time to build something really big for them so I ended up selling them. I will have Sumatra again some day, and I'll make sure they come from a line that broods successfully!
So, on La Fleche.

My best male has two rusty red hackle feathers, but he's staying. He's the best male I've got, and old breeders of Anconas would use males with a little red in the hackle to bring out green sheen in the females. If this works, that wouldn't be a bad thing. I'll just be clear to cull for it in this spring's hatch.
When I've had red feathers show up, I pluck them and wait to see if they grow back in red. Most times they don't so I figure it's just a fluke feather?
 

gjensen

Crowing
8 Years
Feb 22, 2011
2,965
1,348
313
Midlands, South Carolina
I enjoyed the story Yellow House. I can relate with a few things.

One is meeting the person behind the birds. As opinionated as poultry people can be, it is always nice to get to know the person behind the birds. I like the stories, I like the history, and I like the perspective. That is good a reason to find someone that has been working with a breed we are interested in as any other.
 

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