Squirrel tail difficulty.

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the SOP' started by Alaskan, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I have two cockerels that I am looking at.

    1. Has a MUCH better overall body size, width between legs, stance, etc, etc. a very good breeder choice...except for his tail! :barnie
    If what he has isn't a squirrel tail... Well it sure is close to one, and what he has isn't good.

    2. Has a perfect tail set but...... Is clearly much worse in stance, width between legs, body size, and just general body form.

    My pullets all have good tail sets

    I do have a third cockeral choice that is a middle of the road, nothing horrid and nothing great. However this one (call him 3) is a color I am not sure I want to use, and has a very extremely small crest. (The breed is Spitzhauben)

    Just how dominant is that horrid upright tail?

    Will I cry for years if I use cockerel number 1?
  2. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 16, 2015
    Republic of Ireland
    Hi there.
    A squirrel tail will usually mean disqualification in a show.
    They always say that a good rooster will improve the quality of the chicks
    Even if the hens are only middle of the road quality.
    It is true as I started off with ok cream legbar hens and a good quality rooster
    And the chicks are turning out great quality.
    I personally woukd keep the rooster with the squirrel tail.
    The chicks might have it or they might not.
    Some people may dissagree with me on this
    But that's what I think.
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Without knowing the breed, we can't know what the Standard calls for in tail lift degree. In my experience, type comes largely from the female and coloration of feather comes largely from the male. However, a tail that is 20 - 30 degrees above the standard calls for is a curse and a multi-generational curse at that.

    Fighting high tails is a very, very difficult challenge. It is NOT a feather defect but a defect in the tail bone/tissues itself. Here? They float with noodles, they're simply not breeders and no way we keep them.

    Tails on males tend go even higher as them transition from being a cockerel to being full grown cockbird. Thus, if it's high now, the odds are great it goes even higher.

    If you do use the high tailed male and use the correct tailed male, breed carefully in separate matings, carefully hatching the eggs separately, and toe punch the chicks. When the grow out, you'll be well able to judge which male threw the better chicks. I believe you'd be very disappointed in the squirrel tailed males chicks.

    We have a breeder's expression. You get what you put up with.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  4. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I agree completely on the "you get what you put up with"

    However, since I do not have a perfect male, which fault will be most dominant and problematic to breed back out?

    I suppose having one fault (the tail) is much better than having a good tail with many other faults....

    As to the angle of the tail and maturity, with Marans and Dominiques I have found that the tail has lowered some with maturity. I assumed that a full set of tail feathers helped weigh down the tail. Dunno though. :idunno

    Isn't squirrel tail always a strong fault/disqualification in all breeds? However, I am talking about Spitzhauben.

    Thank you both so much for giving input. It sure helps me think it through!
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    A squirrel tail will haunt you much more, in my experience, than a poor comb (easy fix) or body depth or feather quality, etc.

    A squirrel tail bird is a soup bird.
  6. RCleghorn

    RCleghorn Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 5, 2015
    Any bird that has a disqualification should be culled. The sooner the better. No reason to breed from a bird like that. You can work on what the others lack. Pair them with the right females that help the males with their faults. I dont know how hard it is to breed out squirrel tail but iv had experience with other faults and they still pop up 10 years down the road, even with harsh culling. So breeding from them will only make it worse. Good luck
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Good post there too.

    The fact is that breeding to the standard is so stinking' hard enough and costs what it costs, that the wise old poultry folks will always tell you. Junk what you have and go get a trio of high quality and go from there. Years ago, I had a hard time hearing that. Wish I had let that sink in earlier.

    Now, there are certain rare breeds where there are are no good birds. Almost anywhere. In those specific rare cases, it just is going to take a commitment of years and years of tough, hard work to push them forward.

    I wasted years and years on a group of birds and progress was absurdly slow and frustrating. I know the difficulty. If better starting birds exist, beg, borrow and steal (just an expression) and go that way.
  8. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Very much ditto.

    And yes, that is the problem with the Spitz, I think I have pretty much the best that is out there. No idea where I would get better. :idunno

    Cockerel front left is the one I want to use.

    Cockerel that I just do not like.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  9. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    When working with a breed that is horrid shape, it is my experience, in listening to others, that it requires using a variety of males over a variety of females, keeping excellent track and records of the single matings, punching the chicks to see which, if any, produced a better result.

    Joseph Marquette, aka @YellowHouseFarm has more experience than I with the rare breeds.

    However, what can surely be said is this. To make any headway, you've simply got to put 100-150 chicks on the ground in hopes of finding those who picked up better DNA and that help your program move forward.

    30-40 chicks a year is highly unlikely to stir the pot and uncover any underlying gold held inside the current birds.

    Best of luck to you.
    1 person likes this.
  10. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    Build the house before yon paint it. Your structure is going to come thru the hen and the color from the cock. Use that 3rd middle of the road cock. Put him over your best 2 hens. Pull your virtue out of the averages of both sides of the equation and look for those chicks who exhibit those positives from both sides. Don't use that cock with the high tail. Bob Blosl ( late lamented BYC Educator and all around great guy) said it best, "Keep kicking the can down the middle of the road".
    From Bob Blosl's last post on BYC before he passed away:
    "You take what you can use and apply it to your program.
    This was tought to me by my grandpa as a 10 year old.
    Want to be good at something learn from ten of the best in their field
    and apply it to your life and program. It works some think its witch craft
    but they are not master breeders of old time Standard Breed Poutlry.
    Keep kicking the can down the road. The tread wont die."
    ( The spelling is Bob's, as is the wisdom)
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016

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