Mating for Size
(From Chapter 4 of E. Campbell's 1922 book The Orpington and Its Varieties)
If big birds are mated, it may be taken for granted that size at least has been secured in a fair proportion of the progeny. I have obtained very satisfactory results from mating a medium-sized cockerel with big hens and strapping pullets, but he was from stock much larger than himself, and he had great substance. The mating of equally big birds sometimes leads to comparative legginess in the offspring, if great depth of body is not a characteristic of both. The mating of a massive low cockerel to big strapping pullets has with me yielded splendid results, as has the leathering cockerel put to low-set, big-framed hens. But the mating of massive birds on both sides is certain to be best. The offspring will vary a bit both ways, but the best will better than [sic] is likely to accrue from either of the other variations. I don't agree, however, with mating very low-set birds however big in body.
Theoretically, an Oprington's legs cannot well be too short—if the body is big enough—practically they can, although they seldom are. Unless you maintain a sense of proportion in the framing of your birds you will not be able to strike the eye with the full sense of your success, while your failures will become depressingly apparent.
You must, in breeding big birds, give them ‘something to stand upon.' That is to say, you must not endeavour to carry a big body on stunted legs. A very short-legged cockerel, or one with a tremendously low body, should not be mated to extremely shortlegged females. Phenomenal features of this sort are best used for corrective purposes. Otherwise the result may be a good lot of breeders, but none to take first place in high competition at shows where symmetry and proportion decide the verdict.
The sense of size is not quite apparent in a show pen unless it be accompanied by proportion. And remember that the bird which looks like a triton amongst the minions of your yard falls back very quickly into the commonplace when it is placed amidst the pickings of other breeders' stock—such as show entries are.
This seems a convenient point at which to warm a young breeder from expecting too much from a low-legged massive hen which he has bought. I like to get my breeding stock young, for I know that as many a slim young maiden develops into an obese middle-aged lady, so do some leggy pullets swell out and let down into typical show hens. These are the sort which may possibly give you a good show cockerel but will seldom satisfy in pullets—for like begets like. It is a hen of this description which should be mated to a massive extra-low cockerel.
If you wish to breed big show pullets—and who does not—see that your hens have been big low pullets themselves. What the mother has been the daughter will very probably also be—if not corrected or improved upon by mating with a male whose females have been better or bigger. I am a firm believer in the influence of the female size on the female line—all things being equal. I am also a firm believer in the big hen theory. All other matters being even, the hen, in my experience, has exercised the greater influence on the size of the progeny. I have mated an experimental pen, including a big pullet sister to a smaller pullet of different conformation (also running in the pen) put to a big and big-stocked cockerel. Every pullet out of the big mating was as big or bigger than the mother, but every pullet from the smaller was little if any advance in size on its parent.
I have in my callow poultry days mated a strapping big cockerel to ordinary hens and pullets, and never got a bird as good as the father, while the tendency in the pullets was to legginess rather than size.
When mating Opringtons , never lose sight of substance. Substance will redeem the smallest specimen. I never kill a big-boned cockerel, however small. Somebody who knows something is willing to take him from me. I never yet saw a big-boned, heavy-framed pullet that was not a good breeder irrespective of size. A big pullet deficient in bone and substance is almost certain to throw very ordinary, if not decidedly leggy, stock, unless wonderfully well mated. A smallish pullet of great substance will lift the weediest cockerel's stock out of the common, on her side at least, if she comes from good stuff.
Don't, however, mate squat birds under the impression that you are securing ‘club type.' The club type Orpington is a bird moulded in proportions, such a proportion as you quickly appreciate by visiting a leading show and following the judge's awards with an inquiring and absorbing mind. Although the standard insists upon ‘short legs,' the term is merely comparative. You may find the first prize cockerel with a leg half an inch longer in shank than the third prize bird. But you will probably also find that the longer leg looks shorter to the eye, because the bird it supports has greater size and substance. It is this proportion which so deceives the novice, that he looks at the first prize pullet and remarks to himself , ‘Well, that isn't a great one. I have something very nearly as big at home.' And only when he ventures into the show arena and puts his big bird into direct contrast, is he aware of the magnitude of his error.
Orpington Exhibition Tips
By Doug Akers
UOC District 3 Director (Indiana,
Sometimes new exhibitors wonder why their birds don’t place as well at the show as they had hoped. The three main criteria that the judge looks for shouldn’t be overlooked:
1)good breed type (shape and size common to the breed),
2) good condition (health including cleanliness and brightness of plumage, head parts, legs and feet), &
3) good color.
When my son, Pete and I first started in exhibition poultry, Bill Bowman, an experienced Brahma breeder from
As you look your birds over, compare the pictures from the standard with your birds. Read the Orpington description in the standard. For example, it calls for a broad, deep head on both the male and female. As my mentor, Jack Patterson says, “I look at the head first”. If an Orpington has a narrow skull, it is not desirable. I especially want good broad heads on the males, but it is also important on the females.
Exhibitors sometimes overlook the importance of good condition. If the bird has rough plumage, missing or broken tail feathers, more than one broken primary feather, or is dirty, one needs to realize that the bird won’t be place well unless there is not much competition. Sometimes I will show a bird that has lost some critical feathers or is a little past prime in overall feather condition because I already paid the entry fee. But, I don’t expect it to place well if there is competition.
I will discuss buff orpington color because that is the only color of orpington that I raise. It is more important to have even color than the exact shade of buff. You want the buff color to look the same on the hackle, wing bow and the back. If those areas are significantly different in color, I wouldn’t advise breeding from them. Sometimes the color that appears in the Standard, of certain breeds, is a bit exaggerated, especially in the newer versions. However, the buff in the buff orpington pictures, appears good.
I don’t want any black in the tails of the males. A little “pepper” (small black or gray spots) in the tails of females isn’t a bad thing. You want to keep some of those females in your breeding pen, according to some long-time poultry breeders. They say that you will eventually lose your good buff color if you cull all those females with any pepper in the tail. Those are a few basics that I use in my buff orpington breeding and showing. There’s lots more for you and me to learn. Study that Standard of Perfection.
How I got stated with Blue Wyandotte Bantams
By: Wilmar F. Vorwerk
Back in 1948 I used to keep a pen if mixed bantams, seems there was always a market for “just bantams”. This particular year I had an extra white
In 1949 put this blue pullet in my mixed pen. This year had a Golden laced Polish Bantam cockerel in this pen and decided to raise some mixed bantams. Among the chicks hatched of this mating where several red necked cockerels and one solid blue pullet. She had slate colored legs and a small crest.
Was so fascinated by this color that in 1950 decided to raise blue
In 1951 decided to use a pure black on this pullet. My good friend Harry Plagge offered me one of his nice males. This mating produced whites, blacks, red and buff mixtures plus five blue pullets and several blue males. Felt I was on the right track, but always discarded all the males and used only pure bred black males for the next four years.
Then in 1955 started to breed brother and sister, blues to black and splashes. Continued this inbreeding for another eight years, than used a pure black again. Since than have not used outside blood.
Now after 25 years of breeding have almost eliminated the smoky color of the first crosses to a beautiful blue laced bantam. I am still trying hard to improve the dark lacing which is so highly prized in the blue colored fowl, but a quality which seems so hard to obtain.
To create a new variety it takes many years of patience and a good measure of luck.
Matings of Blue
By: Wilmar F. Vorwerk
The blue color in domestic fowl is a mutation and will not breed true to color. This follows Mendel’s law of inheritance.
Each chick will receive one gene from its mother and one from its father.
The chick receiving the black gene and one splash gene will be blue.
The one that receives 2 black genes will be a black chick.
And the one to receive 2 splash genes will be a splash chick.
This blue color is not sex-linked and therefore the sexes can be switched in any of the following:
Blue to Blue fig A
This mating will average 25% black, 50% blue and 25 % splash chicks of either sex.
Blue to Splash fig B
This mating will average 50% blue and 50% splash chicks of either sex.
Blue to Black fig C
This mating will average 50% Blue and 50% black chicks of either sex.
Splash to Black fig D
This mating will produce 100% blues, but only 50% will be of the correct shade for showing. 25% will be of a too light a color & 25% will be of too dark a shade, but any of these may be used in the breeding pen with success.
Black to Black
This mating will only produce blacks.
Splash to Splash This mating will only produce splashes. A pure black can be used in place of a black out of blues and will produce the same results as shown above, as far as color is concerned, but, will bring in both good and bad qualities from this out-cross, yet this new blood is sometimes desirable to increase vitality or some other trait which may be lacking in you present strain. Fig 1 Color to dark and lacing to heavy. Fig 2: Ideal lacing and color. Fig 3: To light with no lacing. Fig 4 & 5: Smoky white with blue splashes. Fig 6: Black out of blues, usally without the green sheen.
This mating will only produce splashes.
A pure black can be used in place of a black out of blues and will produce the same results as shown above, as far as color is concerned, but, will bring in both good and bad qualities from this out-cross, yet this new blood is sometimes desirable to increase vitality or some other trait which may be lacking in you present strain.
Fig 1 Color to dark and lacing to heavy.
Fig 2: Ideal lacing and color.
Fig 3: To light with no lacing.
Fig 4 & 5: Smoky white with blue splashes.
Fig 6: Black out of blues, usally without the green sheen.