The Secrets in the Dam
By Robert Blosl
days ago I typed an article written by our new Plymouth Rock Club District Director for District 4 Mike Michael on how he
breeds his excellent strain of Columbian Plymouth Rock Bantams. I was the first person to every read this excellent article
which will in douptly go down as one of the best articles every written on the subject. I then reread it again yesterday and
then wondered what kind of set up would mike send me if I wanted to get started in Columbian Plymouth Rock bantams How many
birds would he send me and how would he instruct me on mating them next year and then say three to five years down the road.
I thought about it a lot today then around four this afternoon Mike Michael called me up on the phone to tell me of a new
meet he set up and I asked him the question.
said Bob I would send you four birds. Three females one from each of my three families and one male to breed to all three
of them. You would then have each female in a 4x4 pen and rotate the male to each pen every day then mark and toe punch each
egg and chick each year. Then you would pick each year the top female from each mating placing her back into the pen that
her egg came out of and then take the best male from pen three and put in pen one. The best male from pen one would be placed
in pen two. The best male from pen two would be placed in pen three. You could go on and do this method placing the best typed
female each year back into her pen for about 12 years without needing new blood if you even then needed it.
the article that you wrote for our Next Newsletter on Columbian Plymonth Rock Bantams I asked Mike you really felt that the
female had the most power to provide type for the strain. He stated that I truly be leave this as I also see this in breeding
my rabbits. The influence on the female is so paramount you are truly wasting your time with none or defective type females.
Then I went on to say, if the current Rhode Island Red females are without backs have elevated top lines high tails like a
New Hampshire the fellow that uses such a bird in the breeding pen is just stamping this same trait in his line year in and
year out. He said that is exaxactly what is happening. I asked him did you read my article in the Poultry Press under Plymouth
Rock News about how the White Plymouth rocks are getting higher top lines. He said I did and I even saw females in the Poultry
Press that where between 15% and 20% higher than the standard calls for. Just as you where trying to allude to in your article. I said Mike if these breeders or exhibitors of these high elevated Plymouth Rock bantams
continue to use such birds the males will have top lines like a Lang shag. He said that mostly likely that’s what will
The Secrets in the DAM: I
have written a lot of articles on how to breed Rhode Island Reds for color, how to get started with Red Bantams, How to Line
Breed your Rhode Island Reds, but I think this article will be the most IMPROTANT article I have ever written. I am not writing
this article for today’s breeders. I am writing this article for the beginners who want to become master breeders in
ten to twenty years from now who are going to pick up the pieces that we have destroyed over the last 15 years of breeding
inferior females in our breeding pens. Maybe after you read all the articles that I have written you can come up with a game
plan and maybe in ten years have the Rhode Island Red Bantams back on track and quite possible the White Plymouth Rocks bantams
as well. Maybe if I write a booklet on the Secrets of Breeding Rhode Island Reds, this will be the final chapter. Reader, the secret to breeding fancy fowl in my first 20 years is in the
female. You cannot have a nice male with good type mated to a female loaded with defects that would score ten to fifteen
points to the perfect bird as described in our standard of perfection. All you are going to get is more of her as Like will beget Like. This is a breeding principle which goes on with the other breeding law Fit of the Fittest Principle. These two laws in breeding are the two most important that I have ever witnessed
in my twenty years of breeding and interviewing master breeders.
E W Reese Jr. in March of 1989 at his home answered this question for me and it was at that time and still today the most
profound answer I ever got from an interview from a Master Breeder. I was sitting in Mr. Reese’s study out in his garage
surrounded with old Rhode Island Red Chronicles and Red Journals and then I looked up to my right and saw this book case full
of books and year books on Jersey Dairy cattle. Out of nowhere I got this inspiration to ask this question and it is still
today the best question I ever asked a master breeder. Mr. Reese, after all the years of breeding prize Jersey Dairy Cattle
and Rhode Island Red Chickens what have you learned from breeding these two great breeds of animals that can be singled out
in one statement. He said to me, that’s easy. THE SECRETS IN THE DAM. The
female in the breeding pen has more influence on the outcome of her off spring than the male. Don’t get me wrong the
male is still 50% of the breeding pen or the breeding of a calf, but the female stamps more influence of greatness on the
off spring. I have seen this happen for over 40 years of breeding chickens and dairy cows and my friends who breed dairy cattle
stand behind me on this statement. I was speechless. I did not know what else to ask after my two hours of visiting his poultry
plant, but to this day and as I write this article twenty years later I am convinced beyond a doubt this is the secret to
Breeding Fancy Poultry and Rhode Island Reds.
The Family Matting’s:
I set down under my big Oak tree tonight looking at my 2009 crop of Grey Call Ducks. My problem last year and this year was
my star pair produces 90 % drakes and 10% females. How can I develop a power house strain that I have in my head on my ducks
when I get more drakes each year than hens. This Spring I sent my two best Call Drakes from last year to a friend in Oregon
who crossed them on his two best Gray Call hens who are from the same strain as mine. From this cross he got about 25 young
ducks and my friend is going to send me two of the best type pullets back to me. I then will put one pullet in pen one, one
pullet in pen two and one of my pullets hatched in April here on my place in pen three. I then will take her father of my
pullet and mate her in pen three. I will take one of the top drakes from this year and put him in pen one (Oregon Pullet)
and the other drake in pen two (Oregon Pullet). Then I will toe punch each baby to his or her pen and start a Rotational Line
breeding program as I described in the beginning of this article. I have for 15 years shrunk down my large fowl Rhode Island
Reds to bantams and three years ago started producing really nice looking males but the females just did not have the type
like my old large fowl females use to have 15 and 20 years ago. Finally, last year I picked six pullets and mated those two
pullets to a pen and mated them to one outstanding male. He is the best male I ever raised and looked to me like my old Mohawk
line of Large Fowl ten years ago. Out of this mating one pullet held her type and looked so much like her pen brother from
a year ago. I have already four pullets from this mating of six that look like the hen this year. Finely after 20 years I
have three females that are equal to the best male I own and their grandfather. If I had to score them they would score about
92 to 93 points. They are not perfect in color or head points, but they have that oblong brick shape type that I have been
striving for in a bantam for 20 years. My plan will be to put the old hen in pen one and mate her to her father. Take the
best pullet and mate her to her uncle the second best male of 2008 season. Then the next best pullet will be mated to her
father who I used this year in all the matings. I will then have each female in a 4x4 pen mark each egg and hatch each egg
from all three matting’s in a hatchery where there is no chance of cross contamination of who is who from what mating.
Then each year the best male from pen one will be rotated to pen two, and the other males will be rotated to the right as
described with the gray call ducks.
will be working on my third year with white leghorn bantams and all ready this year I have a star pullet that has type like
you dream for. She will go into pen one, her mother will go into pen two her pen sister or cousin will go into pen three.
I will then get a male from a friend who gave me my original start and mate this male single mating to these females and next
year precede on to a line breeding system as discussed with the R I Red Bantams and the Grey Call ducks. Do you get the picture that I am trying to paint her for you? Do you see how easy it can be if conditions are
ideal, feed and water is perfect and hatching is done correctly and using a brooder with separate dividers so the chicks can
be identified each year. Hatching the chicks from March 1st to April 15th each year to keep the size
in check and only keeping the very best birds that can score somewhere between 92 to 95 points in the breeding pen using the
standard of perfection old fashion judging system.
Conclusion: I have just
given you what I think is the secrets to success to breeding Rhode Island Reds bantams for type. As Mike Michael explained in his article on breeding the Columbian Plymouth Rock Bantam which is on this
web site and the statement from Mr. E. W. Reese Jr. in my visit twenty years ago should nail the lid on the box for you on
how to be a successful breeder of Red Bantams. If you have a great female line of Reds or Rocks, you will have a great strain
of birds males included. Maybe, there may be some tweaking of female matting’s and male matting’s with some breeders,
most of the time if you breed by the standard of perfection the color and the type will show up on 50% of the birds. I have
been taught by other master breeders you do not have to double mate R I Reds to get good off spring each year, I hope this
article that I have written for my web site will inspire you to take this approach in Raising Rhode Island Reds or for that
matter what ever breed of poultry you desire.
Luck to you and let me know if this article helps you latter in your hobby as a breeder of one of the greatest Dual Purpose
Bantams the Rhode Island Red.