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How to Breed White Plymouth Rock Large Fowl

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This will help the new breeder get started with Plymonth Rock Large Fowl or Bantams

How to Breed White Plymouth Rock Large Fowl

By Robert Blosl



A great many poultry fanciers ask me every year how do you make such swift strides and secure such impressive results with your stain of White Plymouth Rock Large fowl. Each year we see improvements from the previous year how do you do this Robert? I normally reply proper mating of good blood lines is necessary to produce the finest results in exhibition type of large fowl Plymouth Rocks.  Correct type is Paramount in your decision each year for your future breeders. To obtain these desired results from year to year, you must have breeding stock that has been line breed and the blood lines behind them must have the capability to pass on these excellent qualities to reproduce the good traits that you wish for. If a breeder starts off with just satisfactory white rock breeding stock you can breed till you become a very old person, but have nothing but average looking birds to show for.


Secure Good Blood Lines:  It has always amazed me why beginners do not take their time to obtain bloodlines that should insure them that their next years work is a total failure as if you started with Rhode Island Red bantams with lacing in the male and female neck feathers. The following year all the off spring will be loaded with smut and lacing in the neck feather section and all the off spring will have to be disposed of because of this incorrect decision to secure the correct parents in the first place.  Its my view that starting out with incorrect blood lines has caused many beginners to give up the variety or breed he has chosen or in some cases abandon the hobby in total disgust. If the beginner obtains good line breed strains of Plymouth Rocks it is my belief that in two seasons you will not discard them for they will be so many excellent birds to choose from you will not ever think of giving them up. I will tell you how our White Plymouth Rocks are mated and then you can look over your own flock and mate your birds accordingly the subsequently breeding season.


Selecting Your  Male Breeders:  In selecting your top mating male you want him to have a nice long body, with full round breasts extending out in front much like a Rhode Island Red, but  in  a way to look like an old fashion gravy bowl effect in his Brest carriage. Some old timers use to say I want that old derby hat look in my male white rocks. You can not have this gravy bowl or derby hat look unless you have males with extended rounded breasts. He must have a broad width of back all the way to the tail and avoid any males with that old fashion Steam Iron look or narrowing at the back section. You want you’re male to have a fully structured furnished tail with a nice TPEE spread appearance from the back side.   This male must be able to display the correct degree of lift in his tail section when he is in a show coop, on the yard walking in no distress. If a male has to have his tail lifted up by the judge in order to compare him with the others in a show, or his top line is like a Rhode Island Red this is not the correct male for the mating. You want your male to have a nice alert head with a nice medium comb that will give that grace and beauty of a outstanding Plymouth Rock male bird. You want him to be high in vigor and gallant willing to fight with another bird when approached in a near by pen. He needs to be a extreme crowing bird who will crow many times per minute during the day and very early in the mourning. You want a male that has his legs set plum, dead center to his body and with good width between his legs when looking straight towards him. His bone structure should be such that his leg bones are as nearly as big as mop handles. There is no place in the breeding pen for a male with fine bone structure as this bone structure can not support the frame of a good large fowl bird weighing 9 pounds as a cockerel. If you use a cockerel in you mating make sure his under carriage is just a little higher than the standard of perfection shows in the black and white picture. This male that Schilling has given us to look at is an 18 month old male bird. If you choose young  males that are not just a little elevated in their legs you will end up as  cock birds that will be short in their legs and your strain will have that Dorking look in your older birds. One way to simplify this trait is to use cock birds in your mattings each year rather than cockerels that have the correct distance from the floor to their under carriage. That has been my practice over the past 18 years as I can see that if the cock bird has the correct traits that are in the standard than I have the greater chance to obtain these same traits and possible improvements in the off spring. 


Selecting the Females:  With large fowl females, they must have extended keels especially in the front section or in breast area as the males do. Pullets as well as two and three year old hens should have this extended keel bone  with plenty of flesh on the breast bone to give us that gravy bowl look in our flock. Their top lines must have that 30 degree lift all the way to the tip of their tails. You want to look at your females from the rear and see that nice tail spread or TEEPEE look just like you want to see in your male which seems to come natural if the female has good width of body. One of the faults that I had many years ago where the tails of my females would drop or droop down in the show room. The judge would take his judging stick and get them to hold their tails up, but with in a few seconds they would revert down so much that they looked like a Cochin female’s tail. We called this fault BUNNY TAILS and the simple thing to do with these female was to mate them to a male with a strong top line or not use them in the breeding pen at all. Over five years this poor trait was breed out. The fault was poor feather quality in the over all line of females which had a soft feather or Asiatic type of feather quality. The ideal breeding female should have nice neat low combs that are symmetrical to the over all body with five to no more than six points to their comb. Their eyes should have that nice bay color with that alert look in their eyes of vigor. We want these females to demonsate the ability to lay many eggs in a year. The ideal goal is 180 eggs in the first pullet year. It is my be leave if your female have good true to standard type, and can lay many eggs per year you will then fix the lost trait of the fast feathering gene and you will have females that have excellent feather quality, free from bunny tails and will have feathers that are not like a Rhode Island Red, but a feather that is with such firm tight texture and substance that you will also have excellent fertility.  Soft fluffy down feathers in the vent area of the female and male will give you poor fertility and the only way to over come this is trim these feathers with a scissors or pluck them from the bird. What I did back in early 1990s over a five year period was breed this bad trait out naturally through selection or using the Fit of The Fittest Principle in Breeding. Again in our mattings we have found excellent results in using two three and up to five year old hens as mates to our males heading our breeding pens each year. The off spring look just like their parents and great grand parents.  If you use females that are short in body, lacking breast extension, body capacity they just will not have the right ingredients   to give you good off spring the following year. Another factor in choosing your females is to weigh your birds. It has been my experience  that the female should be about one pound over standard weight to reach this 180 egg per pullet year goal and the eggs should be at the weight of about 2 1/2 oz or weigh  24 ounces per dozen.


The Secrets in the Dam: In the past 17 years of breeding this old line of Large Fowl White Plymouth Rocks I have come to the conclusion that the most import bird in the mating over the long haul is the female. Sure you must have at the head of the mating a striking male bird, but it’s far more important that the female has the traits to improve the line breeding chain of the chicks. She must be a bird that is not lazy, lays lots of eggs even when she is a four or five year old hen, she must keep her shape as a old hen much like she had as a pullet. She must maintain her TYPE even when she is an old bird. She must always be scratching and looking for something to eat. She needs to be a bird that is off the roost early in the mourning and stays out late before going on the roost at night. Her chicks will be full of vigor and will hatch very soon after they pip their egg in the incubator. She should be a female that has the ability to be best of breed or Champion American at a show or have a good chance to place high in stiff competition.





Number of Birds per Mating:  I try to use the E. B. Thompson method of putting my mattings together each year. Mr. Thompson was a Master Breeder of the old Ringlet line of Barred Plymouth Rock large fowl in the 1920s. He would take a male that really caught his eye and study all the good points of this bird as well as his faults. He would take a piece of note book paper and draw a line down the middle of the paper and put good or positive on one side and bad or negative on the other side. He then would go out into his female yards and study the flock of females and pick a female that most compensated for the birds negative faults yet the male bird would compensate for her negative faults. He then put these two birds side by side in his condition room and further study them. Then he would go out into female yard and look for another mate for this male. If he did not find another female then he would consider this mating finished and closed. He would sometimes have as few as three to five females in a mating and as many as fifty mattings of this famous Barred Rock Large Fowl line. His approach was very simple. Quality is more important in a mating than quantity. Therefore single mating or trio mating may give you the best over all results in a given year for a strain of Plymouth Rocks. If you have high egg laying females you can hatch an easy twenty to thirty chicks per female from such a mating. In fact this year I plan to have Single mattings or a male with no more than two females and have a method to know which female laid which eggs so I can put more breeding pressure  on the heritage of each chick to his mother. In the old days this was called trap nesting and is to date the fastest method of reaching your goals as a breeder of a uniform flock of Plymouth Rocks.



Conclusion: I hope this article on Blosl’s Rhode Island Reds/ web site will help you with your breeding program. The White Plymouth Rock strain that we have obtained from Jim Volk of Centralia Washington nearly 20 years ago was that of the old line of Oliver Bowen’s line of Rocks from California and many of his birds came from the Harold Halbach line from Wisconsin. This old line was founded by Bill Halbach in the early part of the last century and I have tried to breed these birds as I was shown as a small boy by White Plymouth Rock Club Hall of Fame member Carl F. Hove of Seattle Washington who obtained his white rocks from Bill Halbach in the 1930s. Simply put I remember the look of Carl Hove’s birds and I try to just envision in my minds eye what Carl had back in those early days of my youth and breed to this old Bill Halbach form of Plymouth Rock. The White Plymouth Rocks are a grand and wonderful, dual purpose birds and should be a Heritage Breed to preserve not only for Exhibition purposes, but for the hobby farm enthusiast as well. Why get production White Plymouth Rocks from a hatchery when you could have a pedigree White Plymouth Rock with Beauty, Meat Abilities and Egg Production breed to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection. But most of all, you will be helping a breed of poultry that is some what endangered or on the search list of poultry species. I hope you will take up this endangered majestic large fowl white bird and enjoy breeding them as I have. Long live the White Plymouth Rock Large Fowl.

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