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It Has Been a Great Ride Pt2
been a Great Ride- Part Two Originally published: 01-08-2014
When I began
showing waterfowl in the last half of the 1960s, the big birds were where it
was at both in terms of quantity and certainly, quality. I recall classes of
Rouens at the Wisconsin State Fair that exceeded 40 birds and which featured
not one or two but as many as 6-7 noted breeders of Rouens. The same was true
for many breeds of the large ducks and classes of many of the breeds of geese
were large and competitive. The difference between then and now is that most
breeds were supported by multiple breeders. That meant that the gene pool was
generally in good shape and that the breed was progressing well due to the
efforts of several devoted people. Today, a given breed may offer the illusion
of good support if one stops at counting the number of exhibitors at a show.
What further investigation may reveal, however, is that a significant number of
the exhibitors are not breeding the birds that they show and in fact may all be
getting their show birds from the same one or two people. If those people (for
any reason) stop turning out numbers of good birds for even a few years, the
number of exhibited birds in that breed may crash. I am sure that the same may
be true in many breeds of large fowl and perhaps in some breeds of bantams.
the small ducks were not especially large and, at least compared to today, the
quality was poor. Many birds were shown in poor condition and in the Calls,
sinus infections were quite common. Of course, the showing of birds with
obvious health and/or condition problems was not limited to the Calls. I recall
seeing and even judging Toulouse at major shows with slipped and even angel
wing (s). Of course, those defects were considered just as serious back then as
they are today but sometimes a judge would place a good specimen with such a
problem rather than going with a grossly inferior bird. The main problem with
the Toulouse back then was what I referred to earlier; key breeders had died or
had given up raising the breed. It wasn’t until David Reath began to raise
numbers of Toulouse through the use of artificial insemination that the quality
birds began to be seen again. David also
worked wonders with the quality of African geese and Aylesburys during the
1970s and 1980s.
East Indies were in an interesting situation during the early 1970s through the
late 1980s. The best birds were well
colored and displayed pretty good Indie type but they were huge by today’s
standards. Many Indies at shows approached three lbs. in weight. Breeders like John Kriner put a high premium
on color and were willing to sacrifice size to achieve that. Some Indie
breeders like Stanley Osika of Indiana were experimenting with crosses with
Calls to bring down the size but were giving up some Indie type in the process.
Still others believed that if one began with breeders that were of good basic
type and which possessed good color the problem of oversize would take care of
itself if one raised good numbers over a period of years. By the late 1980s,
the Indies were good enough to challenge the Calls for champion bantam duck but
it took a couple of well -respected judges who were not afraid to buck current
trends to get other judges to begin to take a second look at the Indies. I will
always be grateful to Lewis Cunningham and Wilbur Stauffer for their
willingness to trust their judgment rather than just following the crowd.
The truth is
that during the 1960s and 1970s, judges who were truly familiar with waterfowl
were few and far between. Some judges who were or had been “string men” had a
distinct advantage because their “strings” often included waterfowl and of
course, there were judges like Choice Culver, Henry Miller, and Al Barry, among
others who were waterfowl men. All three also knew and judged chickens as well as turkeys.
In spite of
the fact that at many shows, waterfowl were a significant number of the total
entry, they were often relegated to the poorest location in the showroom and
frequently were given the oldest, poorest caging. That situation was a major
reason that the IWBA was formed in the early 1970s. The International Waterfowl
Breeders Association pushed for better showing conditions, provided a list of
established waterfowl judges upon request, and held meets all over the U.S. and
Canada. Gradually, conditions improved
at many shows. For those shows not interested in changing, waterfowl exhibitors
often took their birds and their entry money elsewhere.
time, I will discuss how other individual breeds have changed over the past decades.
Last updated: 01-22-2015