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It Has Been a Great Ride Pt 3
Originally published: 01-08-2014
It has been a Great Ride – Part Three
Many more breeds of poultry have improved over the last 3-4
decades than have regressed. That has been due to lots of dedicated effort by
breeders who loved their breeds and worked on improving them sometimes for
decades. Some breeders even concentrated most of their efforts on one or two
varieties within a given breed. People like Bill Bowman (Buff Brahma bantams),
Larry and Mark Peterson, (Light Brahma standards and Cochin standards) and
Adrian Rademacher (Black Minorca and Rhode Island Red standards among others)
and Bud Hudson (White Rock standards) to name just a few. Such men were not
concerned about whether their breed or varieties were trendy at the moment or
if those breeds/varieties were the best candidates to “win it all”. They simply
loved the birds that they worked with and kept at it. Guess what? In the long
run, the winning took care of itself for
all of them.
Of course, the waterfowl had their share of this kind of
breeder. Darrel Sheraw certainly did his share to contribute to the progress of
both the established varieties of Calls and the East Indies over a long period
of time. In addition, he created and helped popularize the Blue Call (the very
first “new” variety of Call in the Standard) as well as my personal favorite
among the newer Call varieties, the Butterscotch Call. Meanwhile, M. G. Oakford
of Wisconsin was creating the Snowy Calls and the Pastels in addition to having
some of the finest lines of White and Gray Calls in the country over a very
long period of time. Both men supplied breeder and show quality Calls to
exhibitors and breeders all over the U.S. and Canada for several decades and
Sheraw continues to do so. Not the least among those who improved and helped
popularize Calls over several decades is Art Lundgren of New York. Art started
with other breeder’s castoffs and developed top lines of Calls.
As mentioned earlier, David Reath of Michigan made tremendous
strides through his breeding programs with Toulouse and African geese and
Aylesbury ducks (using seed stock originally imported from the U.K. by Gerald
If I had to choose the one waterfowl breeder who has done
more in recent years to popularize and improve numerous lines of waterfowl, it
would have to be Dave Holderread of Oregon. Dave undoubtedly has the premier
overall flock of waterfowl of many breeds which he shares with others through
the sale of ducklings, goslings and adult birds. He also has developed as well
as imported several breeds of ducks and geese not previously found in the
U.S. Dave’s Cayugas, Toulouse, Africans, and Embdens, among others, were
brought to state-of-the-art status through his breeding work.
Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Cayuga was a breed not
often seriously considered for championships because they were undersized,
possessed mediocre color and had serious type shortcomings. Today, they are
among the leading contenders for waterfowl awards due to the work of Holderread,
Paul Ashbrook, Byron and Laura Kershaw, and Don Roscoe among others. It would
be hard to find a winning flock of Cayugas in this country which does not have
at least one of the bloodlines mentioned above in it.
The Muscovy breed today contains specimens which approach the
Standard ideal in almost every respect. The men primarily responsible include
Gary Rayl of Kansas (the Whites), Dan Aultman of Ohio (Blacks) and, most
recently, Danny Padgett of Florida (several colors). Raising them in numbers
year after year and rigorous selection were the keys for these breeders as they
were for virtually everyone mentioned in this article.
major differences are observable when one compares the state of exhibition
poultry in, say, the 1970s to the present? Generally speaking, the waterfowl
breeds have made steady progress and in fact feature some breeds that did not
even exist in the U.S. in the 1970s including several colors of Runners, the
Hookbill duck, and the Steinbacher goose. That is not to say that some breeds
are not much rarer today than they were in decades past. The Blue Swedish and
the exhibition Mallard come to mind, for example. One of the key criteria for
continued popularity in any type of poultry is the presence of people who raise
and distribute exhibition stock on an ongoing basis. Waterfowl is fortunate to
have at least two such sources at present: Dave Holderread and Duane Urch.
Duane also works with a number of breeds of chickens.
In the large chickens, some colors in some
breeds have flourished while other breeds and color varieties have all but
disappeared. Those that have flourished largely owe a few breeders who
consistently worked with them over a long period of time for their continued
development. An interesting development over the last ten years or so is the
rise in interest in breeds which were considered all but extinct a decade or so
ago: the Buckeye, the Maran, and the Chantecler. The increasing interest in
these breeds seems to coincide with the growing interest by small holders in
keeping dual purpose flocks for eggs and meat. As a matter of fact, the trend
toward keeping small flocks even in urban areas is strong and growing and such
people may prove to be allies of the exhibition poultry fancier in the future.
of bantam chickens are an interesting study. Dozens of breeds seem to be
thriving and yet there seems to be a similar trend as in other forms of
poultry: a steady ebb and flow of
popularity within some breeds, largely due, I suspect, to the presence or
disappearance of major breeders who popularized them and supplied a steady
number of high quality stock on an ongoing basis. Overall, the status of bantam
chickens seems to be solid. There is even a new breed being touted in the U.S.:
the Serama. There is also rekindled interest
in some European breeds not often seen here in some years.
ducks are a mixed bag. The Calls and East Indies are doing exceedingly well
with large classes and more good birds in the hands of more people than ever
before. I cannot say as much for the Mallards and the Mandarins and Woodies.
Those birds all share a similar “wild temperament” which can certainly be
overcome by taming and coop training but few Mallards of quality are to be seen
at most shows and the presence of either Mandarins or Wood Ducks is even more
of a rarity.
have only been a part of our hobby for the last few years do not know how
fortunate they are in one respect: there are plenty of good sources for poultry
supplies, medications, and even ready- made poultry housing. Such was certainly
not the case in the 1960s and 1970s and it was a real problem for most of us.
Also, as mentioned in Part One of this article, current poultry information was
also hard to come by. Today when one considers all of the books and
publications and all of the good online sources of information, there is no
excuse for ignorance.
I hope that
the reader has enjoyed my little glimpse into the not-so-distant past of
exhibition poultry. I have certainly enjoyed providing some of my memories and
Last updated: 01-08-2014