The Objective of Breeding Gamefowl
The goal to every gamefowl breeding program is to produce the highest quality warrior possible. Some strains were bred for speed, while others for cut etc.
Battlecrosses are the result of a mixture of 'strains' or bloodlines that hopefully have the best traits of both bloodlines being used.
Nothing new there eh?
OK. Here's where it gets interesting. When it comes to these "traits" are there any differences between the traits themselves? What I mean is, are there different types of Power, or Speed? I did some thinking, and this is what I came up with.
You have athletic speed. Faster turning, faster breaking speed. The body type needed for this type of fowl are lean, light boned, & narrow backed. (as most speed type fowl need). muscle structure tends to NOT be tightly packed as the type found on power fowl, and is longer and leaner to the bone.
Reactive Speed. Counter Punching. The ability to react quickly to the situation at hand.
Foot Speed. The ability to move quickly on the ground and to throw multiple shots in barrages (Shuffling.)
Brute Strength. Bone snapping power. The physical prowess that allows such a bird to drive his heels deep in the enemy. Body structure is usually as follows: Dense muscle mass. Muscles tend to be short and closely packed to the bone. Wide, flat backs and broad chests. Heavier bone structure to handle the stress from these muscles.
Livability Power. The ability to take a hit and survive. Livability is the power to keep going even as the body starts to go into shock. Conditioning has ALOT to do with this type of power, and while the proper genes are nessesary to yeild exceptional livability, conditioning does help tremendously.
Hey doesn't take much deep thinking here. Cut is Cut. The roosters ability to drive his shots home consistantly and accurately. Natural Heelers tend to do it to the head and neck alot, while steel heeled cocks to the biggest target: the body and back. Weapon choice and set are issues associated with cut when artificial heels are involved of course, but I am not talking about those things now. I am talking about the ability to cause the maxiumum amount of damage with the minimum amount of motion.
Not to be confused with intelligence. Lets face it, chickens aren't the smartest animals out there. Defensive fighting ability is often times confused with smarts. Still, defensive fighting ability IS a very valuable commodity especially with the faster heels like the long Gaff and Knives. Defensive fighting is mostly instinct, but a small (very small) portion of it can be contributed to learned responses. Young Asil stags learn early on that getting hit hurts, and some of them mature to avoid getting hit as much as possible when in battle. This is NOT a strictly oriental trait however, I just used Asils because I am familiar with them.
OK getting back to the object of breeding gamefowl. These are a basic example of the choices in traits a breeder like you has to choose from and hopefully achieves.
Question: In your opinion, is there such a thing as "Kelso" speed, or "McRae" speed? Or how about "Hatch" power or WhiteHackle power?
Are traits strain specific? What I mean is, is there a discernable difference between a Roundheads ability to duck a blow and an Asil grades ability to do the same exact thing? I know that certain traits can be associated with certain strains (generally) like "Hatch" blood being a source of power for a breeder, but I'm not talking about that. What I am asking is, as far as Gamefowl are concerned, is the type of trait, no matter what it is, different from one bloodline to the next?
My opinion is NO. Power is power, speed is speed. ALL Gamefowl are of the SAME species of animal. They are Chickens. Gallus Gallus if you wanna get technical. While there are literally hundreds of "breeds" of Gamefowl out there all of these chickens are still chickens no matter what name they have tagged to them. The behavioral and physical traits they have all come from a common ancestral source. It's all in their genetic code.
With this in mind, the only differences between the different established families of Gamefowl is what genes come up dominant in them and what genes or sequences of genes don't. Some families are Power dominant while others display more speed characteristics. ALL gamefowl have the same basic DNA structure to build from, it's how these things come into place that makes them different.
With that said, think about this:
If a Kelso's speed is the same genetic trait as that of a McRae's, and you were to breed a pair of this combination and both parents were able to pass this speed trait on to their offspring as a dominant gene, could the resulting offspring be considered "Pure" SPEED fowl? Forget about color. Forget about comb type, in fact, forget about ALL physical traits. If it is SPEED you desired out of this mating, and the result of this mating yeilded fowl that were able to pass this speed on as a dominant gene top their offspring, could these individual birds not be considered a pure source for speed that could be used in a battlecross? (combined with a Power source usually).
Sure you could. They are still chickens. They are chickens that carry the speed trait as a dominant part of their genetic makeup.
It is the ability to pass positive traits on to their offspring that make broodfowl BROODFOWL. Inbreeding is only one way that breeders have come up with to attempt to manipulate the traits of their fowl and control the consistancy in which these fowl are able to pass these traits on to their offspring. Believe it or not, it is a matter of mathmatics. Predictability.
Of course other things such as color, comb type, and physical confirmation are other reasons that inbreeding has been used so widely. Inbred fowl are what is referred to as PURE. They are uniform in both appearence and behavioral traits. They are the result of concentrating a set gene pool, which is why they are so hard to maintain. Without the introduction of 'new' genes to the mix, such a bloodline is much more prone to the emergence of negative traits. Also when breeding from such a limited amount of genes, deterioration of the bloodline in inevitable: it will happen. The best any breeder can hope for is to spread the genes over a large number of individual broodfowl to help relieve the stresses of overly concentrated blood and slow down the deterioration process. This is why nature sets up deterents for inbreeding to occur, and why species go extinct.
Many beginners and small scale breeders are often discouraged because they have either a hard time aquiring "pure" broodfowl or more commonly maintaining a pure line of fowl. You'll hear people talk about so and so and how he "ruined" a line of Gamefowl he got just a few years back. The truth of the matter is, alot of the time these "pure" fowl go downhill at no fault of the breeder at all. Sure he may have bought a pair of pure fowl from so and so, but having no control over how these particular fowl are related, often times the new breeder gets fowl already closely related, and unless they have the space and resources to breed a large selection of potential broodfowl from these, the bloodline will go downhill almost immediately unless the genes can be spread out properly. Breeding cousins is no different than breeding 1/2 brother & sister together genetically, so that'll give you an idea of how difficult it would be to maintain a bloodline from a pair of broodfowl. That's why broodfowl are often sold in trios. Inbreeding is an effective system of breeding Gamefowl, of that there is NO DOUBT, but it may not be the best choice in breeding systems for the average beginner. (In my humble opinion of course.)
I feel that breeding lines based on traits and NOT bloodlines betters a beginners chances to produce high quality gamefowl and continue to produce them year after year as opposed to starting off with inbred fowl. As long as their broodfowl are Prepotent (able to pass their positive traits to their offspring) and consistant in their Prepotency a new breeder would not only not need to concern him/her self with the need to breed a large number of broodfowl to choose from, but they wouldn't run the risk of having too many negative traits pop up too quickly in their offspring.
Of course this is NOT an excuse for poor record keeping or sloppy season planning. Tight records will still need to be kept, even MORE so than when dealing with "pure" fowl because it will be up to you to determine if an individual bird is fit to be used as broodfowl or not. You can bet it will take time, but no more so than with dealing with pure broodfowl. Just because a bird is inbred doesn't mean it is automatically fit for breeding purposes.
No breeder should feel as though they are not qualified to breed their OWN lines of fowl. I suggest 1 power line, 1 speed line for starters. Defensive fighting traits and/or cut is usually already present in most Gamefowl to begin with and could come from either side line: the Speed or the Power. I think I have explained my stance on traits enough to say that they are NOT associated to only certain breeds. You can and WILL be able to obtain the same quality traits from crossed fowl if you look hard enough.
Quality Gamefowl come from Quality Gamefowl. Price does not determine quality: Ability does. Quality isn't exclusive to major circuit fowl, it can be found anywhere if you look hard enough.
And one final thought: Even the greatest Gamefowl in the world wouldn't be worth a damn if they do not recieve the proper care. Genetics is only part of the equasion. Proper care is essential...ESSENTIAL. But that's an entirely different post.
So take heart beginners! Just because some of the birds you use as broodfowl aren't "pure", now you know that this could be a good thing! Good Luck! And God Bless...
Your Friend in Sport,
Well with cut I do believe there is a difference, I have some greys that under the rules of sticking a gaff into another cock, cut as well as my mcclanahans. They don't cut nearly as accurately as the mcclanahans do though, the mcclanahans cut from the lower neck to under the wings, the greys hang just where ever.
As far as taking two like families and breeding them together, to get a pure source of something, sometimes they don't knick, and weren't worth the time or feed it took to raise them...........I dunno, on paper it looks good, but when put into practice could let you down, especially in the long run. I've seen it work, and I've seen it fail, every time you cross you're throwing in all sorts of variables, the more variables you have the better chance you have of failing, although the rewards could be just as good.
Ok I know a man who has 2 very similar families that seem to knick with about anything he crosses them with, family a has good cut, decent power, good speed, good liveability, family b has decent cut, good power, decent speed, great liveability, both families are game, and have the same fighting style. In the brood pen both are extremely good fowl to use for crossing, when crossed on each other, cut goes to below average, liveability is decent, speed is decent, power is great. In other words, dumb as a brick, wade right in, kick like a mule, get killed, where their half brothers from either side of the family that are inbred show much better.
On paper what you say holds true, but sometimes in the brood pen it doesn't.