Breed Advice 1923

Feathered World Article 1923

Again by Mr Stott, Secretary of the Breed Club.

The Marsh Daisy is making friends and the birds shown during the year are a decided improvement. It is not my intention to review the past, however, but to write so as to help those interested with some hints on mating and to give advice on the main defects to avoid.

General Characteristics- In all colours and in both sexes these are: Long body which should be fairly broad, especially at the shoulders and to have a square, blocky appearance, with the back of the fowl almost horizontal but with a well-rounded prominent breast. The head should be carried high and the neck a fair length and not in any way thick and nicely arched. The tail should be carried at an angle of 45degrees from the vertical. The eye should be bold and prominent, with rich golden red iris. The comb should be rose, of medium size and well and evenly spiked and with one leader in line with the comb. The ideal we are seeking is about half Hamburg and half Wyandotte. The leader should not exceed half an inch in length, nor should it rise so high as the Hamburg but it must not follow the nape of the neck as in Wyandottes. Wattles should be in keeping with the comb and of fine texture. The lobes should be pure white and almond shaped. The shanks should be pale willow green and free from feathers and the toe nails and beak should be horn coloured.

I would strongly advise that a short backed bird should not be used for breeding and certainly not a bird with a crooked back or a wry tail or even a bad squirrel tail. Nor would I use a bird that is badly in-kneed in either sex but especially in the male. Combs and lobes are not yet perfect and birds cannot all be disqualified for minor defects but I would not use a bird with more than one leader to the comb, nor with less than half the lobe white. Single combs are barred absolutely, so do not use such a bird no matter how good she is. The green leg is now fairly well established but we are seeking a pale willow green, so we ought to mate dark green legs in one sex to yellowish green in the other and if necessity compels a blue legged bird to be used then a yellow (not orange) leg should be chosen in the opposite sex. This mating if followed will bring the willow green. A white leg should not be used on any account. The MD is a tight feathered bird and should not be profusely feathered.

Plumage: In Wheaten cocks the neck and saddle hackles should be rich gold. Back and wing bow should be deep gold. The tail coverts and sickle feathers should be black. All black feathers should have a rich beetle green sheen. The breast and under and under body colour should be golden brown, really the colour a nice bay horse. The under colour when the feathers are lifted should be bluish or French grey to a smoky white but the breast feathers are best with a slight touch of light buff or cream next to the skin, really three colours on one feather i.e. golden brown surface, bluish grey down or fluff with a little buff or cream down at skin. This cream down must not be too deep a buff, nor must there be too much of it. A little helps to get the delicate white wheat colour of pullets’ breast but too much of it will get pullets too deep a shade on the back.

The shades of our ideals in wheaten pullets have given rise to many discussions not through any disagreement as to the ideals but more as to the words used in their description. I am going to use White Wheat colour and Red Wheat colour in this article as I think I can better convey, as I think I can better convey my ideas and our ideals to my readers’ minds by so doing.

Wheaten pullets should have a chestnut neck hackle, with tips of the feathers black, and these black tips should form a fringe at the shoulders and base of the hackle.

The shoulders and the upper part of the back should be the colour of red wheat fading a little as the root of the tail is approached. The wing bow should be the same red wheat colour as the back and the flights should present a triangular patch of brown colour when the wing is closed and tucked up. The tail feathers should be black with red wheaten colour edging. The breast and all under body should be the colour of white wheat (unbleached). Now it is not intended that the back should be a solid red wheaten colour as the foregoing would lend one to think. The best and nicest back is made up of red wheaten coloured feathers that have a lighter edging and this lighter edging just gives the dappling required and softens down the red wheat colour.

In mating, be sure the back colour is red wheaten not buff. If a pullet possesses the buffy shade on the back and some bluish grey or smoky white under-colour, then she should be mated to a cock that has a reddish tinge on the golden brown breast colour. Remember that the smoky white or bluish grey under-colour is essential to breed Wheatens and that the buffy tinge or even a cream buff, is fatal.

The Buff we are trying to get in both sexes is one best described as the shade of a golden sovereign (if my readers have a recollection of them) a golden buff. WE specify black tails in both sexes and we say they must be buff to buff to the skin all over. Now my idea is that we shall find it impossible to retain the black tail and keep the buff to skin perfect. The buff to skin is most desirable as by insisting on it we shall eventually divide the wheaten and buff definitely. Today we are troubled with buffy wheatens and buffs with varying shades of buff i.e. the breast and under body parts are distinctly lighter than the back. This should not be. A buff should be level in buff all over and ought not to take after the wheaten in shades, though the shades are varying shades of buff. This will be best done by insisting on the buff under-colour or at worst a cream. Most certainly a smoky white under-coloured bird should not be used to breed buffs. This means then that the black tails will eventually disappear and I say let it be so and get an all buff fowl. Buff cocks should have golden necks and saddle hackles and deeper gold backs and wing bows.

The whites have to be white all over and to skin.

In breeding Marsh daisies I would advise that the males should be well supplied with females and especially so at the beginning of the season. The males are very vigorous and especially so in the earlier months. This somehow allows the game blood that is in the breed to predominate and the result is that more single combs and gamey sports are hatched in the early months than the later hatches produce. Wheaten bred cocks that come with a solid black breast are said to be good for breeding purposes later but I do not find them so. They throw back to OEG both in single comb and plumage. A little black on surface does help to get the delicate shades in pullets but it must not be overdone.

[Later Year Book articles indicate a decline in the utility aspects of the breed which is not surprising if they spent so much time looking at under-colour !! Also most of the articles are mercifully shorter, though just as interesting. What also strikes me is that these early breeders kept very large flocks and could therefore have much more choice in regard to their breeding pens].

Charlie Peck Sept 2010

Return to the home page of the Marsh Daisy Breeders