Breed Advice 1929

Feathered World Year Book 1929

Written by Mr G W Stott

It is now some nine years since the Marsh Daisy as a new breed was launched to the public and may I say that it was introduced some few years too soon, as (though it contained all the blood for establishing a breed) lacked systematic breeding so necessary to establish it to breed true. Careful mating has done much to remedy this in the past few years and we can now depend on a good percentage of true-to-Standard birds.

I fancy I hear many novices saying, ”Yes but what is a true-to-Standard bird like? What are it’s chief characteristics?” It will be my endeavour to answer these questions in the following lines.

We have always placed in the forefront two features and these two ideals have caused much wearying thought and disappointment. I refer to the pale willow green leg and the pure white almond shaped lobe. The novice may ask, “But why so much worry over two comparatively-speaking minor features?” My answer is a stern one, insomuch as our Standards direct judges to pass birds with legs ”other than willow green” and with “less than one third white lobe”. This means such birds must not be judged and they might as well be kept at home.

We have two other fatal features for which the bird should be passed and they are ”want of type” and “red plumage”. These two faults occur so rarely now that the reference may well be left out of our standards but I may just explain what we had in mind when they were included. Type means that the bird should at once be recognised as a Marsh Daisy and not resemble any other breed and that even if a bird had an ideal Marsh Daisy plumage with the stipulated green leg and white lobe, it must be correct in shape, carriage and general appearance, or it must be passed. It would not be judged if it was, comparatively speaking, short in body as, for instance the Wyandotte or Rhode Island Red, or narrow and wedge shaped like the Leghorn, or even if it favoured a Game fowl too much. There is some resemblance to Game, however and it is not difficult to find but the longer body and prominent shoulders, together with the rosecomb and white lobe, prevent any doubt even entering a novice’s mind.

As to red plumage, we forbade this colour and we had in mind the red of the Rhode Island Red bird. We do not permit such a colour and yet the novice might suggest that a golden-brown, such as we specify as the colour of our Wheaten cocks, is very near it; yet we do not favour it and if our Standard is followed closely, our Wheaten cocks will never be mistaken for a Rhode Island Red.

We specify that the Marsh Daisy must present a square, blocky appearance and our meaning when so specifying was that if the fowl was viewed along it’s back it would be as wide at the root of the tail as it is at the shoulder; or if a side view be taken it would be as deep in body down through the shoulders to the breast as down through the hindquarters.

Before leaving the description part of this article, I may say that the Marsh Daisy has a neat, alert head and a nice slim well arched neck and broad well defined shoulders. The breast is prominent and nicely rounded and this feature is not obtained by a pose such as an Indian Runner Duck conveys. We specify that the back must be horizontal when the bird is in it’s natural pose.

A few hints on mating for breeding will no doubt be acceptable to those of my readers who have taken up Marsh Daisies and in view of the foregoing specifications will be confined to colour of plumage. The Buff, Black and White varieties must be bred from their own colours, of course, and as regards the Buff variety the darkest Buff males should be used – really the heaviest coloured ones, because Buff as is well known, has a tendency to breed lighter in successive matings. The Black may sort a White, or partially so, and the White may do the same and throw a Speckled and even a Black chicken but these should never be used to breed from. Use only birds true to colour. A creamy neck hackle in Whites should be ruled out, as this reveals the ascendancy of golden plumage and I find the golden tinge particularly stubborn to breed out of white plumage.

The Wheaten requires a little more care to obtain and maintain our ideals than the other colours named do. I cannot advise as to the Browns, as I have not had space for another colour and Viscount Canterbury has not has not enlightened us as to how the Brown has been made. We get males that resemble the Brown from a Wheaten mating and many that have black feathers spangled in the breast and I think that this trait is due to the Wheaten variety retaining the Game blood used so much in the evolution of the Marsh Daisy. We do get our Standard Wheaten males, however, and by using such males for breeding year by year, the percentage of Golden Brown Standard males is increased. However, I now find that by the continued use of such males year after year we get a tendency to lose the black tail with it’s beetle –green sheen and a bronze colour takes the place of the black. Again, our females tend to lose the white wheaten colour of the breast and under-body parts and the back gets too solid a red wheaten colour. The whole of these undesirable tendencies may be checked, however, in one season by mating up a male with a black breast, providing this male is wheaten-bred.

Do not be misled by this statement and use a brown-bred male so similar in colour to the male I have described – he must be wheaten-bred. I used a male such as described above (I kept him because he is such a lovely bird and could win in a Brown class) last season after some seven seasons of the use of real Golden-Browns and the experiment is justified, as I have restored the black tail to males and the white wheaten under-body and breast and dappled red wheaten colour of the back to the females. I find, however, the percentage of black spangling in the males’ breast is higher.

To our foreign friends I may say that the Marsh Daisy is a hardy fowl and withstands cold and wet situations very sturdily. They are good layers of large sized tinted eggs and this latter feature applies to the Wheaten and Buff varieties most. As chickens they are easy to rear and when the long usefulness as layers does come to an end, they provide a dish of nice white flesh of good flavour, with little offal and light of bone.