Breed Advice 1935

Feathered World Year Book 1935

From an article by Mr J Blackmore

This year has seen a larger amount of interest taken in the Marsh Daisy fowl, yet on the other hand it is a little difficult to see any real improvement in the utility qualities of the breed, which is of considerably more importance than sheer number of birds.

The Marsh Daisy population has undoubtedly increased; new members have joined the club, shows have been better supported and there is a very strong loyalty towards the club but what we want now are more pedigree breeders, as the cry is continually for new blood and for the commercial egg farmer this means tested utility strains. A good show bird is not always a good layer but with the Marsh Daisy a good layer can, and indeed should be, a good show fowl. The standards of the fowl were made up to this end.

The appearance of this breed gives the immediate impression of laying capabilities – a bold, upright carriage, short beak, moderately long feet, free from feathers, long body, fairly broad and with plenty of depth behind and prominent breast as befits an excellent table fowl. The small bones make it a very much better table bird than is, I think, generally known.

This year has been noticeable for the success of Mr How, who has been uniformly successful at the shows and who capped his season’s efforts by winning the Moore Cup with his cockerel at Crystal Palace and who was third with another cockerel at the same show.

The Hon. Alice Hawke took the Canterbury Cup and second in the same class with two Wheaten pullets. These birds were well up to the usual standard expected of Miss Hawke.

Mr Hemelryk was second with his cockerel and third in the pullet class. The quality of the exhibits is definitely the best we have seen at the club show for some time and from the appearance point of view this breed is very much better than one might have hoped some time back; but I rather thought that the birds did not look as though they would make quite such efficient layers as I have seen in the show pen – in fact, laying power, for which twenty points are awarded, seemed definitely less in evidence, and it is here that I think our future weakness will lie if more attention is not given to this very vital part of the breed characteristics.

In 1925-26, at the National Laying Test at Bentley, Mr Hemelryk had four hens with the following records: 205, 213, 197, 172, all eggs being first grade; the team of four gave an average of 196.75 eggs per bird. The average for the Test was 174.88 eggs per bird; 20.86 were second grade.

I quote these figures in full because at the last test at Malpas the Marsh Daisy section was won by Mr Hemelryk, who has actually been in retirement for some years and very sportingly entered to support the club, and yet in doing so he walked away with the cup given by myself for the Marsh Daisy laying the largest number of first-grade eggs.

I would urge every Marsh Daisy breeder to study the 1925 – 26 figures above and then look at the 1933 – 34 figures at the Malpas Test. Perhaps they will agree that the utility side of this breed has been taken too much for granted. We have the same blood still running in our fowls and all we need is selective breeding. Do not be frightened of the trapnest; you can do nothing without it.

Against this it was encouraging to note the number of breeders who supported the Test last year and to note that no single fowl really did badly. It would be instructive and interesting to know how many eggs these birds will lay in their second year at home for the Marsh Daisy is, above alleles, a second year layer.

As a sex-linked cross the Marsh Daisy has really reached its highest peaks of laying; averages of over 200 eggs per bird have been obtained with this cross and this with a flock of over thirty birds. Trade has been very good with eggs and day old pullets of this cross and they share with the pure Marsh Daisy the tendency to improved egg production in their second year and late moulting qualities which although a handicap for the November shows, nevertheless give a good egg yield in August and September when eggs are much scarcer than in May and June.

One flock of 101 birds of this cross laid an average of ninety five eggs during this last summer and these were November hatched birds in their second year.

A two year old hen shipped to California last year laid 201 eggs in her first nine months in the New World, surprising even the enthusiasts who were sufficiently impressed to import this fowl into America.

Anybody who requires a British breed which is very hardy, lays well into the third or fourth year, lays large eggs and makes a really good table fowl should investigate this breed more fully.

The cockerels from this sex linked cross will go 3lbs at twelve weeks and one bird all but reached 4lbs at this age and these birds were only mildly fattened.

Another case of a breeder who was able to obtain a contract of 1s.per pound live weight all through the season for the sex linked cockerels, can only mean that the quality was such that this fowl could command a much better price than other more popular but inferior table breeds.

This is the last article. Photos have been included and can be found in the photo section of this website, as although they were originally in black & white and rather old to be scanned to best advantage it is hoped that some knowledge will be gleaned from them. Some of the big winners would not get on my short list if judging from the photos but often photos taken badly do the birds no favours.

My own observations after keeping utility chickens for 60 years is that looks and production do not always go hand in hand and a very good looking and correct specimen of any breed can be a dud at egg laying. The reverse is also true and sometimes badly put together hens turn out to be very good layers.

I am very grateful to Bob Driver for sending me copies of these articles. Also grateful thanks to the late Dave Scrivener for so willingly scanning and sending the photos from his extensive collection of Year Books.