Breed Advice 1922

Feathered World Year Book articles 1922 to 1935

Charlie Peck, Surrey

Feathered World produced an annual Year Book which contained articles on many breeds each year written by a prominent Breeder or official of the Breed Club.

I will do a series of articles from these Year Books and there is some helpful information on how to breed the various colours and the state of the breed at the time. The Year Book covers events in the previous year and the first article in the 1922 Year Book relating to Marsh Daisies covers events during 1921. The breed was very new then and it might be useful to list some milestones in the breed’s history.

The FW Year Books gave prominent breeders and club officials the opportunity to promote their chosen breed each year and clearly the Marsh Daisy breeders of the day took this opportunity to promote the utility aspects and hardiness of the breed.

Most of the MD contributors give a balanced account of the breed. Warts and all !

1880: Mr John Wright of Marshside, Lancashire started his utility flock which were then kept as a closed flock for 30 years.

1913: Mr Charles Moore bought two of the last of Mr Wright’s hens and began the next stage in the development of the breed

Between 1913 and 1919 other breeders took up and helped develop the MD

1919: The Marsh Daisy was launched as a new breed to the public

January 1921: Four keen breeders formed the Marsh Daisy Club.

December 1921 the club had 40 members and there were estimated to be around 200 breeding flocks. A Club Standard for the breed had been produced.

1922 Year Book article contributed by G W Stott, Hon Sec. Marsh Daisy Club.

‘A number of people have taken up Marsh Daisies but probably know very little of the breed, and it is to those interested in the breed that these lines are written.

There is evidence of wrong mating in many of the Marsh Daisies of today, and so that further mischief may be avoided in the coming breeding season, I wish to give a few hints. First let me say that it is of no use to trust to luck in these matters. A great many people do so trust and they mate a fair or even a good bird of one sex to an inferior one of the other, hoping all the time that the progeny will take after the good bird. These people invariably get disappointed but that is not the worst evil, because they bring into the world a lot of sorry specimens of the breed.

There are three settled varieties of Marsh Daisies at present: Buffs, Wheatens and Whites, and to mate any of these varieties together means absolute failure. Nor is it sufficient to decide which are Wheatens and which are Buffs by the surface colour of the plumage. The under-colour must be examined very carefully as well. By under-colour I mean the colour of the plumage which is brought to view by lifting the feathers up, really the colour of the feathers or fluff which is nearest to the skin.

Let us suppose we have a cock under review. He has a nice buff breast and all under-body parts together with a golden chestnut neck hackle and rich gold saddle and deep gold wing bow, black tail and sickles. He seems just the bird required to breed Buffs but let us look under the surface. If he is buff to the skin, well and good, he is the bird required and even if he fades to a paler buff towards the skin he is not bad nor even if he fades to a creamy white he should not be discarded. But if his under-colour is a bluish grey or even a smoky grey or a dirty (not creamy) white, he is undependable to breed Buffs even if mated to the best Buff hens that ever lived.

The bluish grey under-colour would cause the pullet progeny to have dark ticking along the back and tend to give the varying shades of the Wheaten plumage. I say ‘tend’ because it would not actually give the varying shades of wheaten colour but it would disturb the level ness of the buff without actually attaining the true Wheaten.

A Wheaten cock with a golden brown breast and under-body parts and with bluish grey or even smoky grey under-colour mated to Buff hens, would give the same effect to the pullet progeny and the cockerel progeny in either of these wrong matings would probably be good birds to look at as they might be either Buffs or Wheatens on surface but would tend to be too brown a buff for Buffs or too buff a brown for Wheatens and if they were examined by a Club judge, their under-colour would probably contradict the surface colour and so spoil their chances. Further, they would be undependable as stud cocks; similarly a Buff cock, even one buff to skin mated to Wheaten hens with bluish grey under-colour (which is absolutely necessary to breed Wheatens) will breed useless cockerels, because their under-colour will be contradictory to surface and even the surface would have patches of grey or even black in the colour. The pullets would again be a buff or a Wheaten i.e. partaking of the Buff plumage and yet retaining the varying shades of the Wheaten. The mating of Whites to either Buff or Wheaten would strike even the merest novice as wrong and needs no further comment.

In the Club Year Book I take a pure white as the dividing line between breeding Buffs or Wheatens. Of course there are no birds of theses two varieties with pure white under-colour but it serves to define my meaning, as by taking a creamy shade one side of it to breed Buffs and a smoky or dirty white on the other side to breed Wheatens, I can say do not mate across the line. Buffs that are buff to the skin are best to breed Buffs from and one sex at least should possess it. Both birds with a creamy white under-colour would tend to give a washed buff in pullet progeny. Similarly the best Wheatens are bred from birds of both sexes which possess the bluish grey under-colour. Both sexes with a dirty white or smoky grey under-colour would lose the salmon shades which the Wheatens possess and yield pullets too near the colour of the Wheaten Old English Game. The cockerels too would lose the golden brown breast and tend to become a fawn. Both sexes should have willow green shanks, and failing this a yellow leg in one sex and a blue or dark green in the other. White legs should be barred as they tend to lead nowhere in producing willow green. The comb should be rose with one well defined leader and not too big. The lobes should be white and almond shaped.

It is important that the weight of the birds should not exceed 6lbs in cocks and 5 lbs in hens for utility purposes. Perhaps it is not generally known that our standard gives 20 points for ‘laying power’ but such is the case, so it behoves would be exhibitors to see to it that width and length of back and length, depth and capacity of the abdomen, together with a good space in between pelvic and breast bones are maintained. If breeders of the Marsh Daisy fowl will mate their pens according to the advice given, I feel we shall have better birds when this season’s birds come before the judges. The unsatisfactory way in which the awards were given in 1921 was due to exhibitors themselves sending birds too far away from the standard in shades of plumage etc. Naturally a judge when judging a new breed, expects to have some guide from the class as a whole as to uniformity of features and when this help is lacking he goes for the most taking bird he can find, whether to standard or not.

The exhibits at Darwin Agricultural Show were a sorry lot. The 17 birds exhibited in AOV classes at the Dairy Show were even worse as they had all colours of legs, poor lobes and combs, and generally were on the young side. The two classes at Manchester were decidedly better but the experts could easily see that not only the breed was new but owners were novices at getting birds ready for show. Classes were put on at Barnstable and Exeter shows down South and West and also at the Easington Colliery at Co. Durham in the North and at Paisley in Scotland and Leicester in the Midlands this year.

A Club Show was held at the Crystal Palace and 41 entries were made in three classes. The judging there gave full satisfaction as the judge (being a Club judge) had the advantage of knowing the difficulties of breeding and was able to make allowances. There will be no need for judges to make allowances if all lovers of the Marsh Daisy Fowl will follow the advice given. Some damage has already been done to both Wheatens and Buffs by neglect of these points and it will take some time to remedy it but I am sure it can be done by careful mating’.

This was the whole of the article by Mr Stott which I hadn’t intended but as there is such a lot of early breeding history and sound advice on breeding the three colours that existed then that it was hard to know what to omit. I hope you found it interesting.

Charlie Peck 20.9.2010

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