Lesson on Blue Varieties of Bantams (American Bantam Association)

The fact that the ordinary blue in bantams will not breed true is a nuisance, but we can profit from it. Many breeders believe that if they persist in breeding blues with blues, they will in the end obtain true breeding blues, and that they will only get a few off-colored chicks. If, however, they would actually count the proportion of blues from blue-to-blue matings before they started weeding out the off-colored chicks, they would find that they were up against insurmountable difficulty.

The only way to produce 100% blues in. say, Blue Andalusians, is by mating black to white. If we mate of of those off-colored white cocks to blue-bred black hens, this pen will give us nothing but blues. Few bantam breeders are sufficiently convinced of this to try it. Breeders must be warned, however, that not every mating of white to black will give blue. The white used must be a blue-bred white.

Any blue Andalusian or Cochin differs from a black on through the possession of one single inherited factor, for which every blue bantam is heterozygous. This means that any blue bantam of the common variety, mated to any black fowl, will produce 50% blue and 50% black offspring.

If we remember this, we can make very good use of this fact. Lets us examine the two ways in which we can produce Blue Old English, Wyandottes, Leghorns, Cochins, and Rosecombs (and this holds true for other breeds). If we breed blue to blue, we get 50% blue chicks and as many off-colored ones. If we mate one blue bantam to a black one, we also get 50% blue and 50% black.

Which way is best? One has only to look around the poultry shows to get a very clear answer to this question. For all-around quality, blue bantams never equal that of the blacks. We must acknowledge that the best blues can never compete the the first-class blacks in length of feather, shape, or cushion in Cochins. Why are the blues inferior to the blacks? Simply because they have been made by some kind of cross, which introduced unwanted impurities into the breed, and because eliminating these faults is a very difficult matter so long as we breed those blue bantams amongst themselves.

As soon as one or two intelligent breeders of Blue Cochins or other blue varieties of other breeds have sufficient faith in the geneticists to take their word for it, that a mating of blue to black will give them as many blues as mating of blue to blue, it will only be a matter of two or three generations before they produce blues that are equal to any black in those breeds. No breeder of Black Cochins or other black breeds would tolerate specimens in his pens which were only as good in shape and fluff as the best blues. This system of breeding blue bantams not only brings the blues up to the quality of the best blacks, but also gives good blacks.

Advice to any breeder of Blue Cochins, Wyandottes, and other blue varieties, as well as the blue-laced varieties, who want to breed prize-winners is to buy the best black male they can put their hands on (in the case of blue-laced varieties, a golden male should be taken) and use it with all his blue hens. Do not expect that every chick from this mating will be a show winner, but the improvement will probably be very noticeable. And without the least doubt, complete success will be obtained in the second back cross: that is to say, in mating the blue hens from blue and black, back to a black male.

Breeders who want to try this method need not be afraid that their competitors will hasten to do the same thing. Bantam breeders are amongst the most conservative people. The man who wants to go ahead and try this new road to success is very likely to go this way alone. (Editor’s note: this article was published by theABA in 1970).

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