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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:35 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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I've always been fascinated with old egg laying records. Looking through some old material, I'm amazed at how productive some utility pure breeds were. How well do you think some of our 'show' fowl would fair against their relatives of yesteryear?

For example, here are some RIRs from 1937 -
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:50 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Check out the Chinese Langshans -
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:38 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Even Black Leghorns were holding their own in Tasmania as late as 1955 -
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:55 pm 
Terrific performance especially considering the amount of research into poultry nutrition since those days. I wonder how crosses between those birds would have performed.
It's a great pity that purpose bred poultry of all descriptions has gone into decline. The utility chooks that I have are quite different to those my old man kept in the back yard.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:00 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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that is really interesting
Do they still do these layings tests?
There must be strict guidelines

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:29 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Gippswest wrote:
It's a great pity that purpose bred poultry of all descriptions has gone into decline. The utility chooks that I have are quite different to those my old man kept in the back yard.

It is a pity; the modern synthetic hybrid fowl has denied us all of the old fashioned diversity that once existed.

bigi wrote:
Do they still do these layings tests?

Sadly they don't bigi.

Back in 1929 there were even Utility Minorcas -
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:06 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Welsumers from 1938 -
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:17 pm 
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Assist Admin
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Manna Gum I am always impressed with the old information you seem to have available to share. Where do you manage to source it from?

I will have to keep my eyes peeled...

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:46 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Thanks redjo, I'm fortunate in coming from a long line of poultry keepers and I value poultry history. When many are at the National beauty pageant in Canberra, I thinks it's important to remind people of the origin and role of many poultry breeds.

Rocks were also very productive before they were bred to feather. Here's some advertised in 1927 ..
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... and some more Utility Langshans from 1939 -
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:37 pm 
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Golden Phoenix
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It does make you wonder, however, that if the old purebreeds were so productive, why was it deemed necessary to create the modern hybrids? Developing the ISA Brown would have cost a lot of time and money - what makes them so much better than (say) the CSIRO Leghorns of the time that the latter were replaced by ISAs within a short space of time?

Surely it's not just the need for a placid chook that took to battery conditions but continued to lay as well as the purebreeds did? Or maybe it was?

Also, I don't think it's necessary to be derogatory about the Poultry Nationals or any other show/exhibition. The thousands of people coming through the doors aren't just dedicated poultry fanciers. There's everyday people looking for the physical representations of the ideals that they see illustrated in books, to make a decision about the breeds they want to put in their backyards, to talk to people who really know about chooks of ALL kinds, who are actively rejecting the conformity of the ISA Brown and looking to have something a little bit different. Who knows - maybe even breed birds themselves for their own, multitudinous purposes.

Without shows and exhibitions like this, how would we capture people's imaginations? Humans are a visual creature after all. I got a huge kick out of chatting to everyone who came through; people who wanted to talk about the multi-coloured eggs I had on my table, and who didn't care any more than I do about what breeds laid them (which are pures and crosses and all kinds of weird and wonderfuls). And then I loved going through the shed to see those beautiful, shining birds of all kinds, and just look and learn and absorb. Where else could I do that? Where else would I learn that a Barnevelder really can be a large, solid bird AND still be productive? (And I know that because the bird was bred by someone who really cares about the utility characteristics of Barnies).

The thing is that I know a lot of the people putting their birds in these shows, these days. I know that they ARE, in fact, breeding for utility. For brown eggs, or white eggs, or lots of eggs, or a good eating carcase. And then they look at the results they're getting and thinking "hey, that matches the Standard and is a good-looking bird. I might put that into a Show, just for fun". And guess what?

THEY'RE WINNING. The utility versions of the breeds are winning. They take their prize-winning birds and they put them straight back to work laying those eggs and they breed from them and create more utility-focussed birds.

So we're listening, and we're changing. The times of "chooks are only bred by fanciers who don't care about performance and only care about looks" - assuming this really existed in the first place in a general sense - are also in the past. Sure, there are some breeds that have further to go than others - the winning standard Indian Game looked like a table and was wider than tall, and I'm sure Ruff would have something to say about its ability to actually create decent offspring without help - but overall, there's a distinct movement toward practicality.

In the end, unless someone does something really radical, the most fantastic utility breeds aren't going to lay more than one egg a day, every day, under any circumstance.

Now, having said all that, I WOULD like to see the re-introduction of the Laying Tests mentioned in your articles. I'm assuming the records were cross-checked against some central authority so people didn't just tell complete porkies about how well their chooks could lay. Does anyone know what these Tests entailed, and how they might effectively be re-introduced to modern exhibitions/shows? I'd love to see the records and then the actual bird that produced those records in the flesh, so one could compare the highly-productive birds against highly-standard birds and see if there were an obvious difference in appearance.

That would be really cool. And I strongly suspect we're not too far away from them, from the conversations I see in here and that I had today, and have been having with people at the various shows/field days/exhibitions/etc that our local groups participate in.

Oops, sorry, that turned into a little bit of a rant :)


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:50 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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Infoaddict, you are being too defensive. I'm just putting forward a different perspective that I hope people would be cognisant of. Here's one of my favourites from ca 1937 ..

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:00 pm 
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Golden Phoenix
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Possibly. It's just that describing the Canberra Poultry Nationals as a "beauty pageant" actually isn't correct. It might have been in the past - I've only been to two - but I've been to quite a few shows inbetween and I don't thinks it's accurate in the here and now.

I'm seeing breeders - my friends, or even people who are hatching egg of MY breeding, the result of MY dedication to utility traits (because I haven't read a standard for any of my purebreeds because I only care about their eggs) - who really care about the utility traits that you're posting about, and seeking to re-create them in the here and now.

They're entering those birds and they're winning. That very strongly suggests the exhibitions are moving well beyond "purely for looks", and we really are learning from the past. We're looking for the information you post and it's incredibly helpful, because it gives us an idea of what we should be aiming for or even seeking to better, as our forbears would have wished to aim for and better in their flocks.

And how else will we show our achievements to our peers and those who wish to learn?

Exhibitions such as this.

So yes, I'm defensive - because you're describing birds I've bred as brainless showgirls, useful for nothing but their looks. Hardly. I don't show, no - I can't be stuffed - but I'm proud as punch when people show my birds AND WIN. Or place. Or even are comparable to those who DID win (and they are).

So there.

(Yes, all right, I may still be buzzing a little from being part of the show. :) ).


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:22 pm 
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Junior Champion Bird
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You have had a busy day Info. You're possibly not going to like this one then from 1955. This establishment is adamant that they "do not breed for show purposes".
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:28 pm 
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Great Game
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ive got a book published by the SA gov from 1912 which is excellent reading. it has a section in there how they did laying comps and trials. essentially you sent your best birds in (average pen was 6 hens) and the gov poultry agency ran the whole thing. they fed them all the same/same conditions for equal amounts of time then changed the feeds a few times for equal amounts of time to record how well the birds adapted to different feeds and if they indeed actually kept up their laying capacity. also they used to nest trap and release after they laid to work out how large the clutch was, and how any days the chicken too off from laying before beginning the next clutch. amazing work put into it. the feeding recipes are excellent and involved a lot of hand made mashes with quality feedstuffs.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:40 pm 
It's really heartening to learn that show breeders are reining in the excesses of the extremists in their ranks to the extent of breeding for utility traits. I had resigned myself to the show extremists having the whip hand and essentially dictating to the entire hobby.
My table birds birds have a long way to go to get to true utility - the Sussex are all feather and fluff and the Indian Game are stumpy to the point of deformity despite my efforts to improve them. Now at last I might be able to source some useful stock.


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