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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:08 am 
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Welsummers are generally a good breed for utility qualities. There is an article in the current Australasian Poultry by Meg Miller on the Williams family and their breeding program. It sounds like they have managed to build up a strong flock where the fowls are both practical and decent show specimens. I would think that was a huge challenge when starting from poor specimens and not having a huge gene pool to work with. They say they even eat their excess fowls. While we have never eaten ours, we have found them to be a practical and useful fowl, laying lovely big eggs and being less flighty than some other laying breeds.

Here's a video by the Williams family.



I suspect that the challenge when you select very dark eggs is to avoid getting too much drift away from frequency of egg laying and some other utility or show qualities.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:10 am 
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Agree with C07. My welsummers are fine layers and the welsummer standard emphasises the utility properties of the breed. This British farm in Pedro's post seems to concentrate on the importance of very dark coloured eggs which, to me, is more of a commercial consideration than utiliterian. Naturally they would be striving for high egg production and I can understand the attraction of the welsummer for that purpose.

A great all-round breed and it was so good to see a welsummer in the Champions row at Royal Adelaide a couple of years ago.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:21 am 
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http://www.australianrarepoultryimportationsyndicate.org/who-we-are
"Why we need to import? Overtime, due to the small number of originating parent birds, some pure breeds have experienced problems, such as the loss of the small number of original Jersey Giant and the paleness and size of the egg in Welsummer due to intense in breeding. The restrictions on the importation of non-commercial poultry for the last 60 years has exacerbated this problem. It is also important globally to spread the gene pool across the world, as a backup source in the unfortunate event of a wide spread fatal disease outbreak. This has already occurred in the wine industry when Phylloxera louse destroyed European Vineyards from 1863 onwards, by grafting European varieties with North American root stock the European Wine industry was saved.

By it's remoteness Australia is an ideal place to act as an Ark for the preservation of Pure Breed poultry."

The above quote comes from the attached link.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:29 am 
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I would disagree with that. Pale eggs are not from intense inbreeding. It's about lack of selection for a feature. You could just as easily get pale eggs by unwise breeding choices across a wider population. I have had welsummers that lay eggs of a good colour so I know the genetics are still here in Australia.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:58 am 
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OK; a few things to think about!

Why do we need to import? Who really wants this, what's the gain? Is importation necessary?

Does one fowl winning an Award at a show verify selection and maintenance of a breeds vital characteristics?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:14 pm 
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Importation to improve utility characteristics is required for a range of breeds where inbreeding to try and retain one characteristic has adversely impacted other required characteristics - that is, required in order for the breed to actually be identified as that breed.

Marans, Araucanas, and Cream Legbars are my particular examples, ever and always. Their characteristic is the egg colour. Without that, they're just a chook. In the case of Marans, just a cuckoo, black-with-brown-hackles, or wheaten bird. With Aras, you at least have the distinctive muff, beard and crest. With Cream Legbars, it's the crest.

Marans, as we all know, suffer health issues due to major inbreeding. Without new blood, breeders are forced to outcross to improve health, and then line-breed back to Standard. That's a long time between generations that you can hand-on-heart offer birds as healthy purebreed Marans, laying those distinctive chocolate brown eggs.

An infusion of the pure blood we know exists out there would improve this primarily-utility bird enormously. It's an excellent producer of large, deep brown eggs, goes broody sporadically, is calm and gentle in the backyard, and the boys are excellent eating. It's one of the best dual-purpose breeds out there but no-one mentions it when people ask about dual-purpose, because the Australian strains can (not always, but you never know which) come with a higher-than-acceptable rate of illness and difficulty in finding good birds.

Those are the sorts of utility issues that would be significantly overcome with an infusion of overseas blood. It's got nothing to do with the Show bench, and everything about being able to supply customers with birds that suit their utility purpose.


Last edited by infoaddict on Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:15 pm 
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Just my 5 cents ~ pale Welsummers eggs are quite possibly the result of crossbreeding with Brown Leghorns. Superficially at least the two breeds can easily be mixed up.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:33 pm 
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Import syndicate wrote:
Why we need to import? Overtime, due to the small number of originating parent birds, some pure breeds have experienced problems, such as the loss of the small number of original Jersey Giant and the paleness and size of the egg in Welsummer due to intense in breeding.


The import syndicate had (and probably still has) a very worthwhile agenda that eventually may assist the gene-pool for a wide range of birds. But I question their perception of the state of welsummers in Australia. The Williams family breeding program illustrate what can be done with judicious breeding which can achieved a fine utility bird that lays a dark brown egg of good size and quantity yet can be exhibited successfully as well.

andrewschooks wrote:
Just my 5 cents ~ pale Welsummers eggs are quite possibly the result of crossbreeding with Brown Leghorns. Superficially at least the two breeds can easily be mixed up.


It may well have happened but it is beyond me why anyone would think that brown leghorn blood would help the welsummer in any respect. How anyone with any knowledge of pure-breeds could mix up a welsummer and brown leghorn defies logic.

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Last edited by DenisL on Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:48 pm 
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DenisL wrote:
pedro73 wrote:
Why we need to import? Overtime, due to the small number of originating parent birds, some pure breeds have experienced problems, such as the loss of the small number of original Jersey Giant and the paleness and size of the egg in Welsummer due to intense in breeding.


The import syndicate had (and probably still has) a very worthwhile agenda that eventually may assist the gene-pool for a wide range of birds. But I question their perception of the state of welsummers in Australia. The Williams family breeding program illustrate what can be done with judicious breeding which can achieved a fine utility bird that lays a dark brown egg of good size and quantity yet can be exhibited successfully as well.
Can I correct the above;

pedro73 wrote:
OK; a few things to think about!

Why do we need to import? Who really wants this, what's the gain? Is importation necessary?
The remainder of this quote is from the importation web page; the link attached.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:29 pm 
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Well I went out and bought the latest Australasian Poultry and blow me down; there are 2 outstanding articles of direct relevance to this thread. One in response to GN’s article in the last issue on exhibition and Utility Australorps being one in the same in the 1930s. The other, by our own ‘Auctioneer’, lamenting the demise of old laying strains of the past. But the article that gets selectively quoted here is one on Welsummers where egg colour is touched on once and eating a few fowls gets a passing mention – big deal!

I guess we should be pleased that Australasian Poultry Magazine is truly interested in the old purebred Utility breeds and their editorial team should be congratulated.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:58 pm 
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pedro73 wrote:

I was contributing an item of interest regarding welsummers after they were brought up by another poster.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:19 pm 
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Chicken07 wrote:
was contributing an item of interest regarding welsummers after they were brought up by another poster.


And that poster was Pedro , who originally gave the link to the British farm (welsummers and marans), who then complains that there has been selective quoting!

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:54 am 
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Yes I attached both links; they can be viewed in their entirety for all to develop their own opinion.

Both are vastly different; but both relevant to the topic.

Don't forget Welsummers came into this country from the UK; so why must we resort to them to save our gene pool?

Many things in Australia we have done very well! Many we have not! To deny this is burying our heads in the sand!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:42 am 
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I'm not sure of your issue here. Some classic utility breeds have a nice wide gene pool so we don't have to wish we could import new strains to improve it. Perceived lack of utility traits in those breeds can be managed through selective breeding practices to improve the desired utility, if people are that way inclined. For eg, Australorp, Langshan, Sussex, etc - all the classic dual-purpose breeds. It's not difficult to improve egglaying qualities of a breed - just time-consuming. You want to wait until the end of the birds' first laying season, at least, to find the best layers and breed from them. And breeding for taste or carcase size is even harder, due to the fact these are things that are only determined once the bird is killed, which rather means you can't breed from them :) You need to be _very_ observant and find the visible markers toward the desired traits, and breed in hope from the birds that display them. (Weight is, of course, an easy one; but sheer weight isn't the same as "good breast meat" or "dark leg meat" or whatever).

Other utility breeds, such as Marans, Welsummer, or Cream Legbar, have a specific and unique-to-the-breed (ie a particular egg colour) utility trait that is too easily lost if outcrossing occurs, and the gene pool in Australia for the breed is too small, or too unreliable, for the average dedicated backyard breeder to deal with. This is where importation would help, by bringing in purebreeds with prime examples of the unique trait, that also fully match the standard for that breed - a standard, it is hoped, that contains the other utility traits of the breed. (ie, Marans cockerels should actually be quite heavy and have quite a dark meat, for their eating purposes).

Like all things in life, it's not an all-or-nothing proposition. Some people want to import to improve the physical looks of some birds - improved lacing, better feathering on legs, sheer physical size, introduction of a feather colour or pattern that doesn't exist here - and that's a perfectly good aim in its own right. Others want to import to find out what a previously-unknown breed tastes like. (I want Bresse for that purpose).


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:02 pm 
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From The Feathered World Year Book for 1929 when Welsummers were first introduced to the UK from Holland. Before they became a show fowl, their utility qualities were highly rated.

Were these the fowls that we originally imported to Australia last century and then tried recently to import again because we couldn’t reproduce the original dark brown egg (see importation syndicate home page link previously linked)? Have we learned anything from this?


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Note, the BarrelsFarm Poultry web site on the previous page shows a trophy awarded to the eggs not the fowls! If the sole focus is on the fowl it should be no surprise to anyone that egg quality / number will slip.


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