How to Breed Columbian Plymouth Rock Color Pattern
From Plymouth Rock Fanicers Club Newsletter
Breeding Columbian Plymouth Rock Colore Pattern
By Mike Michael
First of all, I don’t feel myself to be an expert on breeding Columbian Color Patttern. I’m sure there are others with more years of experience raising Columbian Rocks than myself. I have raised Columbian Rocks Exclusively and will tell you what has to this point proved to give me the best color results.
With the color of the Ideal Show bird in mind, after we study and read our ABA and APA standard lets keep this statement in our thoughts. There is a tendency to disregard indistinct contrast between Black and White sections of the plumage. “There should be no blending of the two Colors.” This statement comes directly from the ABA standard under the heading of color remarks. I keep this statement in mind while breeding for my ideal color patter.
I keep a different bird or birds in my breeding pen to help achieve the ideal color pattern we want in our show bird. I cull for color first and type or shape second. Mow before getting too shocked at this statement, I will try to explain. I want color and type, both being very important to me to have on my show bird. But, with two of my birds being equal in type in a class, I have seen that 1st place spot escape me because of a color pattern fault. As it should have been in that scenario We then give our judges more to look at and take into consideration in what I call a ‘marked variety” of bird over a “self colored bird”.
Let’s get back to the breeding pen and what works for me on breeding Columbian color pattern. First and foremost I select the best colored male possible from my line at all times. I believe genetically that color is produced from our male bird. He will implant the color in your line as long as you stay with in your strain. I then select the best type or shaped females because I believe the female genetically produces the type.
I match my breeding pens together by the color of my females in three areas- Wing, Back (saddle) and hackle. Now keep in mind what I said, My male bird is the best proper colored bird possible from my strain, so I rely on his abilities to properly put the color on the hatch from the breeding females I have selected in the three color areas that I have mentioned above.
A) Wing-I’ve found with a richer color of black in the primary and secondary feather, with no blending of white, contributes to the rich black tail we desire in our females and the rich greenish black color we so desire in our males. I also feel rich black color of the wing tips contribute to the under color of our birds.
The next thing to watch for is if your male bird’s wing color is to black, lacking the white lacing along the lower edge of each primary feather and domination of black in the secondary. We have a tendency to produce a slight amount of black on the shoulder and front part of the wing. According to our Bantam Standard a little black is still acceptable in this area. However, I don’t like to see it so; I try to avoid it by keeping the male birds wing bay as ideal in color as possible in most of my breeding males. I will keep at least one male that has a wing bay of black, even lacking in the white lacing of the wing because I find this to enrich body under color where it may be weak especially in the back and saddle area of the bird.
B) Under Color – is described as being delicate slatey blue in all sections. And this is what makes our beautiful Columbian color. But, in the breeding pen if you only breed the ideal color that we want on our show birds, in time you will find you under color getting very light and you don’t want this to happen.
Now in your hatch you find a variance in under color from light in color to very dark in color. You may or may not want the very dark under color. This will be determined by what you are trying to achieve in you Columbian color pattern at this time. I prefer the under color to be a little richer than the ideal. I feel it enhances and sharpens the white back body color of the Columbian Rock. It also helps to keep you under color closer to ideal throughout the whole flock.
I’ve found you can get your under color to dark, then you are going to force your under color up through back and saddle areas. The standard allows 15% of dark spots or mossiness in the back, but with two birds being Ideal in everyway, the sharp white colored backed bird is going to place over the other bird.
I have found that to rich a under color, especially in the back and saddle can take away from the white lacing on the top two feathers of the tail on the female bird.
To lighten the under color when I feel its getting to rich I will keep a female in my breeding pen with some white smutting n the primary wing section or a female with ideal standard color to tame down the strong genetic color that our Ideal male bird is producing.
If I wanted to richen my under color, I would use my male bird in two ways-1) I would cross my ideal color male bird with a rich in color female bird (remember color already locked in to female by your male bloodline). This I have found to richen under color where it is getting to light in color.
2) The second cross I would make to richen the under color I mentioned earlier in this article is that I keep at least one male breeder that is very black in color through his primaries and secondaries with very little white edging to the feather of the wing.
I would then cross this male to a female with as close to ideal under color as possible, or with the female we have noticed having the lighter under color in our breeding pen. These crosses should richen the under color in future hatches.
C) Hackle Color- Hackle color should be lustrous greenish black with a narrow lacing of silvery white on edge of each feather. With hackle feather fluff and shaft being black, with hackle color and front of neck being same on the male and female. Front of neck being White.
If the under color in our birds gets to rich this is where I feel our hackle color can get to dominate in black, that it takes away from the silvery white lacing along each feather. I feel we then start to lose the sharp, crisp, color combination that is so eye-catching of the Columbian hackle color. Also the domination of black in the hackle makes it harder to get the pure white colored head we desire, and also enhances the black spot feathers in the breast area of our birds ( especially in our males). I fell the best way to achieve the proper hackle color is to try and maintain an acceptable under color through our breeding pens.
In closing, I have given information as to what I do in my Breeding Program to try to maintain proper color in my flock.
As every breeders color situation will be different at the time of setting up your breeding pens, you will have to make your selections beneficial to your success in breeding the very important and very eye catching color of the Columbian Plymouth Rock.
I hope I have been helpful!
Blosls Rhode Island Reds
Getting Started with Columbian Plymouth Rock Large Fowl a Beginners Guide
By Robert Blosl
If I was getting started with say Columbian Plymouth Rock Large Fowl today I would get the best birds I could locate even if they were light years away from the top birds say twenty years ago and work on a program of three year goals in breeding. I would always keep my eyes open for a sleeper strain from say a private breeder who has an old strain and never showed them or a strain from another county that is better than I presently have today such as Canada.
First Year: I get say two dozen eggs from the best breeder that I can locate and hatch and raise them up in separate pens as soon as I can tell the Cockerels from the pullets. I would pick two or three of the best cockerels and the best pullets and raise them up to egg laying age or about ten months of age. I would then take the best three pullets and put them in a small pen with my best cockerel of the year. I would hatch as many chicks as I could in say 30 days and then remove the male on the thirty day and on the 40 day and place the other male in the pen with the two pullets. Again you put all the eggs in the incubator I would toe punch one hole in the right out web of these chicks so I know they came from pen two.
I would raise all these chicks up again like the first year and pick the best five cockerel and pullets and raise them up to adult age. I would take the best cockerel l and mate him back to the two females which are hens. I would take the two best pullets and mate them back to their sire.
I would then raise the chicks again just like I did the year before and toe punch the second pen with the old hens as Pen two.
The next year I would take again the best Cockerel and mate them back to the old hens for the next season. The best pullets would go back to the old cock bird for one more final year.
Line breeding the next year. I would take the best pullets from pen one and mate them to the best cockerel from Pen two. I would then take the best cockerel from pen two and mate them two the best pullets from pen one. I would again raise all the chicks up and then toe punch the birds for pen one and pen two for this season.
Improvement in Body Type: With this system I am breeding for body type only. I am hoping I can keep the color going but we are breeding genes for Plymouth Rock body type. Gravy bowl bodies, with good elevated top lines , yellow legs, good head points five to seven head points and excellent vitality.
Breeding for color: When you get two this level in four to five years you should have a pretty good idea of how to breed for type and then you got to take your best typed birds and pick the ones with the closest color to the standard. Your best breeders for color are in your males. You take the best colored males with the best type and find the best type colored females and mate them two your best male. You raise the chicks up and then mate the best colored females back to their sire again. You may have a second male that was his brother they are lookalike brothers then take two of his nieces and mate them to their uncle the next year. This will give you two pens to choose from. Inbreed the best daughters back to the old males for say three years till you develop a Plymouth Rock that has great type and color to match it like the top Columbian Plymouth Rock Bantam strains in America today. There is a person named Mike Michael who is a master of breeding the Columbian color pattern in bantams from Michigan. You need to talk to him on the phone and send him pictures of your birds each year and get his advice on how you are doing and who to breed which bird with whom.
This is what I would do with what I have until something better would show up. This is a rough draft that I fired off tonight. I will sleep on this and post it on my web site and then dig up the articles that Mike Michael has written for our newsletter on the Columbian Color Pattern. Don’t keep a lot of birds just mate in pairs and hatch about 20 chicks per female if you can. In no time you will see improvements and you will also learn from your mistakes as you get to the second and third year level.