BREEDING AND EXHIBITING
GOLDEN DUCKWING OLD ENGLISH GAME BANTAMS



The following books, Game Bantams and Fred P. Jeffrey's Bantam Chickens together with the American Poultry Association STANDARD OF PERFECTION were the core of my poultry library. By this time I had settled on the breeding the Old English. So I read the standard descriptions of all the Old English varieties, and I read about breeding for color patterns. What a fascinating thing it was to learn that many standard color patterns in the Old English were man-made! In my possession were the birds necessary to make my own strain of a variety of Old English that I bad never seen, the Golden Duckwing. According to the standard, the females were nearly the same in appearance as the Silver Duckwings. The males, on the other hand, were strikingly different. A careful reading of the standard showed that the Golden Duckwing male properly has four colors, black, creamy white and two shades of gold. How exciting it would be to put down some of these beautiful birds at a show and watch people gather to examine them! And if anyone asked whose strain they were, I could proudly say "my own". So in the summer of 1980, I placed a BB Red cock in the pen with my Silver Duckwing females, and the Silver Duckwing male went to the pen with BB Red females. The result of these two matings was a single Duckwing male. His hackle and saddle were creamy in color, but his back and wing bows were a pale gold. These two pens would give me my start in Golden Duckwing Old English. From those two matings, nine birds hatched. The four pullets were almost like BB Red females, except that they were a shade or two lighter in color. All five of the cockerels were were Duckwings. Three were silver or so very light golden as to be undesirable, but the other two were of excellent golden top color. Some varmint got one of these cockerels, and I put the one remaining Golden Duckwing cockerel in a pen with the four pullets and waited for the spring breeding season.
Of course, I was not just waiting. There were always shows to attend. In October of 1981 my wife Loeta and I went to Nashville for' the Middle Tennessee Poultry Club's fall show. One exhibitor had the only Golden Duckwing Old English I had seen besides my own birds. It was a male bird of excellent type, but I thought it was too pale in every part that called for gold color. I determined to show my bird at the next show. The next show for us was the Mid-Tenn spring show. So in April, 1982, I took the only Golden Duckwing I had to the show at Nashville. He was the sole Golden Duckwing there, but he caused exactly the kind of sensation for which I had hoped. My bird occupied a coop at the end of a row, and from there he got a great deal of attention. A kind word from an established exhibitor or a' judge can do wonders for the morale of people relatively new to the fancy. I took my Golden Duckwing to a few other shows in 1982, but that year no other exhibitors brought any Golden Duckwings to any of the shows I attended. When the cockerel was not at a show, he headed the only mating I had for Golden Duckwing that year. He and the four pullets' mentioned earlier gave me a few rich colored cockerels. They had their faults, though. The sire had colored birds. To have exhibition colored birds of both sexes, I have found it necessary to double mate. My 1979 edition of BANTAM STANDARD calls for the male's hackle to be creamy white; back and wing bows, lustrous rich golden; and saddle, lustrous light golden. It is a color fault for saddle and hackle to match. Any male without rich golden color on back and wing' bows is out of place. I know that type is more important than color. But if one puts down a Golden Duckwing male of excellent type but pale in color, then he may as well put a typee' Blue Red male in a BB Red class and say "Well, I know he is a little light in color." Exhibitors and judges are all only human. If I disagree with one judge about the way my birds place, then it is that much more fun to go to the next show and see if another judge agrees with me. The best way for me, or any exhibitor, to help my own flock and variety is to raise the best birds I can and take them to several shows so that people will see them. It is good to see other exhibitors bring their Golden Duckwings to the shows. We can learn from one another. Over the years I have made some changes in my strain of Golden Duckwing. Evidently, some judges found any hint of lacing in the male breast to be a more serious color fault than black striping in the hackle, so I worked to clean up the breast even at the expense of getting more striping. One color fault which judges and exhibitors alike have occasionally found in some of my males is a red or brown edging of the creamy white in the wing bays. This is a complaint I am not going to worry about too much, since it seems to me that there must be some of that color on the wings in order to have rich golden top color. I want to handle the male bird and discover that his long, flowing hackle almost completely hides a back of gold color, not black and not silver.
After doing his homework, the fancier should select the be mating of Black Breasted Reds that is available. Next, select mating of Silver Duckwings, but it is best I think, if these are not the best exhibition birds. Look for males and females with some red showing in their wing bows. Cross both ways, and save all the Duckwing birds. If there are Duckwing pullets of a light but even shade of salmon in the breast with white heads, then use these in your next cockerel mating. I know, the pullets' color is essential in cockerel matings because several times I have raised Golden Duckwing cockerels of richer color than their sires. Though at a quick glance the Silver Duckwing pullet may look like the Golden Duckwing, they are not the same, and they will not breed the same. By the end of your second or third year of breeding Golden Duckwing, you should know which females give the best male off-spring. Also from the first cross save all the cockerels of Duckwing color. Give your breeding program a few years to really establish itself. Golden Duckwings may also be obtained by substituting Blue Red in the cross with Silver Duckwings. I know the method works, because John England has given me two Golden Duckwing cockerels of excellent type. John was crossing to get Blue Golden Duckwing and gave me the Golden Duckwings that resulted. Mated with pullets from my strain, both these birds produced sons of richer color than themselves. Evidently, more people are raising Golden Duckwing in Old English and Moderns than were doing so when I began working with the variety. It is certainly good to see that these two old breeds have some beautiful old color patterns that I want to see more often at the shows.
Note: Both Bruce Matthis and David Kemp of Oregon are both working on their own strains of Blue Golden Duckwing.

By John Tabb

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Updated JAN 20, 2012

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