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
Updated JAN 20, 2012
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