Mention the word PURE in a chicken talk and you’ll surely get into a steamy word tussle with your chicken mates. Why, because you’ll end up alone in your understanding of the word as it applies to game chicken breeding. Alone, because everyone else’s mindset is the other way around.
The belief that there are no PURE chickens seems universal – it crisscrosses continents, ages and races. If you are to rebut it, you will wonder how that notion has become everyone’s conviction. I remember mentioning to an American breeder about purity in chickens and getting an outright, straightforward response “THERE ARE NO PURE GAME CHICKENS!” Can you go further than that?
The aforementioned declaration is an authority’s word if it said by someone who had been breeding game chickens all his life. And the truth of the matter is that old-time breeders who had been into this job even during the days when most of us have not been born yet have this same breeding principle. Meaning, their breeding experience taught them to believe so. How’s that for a backgrounder?
There are believers and non-believers in game chicken purity, but the latter obviously outnumber the former. There must be a strong basis for this realization! This realization is worth every game fowl breeder’s dime, and has to be brought to the light if one is to decide which side of the coin he is going to be with – or to believe in.
Just why is it that majority of the game fowl breeders does not believe that there are game chickens in their PURE state? It is a thousand-and-one question that has all of us thinking about every possibility, one way or the other.
Actually, it is as simple as knowing that all the game chickens we have at the moment are products of crossbreeding, and that the chickens of long ago were also crosses of even earlier chickens that were used for cockfighting. Because of these, the game chickens of today and all chickens, for that matter, are crosses!
Without even going deep into the matter, we could immediately agree that indeed, all chickens must be crosses. We know that we cross bloodlines all the time, and even those who are known to have their own breeds of game chicken do cross chickens most of the time. Even in maintaining bloodlines, breeders are known to breed in new blood if only to perk up a floundering bloodline. Essentially, this is crossbreeding made more attractive in name!
Now, the question – is it alright to make a generalization that all chickens are crosses based solely on our analogy of what we do when we breed our game chickens? But of course, everyone is entitled to his own opinion. Besides, differences in opinion is what makes game chicken breeding an excellent topic for chicken talks. There are theories and principles that have been time-tested, but our own observations and generalizations matter a lot as well. It is because of these that new knowledge is gained and popularized.
There are breeders who opine that game chickens can be pure for one, two or three characteristics, but can never be considered pure in their totality. This, they associate with the fact that chickens are primarily products of crossbreeding and, therefore, are mixed in their genetic composition.
Non-believers in genetic purity in game chickens agree that it is through inbreeding that one is able to set specific characters in a bloodline. They insist, though, that purity is specific only in a number of characteristics. To them, the game chicken cannot be made pure for all their characteristics.
One big proof that non-believers in genetic purity in game chickens push real hard is the occurrence of off-types – throwbacks, as we call them – even when we breed our chickens straight. This, indeed, is a big score. For how can we consider as pure the purest of the bloodlines we have if they throw off-types, scarce as their occurrence may be?
Well, we really cannot deny facts, for they speak for themselves. The truth of the matter is that it not only because of throwing back in terms of feather color and pattern that strengthens the justification for the absence of absolute genetic purity in the chicken. We just have to look at the readily observable physical traits of the chicken for us to realize that indeed, chickens are not pure.
Try comb type and shank color. If we listen to breeders and maintainers of specific game fowl bloodlines, we will often hear about their bloodlines coming this and that – straight or pea in type of comb; or white, yellow, green blue or black or dirty feed (as we describe it) in shank color. Just why? Common sense will tell us that along the way to forming the bloodline or maintaining one, the breeder did some breeding in for reasons he only knew.
With all the aforementioned facts, we should be tempted to ask – how in the world can one say his chickens are pure? And why is it that in spite of knowing that there never can be pure chickens, breeders flaunt about their breeding materials are pure this and pure that? What happens if our breeding system is such that we focus solely on performance and not on bloodline? If we keep multi-crosses for breeding purposes because we are convinced of their performance, what could we expect their progeny to be – just like them? different?
If our bloodlines are not pure as most of us consider them, then what is the purpose of inbreeding them? Will these chickens stay as crosses if we pair them with their close relatives? These are questions worth asking, and more so discussing. Watch out for it!