Extracted from Breeding Leghorns
& Articles from Members of the Leghorn Club of Australia

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Pullet Breeding - Exhibition Females

THE MALE BIRD
The main point to look for first is TYPE. Type must come first because without good leghorn body characteristics you are wasting your time. The male bird you select to head your breeding program should have width of shoulder, long flat back tapering to the tail. When viewed from [he top of the bird he should be wedged shaped. Breast should be full and carried well forward (plenty of front) showing no sign of being split. Ample depth of body with good width between legs. Most important, but not least he must be up off the ground showing ample thigh. Legs to be yellow or orange, preferably with red running down the outside of the shanks. Shins to be round and of good bone. Flat shins are definitely out.

Head Points
Comb - nice deep serrations, ideally five with centre serration over eye. Can have more or less serrations than five as long as the head looks balanced. The comb should not be beefy but rather fine, of rough texture, loosely fitting at base, blade following but not touching the neck line. I don't mind if the comb has a thumb mark as this has a tendency to lay the comb over if it is overgrown and falls to one side.

Wattles should be long and fine.
Eye rather large and prominent red in colour and completely filling the eye socket.
Face to be RED in colour, showing no signs of white (broken face). A bit of white enamel about the size of a grain of rice is alright but any bluish white coming up from the lobe and extending into the face is definitely a no-no, for once this fault takes hold your strain is worthless.
Lobe should be rather large and have plenty of substance, preferably almond shaped. I prefer a rather open face, free from any great amount of feathers.

Colour and Feathers
Top colour to be black with green sheen and no purple barring running across the feathers. Red feathers in the neck hackles, saddle hackle and on wing bows all the better, for this indicates an abundance of pigment. How much red? Personally I believe you can never have too much for the bird will then pass this gene onto his progeny. (Top quality pullets with good feather and leg colour). Under-colour white, the more the better. When there is the correct amount of white under-colour the male bird will have plenty of white showing in his tail. Beware of a bird showing white in the tail but is light grey with some white in the under-colour. White under-colour should run from the root of the tail right up to the base of the skull. I prefer white to show in the neck hackle, mixed with black and red feathers. Feathers should be broad and of good quality, especially in the tail and wing. Tail to be on the short to moderate size, guard against long flowing tails for this will be passed on to the pullets. Tail set to be approximately 45°.

With the reference to never too much white, the wings must be scrutinised. Male birds with excessive white under-colour could quite possibly have one or two feathers showing white in the wing, as long as the white is about half the feather length I don't mind so much, but if they are tipped with white be very wary for you will find this will be passed onto the pullets. With the white half the feather length you will find some pullets showing white in the wing - cull these, but the majority will be clear in the wing.

Remember TYPE comes first when choosing your male birds.

FEMALE
The female chosen for the breeding pen should compliment the male and be as near as possible to a top show specimen. Again type must come first. She must have good leghorn body characteristics, length of back, width of shoulder, depth of body, well spaced legs and again very important showing ample thigh.

Head Points
Comb to rise straight up from the beak (no double folds) and fall gracefully to one side. Texture fine but fairly rough, good deep serrations with nicely shaped blade. Similar to the male's comb if held upright. Well shaped wattles, fairly long, preferably free from fold or wrinkles.
Eyes, red, the darker the better, prominent, rather bold and filling the eye socket completely. Lobes of good quality and shape with ample substance. Again, I prefer an open face, free from excessive feather, red in colour and absolutely free from white or bluish white (no broken face - not even a hint of it).

Colour
Top colour black with green sheen and no purple barring in feathers. If females with green sheen are unavailable use a dull black female (no sheen). Undtrcolour as dark as you can get right to the skin. Tail and wing feathers as broad as possible and showing no signs of white. Tail to be moderate in length and set at a good angle, not whippy, but about three fingers in width. Body feathering rather tight, not loose and sloppy, but soft to the touch and of excellent quality. Legs to be yellow or orange the richer in colour the better. Again I like to see red running down the side of the shanks, indicating pigment. Well spaced and in centre of body, shins round and rather fine. If all goes well some nice pullets and breeding cockerels should be produced from the above mating.

The four main points in breeding are perseverance, dedication, accurate record keeping and a genuine love for fowls.

Dedication Have a mental picture of the bird you are trying to breed and do not settle for anything less - be dedicated.

Perseverance You will never beat mother nature, you can fool her but never beat her. I find most successful breeders inbreed to establish top strains of fowls, just how far is up to you. Keep your eyes and ears open when talking to the experienced breeders for they are a walking wealth of knowledge and are only too pleased to pass on the finer points of breeding. Know your strain, what features are recessive and those that are not. Don't be frightened to experiment within your strain. By this I mean really close inbreeding (so long as the birds you select are in robust health). Full brother to full sister, three-quarter sister to half brother, fourth cross pullet back to sire etc. There are countless combinations. These matings could well surprise you or open a Pandora’s box, but they will provide knowledge of what your strain is capable of producing. A few birds produced might have some points you are looking for, work with these and mate to birds with other good points that they lack. The secret of a champion is locked in your strain, all you need is the right combination, the key to unlock it. This will not happen overnight but persevere. It might take years, the perfect bird has yet to be bred. It is a great challenge but very rewarding, especially when you start to gain a few cards and placings and eventually ribbons and people ask where did you get that bird from, and you say "I bred it!". Very satisfying I might add.

Accurate Records Always keep accurate records, for when you get a good bird you need to know which mating produced it. This is vitally essential for years of work could be ruined all because you cannot remember.

A Genuine Love for Fowls This last point speaks for itself.

by courtesy of Stuart Fraser, Berrima, NSW ....
Has been associated with fowls for twenty-three years and with Black Leghorn Bantams for the last nine. During this time, after following the points laid out in the above article, has produced a highly competitive strain, winning many championships and major awards

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