A Brief History
by Ross Gibson

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The Beautiful BUFF Leghorn    ...in not so beautiful Hands
In the last few years several breeders have being making a concerted effort to improve the large Buff Leghorns.
The most notorious of this trio Neil Penny is no stranger to N.S.W. and Victorian members. For those who don't know him just keep an eye out for any hump backed whales whilst your in Canberra that will be Neil .Neil is better known for his exploits with Brown Leghorns. The second of this trio Steven Lane is more likely to have his head in a Rugby scrum for Newcastle, not a pretty sight, but his saving grace is that he does exhibit some rather handy large whites The third of this trio is a quietly spoken bloke by the name of Greg Smith. Greg is the sort of chap who wouldn't say “boo” to save himself. We've been mates since we we're five, having gone to the local schools in Tamworth and then to University together. Needless to say I need to be careful what I say. Anyway over the years when Greg gets himself to a show he usually doesn't leave too many ribbons for any body else. So what do these 'gentlemen' have in common? Well to their credit they have taken up the challenge of improving the large Buff Leghorn. You will notice that I used the words improving, rather than rebuild, this is because we do see the odd Buff Leghorn (Large) exhibited, so they are out there, just not in large numbers.

A Brief History
Five years ago Greg Smith got into his head that he wanted to breed large Buff Leghorns, but at that time there were no large Buff Leghorns known to him in Northern N.S.W..Greg was fortunate as have all Tamworth Poultry people in having the resources at hand of the very knowledgeable (late) Doug Swadling. Doug would be most remembered for his Black Minorcas whose were second to none.

Apart from the Minorcas Doug had a profound knowledge of the Buff colour having bred top class buff Pekins and also being the originator of the Buff Plymouth Rock. So after some discussion with Doug Greg was able to get hold of a buff Rock cockerel which he then mated to some Blue Leghorn pullets.
It should be mentioned the standard to which Doug attained with his Buff Plymouth Rocks was extremely high. The buff colour being where it should be, all the way to the skin, and the leg colour was the yellow leg we all aspire to in our Leghorns. The other point, which needs to be pointed out, is that some 10-15 years prior Doug had used a Buff Leghorn in his creation of the Buff Plymouth Rock. The Benefits of this to Greg's project were to be seen very early on in the breeding program. Following is a brief outline of his activities with is Buff Leghorns

Year l: The results of the first cross as you can imagine were some very robust multicoloured utility fowls. But amongst the Black and the Blue they did have a good amount of Buff. Greg also mated a Buff Rock Cockerel to a very small Buff Leghorn cross hen. (She was really only a Buff chook)

Year 2: In the second year Greg mated these first cross fowls back to the Blue Leghorn females to increase the Leghorn Blood content. Greg's second pen consisted of a crossing between the two different pens in year one. From this Greg was able to breed some better-typed birds which retained the buff colour.

Year 3: In the third year Greg decided it was time he needed to add some Buff Leghorn blood to not only maintain Leghorn type but also to hold the buff colour he had already attained. Luckily Greg was fortunate enough to be able to obtain a Buff Leghorn Cockerel from Michael O'Connor. As they say you should never judge a book by its cover, that was certainly the case with this fowl. This bird has nicked superbly with Greg's Leghorn Rock crosses, the offspring being larger stronger and much more vigorous than your average pure Buff Leghorn.

Year 4: Greg has continued to use his O'Connor bird to good affect over his daughters and has consolidated other matings improving type by reintroducing Black Leghorn blood.

What is amazing is the quick period of time Greg has managed to get his Buff Leghorns to a very creditable stage. As Neil Penny and I can testify he really had very little to start with. As has been mentioned earlier, what seems to have happen is that the Buff Leghorn genes in the Buff Plymouth rock which have lain dormant for 15 years appear to have nicked with the infusions of Leghorn blood to allow type to set very quickly.

Neil Penny as has been mentioned has been working on Buff Leghorns as well. Neil at Newcastle Show several years ago thought a couple of blokes from Tamworth were having a go at him when he was given a Blue Leghorn Buff Rock Cock bird weighing in the vicinity of 10lbs. Neil now realises what Greg was giving him having crossed this monster ("I think were Neil's words at the time) over his existing line of Buff Leghorns. The results Neil reports are very pleasing indeed.
The third buff breeder in this little story, Steven Lane was able to get hold of some birds from Greg Smith and I believe is having some good success with these, along with some other experiments he is undertaking.

For the benefit of the Buff Leghorn fraternity, and I know there are many Buff Leghorn bantam breeders in the club I have pieced together several articles on Buff Leghorns and will endeavour to include them in forth coming issues. The article in this newsletter was written by the Reverend T.W.Sturges in his book, "The Poultry Manual" produced in 1911. I believe it includes some helpful information with regard to producing Buff Leghorns.
Good luck to all, and I hope that all members can glean some useful information from the article.
Ross Gibson

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