Selection & Pedigree
When attempting to establish a winning strain of exhibition canaries these two subjects go hand in hand. The successful fancier will have developed his strain of birds over many generations with a keen eye on the overall quality of the stud.
For your initial stock it is essential to choose the breeder who’s birds you favour and request some birds that you would be able to at least start a strain of birds with. You do not need many birds to begin the process, in fact it is often a mistake that beginners make, trying to bring in too many birds to start with. Especially from different sources as this would prove near impossible to lay a foundation for the years to come without resorting to chance.
The quality ideally needs to be both the best obtainable and the best affordable. Top quality birds, if available, are not cheap but if bred with successfully take years off the process. Although the quality of hens is very important, the cock birds must be the of a high standard as if the intention is to breed a ‘male strain’ it is these birds that will be inbred over the following years to fix those show qualities. It is far simpler to establish a ‘male strain’ as you can of course run a cock bird with several hens during the season.
Place you trust in your chosen mentor and go back to the same breeder when there is a need for further acquisitions.
If things go well in the breeding room then each season should see some improvement. The need to develop an eye for your chosen breeds ideal standard is essential to improve the strain for those birds that you retain determine the following years progeny. Ask for help if you need it from an experienced eye and only retain the number of birds that you can suitably manage.
Once the strain is being developed it should be the aim to make pairings that will breed better than their parents in exhibition quality. This is achievable but other than a ‘sport’ it is generally possible only within an inbred strain. It is within an inbred strain where you can find the lesser quality brother and sisters will breed high quality when paired correctly.
My strain of Yorkshires is a pure bloodline that I can personally trace back to a clear yellow cock of Bob Pepper’s that in 1994 produced his SYCC winning green marked yellow cock. This family is of Joe Cluderay’s bloodline and Bob introduced further birds from Joe over the following years.
Since that time only outcross' brought in from Italy has been fully introduced into the strain.
I retain very few cock birds and continue the strain with very closely related hens. All of my birds contain blood from a particular clear buff hen who always produced a higher standard than herself. Her two brothers in turn bred Bob and myself some very good birds and one has lived to ten years old. I bred with the buff hen until she was nine years old, her daughters to seven and eight years.
I always run my best cocks with several hens, sometimes suffering the consequences of producing less youngsters because of this but as my object is quality this suits my aims.
My birds are an inbred family that lives for many years, seldom do I have a sick bird in the bird room.
Selection pays a key part having eliminated unwanted traits and retaining birds that please me. I have always been a ardent champion of feather quality. Feather helps make the winning show bird special. I have always produced birds of good feather because of this and in 2012 produced a green marked buff hen, which I consider epitamises athis quality with the most perfect close tight feather. The best feathered bird I have ever produced in over four decades.. I will now endeavor to expend this feather quality throughout the strain although watchful that you do need differing feather type in the room to help maintain size. When making your pairings.
A particular clear yellow cock of high quality is considered the line bird of the strain.
Understanding feather qualities is a great asset when choosing each years pairings. An exhibition Yorkshire should have a close tight feather quality often associated with the smaller breeds.
The length of our Yorkshire is also an essential attribute of a good show bird. No cock birds used in the breeding plan should be short in body. A Yorkshire is a long elegant bird.
Position is a feature that is more often misunderstood. Yes a Yorkshire requires a good length of leg but the leg needs to be correctly positioned upon the body of the bird. Look at the ideal bird, the ‘Golding’ model and learn the position and the angles of the thigh and shank. Look where the bird needs to be gripping the perch. These are major points often overlooked. Good position usually aids good shoulder, which in turn aids shape.
Although breeding closely, once the genes of your foundation stock run throughout the stud you will have many more options of pairing as the stud develops.
Only the individual fancier can then decide when an outcross can be introduced, generally to improve a feature on ones birds. The outcross will however also carry faults, which are alien to the strain so again selection is a key here with the youngsters produced.
A Yorkshire canary has many features that come together to make up a good quality show bird that is as close to the model as possible. It’s breeding, for quality, provides a worthy challenge. If you purchase birds from several sources you will have little chance of controlling the faults, produce a small strain and then develop it in time. Bring too many new birds into your strain and you risk all types of variation and loss of control of your future pairings.
Fife Fancy Canaries
I will also be looking to form my stud of Fife’s in a very similar manner, sticking to breeding with related birds from a main strain and looking to select the youngsters that can further the quality each year. This presents myself a new challenge, one that I am looking forward to in the coming years. My stud comprises birds from the studs of Wayne Morton.
Once you have chosen the breeder of your choice for your initial birds, providing you are pleased with the quality produced, stick with that breeder’s bloodline and only keep the best birds that you produce. Learn to pair your birds to improve them each year and be ruthless when selecting the following seasons breeding team. Lean the type and learn how to pair and understand feather quality.
If you feel the strain lacks certain features then it may be time tobring into the stud an outcroos or two. My preference would always be hens so as to continue the male line.
A top class stud is not produced overnight, a degree of patience is required, yet the better the birds that you can start with the sooner you will be competing on the show bench with hopefully the correct type of bitd.