Let the Breeding Season Begin!!!!!!

By: Sony Gill--gillsony@gmail.com

Have you ever stopped and wondered why some fanciers can breed quality birds and are always placed on top of flysheets? Top fanciers all have one thing in common they are master breeders. In this article this novice will try to explain to his ability some of the breeding systems used by successful fanciers.

To start any breeding system we must keep adequate records. I know it is very time consuming, but to challenge the top positions you must keep good records and don't rely on your memory alone.

When I first met Srecko, he always carried a black book along with him. So I finally asked him, he smiled and explained I keep all my loft records in this loft book. My next question loft records? To which he explained:

  • Breeding information pedigrees (A pedigree is simply background of a given bird (gene pool))
  • Feeding information
  • Flying schedules
  • And his secrets ;-) Which he was not disclosing!!!!

That got me thinking, I need one of those books for my birds and my flying secrets :-). By the way at the end of season they are great read and helpful in order to analyze birds in your loft. For your information I have a clear cut objective on very first page of that book and read it every time I open that book. My objective is "To improve a family of birds that will challenge for top position on any given fly". I was very lucky to purchase top birds from Srecko when he left the sport. My theory was start with quality, proven birds and then detects good breeders and start building my family around them. So that's what I am doing. Again I am very grateful to Srecko for providing me some wonderful birds.

Firstly we must define two basic terms, phenotype and genotype.

The phenotype of an animal refers to the physical characteristics of that animal (what we see). The genotype refers to only that part of the animal that is due to his genes (amino acids that transfer the messages from parents to offspring).

There are two primary reasons for the differences we see in animals, differences due to environment and differences due to the genes that the animals are carrying.

Most breeders have little or no control of their gene pool and these would be phenotype breeders (before I got informed I was one). They use little scientific approach to their breeding programs and some time they do hit a jackpot but very rarely. A consistently successful breeding program will usually make use of some form of line-breeding and this is breeding genotype take a look at top flyers.

Breeding Systems

Cross-breeding, Line-breeding, In-breeding?

Cross-breeding: the mating of unrelated birds. This is the simplest system and the one used by a lot of fanciers so I will not go further into this system. I think all of us are expert in cross-breeding. Hopefully my next article will be on cross-breeding and which includes an insight into very successful fancier.

Line-breeding: is a type of inbreeding where the related birds have a common ancestor. It is a milder forms of in-breeding but in-breeding never the less. It could involve the following mating: grandfather to granddaughter; grandmother to grandson; cousin to cousin.

In-breeding: is the breeding of two animals that are related to each other. This system uses mating as follows: father to daughter, mother to son, brother to sister.

Why would be practice in-breeding? Simply to increase the predictability of the mating and narrowing the gene pool (promote and maintain the good qualities that the line possesses). This results in a higher percentage of offspring which meet our selection criteria. And again what are my selection criteria, "To improve a family of birds that will challenge for top position on any given fly".Before we start key points to remember:

  1. Start with perfect bird (very best you can get)

    The basis is to purchase a "perfect" or nearly perfect bird you can afford. Then you use that bird and some others best birds of opposite sex of course as the basis for the foundation. Superior male is better since it can be bred to a number of females thus produce results quicker than a female. But it can be done with male or female!

    Then you will breed that male to some very good females. The resulting offspring will have 50% of the superior male's genetic makeup or "blood". Then you would breed that male back to the best daughters from those mating. Now your offspring will have 75% of their "blood" or genetic makeup coming from that fantastic male. After this point it won't matter what you breed to what as long as you keep breeding so that all the offspring contain 75% or more of the genetic makeup of the best male see diagrams below.

  2. Here is a very simple, easy to understand LINE-BREEDING (In-Breeding) CHARTS. This should be quite helpful to the novice and intermediate fanciers. This chart can be used as a "line-breeding" chart or for establishing a "strain" when only one bird of the wanted mutant is available.
  3. Get informed

    In my opinion it is something that should be undertaken only with knowledge of what will be required and the risks involved. Line breeding can be a valuable breeding tool if practiced with care. I don't think it is something beginners should try without research.

  4. Culling

    Never start in-breeding with anything but the very best stock you can get. In-breeding quickly shows up all the good qualities, by allowing the best association of genes, but it also shows up the faults so you must be able to identify and cull. This year from 20 birds I only kept 2 for breeding rest were either given away or culled. By culling you are making a great progress.

You must persevere with the program and not make an outcross. An outcross produces variability and in-breeding is done to reduce variability, although in the beginning in-breeding would appear to heighten variability, which is until you have removed the undesirables.

Careful records of factors like fertility, hatchability and rearability must be kept in order to avoid fixing any undesirable characteristics in the family. Good record keeping is must; you cannot be successful with in-breeding without good records.

Below are some illustrated examples of Line-Breeding/In-Breeding programs.

First Cousin Program

First Cousin Program - The objective of this program is to blend two pairs of excellent pigeons equally. This method is more useful for pedigreed animals or animals or exceptional quality.

Half-Brother-Sister Program

Half-Brother-Sister Program - the object of half-brother-sister program is to blend three birds with emphasis on one. This is particularly successful in first establishing consistency in a new line.

Skip Generation Program

Skip Generation Program The object of Skip generation program is to impress the line with the feature of a single bird (here the Male).

Just a quick note: I am not an expert by any means and don't clam to be one so use the above information at your discretion. Comments please feel free to email me gillsony@gmail.com.