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Basic Breeding For Gamefowl: Inbreed To Fix Traits, Cross Breed To Add Traits

February 10, 2014       Gamefowl Circuit
Despite what so called livestock or poultry experts say about avoding inbreeding and choosing cross breeding as a way for improving your stock, here is why you choose either based on what purpose you have for your gamefowl.


Inbreeding mates gamefowl within a single bloodline or a single broodhen and fighting stag mating. Here are the methods available:

1. Mating brother & sister- 25% (intensive inbreeding).

2. Mating half-brother & half-sister- 12.5% (moderate inbreeding).

3. Mating uncle & niece; aunt & nephew -12.5% (moderate inbreeding).

4. Mating grandparent & grandchild 12.5% (moderate inbreeding).

5. Mating first cousins - 6.3% (mild inbreeding).

Remember that the purpose of inbreeding is to fix like genes and produce the best traits for your stock. Genes are what make the hereditary traits of the bird appear in its conformation, health and innate fighting traits. The more you inbreed; the more like genes are fixed. These will be further boosted by inbreeding birds having the same phenotype characters tied to some genotypes. Since traits are lessened from one partner to the other by any mating by 60 percent, inbreeding allows you to breed back the traits to come up with offspring as close to the original champion through careful culling and there CAN be consistent production of good birds throughout generations.

When you inbreed fowls, there will eventually be recessive gene-dominant by-products and these must be ruthlessly culled. Genetics is an exact science and one only need keep very comprehensive records to single out what traits and what genes come from which fowl from bloodlines being crossed. Some breeders maintain highly inbred strains of gamefowls as their seed fowls. These breeders do not fight broodfowls (males that sire a bloodline); they only fight battlefowls (males that fight in a derby).

Of those breeders who maintain inbred strains and cross them for hybrid vigor (heterosis), broodfowls and battlefowls are not the same. Chosen broodfowls do not fight nor are battlefowls bred. The idea behind this method, the more inbred your seed fowls are the greater will be the "nick" or hybrid vigor when they are crossed.

Norman Method--Line Breeding

This method relies on line breeding the broodfowls before crossing. Line-breeding is inbreeding mates to one individual broodfowl. And in each generation, the breeder "double ups" the genes of the offspring. By line-breeding we try to produce individual(s) as genetically as close to the original broodfowl sire as mentioned earlier. If you are a backyard breeder, chances are you do not have enough space to accommodate too many broodfowl for line-breeding.

In this case, line-breed only to one broodfowl. Choose your most potent stag and hen as far as fowl traits appear, and breed back to that individual. Then you can cross the line-bred progeny with other broodfowl.

Heterosis or hybrid vigor will not be as strong as a pure inbred fowl for line-bred crosses, but will produce fighters with traits that complement other traits or add lacking traits from the inbred lines. All depend upon the fight performance and potency of traits of your original pair of broodfowls and the selection process of each mating prior to the cross.

Narragansett Method--Line Breeding

One method of inbreeding made popular by Frank Shy is the Narragansett Method.

This method advocates the continuation and fixing of traits of the bloodline of a potent gamefowl sire to its progeny in "small doses" by repeated crossing of bloodlines from several mates (cousins to cousins) rather than intensive inbreeding (single bloodline). Using an outstanding broodcock. Single mate him with several hens and choose which ones produce the best offspring. If two hens produce very good fighters with similar fighting traits—the offspring of these two unrelated hens should be crossed. This will be half-brother and half-sister mating which is 12.5% inbreeding. If you want to infuse new blood, be sure the fowl is the same as your original trio in conformation and fighting style.

Cross Breeding

Crossbreeding is the mating of different bloodlines to each other. This manner of breeding is made to combine the good qualities of 2 different broodfowl bloodlines.If your gamefowl has good gameness and needs better cutting traits or endurance, this is when you infuse new blood via cross breeding.

Three methods of cross-breeding gamefowls are:

1. STRAIGHT-CROSS--In this method, two strains are mated. If one likes the power-speed blend of Ruble Hatch and Black Traveler, the two are crossed and the male offspring will take after the hens.

2. THREE WAY-CROSS--A family of Kelso that cuts better in open sparring and needing more wallop or power hitting, can be matched with an even cross like a Hatch-Claret and breed it over the Kelso hens. The progeny out of this mating will retain the desired traits of the Kelso, cutting ability of the Claret, and the power of the Hatch.

3. FOUR WAY CROSS—Two straight crosses are matched like the mating of a Hatch-Claret to a Kelso-Roundhead cross.

One sure thing to watch out for anyone who does cross-breeding is that cross breeds or hybrids almost eventually pass along their worst genetic traits, so keep strict records so that dominant traits are kept within the crossed bloodlines and cull weak birds.


Another breeding method worth mentioning is Out-Breeding. Out-Breeding is the mating of the same strain of fowls that belong to different breeders but kept almost pure. If you have a strain of Kelso and you do not want to inbreed or if you have maxed out the traits from your matings, you can procure a Kelso cock from another breeder and breed him over your Kelso hens. Progeny from these matings will still be pure Kelsos.

Oriental Grade Breeding

Some backyard breeders blend native Orientals with Western gamefowl. The IVY Method of grading Orientals favors the 1/4 Oriental either in a two or three-way cross. You only need a single Oriental cock to produce 1/2 grade hens.

The key to success in the production of native Oriental grades is as always selection and culling. Select gamefowl with perfect timing that could cut and always top the opponent on every fly. The native cock you should breed should have grade A-plus, gameness when fought at two years old. Oriental types are worth breeding because they are easy to condition for fights and are very resistant to diseases. 

There you have it.  A basic rundown on the basic breeding methods for gamefowl.  Don't discount the tried and tested method of inbreeding for maintaiing a bloodline for as long as you keep meticulous records of  mating matches and know how to cull you will keep your champions running for generations.


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