The use of yellows in a breeding program

To breed exhibition Gloster Canaries of the type required to do well on a show bench we invariably have to resort to buff (mealy) feathered birds, i.e. buff x buff we have to Incorporate a programme of buff x buff pairings. This is done to keep the cobiness in the bird, i.e. thickness of neck and roundness of body also the required shape of head and browiness over the eye. The Gloster Canary breeder cannot resort to the normal practice of yellow x buff pairing every year, because the required cobiness will soon disappear and we will be left with narrow headed, free necked and tight feathered little birds ~re in keeping with the Fife Fancy than the Gloster Fancy canary.

The Gloster Fancy canary breeder must be wary on two accounts, (1) that they do not buff x buff year after year and (2) that when they choose their yellow (jonque) feathered bird they choose the correct bird.

Buff x buff pairings will always do contain things to any stud of canaries and we can list those as follows

1. Broaden the feather

2. Soften the feather

3. Loss of colour

4 .Increase underflue

due to the very nature of the feather.

The general appearance of the bird will be that of a loose feathered, poor coloured heavy browed, woolly sort of a bird. If these birds are handled they are just a bunch of feathers with no body or firmness about them. Such birds are of no use in the breeding room and not of the required type and quality we should be producing for the show bench; these birds being of little beauty

What is required is a small cobby bird showing fullness and roundness when viewed from all angles. The head should be round, blending into a full neck and a straight back. The eyebrow should not be too heavy whereby it covers the eye under the beak should be nicely filled in with a round chest finishing cleanly to the vent. The tail should be short and piped and the wings compact, together, finishing on the rump. The crest should have a central point and when viewed from above it should all but hide the beak, it should be leafy and round, with a nice drop The Gloster Fancy should be nicely balanced on short legs, not stilty or squat, but carrying the bird in a jaunty manner. The feather should be firm and held close to the body with no roughness. The colour should be natural and bright with the cocks showing a deeper and richer colour. The hens should be quieter and of a more gentle nature while the cocks will be full of themselves working the perches in a show cage.

Above all, the Gloster Fancy has to be well balanced showing type and quality.

A good mark for a Gloster canary is to handle the bird and give it the woolly test. We use two of our senses when pairing our birds, sight and touch, but when we judge a bird at a show we only use sight. So in our own birdrooms we must use the sense of touch to its fullest advantage.

Choosing a yellow feathered bird to improve your stud can be a daunting experience, it has so many pit falls. We can list some of them as follows –

1. Where do we buy such a bird and from whom

2. Do we use a consort or a corona

3. Do we use a cock or hen

4. Do we use a self or a variegated bird

5. Does the depth of colour matter more than type or vice versa

6. Does the length of the bird matter, particular when looking for cocks

Let us look at each point on its own and develop the issue.

1. When you wish to buy a yellow feathered Gloster it must be done with one thought in mind and that is to improve your stud of buff feathered birds. Too many Glosters, and we all have the odd one or two, show too much feather and that bird can be termd “open feathered”. It will be large crested or heavy browed, thick necked, broad tailed, loose around the leg area, washed out in colour, when compared with other breeds, unpolished and above all when handled, woolly. If you have an abundance of these birds, you have a problem with your breeding programme and you should seek to redress the problem. If the problem is too great, that is you have too high a percentage of the above, it may take drastic action to cure the problem. You might even wish to dispose of most of these birds which show the undesired quality you are looking for, and only keep two or three to lay the foundations of a stud of Gloster canaries of the type and quality needed to do well on the show bench. The most important rule when using your yellow is to pair it to the best of your birds, and by this I do not mean only type but also a bird with a quality in its feathering which can be improved and not a bird which is a lost cause. Do not think the introduction of the yellow feather can cure years of double buffing over night, it cannot, it takes time and patience. When looking from whom to buy a yellow, first look at the feather and colour of his buff feathered birds. These should be light feathered, of good colour and of the required type to excel on the show bench. If this exhibitor does show yellows, have a good look at his best. These yellows must be highly coloured and tight feathered with a piped tail. The wings need to be of a neat length lying nicely side by side with secondary flights unseen. The eyebrows should not be heavy and the corona must have a nice centre and drop without being too heavy. The neck should not be too thick when compared to its buff counterpart. Around the neck is a good area to detect if there is any frosting to the yellow feather, the cocks should show none and the hens very little. You cannot and will not buy yellow to win on the show bench and sometimes winning yellows are not of the type and quality you are looking for to improve your buff feather. Indeed some yellow bred buffs are more useful than certain yellows, i.e. those showing heavy frosting and too much loose feather. The yellow you purchase should come from a good stud of buff feathered birds depicting the above criteria. Remember at this stage your yellow is a tool for you to use within your bird room.

2. Do we use a corona or a consort? It does not really matter at this stage, it depends on your own birds and what is available. The criteria you should be looking for are colour and tightness of feather and of course the genetic background of such a bird. So remember, colour, tightness of feather and pedigree.

3. The use of a cock or hen does not play a major part in your decision at this early stage but a cock can give you more options for the future. By pairing him to two or three hens you should be able to breed your own hens for the future.

Our preference is self yellow consort hens, as we feel these birds come closer to the ideal Gloster than corona or consort cocks. Corona hens always tend to be on the small side although many good examples are bred.

4. We prefer self or foul birds rather than variegated for one simple reason, green is the natural colour and it must be used with your clear or variegated birds. In other canary breeds three-quarters dark and self greens are always used to keep depth of colour in the clear or lightly marked birds. We must use the self yellow green Gloster in exactly the same way.

5. In the Initial stage of introducing yellow feather where such feather has been lacking for a good few generatlons, colour and feather type are more important than Pheno type, but what is important is the Geno type of the bird. You must consider the lines running through your stock and acquire your yellow accordingly.

6. When purchasing yellow cocks they should be rich in colour, tight in feather, with no frosting around neck or over the back. They should show a little leg and the flight feathers should be of a good length with a nice piped tail. The length of the flight feathers is a good indication as to the length of the body feather. Hens should be more tucked in and typier than the cocks.

The above are just general rules to follow when selecting your yellows.

We prefer yellow consort hens bred from yellow cocks to be paired to the very best of the corona cocks. We have bred some of our best coronas from such pairings

How often you dip into yellow depends on how you manage your stock. When selecting any birds for breeding you must handle the bird and feel the feather. It is always good practice to remove body feathers and check them under a magnifying glass. The feather from your yellow cocks should be full of colour right to the tip and be long and narrow. The yellow hens in some cases will show a slight frosting on the edge.

Avoid yellows with broad webbing and frosting, you may as well use a buff. Feathers come in all shapes and forms, so you need to understand how your stock is breeding and what kind of feather is being produced. Only by handling birds and examining the feather carefully will you begin to understand what feather is.

You must keep a balance in your birds between the broad soft feathered buffs and the long hard feathered yellows. Only by doing this will you breed birds of excellent Gloster type, good colour, and good quality feathering with plenty of polish. It is a constant battle, but it must be done to keep the breed as one of the most popular breeds of canary. The use of the yellow depends on many things but above all it is a tool which must be used. You cannot build a wall without a trowel, likewise a Gloster without yellow feather. By dipping yellow into your buffs every three generations you can avoid a lot of the problems that arise from double buffing, but you must use the correct feather.

Whether you use the yellow feather more often depends entirely upon the type and quality you are breeding.

Yellow bred buffs when paired together will produce some delightful birds and birds that can be used in preference to yellows, when paired back to “normal” buffs. Remember to produce “top class” Glosters, we cannot pair yellow x buff every year or every other year for that matter, it is impossible.

Most of the better birds on the show bench are directly bred from yellows or are traceable back only a year or two.

We are of the opinion that your own home bred yellow hens are priceless. You cannot buy matching genes they take time to implant in your birds, you must be prepared to breed your own yellows. It takes time and sleepless nights to establish good feather in top class Glosters, it cannot be bought, but it can be lost in one breeding season. If you think you have an abundance of yellows and or yellow bred buffs think again, you can sell them easier than you can buy them. Hens are priceless.

One important point to remember. If we were asked one thing with regards feather and its desired quality in Glosters, it is simply this.

“You have never conquered it, don’t become complacent because you always need to double buff to achieve the desired type”. That is our ACHILLIES HEEL as Gloster Fancy Canary breeds and exhibitors.

Filed under: Canary Breeding, Genetics

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