The Importance of the hen in breeding gamefowl
The Importance of the Hen
By C.I. Bilbie (1982)
Throughout the history of game fowl breeding, the importance of the hen has, in the majority of cases, been overlooked, and in isolated instances, even ignored. It is my own belief (you may disagree) that any present-day breeder competing in the fierce competition that exists today ignores the importance of the hen not only at his own peril, but also at the peril of his fowl's competitive success and the successful continuity of his strain of fowl. How many men throughout the ages, have clamored for a cock at the pit side that has won a spectacular fight, to take home for use as their prized brood cock? The pit cock they desire so highly is "the product" and will not necessarily be "the producer" in their own brood yards, thus dashing their high hopes for the future.
A sensational pit cock quite naturally creates admiration, excitement and a desire to possess such a bird, to the extent that the would-be possessor of such a cock loses sight of the fact that it took two parent birds to "produce" this ace cock. He would be wiser to seek securement of the birds that produced the ace, not the ace himself, i.e. the "producers" and not "the product."
Now, either parent bird could have been the dominant producer or what we term the proven cock or proven hen, such specimens being highly prized. The ace pit cock, himself, may well become a proven brood cock, too, and let there be no doubt in anyone's mind that this has proved to be true on many occasions. The failure rate is, however, proportionately higher.
A proven sire is always popular in any sphere of bird or animal life, but such a view is only one side of the coin. However, the hen carries the bloodlines or pedigree of the strain and it is through her that the offspring's prepotency will spring. As the old saying goes: "It takes two and the greatest producing cock will be nothing without a hen capable of continuing his influence of prepotency. The chips off the old blocks come in the opposite, i.e., the cock influences his daughters and the hen her sons. In other words, the producing cock passes on his qualities to his daughters who in turn pass them back to their sons. Thus the hen carries the sphere of influence of the sire, which is perpetuated through the strain. The responsibility of the balance in the strain always rests with the hen.
In a breeding program, be it in-breeding, line breeding, or cross breeding, with a preference being shown to the male line, it is the hen's influence which keeps the male influence in proportion. Many of the first class breeders will find it a devil's own job to induce such a breeder to sell a hen of the same caliber.
There is no doubt whatsoever that some of the breeders of game fowl taking part in major competition in America today are not only some of America's finest, but also rank among the best in the world. Without exception, the gentlemen not only recognize the values of the hen, they never lose sight of that fact. When they have a proven hen they regard it highly and never part with it. For a beginner to become a force to be reckoned with, he, too, must never lose sight of this all-important principle.