Welsummer Club of North America


Lines and Strains

Posted by Robin Paceley-Geiger on March 12, 2012 at 10:35 AM

One of our members Anthony Francis has submitted on the Yahoo site of this wonderful article by Mr Reese. Hope this will clarify for those of you that just can not grasp the understanding of strains and lines.





By Frank R. Reese Jr.

Distict 6 Director

Exhibition Turkey Fanciers


I often get phone calls of people who state they have just gotten a variety of

turkey and want to talk about the variety they have gotten. My first question

always is what's the source strain of your variety of turkey . The reason I ask

this question is because it will tell me a lot about the turkeys they have

gotten. I always encourage people who want to buy any type of poultry to be sure

and ask about the blood line before they buy any bird.

The American Poultry Association is the one who set up the system of Class,

breed and variety of poultry. The Class tells you where in the world the bird

come from. Breed tells you the genetic type of the bird. Variety tells you the

color pattern and other genetic differences that may be allowed in a breed

variety. So what is a strain and why bother about it, anyway?

As you review ads in different hatchery books to buy hatching eggs, chicks or

poults you no longer see strain names of poultry listed anymore like the old

days. Poultry people today no longer seem to take an interest in the strain of

the breed and variety they are buying. If you chose to go to a farmer to buy

your poultry be sure and ask about the strain of the birds you are buying.

This is a well-founded fact that there may be as much difference between strains

within a variety as between varieties. Strains differ greatly in such economic

factors as rate of growth, viability, mature size, conformation, eggs

production, hatchability and probably feed efficiency. When I got started 50

years ago you did not just buy Barred Rocks, Black Giants, Bronze turkeys and so

on. You were told to buy Ralph Sturgeon's Barred Rocks, Golda Miller's Black

Giants and Norman Kardosh's Bronze turkeys. The list of breeders back then would

apply to all breeds of poultry in the American Standards of Perfection.

What is a strain?It takes several years of closed flock breeding (no

introduction of outside stock) to develop a distinctive strain of poultry.

"Strain" is defended in the Standard of Perfection as "Fowl of any breed or

variety that have been line-bred for a number of years, and which reproduce

uniform characteristics with marked regularity."

The delegates at the 1953 National Plans Conference defined "strain" as turkey

breeding stock bearing a given name produced by a breeder through at least five

generations of closed flock breeding. This definition clearly specifies when a

breeder may designate stock as his or hers own strain. All strain names of

poultry before 1950 were applied to standard bred poultry and not hybrid

poultry. The farmer whom development the strain was often given the strain

title; like Golda Millers Jersey Giants and Reiman's Bronze. It applied to all

standard bred poultry but should serve as a guide to other breeders even today.

The breeder who has been successful in developing a superior strain of poultry

is interested in protecting the good name of the strain. Chicks and poults are

misrepresented sometimes as to strain for the purpose of inducing sales. Such

misrepresentation, especially when applied to chicks and poults of inferior

quality, are detrimental both to the original breeder and to the purchaser.

When does a strain run out or become your own strain? There is always the

question of when a strain ceases to be a strain.Stock purchased directly from

the originating breeder certainly may be designated properly as of the strain,

but what about the next generation and the next? Under the Plan rule of 1954 the

strain name may be applied to first generation progeny of stock originating from

eggs or chicks produced under the direct supervision of the breeder. Subsequent

generations may be so designated only when specific authority for the use of the

strain name has been given by the originator of the strain.

In simpler words, this means that a breeder, grower or hatchery may produce

(let's say Frank Reese Bronze) Frank Reese poults, for example, if the parent

stock was hatched from eggs produced by Frank Reese or if the hatchery has been

authorized by Frank Reese to sell the Frank Reese strain of turkeys. The rule is

designed to give assurance to the purchaser that he or she will obtain the

particular strain of turkeys that he or she thinks he or she is getting.

I purchased my first Bronze turkey poults from Norman Kardosh over fifty years

ago. I continued to buy eggs and poults from Norman over the years until his

death. Does this still mean I have Norman Kardosh Bronze turkeys?Even though I

have kept the Kardosh strain of Bronze free from other strains of Bronze turkeys

I can only say now I have descendants of Norman's Bronze. Since I have been

selecting and breeding the turkeys on my own for over 10 years and not been able

to purchases poults from Norman, the Bronze turkeys have now become Frank Reese

strain of Bronze. Now I have decided what the Reese strain of Bronze turkeys

will look like.

In today's world they are very few purebred strains of poultry to be found. I

would say 99% of the poultry being produced for market is hybrid strains from

mega corporate hatcheries. Poultry now have names like Hubbard, Cobb, Nicholas,

Hybrid and so on being the names of the corporations who development this hybrid

strains of poultry.We now have very few individual farmers working on keeping

strains of purebred poultry. When you purchases these corporate hybrid strains

of poultry the individual farmer can no longer reproduce from these birds. These

strains have been so developed as to keep the farmer from reproducing them. The

strains are often from F7 crosses which take an industrial hatchery to

produce.As a result of this type of poultry breeding of strains we no longer

have any bio-diversity in our poultry.

So the next time you purchase Barred Rocks, Bronze turkeys or Rouen ducks and

wonder way they look nothing like the standards for the breed or variety; this

means you have not checked out the strain of the poultry you have purchased. Be

sure and ask those questions the next time from the hatchery or farmers. What is

the rate of growth, feed conversion, mature weight, eggs production are just

some of the question to be asked. If you feel you do not have the knowledge to

ask such questions then find a licensed American Poultry Association judge to

help you find the breed or variety you are looking for. Attend at APA poultry

show and talk with breeders of the poultry you are looking for.Subscribe to the

Poultry Press and look for those ads from breeders whom still keep a strain of

poultry that goes back many years. You will be happy you did and the quality of

the market birds you have will go up.

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