America's Oldest Breed of Livestock

Build the barn before you paint it.

I’ve heard the saying “Build the barn before you paint it” many times from my mentors.  The meaning is that you should focus on Dominique breed type before you start worrying about the color or pattern.    What follows is an interesting discussion we had on this topic.

Brian Decker Cuckoo barring is somewhat random at best. Type in a Dom should be the breeders goal.

Wendy Hey Exactly that was another great phrase my mentors taught me when starting out. The other was cull hard

Brian Decker The old saw build the barn before you paint it is vastly overrated. If you don’t hate type you don’t have the breed but if you don’t have the color you don’t have the variety so you are basically nowhere. If you can’t work on both with the birds you have perhaps the best way is to get better breeding stock

Janice Blawat “Get better breeding stock.” As you well know, dear friend Brian, that’s much easier said than done in some breeds. How many years did you listen to me whine about not being able to find good breeding birds when I first started raising Dominique bantams? It was more a job of finding a piece here and there to fit the puzzle, like a scavenger hunt.

Brian Decker Janice Blawat for you it was necessary but you are on the top of the triangle now with a few other breeders and I am not dumb I would start with a prefab barn.

Ann Dibble Sort of depends on the overall status of the breed/variety. I was at the ‘tail end’ of my cat club allowing use of certain other breeds to open up the genetics, just before the books were closed to outcrosses. Just a few of us worked with the outcrosses, while many others had the ‘more’ purebreds. Never expected to win BOB, but needed to see where the work was going in comparison, get advice, socialize, and support the clubs. Would have done better had i stuck with the ‘purebreds’,as far as showing was concerned, but felt that the outcrossing was too important. In hindsight, by the time that the type and coat were up to competition, the outcross blood was vastly diminished.

John Hrycek Jr Years ago, with a Dominique Club just emerging back from being non- functioning, finding good stock was almost impossible. There are many here that had to start with what was in front of them and have made great progress with the breed. After close to a decade a lot of work still needs to be done on improving type and feather, and looking past color for selection will always allow the breeder that has a flock of such wide diversity in genes to stamp in the proper qualities we so desperately need back into the Dominique today.

John Hrycek Jr I was plagued for years with washed tails in my males, most would comment about such a flaw. They would look past the banging type and great feather width. These poor colored males were the foundation for the type I have today.

Janice Blawat Just hearing that washed out tails can be overcome is good news to me.

John Hrycek Jr Just this season, more than two-thirds are showing well marked tails.

Janice Blawat I even disagree with the literal meaning of your barn building quote, Mark. I always insist that every stick of wood that goes into a chicken building has to be painted first, to cut down on mite problems later. Also it makes the wood last longer.

Julie Groves Gupton You do have to keep an eye on the “paint job” while you are building that barn BUT type and production trumps color and pattern “most” of the time. Most breeders do understand the need to select for type but production should be the second most important quality to select for – before pattern and color (IMHO). There are some pattern and color aspects, however, that can be improved or selected for (or against) while focusing on type & production (ex.: brassiness is a huge bug-a-boo). It is a definite balancing act but we can be grateful that our beautiful birds come in only one very striking color/pattern so we can ALL focus on the same thing beyond that handsome type and exceptional productivity. ;).

Author – This discussion points out the fact that rarely do we look at just one trait when culling or selecting stock.   But, I stand by my old mentors – make sure you have breed type before you get too hung up on the rest!