Here I go sticking my neck out on this purity subject again. I don’t know what pure is, so far as game fowl are concerned, and in all the thousands of articles which have been published by game fowl magazines on this subject I have never seen even an attempt made to define the word purity.
The chemist knows what pure oxygen, hydrogen and various other elements are, and exactly what they will do and how they will react when combined with other elements. Exactly the same result will be obtained every time they are combined.. not most of the time or nearly all the time… but identically the same a thousand times out of a thousand.
It probably is correct to say that many or most of our wild birds and animals are pure in there bloodlines. They are true to type in not one physical, mental or nervous characteristic, but in all of them. This has been accomplished by millions of identical matings until each and every characteristic has been positively fixed and made pure. More or less has appeared in the game fowl magazines about the Mendelian laws of heredity.
They are right to so far as they go, but for some reason or another most of these writers fail to mention one of Mendel’s most fundamental and important discoveries, namely that each characteristic is inherited separately.
Did you ever stop to think how many characteristics are embodied in a piece of living organism? Whether it be man beast or fowl? I dare say there are more such characteristics-mental, physical, nervous etc., than there are dollars in the national debt.
You have a cock with a crooked prop toe. Let us say he is pure in that one characteristic. You mate him to a hen, his full sister, which is like-wise pure with respect to the crooked prop toe, 1,000 out of 1,000, and if these chicks are mated together not to anything else) all their million offspring will have crooked prop toes. Now mind you, I stated in the beginning that both hen and cock are pure with respect to this crooked toe characteristics, not hybrid in such respect.
Not every cock with a crooked prop toe is pure as regards such characteristics. In fact the overwhelming majority of them will be hybrid, in which case some of the offspring will come with the crooked toe and some will not. Cross such offspring even with each other, and you will get some crooked toes from parents whose toes are straight, and plenty of straight toes from parents whose toes are crooked.
Ever seen that happen in gamefowl? Sure you have, plenty of times Muffs from clean heads, clean heads from Muffs, and a thousand such other characteristics. Why? Because one or the other or both of the parents were not pure as regards to that characteristic. Had both parents been pure as regards crooked toes, muffs tassels or anything else, you would reproduce that characteristic in every chick. How are you to tell whether a bird is pure or hybrid as regards any give characteristic? You can’t tell by looking at him. It can be determined only by the results of his breeding.
You may have two full brothers that look the same one may be pure and the other hybrid with respect to any particular characteristic. Or you may have 15 full brothers same cock, same hen-possibly only one of the 15 may be pure with respect to the particular characteristic you are looking for. All the other 14 being hybrids. How are you going to find that one? Only by mating him to a hen that you have previously proved to be pure in that same characteristic and observing the result in the offspring. Will the hybrids impart the desired characteristics to their offspring? Sure they will, too some of them maybe to most or all of them. But the one cock in the lot which is pure in that respect will impart that characteristic every time if mated to a hen that is likewise pure in that same respect.
So let us assume that by trail, error or accident we somehow got a hen and a cock both of which are pure with respect to the characteristic of the crooked prop toe. Now from this pair and there offspring, if bred together we can produce absolutely pure crooked prop toes to the end of time… So what? Will they be pure in the millions and billions of other characteristics that make up a chicken? In some characteristics yes in numerous others; no. They may not be pure with respect to feather, leg eyes, and even gaminess. But they all will have that crooked prop toe. they are pure with respect to that one characteristic.
Now a game cock is a mighty complicated piece of mechanism. He is what he is today by virtue of billions of matings. Happily for us, nature and to a limited extent man has by certain selections fixed or rendered pure most of his characteristics, both physical and nervous. It isn’t difficult nor does it take a very long time to fix or render pure any one particular characteristic please note I said just one). Not some generality which might be composed of a hundred different ones.
Once the individual cock and hen are located, both of which are pure in the desired respect, you are all set to go as far as that particular characteristic concerned. But the trouble comes in finding the brood fowl which are pure in ALL the respects we seek. We may find purity with respect to power but hybrid as regards to cutting etc. Then when we find just what we want on the male side, try and find those same qualities on the female side.
What a chore! You think you’ll not live long enough to establish purity in all the characteristics you desire in your fowl? Don’t despair. You could not do it if you live to be a thousand years old. Nature is to complicated for that. We can and have developed purity in many respects but never in all. For example, it isn’t difficult today to obtain 100% yellow legs or round heads, or muffs, or a hundred other characteristics but show me the family of game fowl that are or ever were pure to all characteristics, physical, mental, nervous.
They don’t exist and never did and never will as long as man has a hand in the matings So and so develops a family which are very very uniform in looks, appearance and pit qualities. We call them pure. they are not and never were. They likely are pure in many respects, but they are hybrid in many others. As this family are bred together they start to show certain distinctly individual characteristics. Why? Simply because some of the hybrid undesirable characteristics which were from the beginning present in the original cross. and that’s all it ever was), but were dormant and did not show up, have gotten together through successive matings, become fixed or pure remember it is just as easy to fix or make pure undesirable characteristics as desirable ones), and we say so and so has ruined his strain, that is bull crap!
He never had a strain that was pure in the first place, no matter how famous the name or how many times it won in the pit. His fowl at one time may have been pure in a great many characteristics but not in all. Probably for a certain length of breeding time, such a family showed very few undesirable characteristics. But don’t fool yourself! They were there all the time, and when bred together long enough started to show up. This poor breeder, what is he to do? He makes a lucky cross or combination, gets a uniform looking and fighting bunch of winning hybrids, gives them a name, extols them in print and advertisement, old-timers sing their well deserved praises and then comes the rub the job of perpetuating them.
If he tries to inbreed them, in time the hidden undesirable characteristics will come to life and become so fixed and pronounced that everyone condemns his fowl because they are no longer winning. If he crosses them with something else they no longer look and fight like the original cross. What’s he to do? Well even as you and I, all he can do by the use of good judgment and skillful observations 365 days a year and in the pit, do the best he can. I believe I can supply you with a pair of pure robins or seagulls or mackerel or rabbits, but a pure gamefowl? Pure in all characteristics? No way no how never. Nor can anyone else.