For commercial consideration there are really but two types: The egg breeds of Mediterranean origin and the general purpose breeds or growers, including the Rocks, Wyandottes and Rhode Island Reds. The difference between the layers on the one hand and the growers on the other, is quite important. Which should be used depends on the location and plan of operations, as has already been discussed.
The choice of variety within the group is a matter of taste and chance of sales of fancy stock. This one principle can, however, be laid down: The more popular the breed, the more choice there will be in selecting strains and individuals. Pea Comb Plymouth Rocks and Duckwing Leghorns should not be considered because of their rarity. Of the growers, their popularity and claims are close enough to make the particular choice unimportant. For commercial consideration, the writer would as soon invest his money in a flock of Barred Rock, White Wyandottes or Rhode Island Reds. Among layers the S. C. White has achieved such a lead that the majority of good laying strains are in this breed and to choose any other would be to place a handicap on oneself. For a description of breeds, the reader should secure an Illustrated American Standard of Perfection, or some of the books published by poultry fanciers and judges. To take up the matter here would merely be using my space for imparting knowledge which can be better secured elsewhere.
The relative popularity of breeds at the poultry shows is nicely shown by the following list. This data was compiled by adding the numbers of each breed exhibited at 124 different poultry shows in the season of 1907. A detailed report of the total entries of each breed is as follows: Plymouth Rocks, 14,514; Wyandottes, 12,320; Leghorns, 8,740; Rhode Island Reds, 5,812; Orpingtons, 2,857; Langshans, 2,153; Minorcas, 1,709; Cochin Bantams, 1,590; Games, 1,277; Brahmas, 1,181; Cochins, 1,010; Hamburgs, 758; Game Bantams, 637; Polish, 618; Houdans, 538; Indians, 538; Anconas, 464; Sebright Bantams, 423; Andalusians, 117; Japanese Bantams, 115; Dorkings, 105; Brahma Bantams, 104; Buckeyes, 95; Silkies, 85; Spanish, 83; Redcaps, 71; Sumatras, 41; Polish Bantams, 37; Sultans, 18; Malays, 12; Frizzles, 7; Le Fleche, 7; Dominiques, 5; Booted Bantams, 4; Malay Bantams, 3; Crevecoeure, 3.
PRACTICAL AND SCIENTIFIC BREEDING
Science has been defined as the “know how” and art as the “do how.” The man who works by art depends upon an unconscious judgment which is inborn or is acquired by long practice. The man who works by science may also have this artistic taste, but he tests its dicta by comparison with known facts and principles. The scientist not only looks before he leaps, but measures the distance and knows exactly where he is going to land.
Breeding has for centuries been an art, but the science of breeding is so new as to seem a mass of contradictions to all except those familiar with the maze of mathematics and biology by which the barn-yard facts must find their ultimate explanation. The science of breeding may in the future bring about that which would now seem miraculous, but it is the ancient art of breeding that is and will for years continue to be the means by which the poultry fancier will achieve his results.