Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's the Standard?

The Standard of Perfection is the American Poultry Association's official guide to the poultry breeds it recognizes: Chickens, both Large Fowl and Bantams; Waterfowl, Ducks and Geese; and Turkeys. The American Bantam Association has its own Bantam Standard,, including both chickens and ducks. The two organizations collaborate but there are some differences. They define exactly what each breed and variety should be. At exhibitions, judges compare each bird to the definition in the Standard in making their determinations.

The question came up from a breeder who is raising a flock of Delawares, his pullets shown here. He wasn't sure exactly what characteristics he should be selecting in culling his flock and keeping breeding birds. You do not have to join the APA to purchase a copy of its Standard, Both black & white and color editions are available.

Some prefer the black & white illustrations, created over 1914-1952 by artists such as Arthur O. Schlling, Franklane L. Sewell, Louis Paul Graham and I.W. Burgess. Color paintings were first included in 1983, most of them done by Diane Jacky. The Bantam Standard includes some black & white line drawings and devotes an entire page to each breed illustrated. Not all breeds and varieties are shown.

Delawares are a modern composite breed developed from the cross between Barred Rocks and New Hampshire hens in the Delmarva Peninsula in the 1940s. They are a dual purpose breed growing into a large table bird, roosters reaching 8.5 lbs. and hens 6.5 lbs., and good layers. Their beautiful Columbian color pattern is so eye-catching that the breed was accepted for APA recognition in 1952. Crossing the hens with a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster results in sex-linked chicks that are easily separated into Columbian-pattern males and solid red females

A copy of the Standard is necessary to breed any birds successfully. Selection is partly art, and your eye will develop over time. Seek guidance from experienced breeders, who can advise you on the nuances of individual breeds.

As the custodian of these standards, the APA carefully protects its copyright. Use descriptions and illustrations only with permission.

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