In breeding gamecocks, much focus is given to the brood cock as opposed to the hen. This is the mistake normally committed by beginners. The tendency is to choose the best cock available and to breed it with an ideal hen. When it comes to the rooster, it is easy to determine which among your stock is best suited to propagate the bloodline. This is because roosters are fought so you can readily see how excellent they are when it comes to fighting. Very few breeders would breed a rooster that is not a winner. There are even breeders with exacting standards that the cock must be a derby winner not only once but at least twice and must not have suffered a major injury in the battle.
In the case of the hen however, it is difficult to ascertain if it is fit for breeding especially if you are only going to buy from another breeder. For one, hens are not fought so this criterion is already out of the picture. The most that you can do is to look at the phenotype of the hen. If it conforms to the standards such as not being too tall or too short and it has other good physical traits, then it could be a good match for your breeding. Most often, you have to rely on the word of the seller when it comes to the bloodline of the hen. Some breeders are teeming with stories on how good their bloodlines are so you just have to be circumspect and select wisely.
Know the bloodline of your gamecocks
When a battlecock proves magnificent, the tendency is to breed it to a hen hoping that the offspring of the mating would inherit the same traits of the father. This is not the reality however. When an ace cock is bred to a hen not related to it, the mating will produce a different hybrid. The infusion of a new bloodline dictates that the offspring must be different from its father in some ways because the genes of the mother is now included in the genetic line. To maximize the chances of producing the desired offspring, some breeders use several hens to mate with a particular cock but this is more of a hit and miss approach and can be tedious not to mention also expensive.
To ensure that the same characteristics such as fighting style, color or at least most of it is produced again, you have to trace where your ace cock came from. If you’re the one who bred it, it follows that you still have the sire and the mother hen of the said ace cock. If both the father and the mother are still with you then all you have to do is to breed them again to produce the same line that produced an ace cock. Line breeding is what you have to do to ensure that the excellent traits are locked-in. But you also have to be ready to cull because line breeding is a form of in-breeding and genetic anomalies are prone to occur in this kind of breeding.
Assuming that you do not know where your champion rooster came from as in the case of those who bought from “travelling middlemen”, you have no other recourse but to choose a pullet to mate with it. The result of the first mating particularly the stags must be tested in the pit. If the result is more win than losses, then you can continue mating the hen with your broodcock. If however the result is more losses than wins, you have to stop using the hen.
What you have to do in this instance is to mate the original broodcock to its daughters. The daughters already have the genes of the father and they carry more of the traits of their father rather than the mother so there is a very good chance that you can produce a generation that has more of the traits of the father. The resulting offspring of the father-daughter mating will have more of the father’s genes and just little genes from the original mother hen. You can continue this approach until you can see the same qualities of the father in the offspring or later generation.
The hen is the other part of the entire equation in breeding gamecocks. Even if the broodcock is determined to be excellent, if the hen’s lineage is suspect, your breeding program could turn out to be a failure. This is why it is important to also be very choosy in buying your pullets or hens. Some breeders prefer to buy hens instead of pullets because at least they are already proven. When the hen is determined to be a producer of winners, care must be exercised over it and made sure that it is bred over and over again to the same male rooster that helped to produce a winning line.
How to produce the ideal hen
One thing that you have to remember is that a battlecock represents more the traits of its mother while its sister represents the traits of the father. Therefore if you want to lock-in the genes and create a distinct family for your winning line, you have to line-breed them father to daughter and mother to son and so on until a solid genetic foundation is established. It may take several generations of line-breeding before you can finally see the good traits of your broodcock in the succeeding offspring but it is worth the wait in most cases.
When a particular generation produced a winning line, make sure that the females are used in breeding to ensure that the genes of that generation are preserved and used to produce more of the excellent battlecocks. Always breed using only your winning line and never the generation that produced more losses than wins.