How to Get Started in Black Java Bantams
By Robert Blosl
I have been asked by some members of the Java Breeders of America Club to write an article on how to get started in Black Java bantams much in the same way I developed a new strain of Rhode Island Red Bantams 22 years ago.
First in getting started with Black Java Bantams you have to know some of the history of this old breed and their characteristics based on the APA Standard of Perfection. It is paramount that you get a copy of this standard and I recommend the black and white standard which will have some of the pictures of Java Fowl produced by the late Arthur Schilling. It is my personnel opinion that these black and white pictures gives me a better impression of the Black Java to burn this Java type into my mind’s eye as I try to develop this variety of black bantam. When you try to start making a new strain of bantam such as I did with Rhode Island Reds years ago you cross a great strain of Red large fowl onto a great strain of Red Bantams.
Unfortunately in Black Java’s I cannot locate any Java bantams to even cross onto a strain of Black Java large fowl. So it is my goal to find the best true to breed strain of Black Java large fowl and I have a friend who has descendants of an old blood line from Duane Urch of Minnesota and I have obtained one cock bird and two pullets from this friend. Next I have some friends who live in the North East who have a good strain of Black Plymouth Rock Bantams and I have a Cockerel and two pullets that are not his very best birds but have a fault that I am looking for and that is poor color in their legs. They have a contrast of dark black to their leg pigment rather than a nice yellow color as desired for in a Plymouth Rock Bantams. I also have a white Plymouth Rock pullet that I raised this year that has a Java type to here and I also have a Rhode Island Red Cock bird that has molted back the way I wanted but has a tilt to his top line much like a Java type.
This spring I plan to cross the Black Java large fowl male bird onto my black rock females and white rock pullet though the method of artificial insemination. I will hatch these chicks and toe punch their offspring accordingly to their dams in the pedigree baskets in my incubator and then as they grow up I can tell if I get any chicks that are reduced in size to a bantam and also for their shade of color which I am shooting for a black type chick.
Next, I have the Black Plymouth Rock Male bird and the Rhode Island Red cock bird that I will cross onto the Black Java large fowl females. In the same procedure I will artificially inseminate the females and place each females eggs into a pedigree basket where I can see which female helps me reach my goal of a black typed chicks but with the bantam gene being a dominate factor which I will be able to select as I cull the chicks at one, two and three months of age.
History of making a Bantam Strain: If you have never done such a project let me explain some of my thinking and why I feel it will work in taking a large fowl and making it into a bantam as has been done many years before by other breeders. The first breeder I studied was Perrin Johnson who in the 1930s crossed Cochin and Old English bantams onto Rhode Island Red large fowl to make the Rhode Island Red Bantams. Then latter I learned how Arthur Schilling crossed white Old English and I think White Cochins onto his White Leghorn Large Fowl to develop his strain of white leghorn bantams. By a request from my neighbor as a young boy she asked me to get a bantam rooster at a sale barn so she could cross him onto her production red chickens as she wanted broody type hens that would set on eggs for the future years to come. I bought such a rooster kind of a Rhode island red- Orpington type cross male and he indeed was able to mate with these large fowl females and over a period of about three to five years she had a strain of barnyard mutts that where near the size of this original rooster and where as she hoped for broody sitting hens which she used to sit a variety of eggs for the breeds she wanted to raise. Over the years she would breed the daughters that went broody back to the bantam male and in no time she had a great strain of small chickens that she used to sit on her chicken and duck eggs. So in this mission the bantams in my view will be better off using the artificial insemination method rather than putting a little rock or red bantam in a pen with two large fowl java females. Artificial insemination is a simple technique as I was taught last year by some Cochin and Brahma bantam breeders how they do each breeding season. I will go into this method latter, as I do not have time to deal with it in this article due to the dead line to meet but it is not as hard as I once thought it might be. 22 years ago
How I developed my strain of R I Red Bantams: I had a small late hatched super typey Rhode Island Red Large Fowl Cockerel hatched in June and in my climate these birds will be stunned by the hot summer and this male did as he weighed about a six pounds. Because of his size he was able to breed one of two Rhode Island Red bantams that I had hatched from two dozen eggs obtained from Lee Roy Jones of Kentucky who at the time was one of the leading winners of his R I Red bantams. From this cross I got a cockerel and a pullet which is what I had to start with to develop my strain by crossing these birds onto each other and then the cockerel back to a late hatched pullet the following year. In about six years I had a bantam that had the color and the type of my E W Reese large fowl, but they were about a pound to a pound and a half over weight. I tried for two years by selecting smaller eggs and hatching in April and May with no luck of shrinking downs this new strain of bantams. I reached a road block and could not figure out what to do as I had no clue how to get my bantams smaller as I figured with bantam blood it would snap but I forgot to think the large fowl genes are still present and will fight you in your shrinking down of your small birds.
Need to make a new Cross : I got a phone call one day by a good friend Danny Feathers of Oklahoma who had an excellent strain of Red Bantams and where what I be leave to be of the Lee Roy Jones strain of bantams. I sent Danny two nice males that when I photo graphed them in a 2×2 foot cage on the grass resembled my large fowl birds, but they were almost bantams but still way overweight. The next year Danny sent me back two sons from these two males and I placed these birds into the same cage as their sires the year before and saw that they were much smaller in fact about ¾ to about one pound over standard bantam weight. With this cross from Danny’s strain onto mine that breeding season I mated four different females on to these males and I started a four family line breeding system. To my amazement each year the off spring got smaller and smaller as I Hatched them in March and April to keep their size down. In about 18 years I got bantams that where just at the standard level or maybe three to four ounces over standard weight. I had reached my goal of 20 years of taking a large fowl chicken and dwarfing them down to a bantam size. Now that you have a little history on how I have shrunk down a large fowl to a bantam done, I think it will be easier to do the same with a Black Java large fowl. I cannot tell you what the future will bring to me in hatching these half large fowl and half bantam birds, but the goal year end and year out is to try to get the bantam gene fixed into your new stain and yet to try to keep the characteristics of the large fowl Black Java in tacked with the new stain of bantams.
Conclusion: Because there is no black java bantams to use on this project we have to look towards a bantam that can help us place the bantam gene into the large fowl Java type and color pattern. We will have complications as you can imagine as the rock leg color is fixed to be yellow. It might be worth crossing a barred rock cockerel with not good leg color or even a blackish or blue hue leg color onto the large fowl Java hens the next year to see if this helps with the leg color. Sure you will have God only knows what colors from this cross ,but you should end up with black chicks in a year or two and you may be money and time a head using such a cross over a Black Rock Bantam because of leg color. The goals should always be we want to duplicate the large fowl type and color as described in the APA standard. If picking your breeders each year you will have to ask yourself should I use a bigger bird that for some reason possess ideal Java type and try to capture this look and then spend the next two or three year shrinking down this line. I feel you have to have about three to four families that you are working on to reach these goals as I did with my Rhode Island Red little Mohawks. Some years you see progress and some years you ask yourself what went wrong. Case and point about fifteen years ago I had a Red Pullet that had just fantastic type and color and great head points. She had her legs a little far back from dead center and I figured I could cull the Java type tilt females out and in no time I will have this females look on a level bodied frame bantam. In two years every chick I hatched had a Minorca tilt. I could not get a level brick shaped bantams to save my life. It took me three years before I could get females with a level top line with no Minorca tilt or Plymouth Rock top lines which I nicknamed (RED ROCKS). With Black Java Bantams I am sure those who take on this task will have complications like I did and this is normal when trying to shrink down a animal or a breed of Poultry. Our for fathers had the same problems and if you breed any bantam today that has pointed down wing carriage you should look into the history of the originator he might have used Old English Games to get the bantams gene into his large fowl. In the makeup of the breed if you use a Cochin bantam you will have floating around in the germ plasma wide feather or soft feathers as we had in our early R I Red bantams. I hope I have given you some vision on how to shrink a large fowl to a bantam as I have done 20 years ago. If you have Passion, and have a vision into the future you should be able in time to reach your goals in shrinking down a Large Fowl to a bantam. I hope this article helps a few of my friends who want to take on the Java Large fowl and then convert them to a bantam. Imagine if you took this same passion of making a bantam Java into making a great stain of Black Java large fowl with maybe five years your birds would be equal to the Black Australorps that have blessed our shows in the last past ten years. In future articles I may introduce you to how to artificial inseminate and how to breed and cull using the Walter Hogan method of breeding Java large fowl. Till next time I am yours for a better Black Java.