How to Breed Black Java Large Fowl using the Hogan Method

This article was also printed in the (Oct 2011) issue of the Poultry Press.

permission from Robert Blosl

In preparing this article on How to Breed Black Java’s using the Hogan Method of Selection I reread his book The Call of the Hen written by Walter Hogan in 1913 which can be read on line by going here.

In trying to write the highlights of this book in short article is difficult and so I will just try to take the issues Mr. Hogan was trying to get across to his readers and the issues that would help the beginner in the Poultry Industry of that time period. I have sent to the Poultry Press Editor a great article written by Barred Plymouth Rock breeder Jamie Duckworth as it was in my opinion one of the best articles written in modern time on how a breeder used Mr. Hogan’s methods on his current flock of Barred Rock Large Fowl. What I will also try to do in this article is relate what I think would be the methods of taking a average strain of line breed Black Java’s and improving them in or around a five year period using the teachings of Mr. Hogan in his book the Call of the Hen.In reading this book the first time 22 years ago I wondered how I could take what Hogan was trying to get across to me as a reader and apply it to my then Strain of Rhode Island Red Large Fowl. My goal in using his concepts was not to produce the next world record laying Rhode Island Red but to improve feather quality on my females top section from a stringy  type of feather to a feather which the standard calls for in a good healthy producing American Class female.In using Mr. Hogan’s  methods  with Black Java’s the goal is the same to improve egg production and feather quality which in my view will also pull in the correct type which the standard calls for in a Black Java. From the teachings of Mr. Hogan I knew to get better feather quality on my pullets I would have to increase their egg production by about 35 to 40 eggs per year. I would have to choose breeders each year for a period of about 5 years to get my females to lay about 200 eggs per year if I was using the old trap nest method of counting each and every egg. I was not interested in counting each and every egg or what female laid the most eggs per year just wanting to get better feather quality on their back section of their bodies like a hen would have after her first molt.

First Year: What I would do my first year is have baby chick brooders that could hold about ten to fifteen chicks per box and I would use a method of different colored magic felt marking pens to I D each chick by placing a mark over their right or left eye using different colors and then marking these chicks ID on a 5×7 index card. My notes will be very simple as Hogan stressed wing and tail development in the tracts of the chicks feathering. So I will write down on my index card the number of days it took my chicks to shoot out their first tail feathers. Some chicks may take 24 days some, 20 days some might take 18 days. The goal is to select chicks as breeders who show early tail feather development which is the number one trait of the fast feathering egg laying gene. The goal to be set in five years would be about a time period of 8 to 10 days to shoot out their first tail feathers. My other concerns will first be age of primary wing development need to write this down as the birds that shoot out their wing feathers before others must be considered as potential breeders for the following year. Then when the males first started crowing showing their maturing age  to locate the better birds that grown-up and crow sooner than the other brothers and cousins. Then of course the pullets first day she laid her egg and then if I kept her how old she was when she started her molt to become a hen. The more she lay per year the longer her length is with her adult feathers. Females that lay like their sisters then star to molt should not be used as breeders as they lack the fast feathering gene. Next, I would try to keep track of how they molted as good layers molt fast and get back into production sooner than poor layers. So in my method of selection it is not measurement of pubic and pelvic bones or measurement of the skull which is very important but just what number of birds out of ten can mature the fastest and still maintain good Black Java type and can use them to improve your strain.

In Selecting your very best Black Java’s cull these types of Hens. Sick, weak, lacking vigor, lazy, poor eaters, slow feathering, with small, wrinkled hard, dry vents also remove birds with small, shriveled dreary colored combs, Remove females with, pelvic bones close together, small spread gaps between their pelvic bones and rear end of their keels. (See article by Jamie Duckworth for more details of this culling method in this months issue of Poultry Press.)  

Keep as breeders these kinds of Black Java pullets. Healthy, strong, vigorous, alert and active;   heavy eaters; Females with large, moist vents; with relative large, bright-red combs; skinny,

Pliable pelvic bones well extended apart, broadly spread between their pelvic

Bones and rear ends of their keels, and hefty, soft, flexible abdomens.

Eliminate the DRONES:  You just cannot  use any male in the breeding pen he must come from mothers who are like the ones I stated above and lay lots of eggs. These males have extreme body capacity themselves and they have to feather as fast as their sisters do in order to make it to the breeding pen and pass these traits onto their daughters. Slow feathering lack of vitality males who are not gallant are not going to pass these traits on to their off spring. Males also, need to crow and crow a lot. They must be fearless and when sparing do not run from a fight. Males that run into a corner or hide under a bush to hide his head from a more vigorous gallant male must not be used in the breeding pen. These males need to have extended keel bones to hold the flesh and give the bird the shape that we need in a Black Java. They need a bright, clear eye a well set body with legs dead center to support the weight of the body.

The male must be free of physical defects and if sound in type and body capacity as described in Jamie Duckworth’s article picking birds that have good weight at about 16 weeks of age. These will be one of your better show birds to display a much better and improved old fashion Java type. Here is Mr. Hogan’s General Basic Rules of selection to deliver  high egg laying productive strain of Fowl. These are his rules taken from his book of 1913  they are as follows:

1. Market those which have been slow to feather or seem to lack Vitality.

2. Keep the pullets which mature quickly and start laying first. Those which start laying when less than 200 days old will be the best layers if they have the right care.

3. Keep the late molters.

4. Keep the birds with rather large, plump combs and wattles.

5. Hens with pale vents, pale beaks and pale legs have been good layers.

6. The skin of the best layers should be rather loose and flabby on the abdomen between the vent and breastbone.

7. The pelvic bones must be thin, straight, flexible and wide apart.

8. Market the hens which are baggy behind and which have a heavy, fat, thick abdomen which hangs down below the point of the breastbone.

9. Keep the hustlers and heavy eaters that go to bed late and with full crops.

10. Birds that have long toenails and show no signs of being workers are usually unprofitable.

11. If a bird meets the above requirements, it should have a broad back, long body, be stoutly built and in good flesh.

12. If a bird is not molting and still has a small dried-up comb covered with a sort of whitish substance, or if a bird has thick or crooked pelvic bones, which will be found on each side of the vent and above The point of the breastbone, these are money losers.

Summary:  What Mr. Hogan was trying to get across in his book to us the beginners in this hobby of breeding Standard Breed Large fowl is there are no profits in keeping poultry that are lacking in production and growth of their bodies. In his day you made it buy farming with fowls that produced lots of eggs and if you were not successful you did not make much money and would soon be out of business.  He was  not a person who raised and breed Exhibition Poultry, but I can promise you many of the great large fowl breeders used his concepts in their success of their large fowl for a farm type chicken and when they went to the big shows such as Madison and Boston Garden in the 1930s and 40s they won using his concepts that he wrote about in his book.

In the beginning you must take it slow and try to just keep the best females and males each season and you will see each and every year improvement in the feather quality, body type and egg production. In some cases if you use this concept such as in Plymouth Rocks, and Orpingtons with loose fluffy feathers in the vent area your females and males will lose their fluffy feathers as their top back feathers get more and improved webbing. Back 22 years ago I took at strain of White Rock Large Fowl in my first year of only 25 percent fertility out of all the eggs I set.  Then each year by using Hogan’s method of fast feathering birds I increased my fertility in my white rocks to 85 %  in just five years of using this Hogan method of selection and breeding. I believe with Black Java’s you will also get a bird with improved type, good body capacity, tremendous feather quality, better  vitality and you will have a strain of Java’s that are what you are trying to improve which is the purpose of this article. I think if we just use some of Jamie Duckworth’s Methods with any large fowl such as in the Black Java described in this article you will see fast and goal setting results. If you read Mr. Hogan’s book will see he was a goal oriented poultry men. His goal was to produce a high egg laying chickens and he found these secrets in his over 50 years experience as a poultryman. There is no reason that we today cannot take any breed of Quality Standard Breed Large Fowl and improve their breed type , feather quality and egg laying capacity as others have done in before us. I hope you will take up the Black Java large fowl and try to improve their overall appearance using the Hogan’s Call of the Hen Methods.