By L. C. Guneau
By L.C. Guneau
This is written in reply to the many requests for a true and authentic history of the modern strain of pit game fowl known as Pink Hatch. Before going into further details let me say this; neither I or this strain of fowl need publicity. I have never raised enough of them to supply the demand and still have enough of them left for my own use. In fact I could sell all of them I care to raise without a single line of advertising in any magazine. As to their origin I think it best at least more interesting, to describe some of the fowl that went into their make-up. I could just say they are the result of a Dan Tracy Pyle/Long Island Roundhead cross, but it is not that simple, for the Long Island Roundheads are the net result of considerable crossing and blending, also the Tracys carry a wee bit of outside blood. So, to just say they are the result of a simple cross does not really tell the full story. Unfortunately I am unable to give as much information on the history of the Tracy Irsih Pyles as I can on the Long Island Roundheads, altho I have made several trips to Ireland in an effort ot run down as much information as possible on these wonderful and beautiful fowl.
The Tracys are about the 5th or 6th strain of Pyle colored chickens I have tried crossing on Roundheads in the past half century. Briefly I crossed my good Allen Roundheads on Travelers and got dunghills, I crossed them on Blue Boones and got dunghills, I also crossed them on Lundy Wild Cat Blues and got good battle cocks in long heels. Don't know what they would have done in short heels as I was fighting in long heels at the time, as most of the above experimenting goes back almost fifty years. As the years went by I added new blood to my Allens by way of Cowan's Alabama Roundheads, and a shot of the Big Four Roundheads which were at one time fought extensively along the Ohio River in KY, WV, OH and points west. But I always kept my Allens basically Allen in looks and performance for I liked their smart heads-up style of fighting and their deadly cutting.
After coming to New York I added one quarter Sandy Hatch, set them at that stage and have fought them in both long and short heels ever since. So now it comes out that the Pink Hatch have exactly one eighth Sandy Hatch in them, which obviously comes thru the Long Island Roundhead side. One can see at a glance that the little Tracy cock is much smaller, also slimmer in his body and lower stationed, while the Pink Hatch is larger, taller, more robust in his body and a little more red in his coloring. Some of the pure Tracys come almost pure white, but the Pinks invariably have deeper colors. I even get a red once in awhile, and each season I get two or three grays, but will explain later about the grays. The original Amesbury Gray cock, a 17 time winner, whose blood was infused into the Dan Tracy Pyles when Frank Welsh, Dave's uncle, lost every Dan Tracy he had except one pullet. After the original cross he bred the stags back to the old hen for about nine years, each year cutting down the outside blood by one-half until (genetically) there was something on the order of one-five hundreds-and twelfth part Amesbury Gray in the pure Dan Tracys. The Gray color rarely shows up in the pure Tracys, but will crop out once in a while when new blood is infused. I have noticed I get more grays from the Long Island Roundhead crosses than any other. One thing is very evident, the grays are very well built, and are power cocks, and I can see no difference in their ability. If the Mendell law is correct, when a color or any other characteristic goes recessive it will remain dormant but not extinct, and will crop up occasionally and infinitum or endlessly that part of the theory I can understand, for it is happening every year right in front of my eyes, but what I don't understand is why the recessive comes out more often in one strain or cross than another. Insofar as I know there has never been a drop of gray blood put into the Allens or Cowans, or Big Fours; or hatch either for that matter, notwithstanding some of the writers who have had the Hatch coming every color of the rainbow.
The Amesbury Grays were a local strain, bred and fought around Amesbury, Mass. and I understand they were blend of Billy Anderson Tassel, Arch Ruport's Kearney and perhaps other bloodlines of which I am not aware. One reason I bring up the background of the Amesbury Grays is that they had a tassel, which the Tracys inherited, and which gradually disappeared, and now they are always smooth heads, but the gray color still crops up. Perhaps some of our geneticists can explain why the tassel, which was also recessive finally disappeared but the gray color never did? But, whatever their makeup, these Amesbury Grays sure must have been some chicken. Dave Taylor, who had the original Amesbury Gray cock a 17x winner, told me that the cock won nine fights as a stag and eight as a cock and was never beaten in the pit. He said his uncle Frank Welsh told him that he never regretted putting the Gray blood into his Dan Tracys, for it sure did help bring them back, as he was about finished with only one hen left after a dog raid on his yards. But that is only one chapter of the Dan Tracy Pyle story.
This strain of game fowl have been bred as a family and fairly true to color and type for at least 250 years, maybe longer. During that time they have fought, and been known as champions in many countries, and have been known by several different names. Dan Tracy is merely the name they go under in America. In Ireland they were known as Galway Pyles and several others of which I am unaware. King Charles of England was their originator, and it was he who took them to Ireland. Today nearly every cocker in Ireland has Pyles, no doubt all descendants of this one strain. I saw some real good ones fight over there, but the real good ones had been beefed up with infusions of other good Irish strains. It seems the Kearney infused Pyle blood into his Brown Red Whitehackles and it still shows up occasionally. I recently fought a pure Mike Kearney in the Eastern Pit few weeks after he had fought in Alaska in long heels, and he has several pure white feathers in his breast. Some of these pure Mike Kearneys come a light buckskin tan, almost the same as Pyle color. I wish I could tell you more about the Dan Tracy Pyle side of my Pink Hatch, but I do not wish to pose as an expert where I know so little. Of one thing I am sure, there is not another strain on this earth like them, and although they are not strong enough in their purity to be good pit cocks against the modern power blends, I hope to always have some of them around, for they are the proudest and most likable fowl I have ever owned, and for blending or infusing into a stronger strain they are pure gold.
I have never offered any of the pure Dan Tracys for sale and don't intend to. Most people today want a big, strong, aggressive cock that will tear right in there and fight like a tiger, and they don't have time or patience enough to understand or appreciate these little Pyles cocks from our of the past. It would make me feel real bad to know they were in the hands of the wrong person and were being treated badly. Some twenty odd years ago I got a pair of Dr. Robinson Pyles from Ed Devonald of New Jersey. The cock was a small peahead, or low comb Pyle cock, well set up, but low stationed. The hen was a big robust hen that was the toughest hen I ever owned. She was a straight comb with dark legs. I infused this Dr. Robinson Pyle blood into some of my Long Island Roundheads and got good pit cocks, and they were desperately game, in fact too game for their own good as they would kill each other off while still very young, which made them very hard to raise. The stags would start fighting as soon as they could stand up, and keep it up until trimming time at which stage there would not be too many good ones left. I fought several of the Dr. Robinson Pyle/Long Island Roundheads cocks in long heels down along the Ohio river and at Cobert Riggsby's pit in Catlettsburg, KY, and along the Kanawha river during the 2nd World War when I went down to Charleston, WV to take over the foremanship of the spray paint assembly in the Naval Ordinance plant where the 11:75 rockets were in production. These Pyle/R.H. proved very good in long heels and I fought them as long as I was down there. After the war I came back to New York and picked up my business here, which had been run for me by a friend.
When I brought my chickens back to New York I brought back a few of the Pyle/R.H. crosses and kept them around for a good many years. But they were so hard to raise I had just about ran out on them when Bob McGarrity of Atlantic City, N.J. gave me a pair of the pure Dan Tracys which he had gotten from Frank Welsh some time previously, before Frank Welsh passed away. This would be about the 5th or 6th strain of Pyle fowl I had tried crossing on my Roundheads over a period of a half century. I don't know why I kept trying, unless I had had partial success with the Wild Cat Blue Roundhead cross, and with the Dr. Robinson Roundhead cross, aside from the fact that a Pyle chicken always fascinated me. Anyway, I sent the pair of Dan Tracy Pyles up to Carl Fauske of Ill. who had purchased Long Island Roundheads from me several years ago, and told him to cross Pyles on the Long Island Roundheads for me. He did, and that was the beginning of the Pink Hatch. The name Pink hatch started as a joke, but the name has stuck, and it is no joke, any more. I have tried different percentage infusions of these two strains, but have found the original cross was the best, and that is the way I have set the strain, and have bred and fought them that way for several years. They now come very uniform as to size and shape and ability. As stated before I get a very few off-colored ones, but I never offer for sale one of the grays, or the occasional reds. I fight them myself for a customer might not understand.
As to the exact bloodlines of the Pink Hatch it would figure out about as follows: one-half Long Island Roundhead, which strain carries one-quarter Sandy Hatch. One-half Dan Tracy Pyle, which carries one-five hundredth or so of Amesbury Gray, which said Dan Tracy Pyle are about as pure as any strain you will find today. If you think this hot air, just sit down and figure out how much Amesbury Gray blood will remain after 9 years of continuous line breeding back to the old hen, or figure as some breeders are inclined to do, the hen will throw ninety percent of the blood of the offspring, which would reduce the percent of Gray blood down to astronomical figures. But the gray stag or two still coming along each season. This experience should prove interesting to the young chap who may think he can breed cold blood out of a strain of pit game fowl. In fact, it would be more difficult to breed out the dunkie blood than it is to breed out the Amesbury Gray! Being a game family will do no harm to another game family, but the cold blood will utterly destroy them.
I will not go into a long windy yarn about how great the Pink Hatch are, but will say only that they are now proving themselves all over the world in all kinds of weapons. One of their more likable traits is their good temper. They are always happy, easy to work with, and very intelligent. Just the opposite of the Dr. Robinson Pyle cross. The latter proved mean and hard to handle from the day they were brought in and trimmed, adn they never seemed to get over it, no matter how patient and gentle I was with them. This trait I could never understand, for the pure Dr. Robinson Pyle were not nasty to handle, and we all know how good natured and intelligent a well bred Roundhead is. So there is another riddle for the geneticists to chew on. I have been unable to come up with the answer, and the Lord knows I have tried, for I always had a burning desire to have a strain of Pyles that I could depend on, and that could win. And so, after a half century of trying I have come up with just about what I have been looking for. I am holding my Pink Hatch at exactly the proportions described above and I can see no need for any change in the foreseeable future. They come large and robust, strong and well set up, some of them weigh over six pounds, but most are in the good derby range. This my friends is the best I can give you on the history of the Pink hatch, and I hope it may have proved interesting to you. After so many requests, and so much interest being shown I think you are entitled to it, so I have done my best.
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