THE EXCHEQUER (click for pictures)
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This, the latest comer of the Leghorn family, was introduced by Mr. Robert Miller of Scotland. The first Exchequers were sports. In the year 1904, four or five appeared amongst Mr. Miller Leghorns. He was attracted by them, and in 1905-6-7 sought to perfect and establish them as he had found them to be great in egg producing properties. In 1907 he introduced them to the Fancy under the name of Exchequer, the name being suggested by their black and white chequering in colour, and by the manner in which they contributed to the farm exchequer. They were quickly taken up by customers of Mr. Miller us utility birds, and very soon made a name amongst Scottish breeders for their early maturity, high productivity and hardiness. Flock averages "of well over 200 being reported for pullets, and the hens proved themselves long distance layers, some: even "going strong " when eight years old.. They also proved good starters, as some laid at three and a-half months.
After the war the Exchequer began to be known in England and for some reason met with much opposition, many going so fat as to say they were not Leghorns at all, but Ancona culls. Mr. Miller, and a number of breeders who had tested them for years controverted this idea, and the Exchequer began to make its way in England both as a show bird, and a splendid utility fowl. One breeder, Mr. Sam Outhwaite, who is now the secretary of the Exchequer Leghorn Club having birds which reached a flock average of 291. The Exchequer has forged ahead and made a great reputation as a prolific layer of large eggs, and in the opinion of many is quite the best utility member of the Leghorn family. Its hardiness is unquestioned because its greatest work has been done in Scotland and the North of England. Its merits have been recognised everywhere and from Land's End to John o' Groats the Exchequer is now held in high repute. In backyards, on ordinary farms, and commercial egg farms the Exchequer has proved its worth, and its adaptability to all climes, and conditions of soil.
The ideal which Mr. Miller and those other breeders who put the Exchequer forward as a Standard fowl had was a black and white fowl chequered evenly all over, and as evenly as possible. The under-colour was to be white, and there was to be no approach to the Ancona either in breed characteristics, or in marking, and the best way to assure this was to fix the under-colour opposite to that of the Ancona. The white under-colour takes the Exchequer Leghorn right away out of the Ancona category, as in that breed the under-colour is black.
During the few years the Exchequer has been recognised as an exhibition variety it has made great advance. Many breeders have taken up its culture, and shows which have provided classes for the breed have generally been well supported. Progress has been made in breed character, and to-day we have Exchequers which are quite equal in general Leghorn breed characteristics to some of the older established varieties.
At the time when the Exchequer Leghorn Club was formed
and a standard drawn up it was decided that the white marking of the plumage
should take the form of a circular patch at the end of each feather. This was
done to keep away the possibility of Ancona crossing, and the V-tipped feather which is
characteristic of the Ancona.
In selecting birds for breeding one has to be very careful to avoid mating them so that there is preponderance of either black or white in the colour of the progeny.
Two evils have to be avoided, or rather two difficulties have to be overcome. If you think too much about leg colour and so try to avoid producing birds that have sooty or dark legs you will possibly get too much white in the plumage especially in the wings and tail. If you are obsessed with the idea that you must keep up the density and richness of the black you will possibly hired birds that, whilst they have plenty of black on the body, have too much on the legs.
The general breed characteristics of the Leghorn family must be considered when mating up the stock for breeding, and then the colour. The bird to head the breeding pen should be a first class exhibition cock or cockerel, or one as near to the Standard as possible. This bird will have plenty of pure white under-colour and will be well broken in black and white on the top. In selecting the mates for such a bird one can use hens or pullets that are up to exhibition form and so have the appearance of being standard birds, and some that are on the dark side both in under-colour and on the top may also be used. But one should avoid the use of hens or pullets that carry too much white, especially on the wings and tail, because the tendency is for the birds to throw progeny lighter than themselves.
One point must never be lost sight of and that is the yellow leg ; therefore select birds as good in leg colour as possible on both sides.
Another point to remember is that cocks and hens are always lighter in their second year than they were in the first. Thus sometimes a bird that is too dark as a cockerel or pullet may be "What's Wanted " as an adult. On the other hand cockerels and pullets fit for exhibition may be too light in their second year. These things must be borne in mind and carefully considered when the birds are being mated up.