Steve Dominey

Yorkshire & Fife Fancy Canaries



5th JAN 2013

Building a successful strain of Yorkshire Canaries



In the second part of their feature on the ‘Golding Model’ Steve Dominey and Bob Pepper discuss their methods on developing a stud of Yorkshire canaries.


Following on from our previous article on the Golding Model we wished to discuss our methods of establishing a strain of birds that are true to type. We believe that both selection and pedigree are the essential requirements to create a family of birds that can resemble the model, or at least display some of the main characteristics of the breed. When attempting to establish a winning strain of exhibition canaries these two subjects go hand in hand. The successful fancier will have developed his strain of birds over many generations with a keen eye on the overall quality of the stud.


Foundation Stock


For your initial stock it is essential to choose the breeder who’s birds you favour and request some birds that you would be able to at least start a strain of birds with. You do not need many birds to begin the process, in fact it is often a mistake that beginners make, trying to bring in too many birds to start with. Especially from different sources as this would prove near impossible to lay a foundation for the years to come without resorting to chance.


The quality ideally needs to be both the best obtainable and the best affordable. Top quality birds, if available, are not cheap but if bred with successfully take years off the process. Although the quality of hens is very important, the cock birds must be the of a high standard as if the intention is to breed a ‘male strain’ it is these birds that will be inbred over the following years to fix those show qualities. It is far simpler to establish a ‘male strain’ as you can of course run a cock bird with several hens during the breeding season.


Place you trust in your chosen mentor and go back to the same breeder when there is a need for further acquisitions until you feel it is the right time for an outcross.




If things go well in the breeding room then each season should see some improvement. The need to develop an eye for your chosen breeds ideal standard is essential to improve the strain for those birds that you retain determine the following years progeny. Ask for help if you need it from an experienced eye and only retain the number of birds that you can suitably manage.




Once the strain is being developed it should be the aim to make pairings that will breed better than their parents in exhibition quality. This is achievable but other than a ‘sport’ it is generally possible only within an inbred strain. It is within an inbred strain where you can find the lesser quality brother and sisters will breed high quality when paired correctly.


Our methods


Our strain of Yorkshires is a pure bloodline that can be traced back to a clear yellow cock of Bob’s that in 1994 produced his SYCC winning green marked yellow cock. This family are of Joe Cluderay’s bloodline and Bob introduced further birds from Joe over the following years.


Until last year when Bob visted a leading breeder in Italy to obtain some select stock only a marked yellow hen brought in from Italy several years ago had been fully introduced into the strain. Steve too has been breeding the same starin for many years.


We retain very few cock birds and continue the strain with very closely related hens. All of Steve’s birds contain blood from a particular clear buff hen who always produced a higher standard than herself. Her two brothers in turn bred Bob and Steve some very good birds and one has lived to ten years old. The buff hen was bred with until she was nine years old, her daughters seven and eight years.


We always run our best cocks with several hens, sometimes suffering the consequences of producing less youngsters because of this but as our object is quality this suits our aims. Our birds are an inbred family that live for many years, seldom do we have a sick bird in the bird room.


Selection pays a key part having eliminated unwanted traits and retaining birds that please us. We have always been ardent champions of feather quality. Feather helps make the winning show bird special. Today a particular clear yellow cock of high quality is considered the line bird of the strain while its half brother, a clear buff cock is another very important bird in the breeding room.


Understanding feather qualities is a great asset when chosing each years pairings. An exhibition Yorkshire should have a close tight feather quality often associated with the smaller breeds yet in the breeding room differing feather qualities are required for successful pairing. The length of our Yorkshires is also an essential attribute of a good show bird. No cock birds used in the breeding plan should be short in body. A Yorkshire is a long elegant bird.

Position is a feature that is more often misunderstood. Yes a Yorkshire requires a good length of leg but the leg needs to be correctly positioned upon the body of the bird. Look at the ideal bird , the ‘Golding’ model and learn the position and the angles of the thigh and shank. Look where the bird needs to be gripping the perch. These are major points often overlooked. Good position usually aids good shoulder which in turn aids shape.


Although breeding closely, once the genes of your foundation stock run throughout the stud you will have many more options of pairing as the stud developes. Only the individual fancier can then decide when an outcross can be introduced, generally to improve a feature on ones birds. The outcross will however also carry faults which are alien to the strain so again selection is a key here with the youngsters produced.


A Yorkshire canary has many features that come together to make up a good quality show bird that is as close to the model as possible. It’s breeding, for show bench quality provides a worthy challenge. If you purchase birds from several sources you will have little chance of controlling the faults, Produce a small strain and then develop it in time. Bring too many new birds into your strain and you risk all types of variation and loss of control of your future pairings. The ‘Golding’ Yorkshire is a beautiful type canary and when you finally breed birds with some of the required qualities then all of the hard work seems worthwhile.