How to create a strain according to its objectives
1. Define your objectives
First, in my opinion, it is necessary to target and define its objectives: Choice of mutation (s) to be selected, studies of the characteristics of the chosen mutation (s), knowledge of the type of genetic transmission, creating a network of breeder likely to work on similar objectives to have starting subjects. The breeders will need to have confidence in your project and your insight. They will also be concerned about the fate of their surrendered birds.
Essential conditions to then start the construction of a strain and start a selection in order to tend towards your defined objectives like any project.
Finally, define your idea of the bird you want to get. Without forgetting the characteristics of the mutation or combination in which you are projecting yourself.
2. Tips for getting started
Choose the starting zebrafinch with the fewest possible flaws. Be especially careful not to start with birds of uncertain genotype.
Example: If you have a project to build a strain of gray, check if they would not carry a mutation with recessive inheritance (like black chest, black cheeks).
Ask the breeder giving you your first specimens, ask to see the parents to be better fixed. Observe the different qualities and areas for improvement of each one, keeping in mind the zebra finch you want to achieve.
Observe the harmony and the whole of the birds of the breeder, a homogeneity will make you appear a good work of the breeder.
3. What is a strain
You have to imagine the stump of a tree, its trunk and its branches, made up of ancestors, descendants, sisters, brothers, etc. Different methods exist depending on the type of genetic inheritance of the mutation or high combination to advance a strain.
4. Importance of zebrafinch called "Work"
In a strain, there will be zebrafinch said to be "working": The intensive, the most typical, short, long … These working birds will most often and in particular have one or more strengths.
They are the ones who will allow you to reach your goals, do not neglect them.
5. Choice of couplings
It is there, for me, that the most important work of the breeder is located, his mating choices will determine the quality of future zebrafinch !
By combining very judiciously the qualities (short x long; schimmel x intensive ...) of each other, the breeder will seek to obtain the competition bird or the one he is looking to obtain for his pleasure in terms of type, shape, hold, color etc.
The breeder who is looking for the zebra finch in competition must approach, as closely as possible, the standard (established by ornithological organizations or specialized clubs), the basis for judging in competition. Standard that the competing breeder must study meticulously according to the mutation he breeds and selects.
Building a strain allowing you to pursue the objectives of your project takes several years and requires patience, observation, perseverance and sometimes questioning.
We often recognize the "signature" of the breeder on the type, shape, designs or even sometimes the feather of his carefully selected birds. With a keen eye we can observe the qualities to which the breeder will have taken the time to work with observations and patience.
Tony Lombard, amateur breeder of selection.
Article published in 2019.