Above: Steve Dominey (left) and Bob Pepper. Even several years out of the fancy for Bob didn’t break up the Yorkie Supreme partnership, reveals Steve

 

If two of you instinctively think about canaries in the same way, pooling your resources can work well, says STEVE DOMINEY

 

THERE have been many successful partnerships within the canary fancy over the years, yet curiously there have not actually been that many partnerships in the history of the Yorkshire canary.

Over the years, many breeders chose to work with one another and would regularly swap birds as they were often working on the same bloodlines, without feeling the need or desire to take this on to a formal partnership. However, some others actually seemed happier working together as a partnership.

There are always advantages to fanciers working together in whatever form, yet many prefer to maintain their independence when it comes to the show bench, which I have always understood.

I could never really see why fanciers would not want to exhibit the birds that they had bred in their own room, under their name, but circumstances do change. They did for me, which now puts me in a position to understand how and why breeders work closely together as one stud.

Before outlining my own circumstances, I should explain that there are different levels that a partnership may take, and both of the partnerships that I am involved with are slightly different.

Some may choose just to combine their show teams, which may even be differing bloodlines, to strengthen their show team’s potential. Others may be working together closely within the birdroom on the same bloodline. I am sure that there are other varying arrangements within the fancy.

For many years, Bob Pepper and I bred the same bloodline that Bob had established from the strain of Joe Cluderay. I had bred from the strains of Percy James and Len Tanner for a number of years. I then added a separate strain from Bob, which went on to supersede the other bloodlines.

I first became aware of Bob in 1986 at the Yorkshire Canary Club show in Saltaire. That year, I had taken the best in show and best champion award, while Bob took the best novice award. A couple of days after the show, Bob phoned me and it was evident from our early discussions that we were like-minded in our approach to the breed and how we embraced the Golding Model. From there, our lifelong friendship began.

One year, I called in to Bob’s birdroom early in the morning on the way to visiting the National. When the evening came, I set off home without having actually made it to the National! Uniquely, we had the same passion and have always seen the Yorkshire canary with the same eye.

To this day, we have never had a cross word and have only disagreed on one judgment: while judging together on one occasion at the Southern Yorkshire Canary Club show. The circumstances are something we now look back on with humour.

Having said that, we still choose to show as individuals, despite having the same bloodline and giving each other first choice of the surplus stock each year.

One season, Bob lent me a green marked buff cock related to his champion green marked buff cock. I went on to breed some of the best birds I had that year. I ran the cock with several hens and one double buff pairing produced several winning birds.

The buff hen was a full sister to one of Bob’s best clear buff cocks and we called her “the producer hen”, since every bird she bred was better than herself. This was the blood that I continued with and that we still have today.

I should mention that some of the double buffed birds were the best feathered birds I ever produced, as were their youngsters the following year when paired back to yellow feathered birds.

Bob then left the fancy for a three-year period and I exhibited under the Dominey & Pepper name, really just to keep Bob’s interest in the hobby and hoping he would one day return.

On his return, he purchased some good-quality birds from a leading Italian breeder: just two cocks and four hens to start work with the following year. I picked him up from Dover and a discussion about them took place at a service station while we viewed them in their travelling cage.

Later that week, Bob called me and asked if he could borrow the clear yellow cock that I had bred that year, as it would be better suited to the two buff hens he had purchased. This was without doubt the best clear yellow cock I had ever bred. Its brother, a clear buff cock, was a really good bird too, as was their half-brother, a green marked yellow cock that I had inadvertently lost after the Southern Winter show that year. The first two cocks had been kept at home all show season, as my mind was totally on the next year’s breeding with them and they were too valuable to me. 

Anyway, I said that of course Bob could borrow the cock, but I had retained six buff hens for him, so Bob would need to take those as well. Once we had discussed how suitable its brother (the clear buff cock) was for another of the Italian hens, we decided to pool the birds for the next breeding season.

Once that season was over we decided on the partnership as we both felt that it would not be right to judge each other’s birds again going forward, and that we were really a true partnership with our new stock arrangement. With tongue-in-cheek we christened the partnership “Yorkie Supreme” after Bob’s email address.

We decided to rotate the birds so that one year I would breed with the yellow cocks and the following year the buff cocks and vice versa. Each individual member of the stud would be jointly owned, regardless of which birdroom they were produced in.

Each year we select the birds to be kept together, with the emphasis on quality not just numbers, while continuing to focus on the features of the Golding model.

It’s also unusual that neither of us have ever kept a stud book, yet we both know the breeding pedigree of our birds going back to the 1990s. This surprises some people, but in fact we have never needed it.

I think our partnership is a true one in every respect and it is down to bird ownership. A fancier once asked Bob: “So why the partnership?” And he responded: “So we have twice the knowledge.”

I would think that this arrangement is perhaps a little different from most, but by having trust in our long-term friendship it works for us and we both still have the desire to breed top-quality Yorkshire canaries.

For more features from Cage & Aviary Birds, click here