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The MINOHIKI 蓑曳鶏

 

Minohiki Page One / Page Two / Head Study / Akazasa and Shojo Colours / Casarocca Strain of Minohiki

 


 
 
 
The bird shown above and below is from our own breeding - now the 3rd generation. Carefully working between Minohiki / Red-Shouldered Yokohama genotypes, this bird is much more robust, healthier and disease-resistant than his ancestors. We have the form, head and feathering desired as well. This type is similar to the Shojo pictured below. I have been able to combine smaller, tighter combs in this group as well. Multiple feathering and long saddles are also fully present - here pictured in November 2005.

I thought a few years ago that there was basically one type of Minohiki in Japan, but I have since discovered many, many different types with just a few points in common.

The saddle should touch the ground and drag some. Some actually drag it a ways behind them - usually some of the best Black Breasted Silver Lines .

None of the carriage forms had high held wings; most were gently to very drooping.

I understand that this is a preference with many Japanese breeds - the'd like to see the triangle of colour at the wing tips. Also, the breast was usually held high in most types.

There is sometimes an extreme fullness in the tail, sometimes not. Sometimes there is multiple feathering (mutant sickles) in the tail. Many times not.

Sometimes there is a lengthy tail -more than 100cm - sometimes not.

The comb is sometimes a cupped chalice, other times a smooth walnut, sometimes the comb is very small and neat, other times large and very coarse.

Some Minohiki are rather small - somewhere between a bantam and a standard. Others are larger and look like a long-feathered Satsumadori.

Some Minohiki have wattles. Some wattles are medium in size. Others have no wattles at all. Others have rudimentary wattles.

The eye colour ranges from pearl to deep orange to red-orange. Head forms ranged from a very rounded, wide-eyed almost Ko-Shamo glance to a longer-beaked "lizard" head as the Germans have determined for the Yokohama.

All of these details of differences would drive our European judges crazy trying to fix just one specific type in mind to evaluate by. The key factors in all types were the dragging or ground-rouching saddles, the more-or-less gamefowl type and a walnut or pea comb of diverese structures and forms.

I will not promote any particular line of breeding, as this would be absurd with such a rare animal and would not be in keeping with the ideals of the country of origin.

One thing is very clear, however, and this is that the Minohiki and Yokohama are the same breed, just a century apart in developement and direction in breeding.

Knut Roeder, in trying to save the one BBSilver cock that hatched from eggs he had brought back from Japan, used his superb, saddle-rich (the most important factor here!!) Red-Shouldered Yokohama to cross into them. The results were superb and only positive, not loosing the Minohiki form and adding vigour and greater resistance to Europe's diverse climate and bacterial world that the Minohiki is very sensitive to. These birds, the entire flock as I understand it, were sold to a Danish poultry fancier not far from Knut's North Sea residence. Where they are today (Jan 2003) I do not know. Perhaps in a few years we in Europe will be able to share in the hobby of raising this breed, too.

If one would like to work with a Minohiki type, being that the only lines with pure blood are very costly, one could begin a series of crosses with older types of Yokohama in which the form and feathering are still very Minohiki-like.

The "Saddle Dragger", is perhaps my favourite of all the long-tail fowl breeds that have come out of Japan. Believed to be the more elegant distant cousins of the SATSUMADORI, and descendants of crosses made in the Edo Period between Shamo and Shokuku, these birds have exceptional presence in the show cage as well as in the garden.


Some of the important points and aspects of breeding the Minohiki are: the head, the comb, the carriage of chest, wing, back and tail, the saddle feather region and the tail. All the illustrations of birds that I have seen from Master Breeders Mr. Terada and Mr. Mochizuki, and those that are already in Europe, have a well-closed tail feather arrangement (as opposed to the tail feather arrangement of the Satsumadori which is flat, wide and open - not unlike a peacock's tail).

 

The tail feathers, when viewed from behind, are a well-closed curtain of moderately wide (not thin as required with the Onagadori and Ohiki), of firm substance (not subtle and limp as in the Onagadori) and together the sickle and coverts should form a completely closed curtain that drags the ground preferably a few centimetres behind the birds. The saddle feathers must touch the ground and drag. The silver duckwings show the best quality of saddle feathers that I have seen, with many inches of feathers joining the curtain of feathers of the tail. The illustration above is a rooster of exceptional quality.

The head of the Minohiki is expressly wide in dimension and short in length with the eyes showing much expression a and vitality. The eye colour ranges from a "pearl eye" to a fiery light red orange. The face is completely red and wattles are sometimes present and are not considered a fault. If wattles are present, they should be small. The most important aspect of the head is the comb which can resemble the German Jokohama walnut comb at times, but which, in perfection, is an indented walnut with what the Japanese refer to as a "chalice comb". Click on the illustration here to view this nearly perfect "chalice comb". The combs should be a proud addition to the head of a good Minohiki, medium sized, not small, and compact.
In Japan many of these longtailed birds are kept in breeding boxes due to the very limited space available for raising animals. Experiences here in Europe have been that the Minohiki is a fragile breed in the since that many roosters do not live past two years of age. This means that one must breed with them on a yearly basis, raising as many as possible to insure the survival of the breed. Knut Roeder has undertaken outcrosses with the European Minohiki relative, the Yokohama, with great success. Other experiences made here in Europe is that within three generations both the size of eggs and the health of the birds had increased with each generation. This has been true throughout the different breeds imported in the last few years. This could be a promising aspect in the further development of these treasures of Japan for those of us in Europe and perhaps in America working with these breeds.

Above a silver duckwing Minohiki. A gentle breeze makes this bird's magnificent feather coat lift and flutter. A work of art of breeding.
The last aspects of this breed that I would like to mention are: the carriage and form. Please note that the silhouette line flowing from the head down the back to the tail gracefully rises after reaching the saddle, then flows back down to the curtain of feathers formed by the sickles and coverts. This is an extremely important aspect of form in these birds. Another is that the chest is held high and proud and that the wings submit to this form, lowering their carriage in subordination to the chest. Many Europeans despise this type of carriage in the longtails, preferring the strait-backed and high wing carriage of the Modern German Phoenix and the Modern German Yokohama. It is a fault if the birds carry the wings too high. Once these birds have been viewed in perfection, the wish to change their particular type of aesthetic appeal diminishes and one begins to appreciate the centuries-long work of Master Breeders of Nippon.

One other point to mention is that the black-tailed golden-scarlets vary greatly in colour saturation and different breeders have different strains ranging from a smooth golden ochre to a two-toned near scarlet gold. Out of the deeper colour lines a few black breasted reds showed up, a colour which is extremely rare in Japan.

I recently found this image of a Black Tailed Golden-Scarlet on a Japanese poultry website.


I have tried to contact the breeder, but no e-mails go through. The difference in quality to the above is obvious.

 


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