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WEST GERMAN (Modern) PHOENIX

 

Phoenix Page One / Modern German Phoenix / Standard Phoenix / Bantam Phoenix




These two illustrations of roosters (at left and below right) are from the famous breeding programmes of Mr. Rolf Ismer of Stroehen, Germany. A leader in the revival of this breed after the World Wars, Mr. Ismer, now nearly in his 90s, has given the West some of its most beautiful Phoenix. The carriage and feather type of these birds are typical for the direction that breeding of the longtails has taken in (west) Germany since the mid to late 1970s. I know that Mr. Ismer outcrossed his lines with Modern English Game in order to "lift the birds off the ground" in the 1980s and further developed them at his Tierpark (zoo) in Stroehen, breeding many birds a year in order to select for the best.

 

The standard in united Germany has favoured this direction in breeding instead of the one I have referred to as "East German". In essence there is NO East German Phoenix as a BREED, but rather as a DIRECTION in breeding.


I can remember in the early to mid 1980s, being at the Phoenix Club's shows and annual meetings, that discussions were always in the air about making a better distinction between the Phoenix (in the UK referred to as "Single Combed, Game-Coloured Yokohama") and the Onagdori. When the wall came down between the two Germanies, many very bitter conflicts arose between the two different standards of Phoenix. The East Germans had kept a very feather-rich bird, of rather soft plumage, low and somewhat bulky of carriage in which the tail feather length was the singularly most important aspect of the breed, as is the standard in the UK. The West Germans had, however, striven for a bird with more durable feathers, more elegant build, longer legged, only slate-coloured legs acceptable, many times at the cost of the extreme lengths and fullness of feathers. These were my own observations over this time period. These illustrations here show, however, that a long, yearly-moulting, firm-feathered type has been achieved with success.

In the search for an ornamental chicken for the garden on "The Farm" in Switzerland, I came across the book HANDBUCH NUTZ- UND RASSEN HUEHNER by Horst Schmidt. To find such an elegant, pheasant-like chicken depicted in the first few pages if this book (illustration above) surprised me greatly and stirred my interest in this breed. A long search was begun and my paths went to Germany, Holland and America and the beginning of a very rewarding hobby was begun. There was not the clearity and distinction between Onagadori and Phoenix at that time in Europe. Only in our west German Phoenix and Yokohama Club was there clear distinctions between these two.

 

This black breasted red bird (below right) came from the famous breeding programmes of Rolf Ismer of Stroehen Germany and was the result of a life-long dedication to the Phoenix. The long-tail feathers and elegant, horizontal body of this bird was achieved out of selective crosses made with Modern English Game and very long-tailed Phoenix.


I personally chose to work with the dwarf Black Breasted Reds, large Whites and worked to create the large BLACKS (see the link on the page EUROPEAN BREEDS.

The PROPOSED NEW GERMAN STANDARD (large fowl - below)

 


The standard above is a great departure from the older form type depicted in the current Swiss (and UK) standard below. The East German breeding preferences echo the Swiss (below) and the UK, with an extremely long-feathered bird with much less emphasis placed on the form of the body and length of the leg.

 

These next two illustrations (above - the standards and below - the bantams) are of the proposed new standard, which , if passed, would also be valid for the standard for Phoenix in all of Germany - to the dismay of the breeder in Ex-East Germany who prefer the Swiss & UK type.

 

This type of long-legged and long-bodied form only exists in a couple of breeding lines in Germany, none of which have the absurdly small head. It is at the moment more a visionary attempt to create even further distinction between the Onagadori-type and a large, more elegantly elongated feather-rich bird of greater hardiness and vigour. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s Bantam Phoenix in Germany were only an idea smaller than their larger relatives, the large Phoenix.

 

When reading old reports from shows, one can also sense the irritation of the judges allotted to the Longtails in comments such as :"Is this a bantam or large bird?", "I don't see the difference between the two breeds." The Germans now want a very large Phoenix and a very small, delicate Bantam and have undertaken outcrosses for many years to augment the size of the large birds, sometimes losing the feather richness.

 

With the Bantam Phoenix, crosses were made as early as 20 years ago with the very fine-boned and elegant Bantam Modern English Game to "get them off the ground", as was mentioned earlier. Many Bantam birds shown in Germany to date have the elegant long-lined form of the illustration below. In speaking with the president of the Phoenix Club of Germany, I've been informed that these illustrations are a bit too exaggerated in elongated neck lines and small head size, and that new illustrations are being developed. He also informed me that my references to an "East German Phoenix" may be understood as a separate breed. So I reiterate here that I am referring to an older standard to the Phoenix (a German creation) in which one part of the country preferred a certain type of bird and the other a different. The EAST GERMAN PHOENIX is mentioned here in comparison only to the WEST GERMAN PHOENIX. The actual name, however, for the breed remains simply "PHOENIX".

 

The desire is to make an absolutely clear distinction in form between the Onagadori, from which the Phoenix originated, and the Phoenix. There are too many references around the world that Phoenix and Onagadori are one and the same breed. (Please note the Swiss and older German Standards for Phoenix below!)

 

The direction the predominantly West German contingent of the German Phoenix Association would like to take is based on the superb results of the famous breeder Mr Rolf Ismer and the initiatives of Mr. Hermann Falk. The present state of the breed in is an interim phase in which three or more types are seen at shows, mostly an Onagadori-Leghorn type with extreme feather length, heavy bodies, larger combs and shorter legs. A second type is seen in the different crosses that are being undertaken to create a long-feathered birds of greater size and elegance, and a few lines that have achieved leg-length, feather length and fullness but still have combs that follow the line of the skull (see the illustrations of the Ismer roosters on these pages) and a few lines that have fixed the "Stehkamm" (upright, finely pointed comb seen in the illustrations).

 

In general, it is an exciting and difficult time in the development of the Phoenix in Germany, with both heated arguments and fruitful discussions going on among the very dedicated Long Tail breeders. But rather nice results are happening and interest in the breed is growing, so advancements should be made more quickly than in the last half century.

THE OLDER STANDARD for PHOENIX (here the Swiss, but also for the UK and America)

 

This breeding direction was maintained in many countries (East Germany, Switzerland, England and America) while in the fast-developing West Germany, the new imports of Onagadori and their characteristically weak constitutions, extreme feather length and short, "country chicken" type bodies gave rise to the need to make a distinction between the "pure Japanese" and the "of Japanese descent" long tails. This development led many breeders in the late 70s and early 80s to create a better distinction by concentrating on birds of hardy vitality, long and elegant forms, feathers that reach up to 90cm or 100cm and are firm and broad. The leg colour was set to be slate blue to make another distinction to the olive green and yellow (in the whites only) legs of the Onagadori, something which gave rise to the brilliantly white earlobes of the new Phoenix. The Onagadori and their closely related Phoenix lines in East Germany and America, often have green to yellow green legs and the earlobes are a corresponding yellowish-greenish white.

 
 



 

Phoenix Page One / Modern German Phoenix / Standard Phoenix / Bantam Phoenix

 

 
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