Breed Fo­cus

Tony Brown is a keen poul­try fancier from Wales who has kept birds for more than 20 years. He talked to Terry Beebe The birds are now very pop­u­lar for ex­hi­bi­tion and look amaz­ing in the show pen.

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A game bird

Tell us about your favourite breed?

It is the Grey Ox­ford Large Game fowl

What first at­tracted you to the breed?

Ini­tially I wanted some feath­ers to use for my fly-fish­ing, and the Ox­ford suited the pur­pose. The hobby of keep­ing the breed snow­balled from there.

What is it about the breed that most ap­peals to you?

It is the gen­eral ap­pear­ance and the char­ac­ter of the breed plus the fact that keep­ing them helps to con­serve the breed for the fu­ture.

Do you have any fond mem­ory of a par­tic­u­lar bird?

One that comes to mind is a Grey stag that looked amaz­ing …. un­for­tu­nately I was not able to show him as he was stolen be­fore I had the chance!

What is the breed like as an egg pro­ducer?

They are quite a good layer, al­though not as much as a com­mer­cial lay­ing hen; they will also lay eggs for most of the year.

Are there any par­tic­u­lar chal­lenges in keep­ing this breed? Do they have any spe­cial needs?

The breed is rea­son­ably easy to keep, but you have to be care­ful about keep­ing them to­gether. They are fine un­less sep­a­rated as, once apart, they do not go back to­gether very well; this also in­cludes the hens.

What is their tem­per­a­ment like?

Gen­er­ally, they are easy to han­dle, but you do get the odd birds that can be quite ag­gres­sive and need to be han­dled with care. As with any breed, they can be pro­tec­tive when brood­ing young.

Have you bred from them, and was this a suc­cess?

Over the years I have had very good suc­cess breeding the Ox­fords. The re­sults have shown through the qual­ity and stan­dard of the birds. Keep­ing to the stan­dard is very im­por­tant, there­fore breeding cor­rectly has to be the top pri­or­ity. I have tried us­ing in­cu­ba­tors but the re­sults were not too good, so I try to get the hatch­ing to be nat­u­ral and use brood­ies, and this gives me good re­sults.

Tell us about your show suc­cess

I have shown the birds at many shows and had many suc­cesses and show wins.

I try and at­tend as many shows as pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially a num­ber of lo­cal shows.

Do you have any tips for oth­ers who might try this breed?

Gain some knowl­edge be­fore start­ing to keep them. Make sure you source good qual­ity birds. The breed­ers who keep them are very care­ful whom they sell the birds to. Once you have ac­quired some birds then make sure they are secure as they will fly high and roost in trees. Keep­ing them in aviary-type ac­com­mo­da­tion with a roof will keep them more secure.

I would rec­om­mend any­one who wants to start with chick­ens to try sev­eral breeds and get as much ad­vice as pos­si­ble. You can then de­cide what breeds are suit­able as your own favourite. I would not ad­vise buy­ing from mar­kets or sales; in­stead, go to a good recog­nised breeder.

Tony Brown is a mem­ber of the Poul­try Club of Great Bri­tain and the Mid­land Game Club, Gwynedd Poul­try Club and the Oswestry Poul­try Club.

ABOVE: Tony Brown hold­ing one of his Grey Ox­ford stags BE­LOW: An­other Grey Ox­ford male

One of Tony’s Ox­fords

An Ox­ford stag in a show pen

More Ox­ford stags

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