ALBC: The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) was founded in 1977 and is dedicated to the conservation of rare breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. (NOTE - The ALBC changed their name to "The Livestock Conservancy" recently.) Their programs include research on breed population size, distribution and genetic health; research on breed characteristics; gene banks to preserve genetic material from endangered breeds; rescues of threatened populations; education about genetic diversity and the role of livestock in sustainable agriculture; and technical support to a network of breeders, breed associations, and farmers.
In 2005, under the leadership of Don Schrider (a well known Brown Leghorn breeder), they began an effort to conserve the Buckeye by combining genetics primarily from the Urch and Pearce strains with some Brown and Rhodes strains added (according to an email report from Don Schrider on March 21, 2008*). Don Schrider also noted (in the same email) that they had created 22 new breeding flocks, and that "The ALBC added a pound of weight to both the finished size and the 16 week weight of the Buckeye’s we worked with. This has made the cockerel a nice and meaty fowl when dressed out. Additionally, I am receiving reports of higher egg production from most breeders with this strain this year." Since that time, Don Schrider has left the ALBC to pursue other interests, it is important to point out the ALBC strain is the newest strain of Buckeyes in North America. Some claim this line has declined significantly since Mr. Schrider’s departure but one thing is certain there are thousands, of ALBC bred Buckeyes all over the country today!
Braden: This strain was developed by Bill Braden of Locust Grove, Oklahoma. According to an email sent to us by Mr. Braden in July of 2008, Bill received his original stock 20 years prior from Bill Fitche of Maine, who received his from Rev. Romig of Maine. In this same email, Branden indicated "Since my stock has suffered from infertility problems, I purchased chicks from Ideal Poultry, in 2006. One cockerel from the Ideal Poultry chicks has been crossed with my original hens and their fertility has improved. I sold Buckeye’s to Ideal Poultry early on and to my knowledge they got their start originally from my line.” There has been some changing of the origin of this line as Mr. Braden has gotten older and dispersed his original flock. In 2010, Mr Braden sold his entire flock to a man in Kansas who reportedly sold the birds at an auction to multiple buyers. Some Braden Buckeyes exist in the hands of just a few Buckeye breeders today. Hopefully we will see them again in Tennessee as Mr. Robert McGinnis is raising a small flock from hatching eggs he acquired from Mr. Braden in 2010.
Brown: This strain was developed by John Brown of Loveland Ohio and his original stock came from a breeder in Canada. Over the years Mr. Brown has used outside influences to improve his Buckeyes. As of 2009 most of Mr. Browns original stock were destroyed by predators and he was forced to rebuild his flock. Today Mr. Brown and his son Tony Brown are strong supporters and advocates of the Buckeye breed.
Ideal Hatchery: According to some, Ideal got their Buckeyes from another hatchery around 2004 or 2005. Some say Stromberg, or Sand Hill and others claim it was Meyer Hatchery. People who work at Ideal today say their Buckeyes originated from Duane Urch of Minnesota, so take your pick! Generally, a hatchery does NOT maintain a “line” or “strain” but Ideal has had Buckeyes longer than most and keeps a sizeable flock in Texas. Bill Braden (see "Braden" above), claims that the Ideal Hatchery Buckeye strain originated from his birds but this has never been confirmed outside of Mr. Braden himself.
Lay: This strain was developed by Jeff Lay at Crains Run Ranch of Miamisburg, Ohio. Mr. Lay began raising Buckeyes in 2002 and kept several different lines in an effort to improve their egg laying ability. After a few years folks around Ohio began calling them “Layer” or “Lay” Buckeyes because they were such outstanding egg producers compared to other Buckeye strains. Mr. Lay used the early Brown, Rhodes, Pierce and Pearce to create his egg laying Buckeye strain. He claims “Line breeding, trap nesting and the Walter Hogan method of selection” helped produce his line and as of October 2014 he was still “perfecting his Buckeyes”!
Pearce: This strain was developed by Dennis Pearce of Washington. Mr. Pearce got his start using the early Urch line of Buckeyes and continued improving on them until his death in 2010. The Pearce/Urch cross is said to have been the foundation for most of the ALBC Buckeyes developed by Don Schrider while he worked for the ALBC in 2006-2007.
Pierce: This strain was developed by Ron Pierce of Rhode Island. Mr. Pierce bred and showed Buckeyes for several years on the east coast but became interested in Turkeys. His Buckeye flock was dispersed and yet a few exist today. It is widely believed the Pierce line was from the original Rev. Romig of Maine.
Privett Hatchery: This strain, while coming from a hatchery in New Mexico, originated from Buckeyes acquired from Sand Hill Preservation Center in Iowa several years ago. Normally a hatchery is never recognized as maintaining a strain or line but in the case of this family owned and operated business their Buckeyes can be considered as such. The folks at Privett Hatchery keep a large breeding flock of Buckeyes in the desert and have quality stock.
Rau: This strain was developed by Jason and Robin Rau a mother and son team who breed both Large Fowl and Bantams. Most of their large fowl stock came from John Brown of Ohio. Having started breeding Buckeyes around 2002 the Rau line, like the Lay line is one of the younger Buckeye lines in modern time.
Rhodes: This strain was developed by Robert Rhodes of Massachusetts many years ago. Mr. Rhodes has been a leading breeder for Buckeyes for many years and his strain is one of the early east coast varieties.
Sand Hill: This strain was developed by Glenn Drowns in Iowa. Mr. Drowns began his line using buckeyes he purchased from Mr. Urch and over the years he has added other lines to improve his stock. Today, the Sand Hill strain remains one of the oldest in the mid-west.
Shumaker: A relatively new line has emerged in the Buckeye Nation and has taken the country by storm as a result! Created using Lay & Brown stock, Joe Shumaker of Shumaker Farm in Ohio has quickly built a strain that has won more Championships than any other line known to date. In late 2013, Joe Shumaker became the first Master Exhibitor as recognized by the APA exclusively with the Buckeye breed. His line is extremely DARK MAHOGANY BAY in color with large heads and exceptional feather quality. Not to mention the Shumaker Buckeyes have outstanding size and weight, maturing at a much earlier age than some other lines found today.
Urch (early and current): This strain was developed by Duane Urch of Minnesota, who has had his flock since 1958. He acquired them from Howard Tallman of Florida after Mr. Tallman passed away. In 2008, Mr Urch began rebuilding his Buckeye flock and as a result some claim there are “early” or “old” Urch Buckeyes that are different than those seen today.
There are several Buckeye lines or strains that no longer exist today and here is a listing of those that were once part of the Buckeye history.
A-1 Buckeyes – Bred by Mr. Roy V. Ellise of Troy Missouri thru the Great Depression.
Aristocrat Buckeyes – Bred by H. W. & M. B Deem of Eaton, Ohio from 1910 thru 1940’s. At one time the Deem brothers had the largest flock of Buckeyes in North America and raised Champion Exhibition fowl. Buckeye Poultry Yards, as their farm was known back then, is said to have kept over 500 Large Fowl Buckeyes year around.
Aristocratic Buckeyes – Bred by Lindley T. Place of Meshoppen, PA thru the 1930’s. Mr. Place purchased chicks and hatching eggs directly from Nettie Metcalf and made a very good living selling show fowl, hatching eggs and chicks.
Bay Buckeyes – Bred by Ross Masters of Toledo, Iowa thru the 1930’s his Buckeyes were said to be some of the darkest richest Buckeyes in the mid-west.
Empie Buckeyes – Doug Empie got started with Buckeyes he purchased from Duane Urch, perhaps from the original Tallman line.
Errett Buckeyes – Bred by H. E. Errett of Nevada, Missouri and this line was also known as the Highland Poultry Farm Buckeyes. Mr. Errett bred quality Buckeyes that won at the Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco in 1915. His line was widely known in the Midwest until the 1940’s.
Fitche Buckeyes – Bred by Bill Fitche of Maine we know Mr. Fitche got his start from Doug Empie and Mr Fitche showed his Buckeyes around the country thru the 1990’s.
Mahogany Buckeyes – Bred by N. S. Buck & Son of Mulberry, Indiana who’s claim to fame was the highest selling Buckeye ever sold. His Buckeyes were leading winners at east coast shows in Boston and New York from 1914 thru 1929.
Mahon Buckeyes – Bred by Elton C. Mahon of Norwood, Tennessee and a former American Buckeye Club President. Mr. Mahon bred and showed more Buckeyes than perhaps any other breeder save Mrs. Metcalf herself!
Metcalf Buckeyes – Bred by none other than Mrs. Nettie Metcalf of Inglewood, California after she and her family moved from their Warren, Ohio “Red Feather Farm” for health reasons. After 1909, Mrs. Metcalf raised and bred very few Buckeyes but served as Honorary President of the ABC for several years. There were several Buckeye breeders from 1910 thru 1930 who kept Metcalf strain Buckeyes exclusively, Minnie Bemis Hudson or Ellisburg, NY and Fred B. Harris of Woburn, MA are but a few of them.
Perkins Buckeyes – Created by M. O. Perkins of Medina, Ohio this was perhaps the first “Utility” line of Large Fowl Buckeyes. Mr. Perkins might take offense to that description considering his Buckeyes won their fair share of shows in Cleveland, Columbus, Chicago, Buffalo and Philadelphia.
Romig Buckeyes – There were two different Rev. Romigs who have raised, shown and sold Buckeyes in modern times. One was from Pennsylvania and later relocated to New York state while the other was from Maine.
Tallman Buckeyes – This is the modern day line bred and maintained by Howard Tallman of Florida until his death in 1958. That same year Mr. Duane Urch of Minnesota purchased the Tallman strain and moved them north.
Weisberg Buckeyes – Another breeder from the “Show Me State” located in Kansas City, Missouri was A.H. Weisberg who severed as Secretary and VP of the ABC for many years. Mr. Weisberg raised top quality show winning Buckeyes thru the 1940’s and wrote several articles about breeding Buckeyes for the ABC catalogue.