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The Four Sisters of the Deep South Part II
By Troy Barber
Last month, we did an extensive study of the pedigrees and history behind Chase’s Ace and Decker’s Tracking Pepper. In order to consistently breed great hounds, we must know what’s behind them, not just their names but also traits they possess both good and bad. Yes, even a blind hog will find an acorn now and then, but don’t count on lady luck to always be on your side. If you remember last month, we talked about several desirable qualities that were provided by certain individuals in this pedigree; however, we did not discuss the undesirable qualities, and yes they were present. I usually make an assertive effort to speak only positive thoughts when writing these articles but I think, in this particular case, it’s important to point out some of the weaknesses and how they were corrected through selective breeding. Since the Black Creek/Skullfork blood made up nearly 60% of this pedigree, we have to assume it contributed more genetically than the other bloodlines. I’ve already mentioned some of their outstanding qualities and, as good as they were, they are not without sin (faults or weaknesses). Many of them lacked search, stamina, conformation and intelligence. Now they were busy dogs with lots of body action but because of the lack of intelligence they would sometimes spend more time than necessary looking in unlikely spots. The lack of stamina and conformation go hand in hand; these dogs had hearts as big as elephants but some didn’t have the body structure and stamina to endure extreme conditions such as hot weather and long hours. By the time Ace and Pepper came onto the scene, most of this had been corrected through some well thought out breeding programs with outcrosses such as Dingus McCrae, Mile Branch Sadie, Gay Baker and Web’s Victory Sue who were all known for their intelligence, endurance, stamina, conformation and search ability. In order to eliminate faults, we must have genetic balance when making a cross, if we breed two dogs or bloodlines together known to have the same fault we only intensify that fault. If you go to Laneline Beagles website you will find the Gray Scale story, the breeding and selection method used by the great Elmer Gray. It explains, in detail, about balancing strengths and weaknesses, a very good read for those interested in breeding. The Black Creek/Skullfork hounds were line control hounds, but there was a tendency to hook or skirt the pack especially if you put pressure on them. This trait was intensified when Mountain Run Jake was added to the equation. While he put big ole coon dog mouths and ridiculously big noses on most of his pups, many of them would hook or skirt the pack. This trait was still present in some of the offspring of Ace and Pepper. Most of the breeders in those days were not aware that a bloodline existed that could help correct this problem. It was tolerated, for the most part, and explained away as being rabbit wise. I’m going to leave this hanging for now; we’ll come back to it a little later. Other undesirable traits in the Black Creek/Skullfork hounds were seizures and running fits. I’ll most likely ruffle some feathers here, but I don’t mean to offend anyone or discredit any bloodline. The Black Creek hounds were just a spinoff of the Skullfork bloodline so that’s why I always join them with a slash mark. The original Skullfork hounds never showed any signs of seizures or running fits until the Weir Creek blood was introduced into them. While it added some very good qualities it also brought along some weaknesses. This might have been the most difficult trait to overcome.Even today you will see it crop up if line breeding this blood.
You can find the remainder of the is article and some photos starting on page 12 of our December issue.
Artificial Insemination: A Way to Preserve and Promote Great Hounds and Bloodlines
by Dr. Treyton Jai Diggs, DVM
I recently wrote an article interviewing Richard “Dickie” Beyl. In that conversation he spoke of his great hound FC JR’S TJ. He then stated that if he had known about artificial insemination and freezing semen he would have definitely had TJ’S semen frozen. I have always wondered why our sport doesn’t take advantage of this technology/service more often. I know a lot of other hound sports utilize this service quite often i.e. coonhounds and bird dogs. So I figured that I would write an article that would hopefully educate, familiarize, and enlighten beaglers on artificial insemination.
Before I ponder into great depth of this article, I would like to say that artificial insemination is not an easy process in dogs and it takes a great deal of education and appropriate timing to be successful. So finding a veterinarian that has an interest in this science is going to be integral.
As much as I promote my fellow houndsmen to utilize this technology, I strongly recommend that the bitch be proven. When I say “proven” I mean a bitch that has successfully conceived at least once or twice recently and is a good mother to her pups. I often have clients that want to use artificial insemination in a maiden or problematic bitch. I have found, that despite the efforts and attempts in these bitches, artificial insemination is often unsuccessful. Another recommendation is to collect semen from your stud when he is young. I encounter houndsmen that want to freeze their studs semen but they wait until their hound is too old to give a quality semen specimen. It is a common finding for semen potency to decrease with age so collecting from your hound early increases the likelihood of obtaining quality specimens. From my experience it best to collect between the ages of 2-5 years. Of course, they can be collected later but semen quality begins to decrease and so does the stud’s libido. I typically recommend to my clients to collect semen in the breeding off season (any period where your male is not being used regularly to naturally service bitches). This is a lot less stressful on the stud owner, he or she doesn’t have to worry about trying to successfully breed a bitch and schedule a semen collection at the same time. It also increases the likelihood of achieving a successful breeding and obtaining a quality collection sample. By collecting in the breeding off season, this also decreases the chances that your hound will get reproductively stressed. I don’t typically recommend breeding a dog more than 3-4 times a week. Breeding more than this often affects semen concentration and quality, resulting in smaller litters or bitches that fail to conceive or “miss”.
You can view the remainder of this article starting on page 4 of our October issue.
Mile Branch Sammy III
by Troy Barber
While looking back at these old hounds has been very rewarding and brought back many fond memories, it has also been very challenging to gather accurate statistics. Although I have lots of firsthand knowledge of these hounds, I don’t remember all the details such as field trial records and awards so I have to rely on their owners and other sources. Many of the owners of these hounds live near the Gulf Coast and were hit hard by hurricane Katrina in 2005, therefore lots of the old records and photographs were destroyed by this horrific storm. That being said, I’m grateful to each individual who furnished photos and records for this series. However, I know we have failed to obtain 100% of the information due to circumstances but hopefully, we have done justice to the roles these hounds have played in beagle history.
Mile Branch Sammy produced well with several different bloodlines but like any other stud dog some were better than others. When he was crossed back on Black Creek/Skullfork bred females is when the magic really happened. If you recall Sammy was half Black Creek/Skullfork himself so when he was crossed back on females from that line the offspring were line bred with one quarter out-cross. Sammy’s popularity and success brought much recognition to the Black Creek bloodline as many folks refer to him and his offspring as Black Creek. Most of the traits that he was famous for did not come from the Black Creek side of the pedigree but rather his dam, Mile Branch Sadie. Let’s give credit where credit is due. The infusion of the Sammy blood into this already great line of hounds gave them a much needed facelift such as conformation, stamina, search and brains.
In part two of this series, we talked about the first few crosses made on Sammy and they all had something in common; the dams were closely related to Sammy’s sire Black Creek Sam VI. This had not gone unnoticed as many local beaglers observed the success of these first crosses. In an attempt to duplicate this success, many breeders began to seek out Sammy to cross on females with pedigrees similar to those initial matings.
You can view the remainder of this article on page 18 of our August issue!