It is unfortunate that for many years the Opaline has been neglected. While many are seen on the show bench, most, if not all, are by-products of good Normals, because the majority of Normal cocks – whether intentionally or otherwise – are split Opalines.

In the years just before, and for a time, after, the Second World War, the Opaline’s excellent iridescent colour and first-class markings were there for all to see. These have been largely lost over the years because the variety has been mated consistently to Normals.

The advent of large, coarse-feathered birds has not helped the cause of good-coloured Opalines and there is a place for any breeders who have the foresight and perseverance, to concentrate on this variety.

There is a definite need for breeders to start selectively mating Opaline to Opaline so that, in the course of several generations, the colour and markings on the saddle and wings can be improved and not at the expense of size and head qualities.

Look at many of today’s Opalines, and it is easy to see that they lack the all-important clear “V” on the saddle, and the wing markings leave a lot to be desired.

What is needed are breeders to bring together the very best of the variety, and use Opaline Opaline matings to the exclusion of all others, if this important variety is to be improved.

Having suggested that – and there is a real need for breeders to concentrate on producing top-quality Opalines for their own sake – it is not hard to see that this sex-linked variety will continue to help breeders produce Normals that have not only good body size, but also width of head and large spots. All too often, breeders, and that includes those who should have known better, have excluded Opalines from their stock, only to find years later, that the birds they are breeding leave much to be desired.

Opaline hens, which frequently have wider heads than many Normals, have been discarded in an attempt to breed Opaline-free stock. Frequently, the mistake is discovered when it is too late and the stud in on the slide to mediocrity.

On the other hand, many leading breeders have made it a matter of policy to use the very best Opaline hens with their top Normal cocks. The Normal hens bred in this way will, in most cases, be better than those produced from Normal Normal matings, and the best of the cocks should find their way in breeding and showing teams, despite the fact that they will be split Opaline. Indeed, if they are mated to Normal hens, there is still every chance of producing non-Opalines that are worth retaining.

Original text: Copyright 1997, Brian Byles

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