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Chocolate Dutch
Creating my Own Line

by Kevin Hooper

We have made great strides in improving our Dutch in the last couple of decades. I can say this is true for most colors. The one color which is lagging behind - the Chocolates! There are still some good chocs, but not many. When there are not many that have the desirable traits we look for, it makes it hard to improve what we have. As a good friend of mine says, "garbage in, garbage out". The traits I look for in chocs is no different than what I look for in blacks, or any other color - bone, depth, color, coat, and that nice thick ear and hide.
Sometime last year I wrote of what I was doing to improve my Chocolates. That process is on-going, but slow. Here is an update of what I'm trying.
I told you what I was looking for, but I have not been able to find that in any available chocs I have seen. So, I decided to use my old black herd buck. He has all the desirable traits I want in my chocs, except for the gene to produce chocolate color. I have kept two black does from crosses of the black buck to my choc does. I would have had more, but I borrowed a choc buck I had sold a year earlier thinking maybe he would work. Well, back to using my blacks! The key to improving any color, is having the tools to use. I have only one choc buck of breeding age, and have not been able to get him to breed. So, black does carrying choc are only useful if you have a desirable choc buck to breed with! So, another choc buck has been lined up to borrow.
My choc does are being bred to the old herd buck and the 2006 NDS winner. Out of these, I will get all blacks. Those blacks will then be either bred together, which will give me a 25% chance of getting chocs, or to a desirable choc I might discover. Any black bucks saved from these will be taken to my choc does, which will give me a 50% chance of choc babies.
The key to this is having the choc babies come out carrying the traits of the original blacks; thick, well furred ears, dark chocolate color, dark brown eyes, and very good structure, bone and flesh. Once these features can be transferred to my chocs, I will have what I believe the chocs should have, and it will be my own line of chocs.
I have been trying to recall the last time a choc has won at the ARBA Convention or the National Dutch Show. A choc won the ARBA Convention in 1997 and was Best Opp in 1983. The only National Dutch show win I can recall is 1985 when Reggie and Kevin Shull won with a Choc Sr Buck! So, three wins in 30 years or so? There have been some which came close. Ricky Wood's buck in 2006 and Ken Emerson's doe in 1991. My goal is to win one of our big shows with a choc. Once a choc wins, more breeders will want chocs and that variety will surge like our grays have done in the last ten to fifteen years. Then, if we can improve the quality of the chocs, our breed will be that much stronger!

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