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Don Jones Memorial

Don and Betty Jones with club members Luke Price and Cindy Pretty

Don Jones (right) and Betty Jones 2nd from left). Photo taken in 2014

Vale - Don Jones 1934 - 2017

by Luke C Price (written 8/07/2017)

It is with immense sadness, that I sit down to write a few words about Don Jones and his beloved Brahma with the help of his friend and club president Bryan Meade. Don passed away in late June 2017 at the age of 83, in the company of his loving wife Betty and immediate family.

Don was a true visionary, and an exceptionally clever man. Not only was he a skilled builder and craftsman, his love of poultry led his creative talents to recreating bantam Brahma in Australia. Having started in the late 1970s he developed a wealth of knowledge on the Brahma breed and had a big influence on The Brahma Club of Australia (now The Brahma and Cochin Club of Australia).

Don was a founding member of The Brahma Club of Australia when it formed in July 2000 at Castle Hill Showgrounds. Along with Megg Miller, Don was our club Patron for many years and since 2013 the club has had an award for Best Bantam Dark Brahma named in his honour. Don actually won his own award at our annual national show several times.

His generosity with his knowledge, and willingness to help newcomers in Brahma get the best start possible with the breed has helped to firmly embed this culture in the club; which will no doubt be a long-lasting legacy. He was a somewhat stubborn man, that almost certainly must have frustrated his devoted and wonderful wife Betty from time to time. However, despite numerous setbacks along the way, it was surely this same tenacity that helped him persevere with the recreation of bantam Brahma, and make his endeavor so successful.

Not only was Don generous with his knowledge, but over his many years breeding Brahma, he would have freely given away hundreds of birds! On one occasion, we can remember Don giving his very best female Brahma (who had just won a major prize at our annual show) to a new breeder to help them get started. His passion for developing Brahma, as well as encouraging other breeders was well known. In fact, we can recall Don reminiscing about the delight he felt when other breeders beat him in shows, using birds he had given away, or with offspring from his own line. This is a relatively rare quality among poultry show people, with some breeders preferring to hold onto their own strains for fear of being beaten later.

My own introduction into bantam Dark Brahma was through birds given to me by Don. Since that day about 10 years ago, he continued to support my passion for the breed, offering knowledge and advice, and additional birds on a number of occasions. In fact, in 2016 I won Champion Bird of Show at our annual poultry show with a bantam Dark Brahma cockerel that was sired by a bird Don had given me in 2015. This bird was crossed with Bryan Meade’s (our Club President) bantam Dark Brahma which coincidentally had some of Don’s bantams in it’s make up from a couple of years prior. I still have one of the original hens Don gave me all those years ago.

Bryan recalls, “Don and I had many discussions regarding bantam type and how to go about correcting the head and wings on the bantam Brahma at our show, but mostly on the phone. Lucky for Betty I did not live next door. Don had also encouraged Cindy Pretty with her light Brahma and in later years he gave her some Darks. Don had a great sense of humour as I recall once I described the head of one of his bantam dark Brahma as having a head like a revolving mallee root. In a flash he replied back ‘Bryan don’t stand next to it, as I am sure no one will be able to tell the difference’. Don and Betty always had coffee and cake and made us all feel so very welcome, whether it was at the show in their caravan in the early days, or when we visited them at Wyong. Don was a truly great friend and set an excellent example for our club, helping people get started with breeding Brahma by donating birds and helping juniors in their breeding programs.”

Don’s loss will be felt for many years to come, and Bryan and I, along with many other club members will miss him dearly. Personally, I can't speak highly enough of Don, he has been an inspiration for me, and a mentor. Living in different states, it was always a thrill when I had a chance to catch up with Don and Betty, over a cup of tea or coffee, and some biscuits or cake. I will miss our chats and hearing his wonderful stories; even at 83 his memory was incredible. He was a truly remarkable man.

Don Jones – Master Brahma Breeder

A Story of Don’s Recent Endeavors

by Luke C Price (written 28/06/2014)

Brahma died out in Australia sometime around World War 2 (between 1935 and 1947). Following the breed’s disappearance, Don Jones was one of the first people in Australia, along with Andrew Rathbone (large fowl), to recreate the b​reed and the first to recreate bantam.

Don has been around poultry his whole life and has bred Light Sussex for many years just like his father, uncles and brother. He first became aware of the Brahma breed in the 1954 after seeing photos of them in old poultry papers that he had found under some vinyl ‘lino’ flooring he was pulling up. When he started seriously searching for the breed around 1959, he couldn’t find them.

Photographs of Don's old newspaper articles which inspired him to recreate the bantam Brahma

In 1979/1980 Don started recreating Brahma. He began with Light Sussex; over time, adding Pekin, Indian Game and Wyandotte. Over the next 15 years and with a couple of changes in strategy along the way, by 1995 Don had them at a point where they were breeding reasonably true, and he had a reasonable strain of bantam Light Brahma. Around this time he was also well on his way to recreating bantam Dark Brahma. The Darks arose as a sport of some very “smutty” (excessive dark undercolour and black in the hackle and tail areas) Light bantams. It took a couple of years to get the white wing bay in the males.

Dark Brahma female - 2007 National Club Show - reserve champion bantam of show - Don Jones

Photo - Andy Vardy

Don has given away hundreds of bantam Brahma to people over the years. On a number of occasions, I have observed Don giving his best bird to someone to start them off in the breed. Among many of his other qualities, Don’s generosity and passion for the breed is definitely something to aspire to. Over the last couple of years Don has helped me out with a couple of bantam Darks to help improve my Partridge and Blue Dark bantams. One of my colours in development - Cream Partridge has some of Don’s Dark Brahma bantam in their makeup.

Don is always striving for continued improvement of the Brahma breed. At 80 years of age (on 12th July) and with almost 35 years of ‘recreation work’ his enthusiasm has not diminished. In 2007/2008 Don mated a Standard Dark Brahma Cockerel (given to him by Bryan Jon Meade) with his bantam Dark Brahma and bantam Silver Wheaten females. He was concerned about the lack of size and the lack of a strong Brahma head which is so characteristic of the breed, in the bantam. The results were fantastic and dramatically improved the size, wing angle, brow and dewlap. After a few years of increased variation in size, the variation settled down and he is consistently producing bantam darks that have more substance and improved Brahma characteristics.

In the images above the hen on the left was too large for a bantam and she was entered in the standard class at the 2009 show. I think she won Champion Standard Dark Brahma that year. Note her substance, type and improved head. The hen on the right shows the appropriate bantam size but with an improved head and type. The bone and muscle in Don’s bantams has been improved substantially with many of his cockerels displaying fine table qualities. Don is continuing to work on his bantam Darks including improving comb size and shape.


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