Modern Hatches are more high flying and are faster, many coming more brainy than usual. Their usual characteristics like power and gameness, though, are still there, their blows often packing a wallop. They are basically medium-stationed and pea combed with some coming straight combed.
The Hatch blood came from Sanford Hatch who blended, as story goes, a Kearney Whitehackle with a Kearney Brown Red, mixing in other bloods like the Herman Duryea Boston Roundheads, Jim Thompson Mahoganies, among others, to come up with his signature Hatch fowl.
From the Sandy Hatch stocks came Ted McLean’s version of Hatch that came both yellow and green-legged. Supposedly, these were the better Hatches that gave rise to the other variants of the McLean like Gilmore Hatch, Blueface Hatch, Jack Walton Hatch, Kentucky Hatch, Oakgrove Hatch, etc.
The McLean Hatch is one of the legendary gamefowl breeds that has stood the test of time among broodstock breeders, and its offshoot, the BlueFace Hatch has gained its own following among gamefowl aficionados looking for a good fighter.Ted McLean retired from gamefowl competition in December of 1954.
In the early thirties, Mr. E.S. Hatch and Mr. E.T. McLean were on the floor of the stock exchange as colleagues and were sharing some gamefowl for crossing to find that perfect fighter. At the time, the Hatch stock consisted of four basic bloodlines. These were the Kearney make up of the two strains Mike Kearney brought from Ireland, namely (1) the “beasty” Breasted Light Reds (Whitehackles) and (2) the Brown Breasted Reds, plus (3) the Herman Duryea fowl (commonly called Boston Roundheads) which he added when he worked for Mr. Duryea. With these 3 bloodlines Mr. Hatch crossed into a fourth, the green leg Thompson (Jim Thompson) fowl. The created progeny of the Mclean Hatch, Ted himself considered as ‘straight stuff’ gamefowl or cocks with gameness, toughness and power—the mark of the Hatch bloodline.
While the first McLean Hatches did not win all the time, they were admired by many for their aggressive, no-holds barred attitude and suicide attack mode.
The McLean Hatch were rather poor cutters, low-headed dumb fighters, that usually flly into two or three hits before throwing one of their patented haymakers at their opponents. They either won spectacularly or lost as incredibly as well. When modern gamefowl became faster, a pure Mclean Hatch became less of a threat, and they are now considerd at a disadvantage if fought pure. Their value today is as base stock or to produce battle cocks infused with the ‘straight stuff’ Hatch traits: gameness, power hitting, and toughness.
Origin of the McLean Hatch
Interest in the breeding of game fowl strains has always run high even though the knowledge thereof seldom has any practical application. I have been asked many times to set forth the breeding of the Mclean Hatch and their offshoot, the Blue Face family. This I have done briefly in letters and countless times orally. It is amazing how twisted these accounts become. So, since this subject appears still to hold the interest of many, I have decided to write down the facts for one and all. Although Ted Mclean has been out of the “chicken business” since December of 1954 at which time he gave me all his fowl, he is still very much with us. I mention this only because I have seen too many “histories” come out when it is too late for the facts to be verified by the principals involved. Further, the following is being written with my notes and breeding records before me and this paper will be limited to first hand information. Finally, lest anyone think there is an ulterior motive involved, my chickens are my hobby. I keep only enough for my purposes and have never, nor do I ever contemplate selling them.
Ted McLean and Harry Parr
In the early thirties, Mr. E.S. Hatch and Mr. E.T. McLean were on the floor of the stock exchange. That Mr. Hatch gave Ted McLean fowl is the testimony enough of their friendship, as it is well known that Mr. Hatch did not let many go. At the time, Mr. Hatch’s fowl consisted of four basic bloodlines. These were the Kearney fowl made up of the two strains Mike Kearny brought from Ireland, namely (1) the “beasy” Breasted Light Reds (Whitehackles) and (2) the Brown Breasted Reds, plus (3) the Herman Duryea fowl (commonly called Boston Roundheads) which he added when he worked for Mr. Duryea. With these bloodlines Mr. Hatch incorporated (4) the green leg Thomson (Jim Thomson) fowl. I might say here that from then till now, the strain made up of these four bloodlines is what Ted and I call the “straight stuff”.
In those days virtually all the fighting in the Northeast was done in inch and a quarter, heavy, slow heels, which is not surprising considering the cockers prime requisite, was gameness. It followed the toughness and power was high priorities and the Hatch fowl had all these in abundance. While they surely did not compile a great winning record, they were admired by name for these attributes. Fortunately, Ted McLean kept this set of priorities, or the “straight stuff’ would have long since gone by the boards. For in addition to these attributes, the McLean Hatch are poor cutters, low headed dumb fighters, that usually take two or three shots before unleashing one of their patented hay makers. Obviously as the heels got faster their ability to win lessened, so they are useless now if fought pure. Their value then, is only as an ingredient to produce battle cocks.
Ted McLean bought “Gamecock Farm” in Maryland and built one of the best all-around chicken plants I have ever seen. He gave me a trio of his Hatch fowl in 1948 and shortly thereafter I bought a farm within a short distance from his. I suppose I was at Gamecock Farm a couple of times a week and everyday during fighting season, because we fought a heavy schedule and chickens were almost always in the cock house for conditioning. At least one experimental cross was tried each year and many produced superior battle cocks, but as soon as one quit, all chickens containing that blood, came under the axe. I saw an awful lot of chickens killed and when he retired from the game in 1954 and only the “straight stuff” remained. All these fowl were given to me.
Harry Parr (1977)