Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dutch Chicken Book

This delightful book arrived in my mail yesterday from Hans L. Schippers of Amsterdam, Holland. Loyl Stromberg of Pine River, Minnesota showed him my book during his recent visit, and he was impressed enough to want a copy. He sent me his in exchange.

He has been a leader in rare breed poultry for many years and his compliments mean a great deal to me. I am delighted that my book will find a place on the shelves of his library.

This unexpected contact feels like a sign of good things to come in the New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Chickens on YouTube

On Christmas Eve, I am delighted to invite you to share videos on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/group/madcitychickens. These are amazing videos -- I especially liked Beanie and her amazing musical performance. Beanie has her own blog, http://www.beaniethechicken.blogspot.com/.

Who knew? Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

California Classic Poultry Show

Gold Coast Feather Fanciers are sponsoring the California Classic Poultry Show January 5 and 6 in Hollister. I'll be there with a table for SPPA, under the SPPA banner.

The 2008 Critical List of old and rare breeds will be available. It includes large fowl chickens, bantams, waterfowl and turkeys. The list focuses on both breeds that are in danger of disappearing and varieties within breeds that have become rare.

Bantam varieties of large fowl are not included. only true bantams, for which no large fowl correlate exists, are included, such as the Dutch, Nankin, Rosecomb, Sebright and Silkie.

Contact John Monaco, 1600 Maple Ave., San Martin, CA 95046, (408) 779-2383, john@poultryshow.com, www.poultryshow.com, for the show catalog.

The Show page on my site is now updated -- some glitch from the Web hosting company made it difficult for a while, but that is now resolved. Check it out for upcoming shows, and contact me with information to post about any that are not included.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas - Six Geese a Laying

These lovely West of England, also known as Old English geese, drawn by SPPA artist Bob Gary, are a good example of a historic breed. They may well be the breed that came over with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower.
They were an important American regional breed, particularly in New England.
Goose is the traditional festive bird for the holiday feast. Geese do not thrive in the intense husbandry conditions of modern agriculture, so they are not as plentiful as they were when we all had a few around the farm. Most American cooks have never roasted one, so recipes have disappeared. Sppa is working on collecting recipes for goose, and for the goose fat that is a product of roasting, to help get this bird back on the American table.
Prominent cook Nigella Lawson is a champion of goose. Her recipes are posted on National Public Radio at Breakfast recipe at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16301678.
SPPA has a brochure detailing historic goose breeds, how to identify them and how to save them. Contact me for a copy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

NAIS

A new article by David Gumpert in the online version of The Nation gives an excellent summary of the program and its effects and implications, http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071231/pentland_gumpert.

Getting this article into a general interest magazine is a big step to getting NAIS the attention it needs from the public. Up until now, only small farmers and rural people have opposed it, small potatoes to the assembled agribusiness giants and their influence at the USDA. Shining a brighter light on it should generate support to defeat it among reasonablee people.

That would make a Merry Christmas for a lot of people!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas -- Marans

The 's' in Marans is correct, since this breed was named for the port town of Marans, France, although it is not pronounced.

Developed in the marshy Marais Poitevin, this breed is a hardy forager that does well in damp conditions. Its origins reach back to the fighting chickens that sailors brought to port on trading vessels. Those birds, crossed with local chickens, resulted in the breed that took the city's name. Part of their charm is the dark chocolate brown eggs they lay. They are also known for their docile temperament.

Marans may have feathered or clean legs. The breed was shown at the National Exposition of Agriculture in La Rochelle, France in 1914 with feathered legs. English breeders brought them home and bred them to clean legs.

World War I devastated France and the Marans. New stock was returned to France from the English strains, which French breeders then bred back to feathered legs.

Both varieties exist in the U.S., but the breed has not yet been recognized by the American Standard. Breeders are working toward recognition, which requires at least two hens, two pullets, two cocks and two cockerels birds be shown at APA shows at least twice each year for two years. Judges then submit their opinions and a qualifying meet is held. No fewer than 50 birds must be shown at that meet.

"Favorite Recipes of The North American Marans Club," a cookbook assembled by that group, is available through http://poultrybookstore.com. It includes recipes from many fans of this delightful breed, including Martha Stewart, who raises them, and myself.

Thanks again to Barry Koffler, www.feathersite.com, for this picture.

Twelve Days of Christmas -- Faverolle


The Faverolle was developed from Houdans, Dorkings and Asiatic breeds, named for the village of Faverolle in France. The goal of the crossings was heavy table birds that laid well into winter. The breed was recognized in the U.S. in 1914.

This sweet bantam hen's light color is very different from the rooster of the Salmon variety of the breed. Where her beard and muffs are creamy white, his would be black. Where her tail is salmon brown, his would be black. Her breast is creamy white, his is black. Her head is salmon, his is straw. Her back is salmon, his is reddish brown edged with lighter brown with black under color, topped with straw saddle feathers.

Feathering of most chicken breeds is similar between males and females. Salmon Faverolles are an exception for their dissimilarity.

The eggs the hens lay are always light brown.

Barry Koffler of http://www.feathersite.com/ provided this picture.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas - Houdans

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a familiar traditional carol, and it includes many fowl. Day Three delivers Three French Hens, such as this Houdan bantam hen.

Houdans are an old French breed with five toes, like the English Dorking, to which it is probably related, and Chinese Silkie, to which it is not. Most are Mottled, like this hen, but a White variety is also recognized. Breeding the black mottling out of the white feathers is a challenge to Houdan breeders.

I once owned a Mottled Houdan rooster, whom we called M'sieur. He did a lot of bossing the girls around, although they took little notice of him. He went into a breeding program and the current owner reports he has become quite aggressive. She enters the coop holding a garbage can lid to protect herself.

Perhaps that's why the gifts in the carol specify French hens.

Thanks to Barry Koffler of Feathersite, www.feathersite.com, for this picture.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Homeless chickens in New York


Chickens who escape from captivity in the New York area have a champion at http://www.bravebirds.org/.


This reminds me of a story I heard some years ago, about a bus driver who opened the door at a stop and a chicken hoped on to the bus. The driver kept her on board for the rest of her shift, and when no one claimed her, took her home.

It may be an urban myth, as it was told to me as 'This happened to a friend of mine,' but it could be true. Chickens are very resourceful and often bold in making their way in the world.

Historic breeds are known for their ability to forage and find their own food. It's a quality that doesn't manifest in show competition, but breeders who seek to maintain the characteristics of historic breeds select birds who are good foragers for their breeding pens.
This photo from the University of Wisconsin, http://www.uwex.edu/ces/animalscience/poultry/index.cfm, shows how chicken tractors can take advantage of this natural behavior. As the chickens clean up the insects and weed seeds in the area under the tractor, it can be moved to another location for them to start over. This kind of system makes chickens part of a sustainable system.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Art glass chickens

I've been in Florida visiting my daughter Nicole. An artist friend there, Nick Liguori, created this glass rooster right before our eyes!

He heats the glass in a gas flame and rapidly works it into the shape that exists only in his mind's eye until it takes shape. It's an amazing performance as well as an artistic challenge. He knows his medium and is able to make it reflect the creation in his mind.

Nick is able to make any animal and works to order. If you wish to have your breed of chicken created and can provide a photo, he will make it for you. Call him at (813) 215-9798.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Winter Chickens

David Sullenberger is a poultry biologist also known as Professor Chicken, http://www.professorchicken.com/, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He recently gave this response to a question about husbandry for free range chickens in winter:

"Free Range" doesn't mean 'neglected'! Under the very best of range conditions a flock gets only about 28-30% of it's nutrition from the range. The practical average for most flocks is closer to 15-18-20%. Thus, in winter a decent laying flock will increase intake of pellets/grain as the nutrition they can get from the range will drop significantly - say to 8-10%, and in fact it might actually go into negative if the snow is deep (deep for a chicken - lets say over 2 inches) as the birds will expend more energy than they can take in from winter pasture.

Cold nights without supplemental heat will also take their toll - thus high quality grain (corn) along with pellets should definitely be fed in the evening before the birds go to roost.

The photo above is by Traci Torres, http://www.mypetchicken.com/, a site supporting pet chicken owners. This Golden Laced Wyandotte is foraging for food between melting piles of snow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Turkey


I can hardly celebrate Thanksgiving without taking notice of the history of this quintessentially American bird. SPPA member Frank Reese was interviewed by Kim Severson for the New York Times, http://tinyurl.com/263taj, and then by Jason Beaubien of National Public Radio, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16389601.
Frank (Bob) is making a serious run at raising heirloom breeds, American Bronze and Bourbon Red, on pasture for commercial markets, http://www.reeseturkeys.com/. He's a purist about breeding as well as husbandry, with certification from the Animal Welfare Institute for humane practices.
The illustration above was painted by an unknown 20th century artist and shared with me by Sabine Eiche, author of "Presenting the Turkey: The Fabulous Story of a Flamboyant and Flvourful Bird."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Rare Poultry Tours

One of the things I like most about SPPA National Meets is that Craig Russell, SPPA president, conducts tours of the rare poultry being exhibited. Here he is extending a Black Java's wing to show eager participants.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ohio National results

Teresa Kirk, left, wore her fried egg beret at the show. Sarah Awkland's chicken hat features flapping wings, operated with a string. They are from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania and personified yhre spirit of fun and good fellowship that prevailed at the show. Thanks for being such a colorful addition, Teresa and Sarah!

Below are the show results:

Large Fowl
American Class: White Rock: Tom Corey
Asiatic Class: Black Langshan: D&H Poultry
English Class: Buff Orpington: Doug Akers
Mediterranean Class: S.C Light Brown Leghorn: Don Schrider
Continental Class: White Crested Black Polish: Joel Henning
AOSB: Black Sumatra Wade Lefeber
Bantam
Modern Game: Birchen: Robert Carothers
Old English: Brown Red: Terry Hogeback
SCCL: Barred Rock: Walt Reichert
RCCL: Silver Laced Wyandotte: Sugar Hill Poultry
AOCCL: White Crested Black Polish: Jan Brett
Feather Leg: White Silkie: Michele Burns
Ducks
Heavy Rouen: Darrel Sheraw
Medium Cayuga: Wild Plum Waterfowl
Light: White Runner: Tanis Poultry
Bantam: White Call: Charley Hodum
Goose
Heavy Toulouse: Travis Birdsell
Medium: American Buff: Prairie Song Poultry
Light: Brown China: Tanis Poultry
Champion Large Fowl
S.C.Light Brown Leghorn: Don Schrider
Res. Champion Large Fowl
Black Sumatra: Wade Lefeber
Champion Bantam
White Call: Charley Hodum
Res. Champion
White Crested Black Polish: Joel Henning
Champion Goose
Toulouse: Travis Birdsell
Res. Champion Goose
White Embden: Bernd Krebs
Champion Duck
White Call: Charley Hodum
Res. Champion Duck
White Runner: Tanis Poultry
Super Grand Champion
White Call: Charley Hodum
Res. Super Grand Champion:
White Crested Black Polish: Joel Henning

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Mary Ann Harley of South Carolina holds the triphy her Nankins won from the Nankin Club at the Ohio National. Above her, Charlie Casper of New York holds the Game rooster he acquired at the show. He received a $10 award from SPPA for Best Orloff. The prize had been held for more than a year, in the absence of any qualified Orloffs being exhibited.
Looking for a rare breed to champion? Orloffs are a good place to start. This Russion breed withstands cold weather well and the spangled variety has unusual dappled feathers. Contact me and I will put you in touch with breeders for stock.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

SPPA Members Win at Ohio National

At the center of this picture from the inside of the Voinovich Building, where nearly 4,400 birds were exhibited, a young turkey owner is catching his fly-away bird, an attractive Slate Turkey.
John Thomforde judged SPPA member birds for the National Meet held at the show. Winners were Mari Krebs, Best Rare Fowl for her Steinbacher Geese, Jim Parker, Reserve Rare Fowl for his Red Dorking Bantam, and SPPA Second Vice President Mary Ann Harley, Award of Excellence for her Nankins. Her Nankins also won the Nankin Club award for Best of Breed, Reserve of Breed, Best Rosecomb, Best Single Comb, Best Rosecomb Trio, Best Single Comb Trio, Best Rosecomb Display and Best Single Comb Display. Charlie Casper was awarded a $10 prize for Best Orloff.

The Steinbacher Geese are exhibited in Mrs. Krebs’ name, but the birds are a family project in which their three sons, Eike, Bjorn and Lars, are involved.

Mr. Krebs has observed that most people are unfamiliar with how to cook goose, so he is collecting recipes that will be published in the Bulletin and compiled for future publication. Educating the public is important to creating markets for poultry that requires different cooking techniques. Send your recipes via the comment section below.

Three birds belonging to SPPA member Don Schrider showed off on Champion Row: His Light Brown Leghorn rooster was Champion Mediterranean, Light Brown Leghorn pullet was Reserve Champion Mediterranean, and his Buckeye rooster was Reserve Champion American. Don is communications director for the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

“I was pleased to see a Buckeye return to champion row after many years of absence,” said Mr. Russell.

SPPA First Vice President Monte Bowen traveled to the show with one of his 4-H students Layne Richert and his mother Connie. Exhibiting birds at shows and competing in showmanship classes gives youngsters invaluable experience.

Layne won best of breed among juniors for his White Plymouth Rock Bantam cockerel and best of breed in the open class for his large fowl La Fleche pullet.

“The work he has done over the last few years was recognized in these wins,” said Mr. Bowen. “There were a lot of nice birds there that showed a lot of care and work from the junior members.”

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Poultry Show Schedule

The Show page of my site, http://poultrybookstore.com, now lists all the upcoming shows advertised in the Poultry Press. It includes show name, date, place, contact person and information and some highlights of each show.

Please let me know if you find any errors. Send me information on other shows, and I will be happy to post it.

Next is to post show results and pictures. That will begin with the Ohio National Show this weekend. I shall return with pictures and news of SPPA and other show events. Send me information about your shows and it will be posted here.

This is an exciting project! I look forward to watching it develop.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ohio National Show

Neil Grassbaugh, long-time supporter of the Ohio National Poultry Show, http://www.ohionational.org/, and serious amateur photogapher, sent this picture of a Spangled Orloff bantam rooster. He's the third-longest-term member of the Ohio Poultry Breeders Association. He celbrated the centennial of the American Poultry Association when he joined in 1974, and the 125th anniversary in 1999.

"I knew many of the legends," he says.

He will be at the show this weekend, extending greetings to the many specialty breed organizations holding national, state and district meets at the show. Check out the list on the Web site.

See Orloffs and other rare breeds on display there, and join Craig Russell for an entertaining tour through the aisles. Craig's knowledge is encyclopedic and he's a great storyteller. Come by the SPPA table at 1:15 for the 1:30 tour or 3:45 for the 4 pm tour.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Turkish Denizli Chickens

This magnificent rooster is a long crower. His breed, the Denizli of Turkey, is reputed to the be the longest-crowing breed in the world. Roosters typically crow 25 seconds.

I don't know whether there are any of these in the U.S., but they are an attraction listed on Burak Sansal's site, http://www.allaboutturkey.com/denizli.htm. He is a tour guide in the area.

Loyl Stromberg mentioned this breed to me on my recent visit. He heard about them when he was working on his book, "Poultry of the World." In searching for examples of the breed I found Burak's delightful site. Some day I dream I will visit Turkey, with its wonderful art and historical sites.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

SPPA at Ohio National

The SPPA will hold a member dinner on Saturday night November 10 in Columbus. We will meet at Carrabba's Italian Grill, 8460 Lyra Dr. at 6:30.

This will be an occasion for celebrating our birds and the fellowship we enjoy. We will all have a chance to share the important events of the past year and get to know each other better.

It's a great time to make that contact that will help you solve a breeding problem or find new stock. Putting a face to a name we know well from the Bulletin and email messages makes life more interesting, too.

Stop by the SPPA table to sign up during the day on Saturday, so we can let the restaurant know how many of us to expect.

See you there!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More City Chickens

This Russian Orloff rooster belongs to Michelle Conrad. He doesn't live in a city, but many urban dwellers are raising their own chickens. Just Food in New York City, http://www.justfood.org/, works with New Yorkers to help them raise vegetables, fruits and chickens in the city.

New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik talked with members of the group for the article published in September, which was where I heard about them, see the blog entry for September 21. I sent them a copy of "How to Raise Chickens" and they are delighted!

Training and Livestock Coordinator Owen Taylor wrote to me that it is now the first book he hands to gardeners on the subject of chickens. "The pictures are beautiful and the content is very useful, " he says.

He is also adding information about it, and the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities, to the next edition of Just Food's "City Chickens: A Guide to Raising Hens for Eggs in New York City."

Thanks, Owen. I look forward to hearing more about City Chickens.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Avian Influenza and the UN's FAO

A recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/projects/en/pplpi/docarc/pb_hpaiindustrialrisks.html, directs responsibility for the development of Highly Pathogenic Viruses, including Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, H5N1, at industrial livestock operations. However, major news coverage has focused on one veterinarian at FAO who is pointing his finger at domestic waterfowl in Europe, claiming that they are silently harboring the virus. Europe should prepare for more outbreaks from them, reports quote.

This kind of confusion has marked both official policy and news coverage of HPAI. Despite the facts that connect HPAI with commercial operations, policies focus on small flocks. The Marans rooster above is a French breed. The picture was taken by Michelle Conrad of Ohio.

If we wanted to create highly pathogenic viruses, we could think of no better way to do it than the concentrated animal feeding operations of industrial agriculture. The fact that they are causing problems should not result in policies that destroy small flocks.

An enlightened agriculture policy would favor small flocks and protect them from the creations of overcrowded livestock conditions. As it is, the industry somehow turns policymakers around so that they devise policies that protect the source of the danger and decimate the small flocks that are the best defense against it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Game Bird Antiquities Preservation Act


I've had an inquiry from a poultry lover about the USDA's Game Bird Antiquities Preservation Act. He tells me it was adopted around the time of Woodrow Wilson's administration, in response to over-hunting of game birds such as the Passenger Pigeon, which had driven it to extinction. Other game birds, such as the Labrador Duck, Heath Hen and Great Auk had also disappeared.

I have never heard of this and don't find anything on search engines, but any information would be gratefully received.
Wild turkeys like the one pictured above, as painted by Arthur Schilling in 1943, have made a good recovery. Other game birds can recover, with management. Having regulations directed at that goal would make a big difference. Please contact me if you know anything about this regulation.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Avian Influenza

The New Farm Newsletter, which you can sign up for free at http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/newfarm/forms/newsletter.html, has an excellent column in the Ocober 18 edition on Avian Influenza by Paul Beingessner, http://www.newfarm.org/columns/saskatchewan/2007/101807.shtml. Paul is a columnist, transportation consultant and third-generation farmer in Truax, Saskatchewan, (306) 868-4734, 868-2009(fax), beingessner@sasktel.net.

He takes note of a recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/projects/en/pplpi/docarc/pb_hpaiindustrialrisks.html, taking a closer look at the role played by concentrated confined commercial poultry operations. The evidence is mounting that Highly Pathogenic viruses do not occur in nature, but are the product of confinement operations. Small flocks are not the vectors they were portrayed as being, and the onus is being removed from them. That's expecially good for people in less developed countries, who depend on their poultry for a significant part of their nutrition.

The predicted spread of Highly Pathogenic virus by migratory birds has not developed. That threat was the justification for requiring poultry in suspected outbreak locations to be confined, the theory being that an infected bird could fly overhead or mingle in the water supplies of domestic birds. Since no, read none, of the more than 134,000 specimens tested over the past two years has shown Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, that route can be put to rest.

It hasn't left public consciousness, and the public and most news reports continue to point the finger at any chicken or duck they can find. But opinion leaders like Mr. Beingessner are doing the world a service in placing responsibility for this threat at the commercial poultry houses where it belongs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ohio National Poultry Show


Coming up November 10-11 in the Voinovich Building of the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus! Show secretary Eric Markely, (419) 568-7402, markley@ohionational.org, expects as many as 4,000 birds, many of rare and historic breeds to be on display.

The 2007 show will mark more than 200,000 birds, owned by more than 10,000 exhibitors, over the show’s more than 50 years of history. To commemorate reaching that number, Don Krahe (pr. Kray) will draw one name from this year’s exhibitors to be honored as the Official 200,000th Bird, along with $200, a plaque and a free entry in the 2008 show. Mr. Krahe has attended every Ohio National over the years and will also be honored with a plaque. Mr. Krahe has raised many breeds of poultry over the years, specializing in Hamburg chickens and waterfowl.

“For more than 30 years, the Ohio National has been the Number One show in the country,” said Craig Russell, president of the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities. He will conduct tours of the rare and historic poultry on exhibit at the show, at 1:30 and 4 pm Saturday. Meet him at the SPPA table 15 minutes before the start of the tour.

Rare birds include Steinbacher Geese, the gray variety shown above in a drawing by Bob Gary. This breed has recently been returned to the U.S. by Michigan breeder Bernd Krebs. These German geese are a traditional fighting breed.


I will be at the SPPA table to sign and sell my book. This will be a wonderful opportunity to see some rare birds indeed. SPPA members are encouraged to attend. A membership meeting will be held at 11 am Saturday.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wisconsin International Poultry Show

The Wisconsin International Poultry Show was held in Portage, Wisconsin September 29. That was the week we were packing to move, so I apologize for the delay in posting information about it. It was a big success, with more birds than ever, a total of 2,338.

Open entries included 870 Bantams, 276 Waterfowl and 243 Standard birds, for a total of 1,389. Juniors entered 570 Bantams, 113 Waterfowl and 266 Standard birds, a total of 949.

The birds were all excellent quality and showed a lot of work and pride, as well as expertise. The Rosecomb Breeders added attractive green foliage to their cages, a welcome touch.

The Bantam Chanteclers caught my eye, an unusual entry. I haven't seen the Porcelain variety of Belgiana Bearded d'Uccles before, so that was exciting, too.

The Wyandotte Breeders of America, http://www.crohio.com/wyan/, had a meet there. The bird above is a Golden Laced Wyandotte, but not from this show. The club Web site has lots of great pictures under the Photo Gallery. Dave Lefebre, Secretary-Treasurer advised the group, "If you really love your birds, keep them clean and they will stay healthy." He reminded them of the Menomenee and Beaver Dam shows coming up.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Breuer, show secretary, who steered the show to success. Best wishes to Butch Gunderson, show president, who collapsed with a heart attack while working on setting the show up the previous week. He underwent bypass surgery and is at home recuperating.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rio Grande Turkey

My friend Laura Paskus in Albuquerque, www.laurapaskus.com, sent this photo of her daughter, Lillie, who will be two years old in January, and their Rio Grande turkey. They acquired him and his mate from the local feed store, but the hen was killed by a hawk last spring.

So now he plays with Lillie. She chases him and when they tire of that, he chases her. The chickens get out of their way when they are chasing around.

Although the turkeys were intended for the table, this one has charmed his way into their hearts. "It looks like we will not be eating him for Thanksgiving," she writes. "Even my cold-hearted, hunter, I-kill-everything-butcher-it-myself-and-eat-it-all-year husband can't bear the thought of butchering him."

Rio Grande turkeys are a variation of wild turkeys, but are easily tamed. Thus the beginnings of domestication! Turkeys were originally domesticated in Mexico.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wild Turkeys

I was sitting at my work this morning when a familiar sound penetrated my consciousness: a turkey gobbling! sure enough, there were 11 turkeys in our front yard, happily foraging for food.

We arrived here on California's Central Coast only a week ago, but one of our neighbors had already told me about the turkeys. One hen has a bad leg and limps, but she should be fine so long as there is enough food.

Turkeys are the only indigenous food animal the American continent has contributed to our foodways. They were first domesticated in Mexico long before contact with Columbus, who brought some back to Europe on his second trip. They became a sensation, the darlings of the aristocrats. Sabine Eiche chronicles the turkey's history in Europe in her book, "Presenting the Turkey: The Fabulous Story of a Flamboyant and Flavourful Bird." The book is filled with wonderful art reproductions that illustrate this remarkable history.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fayoumis




It's been a few weeks since I posted because we have moved, from Wisconsin to Cambria, California. During that time, Gloria Hermontolor sent me these terrific pictures of her rooster, Pooster, his companion, Meanie Hen and their chicks.
She is enchanted by these birds, which resulted from crossing a Fayoumi rooster with a Game hen. She is so delighted with them that she is looking for more Fayoumis.
Fayoumis are Egyptian chickens, small in size, with males weighing about four and a half pounds and hens three and a half. On a recent television program about Egypt, the narrator mentioned that Fayoum means flower. Does anyone know if this is where Fayoumis got their name?

Friday, September 28, 2007

National Poultry Museum

This artist's drawing of a new poultry museum building is Loyl Stromberg's dream. In a perfect world, enough money would be available to build it. On the site, flocks of rare breeds would be raised, creating a place for research and growing stock to establish more flocks of rare breeds.

Fowl Trust Sites are part of the SPPA's vision of the future, educating the public and supporting small flock ownership. Everyone who eats eggs or chicken could have the option of raising their own or buying locally. It's not an impossible dream. As the recent news stories about chickens in urban areas demonstrates, chickens can live happily in many locations.

One of the best parts of working with SPPA is the excitement of helping people get started with rare breeds. Some day, we will be able to focus entirely on the historic aspect, as these now-rare breeds become numerous again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Loyl Stromberg, Grand Old Man of Poultry

Loyl Stromberg, now 93 years old, continues promoting the National Poultry Museum from his home in Pine River, Minnesota, where we visited him last week. It's always great to talk with Loyl. His experience spans the 20th century. His home and garage, with its sign above, contain many poultry artworks, each with its own story, from his distinguished career, such as the stained glass window of the rooster in the garage door.

The first building, on the site of the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas, http://aghalloffame.com/, is open to the public. A second building is needed to house the many historical items in Loyl's collection and from other poultry leaders such as John Skinner and Lou Arrington. This site is worth a visit when you are in the area. When we last visited, they were working on developing a flock of Wyandottes.

The building fund for the second building has raised $77,400 and needs $65,000 more. Let's find some funding sources and get this building built!

Backyard Poultry magazine has invited me to write an article about Loyl for a future issue.

Stromberg Hatchery, http://www.strombergschickens.com/, continues to provide rare breed chicks and poultry supplies of all kinds.

Friday, September 21, 2007

City Chickens


City chickens are in the news! Here's some city girls sitting on the fence. They are Dorkings, belonging to Michelle Conrad of Indiana, She photographed them together to show their color variations.
In addition to the prizewinning City Chickens video posted here in July, http://poultrybookstore.blogspot.com/2007/07/prizewinning-city-chickens-video.html, the New York Times and the New Yorker magazine, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09/03/070903fa_fact_gopnik, have taken notice of chickens in urban life.
You can take the chicken out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the chicken!

Monday, September 17, 2007

SEJ Conference report

I spent September 5-12 in California at the Society of Environmental Journalists. More than 900 members and affiliate members attended, bringing together an amazing group of people. Check out the site at http://www.sej.org/confer/index8.htm, which leads to conference reports and the blog. My report on the Salad Bowl Tour is posted there, under Comments on the right-hand side. Click on my name.

It was an eye-opening tour, and gave us insight into the iimpossible position for growers and wildlife: In order to eliminate E. coli contamination, processers require assurances that no wildlife can enter the fields. Fences are being built and all wildlife habitat is being removed. The Nature Conservancy and others are working with growers and processors to find some middle ground that protects the public without eliminating wildlife and the watershed protections of riparian corridors.

As one of my colleagues said, "They are trying to put a bigger Band-Aid on the problems of industrial agriculture."

Unfortunately, government agencies are inclined to regulate in favor of the industry that speaks loudest to them. However, more consumers are demanding local food and the issues are open to discussion. As more people tend vegetables in their gardens and collect eggs from their own hens, or buy eggs from neighbors and other local farmers, our food system moves away from industrial to sustainable. Better days are coming.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Agriculture Factoids

Modern Agriculture and the Environment

These questions reflect some statistics that surprised me, so I thought I’d share them. No scientific claims are made as to methodology or conclusions.

1. What proportion of Iowa farms are owner-operated?

[30.8 percent, Sophia Murphy, Managing the Invisible Hand: Markets, Farmers abnd International Trade, quoted in Hothaus, p. 224 ]

2. How far is food transported by national retail systems?

[800 to 1,500 miles, from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, quoted in From the Farm to the Table by Gary Holthaus, p. 251]

3. How much of owner-operated farm income comes from sources off the farm, i.e. a job in town?

86.7 percent, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service 2006 Farm Income report, http://www.ers.usda.gov/Features/farmincome/2006/August/ ]

4. How many breeds and varieties of chickens are there in the U.S.?

[around 200, SPPA documentation]

5. How many breeds are raised by large commercial producers?

[six, USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Office for Small-Scale Agriculture]

6. How much genetic diversity in agriculture disappeared from the world in the 20th century?

[about 75 percent, UN Food and Agriculture Organization report]

7. What proportion of antibiotics are given to food animals in the U.S. [70 percent, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, http://tinyurl.com/yolblx]

8. How much does livestock raising contribute to global greenhouse gases?

[18 percent, more than transport, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture report, Livestock’s Long Shadow.]

Monday, September 3, 2007

SEJ Conference

This week I will be attending the Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference in Palo Alto, California, http://www.sej.org/. This five-day meeting is one of the best for meeting people and learning about what's happening professionally.

Thursday is tour day, bringing journalists out to sites in the field, from Monterey Bay Aquarium to kayaking on Elkhorn Slough. I'll be visiting fields in the Salinas Valley on the "Our Nation's Salad Bowl: Who Washed the Dishes?" tour. The site describes it as: California serves up the bulk of our country's produce, with commercial vegetables traveling an average of 1,500 miles from farm to table. It's lovely to enjoy a Caesar salad in a Manhattan restaurant while a winter Nor'easter blows mightily outside, but at what cost? Peak oil, climate change, food-borne illness, childhood obesity, world trade and more, all connect to dietary choices and food production and distribution. Come with us as we explore California's food system on both a grand and intimate scale and talk with farmers, foodies and scientists about what's working and what needs fixing. We'll even enjoy some of the produce that made the Salinas Valley famous for its bountiful harvests (and E. coli problem) with salads for lunch at a local eatery.

This tour will give me the opportunity to learn more and to be a resource on small flock poultry raising. I will continue to blog from there as well as blog to the SEJ's site, http://agahran.typepad.com/sej2007/2007/08/nytimes-andy-re.html.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Golden Campine
























Leah Shelburne, above, won Continental Champion in the Youth Poultry Show at this year's Kentucky State Fair. Leah, daughter of Lynn and Robert Shelburne, is seen here with her Golden Campine Cockerel named Jabber and with APA Judge Eric Englesman. Leah is a member of Spencer County 4H.

The Campine is a light laying breed that originated from the Old Turkish Fowl of the eastern Mediterranean. It was developed as a breed in the Low Countries of western Europe.

The breed has white-skin and lays white eggs. One of the interesting things about them is that the roosters are hen-feathered. They do not develop the long sickle feathers, pointed hackle feathers on the neck or pointed saddle feathers in front of the tail that are typical of roosters.

Campines are recognized by the American Standard, in Golden and Silver varieties. Campines are related to Braekels, which are not recognized in the U.S. but are shown in Europe. Braekels are larger than Campines and the hens and roosters have different plumage.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Madison Capital Times

Mary Bergin at Madison's Capital Times newspaper wrote a story about me and my book for the Culinary Clips section of Friday's edition, posted on line at http://tinyurl.com/yo83yh.

An SPPA member is looking for a Royal Palm turkey hen as a mate for her tom, Dharma. Anyone have any leads for her? Southern location preferred.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Java breeders


Larry J. Smith of North Carolina has started a chat group for Java enthusiasts, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Java_Chickens/.
This group of Javas is at Garfield Farm Museum in La Fox, Illinois, www.garfield.farm.com. The museum has been active in restoring this historic breed. Thanks, Larry, for giving Java people another way to connect.

Friday, August 17, 2007

New Hampshires



Here's Larry Reynolds' New Hampshire rooster.

Farmers in New Hampshire started working with Rhode Island Reds around 1915, selecting birds for early maturation, quick feathering, strength, vigor and large brown-shelled eggs. Over time, this distinctive breed emerged.

Roosters should weigh around eight pounds, hens six and a half. The lustrous black feathers of the tail gleam green in the sun. They contrast attractively with the rich red of the feathers on the body.

New Hampshires were admitted to the APA Standard of Excellence in 1935.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Hampshires

An experienced breeder contacted me, looking for some large fowl New Hampshire chickens recently. I was disappointed that the breed has become difficult to find.

Several breeders are working with flocks, such as Larry Reynolds of Illinois. Larry is a professional photographer, www.dogpix.com, who sent this picture of his flock.

The New Hampshire is a 20th century dual-purpose breed known for its large brown eggs and rapid growth to maturity, making it desirable for meat production as well. It was a popular farm bird, tracing its history to the Rhode Island Red. Selection pressure to develop birds that grow ever faster degraded its egg-laying ability. Its dual qualities as meat and eggs were its original strength.

Thank you, Larry, for the picture and for your work with this reliable American breed.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bantams

Bantams are small size chickens, usually bred down to about a quarter the large fowl of the same breed. Some, called true bantams, have no large fowl correlate. Their small size is characteristic of their breed.

This Belgian Bearded Mille Fleur d'Uccle is a true bantam. Mille Fleur refers to the pattern of his feathers, A Thousand Flowers in French. His name alone makes him special!
Bantams are organizedfor show purposes into different categories from large fowl. They are organized more by description: Single Comb Clean Legged breeds are classified together for judging. Feather Legged birds such as this d'Uccle compete in a separate class.
If large fowl chickens, weighing seven, eight lbs. or more, are beyond you, consider bantams. They can be shown and open as many doors to enjoyment as large fowl, at weights of a pound or less. Go to the American Bantam Association's Web site for more information, http://www.bantamclub.com/.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Cinnamon Prevents Poultry Diseases

A report from Tel Aviv University in Israel, http://www.worldpoultry.net/home/id2205-26116/cinnamon_helps_fight_against_bird_flu.html, shows that cinnamon extract not only protects people against common influenza but is effective immunizing chicks against Newcastle disease as well as a low-path form of Avian Influenza.

Cinnamon extract could be used to eliminate influenza in airpoirts and other crowded places, as well as in poultry uses. An Israeli neutraceutical company is exploring ways to make the extract available for the various uses.

An article from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://tinyurl.com/2vtpql, provides more background.
During the National Tropical Botanical Garden Fellowship on Kauai in May, we learned about how plants used by traditional healers often turn out to be effective against disease. Dr. Paul Cox, executive director of the Institute of Ethnomedicine, http://www.seacology.org/, which is associated with the NTBG, has identified botanical compounds that are effective against AIDS, ALS and other diseases.

This drawing of the cinnamon plant and the curled bark from which the spice is made comes form Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse.

Let's hope this is true and can be used by poultry keepers to keep their birds safe!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Poultry Poetry

Our church recently had a Talent Night and I couldn't resist doing a recitation of Robert Frost's poem to his favorite chicken, "A Blue Ribbon at Amesbury." I invited a young friend, Heather, who is seven years old, to assist me by holding a chicken on her lap.

Buttercup, a Buff Cochin belonging to another church member, volunteered to participate. Heather and I gave her a shampoo the morning of the show, so that she would look her best.

Buttercup proved to be a Kid Magnet. She sat in a box on my lap while we waited for our call, but kids found us backstage. They visited frequently, taking the opportunity to pet Buttercup's soft feathers.

Little Kristina, standing behind me here, was among them. She was so delighted that she could hardly tear herself away. So she joined us on the makeshift stage, running up to touch Buttercup and bounding back in delight.

Heather and I wore matching scarves made by her mother. The recitation was well received and we all counted the performance a big success.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Exhibition Poultry

The Washington Post carried a feature on poultry shows in last Sunday's paper, http://tinyurl.com/2wk7nz.
In these pictures, taken at the Badger Poultry Club's 43rd Annual Show in Richland Center, Wisconsin in June, judges examine birds in accordance with American Poultry Association standards.

In the top photo at left, judge Gary Rossman takes a closer look at a Black Cochin. Below, Judge John Thomforde holds the bird and discusses its finer points with judges. Rossman and Robert Carothers.

Don't interrupt judges when they are judging birds, but after they are done, they are available to discuss their findings and opinions with exhibitors. This is a great way to learn about poultry and how to improve your birds.

Judges work hard and do their very best to keep poultry standards high. Thanking them is always appropriate.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Silkies

Silkies originated in China. When Marco Polo returned to Venice from his travels there in 1295, his reports of chickens with feathers like hair, among other things, were not believed. The book he wrote, "The Travels of Marco Polo," was called Il Milione, which means The Million Lies.

Silkies are bantam in size and come in many color varieties, such as this non-bearded buff rooster in a picture taken by Corallina Breuer. All have black skin and bones, however. In China and other Asian countries, their gamy flavor is popular and broth made from them revered for its medicinal qualities.

The New York Times recently focused an article on them in its Dining and Wine section, http://tinyurl.com/yvu6gz.

More than 20 members of the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities raise these beautiful and beloved birds in Black, Blue, Buff, Gray, Partridge, Red Splash and White colors, both Bearded and Non-bearded.

The beard is a cluster of feathers on the upper throat. In Silkies, it should be thick and full, forming a collar.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Freezing eggs

Eggs can be frozen for later use. They can be separated or frozen as beaten eggs. Frozen whites will beat up into meringue if allowed to thaw and come to room temperature over half an hour or so.

To freeze whites: Individual whites can first be frozen in ice cube containers, making it easy to use only the amount you need. Transfer frozen egg-white cubes into a freezer container, seal and label. They can also be frozen by the cupful or other convenient amount. Do not defrost and re-freeze egg whites.

Label them with date and amount. Defrost them in the refrigerator or in cold water. They beat up to better volume if allowed to come to room temperature.

To freeze yolks: Add 1/8 teaspoon salt to every four yolks or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar to every four yolks and mix well before placing in a freezer container and freezing. The salt or sugar keeps the yolks from becoming gelatinous. Label them clearly as to whether salt or sugar has been added, so that you will know whether to use them in entrees (salt) or desserts (sugar).

Four yolks generally equal one-quarter cup. Measure a representative sample of your eggs to determine how they measure and label the containers, so that you can defrost the amount you need.

Whole eggs: Beat them slightly and freeze. Label with the number of eggs and date. Three tablespoons whole egg are equivalent to one large egg in recipes.

Keep them in a place in the freezer that isn't affected by changes in temperature. Don't keep them in the door. Use frozen eggs within a year. I prefer to use them within six months.

Thanks to the Georgia Egg Commission for the information on its site, http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/freezingeggs.html.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Kraienkoppes

Here's another of George McLaughlin's Kraienkoppes, a young rooster.

George finds that the hens are good layers, giving him plenty of eggs. Despite their small size, around 5 lbs. for roosters, slightly smaller for hens. they make good table birds as well. The hens are naturally broody and raise their own chicks well. That means egg production can drop off at
times, as the hens are otherwise occupied, but he has enough eggs to freeze and tide him over.

He observes that they hunt insects enthusiastically but ignore rodents and small lizards.

Although his birds do not feather-pick each other, they are willing to pick at roosters of other breeds. And they do not avoid a fight with them, from which his always emerge the winner, despite their smaller size.

Here's looking ahead to more flocks of this attractive breed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

SPCA Seizes Russells' Dog Again

The SPCA seized another dog from Craig and Ruth Russell Monday July 23. Mr. Russell is president of the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities.

The dog was one of 127 animals that the court ordered the SPCA to return to the Russells after they were found not guilty of 15 charges of animal maltreatment in Snyder County Magisterial Court June 22. SPCA returned the dog, Boss, on June 28. Two counts involving caged birds remain to be adjudicated.

Mr. Russell found the dog underweight and worm-infested when it was returned from more than three months in SPCA care. Overnight on July 13, Boss and another dog got into a fight. The Russells treated Boss for his injuries at home for three days, but sought veterinary care on July 17, when some of the wounds became infected.

An SPCA official informed Mr. Russell by telephone on Monday, July 23, that the SPCA had seized Boss, who was still in intensive care at the veterinarian’s office.

Despite the fact that the court has already ruled on the issue of the Russells’ care of their dogs, the SPCA is apparently defying the court’s authority in taking action against the Russells in less than a month since that ruling.

“They had no case before and have less this time,” said Mr. Russell.

Several of the SPCA officers involved have been dismissed or resigned since the Russells’ court appearance in June.

Legal costs continue to escalate as the Russells defend themselves and seek the return of their animals. Send contributions directly to the Russells at 1400 Jones Hill Road, Middleburg, PA 17842.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kraienkoppes


George McLaughlin of Oklahoma has lost his heart to Kraienkoppes. He wrote a charming account of his experiences in the June 2007 issue of the SPPA Bulletin. He took this beautiful picture of one of his hens and her chicks.
This hardy breed is alert to dangers in the environment. George tells of an episode in which all his birds took shelter when a hawk appeared, almost too far away for him even to see.
Kraienkoppes originated in the Bentheim area on both sides of the Dutch/German border, from Pheasant Malay stock. They were first shown in Germany in 1925 and are recognized in the German Standard. They are not recognized by the American Poultry Association. Bantams are recognized by the American Bantam Association, but are so rare neither George nor I has ever heard of anyone who has them. If you do, or know of someone who does, please contact me!
Although their ancestry is in fighting, the roosters are not aggressive. George has seen one get beat up by a hen who was protecting her chicks, however. He recounts that, "She beat him roundly, and then finished by doing a little two-step and crowing!"
Thanks for sharing your knowledge of this breed with us, George.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Travels of Bourbon Red

Sharon Tepsick of Wildheart Farm in Ezel, Kentucky created this fanciful turkey display to attract visitors to the SPPA table she sets up at poultry shows. She calls him Bourbon Red, the name of an actual turkey color variation.

The Bourbon Red color pattern is a variant of the Standard type, a deeper buff color with white flight feathers. The variation originated in Pennsylvania and traveled with settlers moving west and south. The rich color pattern was finished by breeders in Kentucky and southern Ohio. The name Bourbon Red is now accepted, but they are also called Kentucky Reds and Bourbon Butternuts.

Mrs. Tepsick dresses Bourbon Red in his SPPA t-shirt and stands him up next to her table. A tri-fold tabletop board with photos, articles and other information about rare and historic breeds offers the SPPA's brochure. The brochure includes the updated Critical List of rare chicken breeds and a membership form.

Her sense of humor and good nature support her knowledge and expertise as a poultry breeder. She is one of the stars that make SPPA so special. Thanks, Sharon!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Shipping eggs

Hatching eggs are live embryos. Their natural cycle would be to be laid in a nest and tended by a hen and gently turned daily during 21 days of incubation. In that perfect world, most fertile eggs would hatch.

Eggs aren’t intended to cross the country before they get back under the hen, but shipping eggs is a good way to send stock. It avoids the issues live birds raise, and they don’t cheep or cluck in the post office.

The Welsummer eggs shown here have arrived at their destination and incubation has begun.

The embryo in a fertilized egg that has been promptly collected and, if necessary, cleaned, hasn’t started to develop yet, but the fertilized ovum is very delicate. It can’t stand much jiggling, so securing it in its packaging is important. Eggs should be packed with plenty of soft padding, wide end down. Bubble wrap around each egg works, or plenty of absorbent shavings. The eggs can be secured in an egg carton or some other box that can be protected in another sturdy box.

The sturdy box with the wrapped eggs inside should then be wrapped in bubble wrap, foam or other packing material. This layer cushions the eggs and protects them from excess movement as well as insulating them against extremes of heat and cold.

The wrapped box is then packed into a heavy cardboard shipping box, protected with plenty of bubble wrap, air packs or other protective packing material. Make sure that it is packed firmly enough that the box is not subject to any movement. The less jiggling, the better their chances of hatching are.

Tape the box securely and label it as Live Embryos – Handle With Care – Avoid Shaking and Extreme Temperature Variations. This helps the postal employees know that special handling is required. I’m convinced that they do their best, but they handle hundreds of packages every day and need something to alert them when to special consideration.

An excellent Web site on the subject is Rocking T Ranch and Poultry Farm, http://www.poultryhelp.com/eggpacking.html.

When the eggs arrive, unpack them carefully and inspect them for cracks. Discard the cracked ones. Note which eggs arrived in good condition. They should be marked to identify them as to breed or breeding line. Allow them to rest overnight in a dark place before setting them under a hen or in an incubator.

The number of eggs that hatch divided by the total set is the hatch rate. The breeder who sent you the eggs will appreciate your report of the condition in which the eggs arrived and a follow-up of how well they hatched.

Shipping eggs requires care, but can be the best way to get new stock that isn’t available in your area. It can be successful and is worth the effort.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Florida


I was out of the office for a week, visiting my daughter in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We had a terrific time, visiting the Everglades and other unique places in this exceptional location.

In this picture, she is feeding a macaw at Jungle Island, http://www.jungleisland.com/, an attraction featuring tropical birds and animals. In addition to exotic and rare critters, Jungle Island has a barnyard petting zoo, with goats, zebu cattle and chickens and turkeys.
They have some White Crested Black Polish and Bronze and Narragansett turkeys. I stopped by to share my book with the management and invite the institution to become a member of SPPA. Many zoos and living history museums are members.

SPPA members are always available to help create interpretive materials to help the public enjoy the variety and beauty of poultry.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Prizewinning City Chickens video

This delightful video, Chickens in the City, http://www.christieherring.com/chickens/index.html, was one of the ten winners of the Independent Lens Online Shorts Festival.

Thanks to filmmaker Christie Herring for focusing her camera on this subject and doing such a delightful job!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Dutch Connection


Andrea Heesters, who lives in The Netherlands, has kept me and the SPPA informed of poultry news in Europe as the Avian Influenza problems have unfolded. She shared her story of vaccinating her geese and chickens last year. The birds were vaccinated again this past week, as cases of H5N1 are identified in Europe.


The vet comes to her property and vaccinates the birds with Gallimune flu H5N9 from Merial. In the picture aboved, he is vaccinating one of their Black Orpington bantams, held by Andrea's daughter.

In the U.S., the USDA forbids small flock owners from protecting their birds with vaccine. The agency's justification is that it needs to stockpile the vaccine so that it will be available in the event of an outbreak.

Since the vaccine requires two immunizations two weeks apart, by the time an outbreak is identified, it would be too late for many flocks.

Andrea is tireless in her support of poultry, geese in particular. Look for another article about her experiences managing Geese in the City in the August/September issue of Backyard Poultry magazine.

She has added this site to her poultry links pages, both in English, http://www.buffganzen.nl/html_uk/links.html, and in Dutch, http://www.buffganzen.nl/html_nl/links.html.

Thanks, Andrea!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

SPPA Brochure


This is the season for county and state fairs. They are great places to see exciting and beautiful poultry and make contact with breeders. I love attending shows and fairs, such as the Greater California Society of Poultry Fanciers Show in Fresno. The SPPA banner hangs above my information table in the center of the picture above.


Many of the exhibitors are SPPA members, and several have contacted me for brochures to offer to interested visitors and fellow breeders who are not already members. Ask around.
If you don't find one in person, email me and I will be happy to send you one.
The new brochure has a partial list of Old and Rare breeds. Some breeds are old, dating back prior to the 20th century, some are rare, having few breeding flocks, and some are both old and rare. Some old breeds continue to have enough advocates that populations are doing well.
The brochure has contact information for the officers and a membership application. You can also join through this site.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Helpful Chicken DVD

Phil Bartz, long-time SPPA member and poultry judge, was featured on WSEC-TV’s Illinois Stories in January. The popular Public Broadcasting System weekly local show is hosted by Mark McDonald.

Mr. McDonald interviewed Mr. Bartz about the basics of chickens and poultry breeding. Mr. Bartz explained about the difference between four- and five-toed chickens, using his Dorkings and Spanish as examples. He showed the difference between large fowl and bantams. He held incubated eggs up to a light to demonstrate candling and show the difference between a developing embryo and a dud.

In the picture above, judge Butch Gunderson demonstrates how a judge examines a chicken's head on a Buff Cochin pullet.

Phil did me the honor of inviting me to be interviewed along with him. I discussed the SPPA and the suitability of historic breeds for small flock owners.

We were blessed with mild weather following a severe storm that knocked out power to most of Central Illinois for the taping. A DVD of the program is available through the web site, http://www.networkknowledge.tv/resources/transcripts.htm.

Phil did such a great job of explaining what judges are looking for as well as general information about poultry that this DVD makes a great educational video. It's a valuable addition to our resources.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pennsylvania Ag Dept. Backs Off from Premises Registration

According to a settlement agreement presented to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, June 26, 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has agreed that it will not require duck farmer James Landis to obtain a federal premises identification number in order to participate in the PDA's avian-influenza flock monitoring program. The PDA has also agreed that it will rescind any federal premises ID number that it may have already assigned to Landis. As mentioned in a June 22, 2007 Associated Press article on the Landis action (http://ktar.com/?nid=6&sid=522028), the PDA has also indicated it will "contact other farmers to ensure that they know that participation in the federal program is not mandatory."

Landis is represented by Lancaster, Pennsylvania lawyer Leonard G. Brown, III, of the firm of Clymer & Musser, 717-299-7101. The Alliance Defense Fund's press release about the settlement can be reached at this link:http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=4162

SPPA President Craig Russell Wins in Court

Chickens, Other Animals, Returned to SPPA President

By Christine Heinrichs, SPPA Publicity Director, Christine.heinrichs@gmail.com

SPPA President Craig Russell and his wife Ruth were cleared of 15 of the 17 charges of animal maltreatment filed against them in Magisterial Court after a court appearance June 22. They anticipate that the remaining two charges, relating to cage birds, will be reversed on appeal.

The charges were instigated by Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals animal welfare officers, who led state police and an assistant district attorney in a raid on the Russells’ property March 21. They confiscated 154 animals that day.

After an initial court appearance June 14, the SPCA staff member who led the raid was fired. Subsequently, the other three SPCA staff members who were involved have been either fired or forced out.

The court ordered the SPCA to return 127 of the animals to the Russells. The remaining 27 are being held pending appeal of the remaining two charges. The SPCA returned 41 animals June 28 and promised that the rest would be returned June 29.

Mr. Russell was especially happy to collect his dogs, Taffy and Lucky. They were thin from their experience, but playful and joyful to be back home with their family. They are eating well and Mr. Russell expects they will soon regain the lost weight.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dominique Club of America

The Dominique Club of America, http://dominiquechickens.com, now offers this beautiful mug. Non-members can order it from Bryan K. Oliver, Secretary/Newsletter Editor, bryan_k_oliver@yahoo.com . It is $15 plus $5.50 postage.

Dominiques are one of America's oldest breeds and part of many families' history. Many people who no longer have a personal connection with chickens have remarked to me that they remember their grandmother's Dominickers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Garfield Farm Museum


Garfield Farm Museum, http://www.garfieldfarm.org/, is a living history museum in La Fox, Illinois outside Chicago. Its time period is the 1840s. I was unable to attend this year's annual Rare Breeds Day, because the Environmental Journalism Fellowship in Kauai started the same day, May 20. So my husband filled in for me.
Visiting a living history museum is a great summer activity for adults and children. They offer a realistic views of what life was like for the people of that time and place. There are lots of them out there. Please send your experiences here and we'll create a list of them.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lawsuit Challenges NAIS

A lawsuit was filed June 22 in Pennsylvania state court on behalf of a Mennonite farmer. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ordered that a hearing on the petitioner's request for a preliminary injunction be held on Thursday, June 28, 2007, at 9:30 am, in Courtroom Number One, Fifth Floor, Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg.

James Landis raises Muscovy ducks at his family farm in Lebanon County, PA and has long participated in the Avian Influenza Monitoring Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA). His participation in the monitoring program is required because he sells his ducks to live bird markets in New York City.

In April 2007 the PDA notified Landis that he must accept a federal NAIS Premises ID number for his farm, or lose PDA approval of his birds for shipment to New York on June 30, 2007. Mr. Landis has a religious objection which prevents him from accepting the federal premises ID number and he faced the loss of his family's livelihood if he can't sell his ducks without PDA approval.

The PDA has been trying to compel farmers to accept federal premises ID numbers despite the fact that a bill to require premises registration was defeated during the 2005 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. At the federal level, the USDA maintains that its premises ID program is"voluntary."

Mary Zanoni, founder of Farm for Life, met Mr. Landis last fall at a farmers' meeting in Lancaster County where she spoke about the potential problems of NAIS.

After the PDA demanded in April that Mr. Landis either accept the federal premises ID or face the loss of his livelihood, he contacted her, seeking legal help. They were able to secure assistance from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) ofScottsdale, Arizona and ADF-allied lawyer Leonard G. Brown, III of the firm of Clymer & Musser, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Since 1994, ADF has been one of the nation's leading public-interest legal issues at the trial and appellate levels, including the United States Supreme Court. Leonard Brown and Clymer & Musser have extensive experience in litigating constitutional and civil rights issues at the trial and appellate levels in both state and federal courts.

“Mr. Landis has complied with all of the necessary governmental requirements. The government should not threaten to take his 20-year business from him simply because submitting to this one new unnecessary requirement would cause him violate his religious beliefs,” said Mr. Brown. “This is a reasonable accommodation for the government to make. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s new identification number requirement is simply another layer of bureaucracy and it is unnecessary for them to force a citizen to violate his sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Leonard Brown can be reached at 717-299-7101. Ms Zanoni can be reached at 315-386-3199, mlz@slic.com.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

University of Wisconsin Poultry Program


Ron Kean, invited me to speak to the Midwest Poultry Consortium Center for Excellence at the university. It's a program for poultry science people from all around the region.
With support from many poultry people, I've assembled a PowerPoint presentation of nearly 100 slides. Troy Griepentrog, who launched Poultry Enthusiast, shared many pictures with me for this occasion, and I am grateful to him.
Louis Arrington, emeritus professor of Animal Science, consented to have this picture taken with me. He is such a great guy -- he cooks lunch for the group several times each summer. He is a life member of SPPA and a great support to historic breeds.
Thanks, Lou!