Friday, May 11, 2007


Garfield Farm Museum in la Fox, Illinois,, has been instrumental in recovering the Java, a breed that originated in the Indonesian island for which it was named. Javas came to the U.S. around 1835 and are considered an American foundation breed.

In this picture from Garfield Farm, Javas sit on the fence with Narragansett turkeys. Most Javas are black, but a white strain appeared during hatching large numbers of eggs, and eventually an auburn strain emerged.

Buffalo gnats, nasty biting insects, have hatched in such large numbers that they are killing chickens in West Central Illinois. A breeder in Golden, Illinois reports that 25 of his best Black Java breeding birds were killed by the gnats. Only two of his Auburn Javas were killed and none of his Whites, so color made a difference on his farm.

However, in a news story from the Qunicy Herald Whig,, a poultry farmer reported her entire flock of three-week-old Cornish Rock crosses, a white hybrid, was killed.

Pyrethrin sprays have some effectiveness against the gnats. DEET is also useful, but more toxic than pyrethrins. Physical means of keeping the gnats off birds, such as fans, are helping. The gnats are day feeders, so birds may be protected by keeping them in a dark barn.

The gnats' three-week life cycle depends on cool running water, below 75 degrees. As the land dries out and gets warmer, hatching will abate. Until then, these critters will be a plague.

Anyone with experiences with these insects is invited to share your story here.

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