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 (, 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:

SPPA President Craig Russell Wins in Court

Chickens, Other Animals, Returned to SPPA President

By Christine Heinrichs, SPPA Publicity Director,

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,, now offers this beautiful mug. Non-members can order it from Bryan K. Oliver, Secretary/Newsletter Editor, . 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,, 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,

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!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Gina Bisco in New York sent these wonderful pictures of her White Chantecler rooster and hen.
She notes that the angle of the rooster's tail is not permanent, which would be a defect. He's just showing off for the girls. "When he is calm, his tail is at the lower angle that is proper to the breed," she says.
The hen is Ms. Bisco's best Chantecler, with her overall long and deep body type with long, arched neck, thick, down-padded feathering and long backline showing lack of cushion.
Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures, Gina!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Richland Center poultry show

The Badger Poultry Club accomodated me with a nice table close to the food at the June 2 show. A great location! Mike Gilbert, of Buff Chantecler fame, provided the lovely peonies.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Buff Chantecler

Chanteclers are gaining popularity. And with it, their partisans are seeking APA recognition of an additional color variety
The breed was developed in the early 20th century by a Canadian monk, as a Canadian national chicken. The breed is known for its hardiness in cold weather and ability to lay through the winter months. They are easy-going and smart. At 8.5 lbs. for a cock and 6.5 lbs. for a hen, they are large birds suitable for the table.
"My buffs are of good size and coloring, feather out rapidly, and are ideally suited for cold weather," said Mike Gilbert of Holmen, Wisconsin, a member of the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities. “They are also good layers of medium to large brown eggs.”
Mr. Gilbert's Buff rooster, shown above, has been praised at every show where it has been exhibited. However, because the color variety is not recognized, the bird can not be judged outside its breed category. This remarkable bird has inspired Mr. Gilbert to seek APA recognition for the Buff color.
"My daughter named him "Doofus" because he is so mild-mannered, and we're seeing this same docile temperament in most of his offspring,” said Mr. Gilbert. “We can easily pick him up anywhere."
The original White variety was recognized in 1921, followed by the Partridge variety in 1935. Although never recognized, the Buff and Black lines have been part of the breed’s history.
APA recognition requires that birds of the variety seeking recognition be shown at least twice each year for two years, not fewer than two each pullets, cockerels, hens and cocks. Judges then submit their opinions on the variety and a qualifying meet is held. At least 50 birds, from no fewer than five owners who have raised the birds for at least five years, must be shown. The judges make their determination on, among other qualities, the similarity of the birds to each other, establishing the color variety.
Mr. Gilbert is eager to organize Chantecler fanciers to meet the APA requirements and include Buff Chanteclers in the Standard. The Chantecler Club of North America existed at one time, but attempts to reach its organizers have gone unanswered.
Chantecler lovers, unite! Contact Mr. Gilbert through his Web site,, or e-mail him directly at: Join SPPA by sending $15 to Dr. Charles Everett, Tulip Grove, 1057 Nick Watts Rd., Lugoff, SC 29078 or by credit card through
"This line of Buff Chanteclers shows well, and they have all the attributes of a quality dual purpose production fowl,” said Mr. Gilbert. “We will need an active Breed Club promoting all three varieties (white, partridge, buff) to have any hope of gaining A.P.A. standard recognition for the buffs. We invite dedicated fanciers to step forward to help with this project."

Monday, June 11, 2007

National Animal Identification System

The Christian Legal Society,, is taking on the USDA's National Animal Identification System, starting with Wisconsin's Premises Registration law. Wisconsin accepted nearly $2 million to be a pilot project for the first step in implementing the federal NAIS. Its mandatory premises registration law went into effect May 1.

Farmers and ranchers have many objections to NAIS, which you can read about at and other sites. CLS will attack the Premises Registration law as an infringement on the free exercise of religion, specifically for the Amish. Steven H. Aden reported in a meeting last week that young Amish farmers are being denied milk licenses and are therefore unable to start new farms unless they agree to register their premises. Since they feel doing so violates their religion, they are stymied and their way of life is threatened.

Mr. Aden also plans to litigate the Premises Registration law on grounds that it violates the public's rights of privacy, due process and equal protection.

The CLS is forming an organization of like-minded people to oppose Wisconsin's law, Free Wisconsin Pastures. The membership application is at the end of this blog entry. If that doesn't work for you, post a comment or email me and I will send it to you as an electronic file.

Membership is free. If you are opposed to NAIS, please join. This is an important fight which we can win.

Wisconsin Mandatory Premises ID/Registration

Thank you for your interest in the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture’s attempts to impose mandatory premises identification and registration on its citizens.

This system is part of a proposed nationwide system called the “National Animal Identification System,” or “NAIS.” The US Dept. of Agriculture has drafted a Strategic Plan that defines a three-phase program for uniform NAIS:

First, premises ID of every home/farm keeping even one livestock animal;

Second, individual animal ID (RFID or microchipping for many/most species); and

Third, animal tracking (reporting of all animal movements/changes in status).

The USDA says that the federal program is “voluntary.” But USDA is using state departments of agriculture like Wisconsin’s to impose the program either through state rulemaking procedures or by data-mining other state livestock programs to place farmers into NAIS premises registration without the farmers’ knowledge or consent. Also, USDA continues to claim it has the authority to make NAIS mandatory if it needs to. Also, it is promoting a system where nearly everyone is forced to “volunteer” because premises ID or animal ID will be required by sale barns, livestock shows, 4-H and FFA events, etc.

Wisconsin has determined to take the lead in being the first state to implement the NAIS system. It became the first state to make premises registration mandatory in 2004, and now has threatened diary producers with non-renewal of their licenses if they do not register their properties.

Free Wisconsin Pastures is a Wisconsin non-profit membership organization. Its purpose is to fight government attempts to force participation in registration systems for farms and livestock against farmers’ devout religious and personal beliefs, and in violation of their fundamental rights under the Wisconsin and Untied States Constitutions. It will accomplish this purpose by research, education, communication and, if necessary, respectful legal action to ensure that the State of Wisconsin respects the deeply held religious and personal beliefs of its traditional religious communities and citizens against government bureaucratization of the historic and community-based customs and practices of agrarian life.

If you have any questions about mandatory premises ID or would like more information about Free Wisconsin Pastures, please return the information request form below or contact the Center for Law & Religious Freedom, 8001 Braddock Rd., Suite 300, Springfield, VA 22151, Tel. (703) 642-1070 x3510. Thank you.

request for information

Please send me information about the mandatory premises ID/registration system and Free Wisconsin Pastures.
Name ______________________________________________________________________________________
Address _____________________________________________________________________________________
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I agree with and support the purposes of Free Wisconsin Pastures. Please accept my application for membership.
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Graduation 2007

Corallina Breuer, who took so many of the pictures in "How to Raise Chickens," graduated from Stoughton High School this week. She distinguished herself academically and musically, in addition to her poultry achievements.
She will be continuing her education at Denison University in Ohio.
She had a party on Sunday afternoon at her home to celebrate, where this picture of her and me was taken. I am delighted to count her among my friends.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Golden Laced Wyandotte

Mike Gilbert showed this Golden Laced Wyandotte at the Badger Poultry Show. The bird took Reserve Champion of Breed and Best of Variety in a crowded class.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wisconsin shows rare breeds

The Badger Poultry Club's 43rd Annual Show in Richland Center was a great success, and an indication of how rare and historic breeds have caught public attention. Michael Tuyls of Kewaskum, above, holds his Bantam Chantecler, which took Reserve Champion AOCCL, behind a Buff Ameraucana.

More than 900 birds of all kinds were exhibited. Around 750 entries were shown in the Open and about 150 were shown in Juniors. Large fowl, bantams and waterfowl were all well represented.

Wyandottes were well represented, as were several color varieties of Leghorns. Brahmas, both Light and Dark, Opringtons, Black and Buff, Australorps, Araucanas, Ameraucanas and Cochins were all in fine feather. LaFleche and Buttercups gave everyone a chance to see some unusual combs. A couple of Dominiques and several Faverolles were there.

Rosecomb bantams, Silkies, Old English Games, including several in the Crele color variety, Modern Games and bantam Chanteclers brightened the bantam class. Leghorns, Wyandottes and other bantam varieties were on display.

A Brown China Goose took top show honors in the Open and a White Cochin hen in the Juniors. Judges John Thomforde, Gary Rossman and Robert Carothers worked hard to make their decisions. These birds were in fine feather, despite the time of year, and excellent type.

What a pleasure to see such a wide variety of breeds and colors at a local show!