These Prize Dark Dorkings are from Harrison Weir's Our Poultry, published around 1902. A copy was included in the collection donated to SPPA.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
These Prize Dark Dorkings are from Harrison Weir's Our Poultry, published around 1902. A copy was included in the collection donated to SPPA.
Monday, December 29, 2008
This hen belongs to Heirloom Heritage Farms in Spanaway, Washington, http://www.heirloomheritagefarms.com.
They are also recognized in the Standard for exhibition. A White variety is also recognized.
The Standard gives their history as beginning with chickens imported from Holland. They were crossed with White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires and Lamonas and selectively bred for their productive qualities. They were accepted into the Standard in 1949.
Not many people are raising these useful, calm attractive birds. If you are considering starting a small flock for your own use or to produce meat and eggs for the market, Barred Hollands would be a good choice.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Mute swans are the traditional birds of folklore. Although migratory, they became semi-domesticated in Britain by the 10th century. Although Richard the Lionhearted is often credited with bringing swans to England on his return from the Crusades in the 12th century, documents exist dating swan keeping as far back as 966, during the reign of King Edgar.
It was in the 12th century that the Crown claimed ownership of all swans, http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page4952.asp. In the 15th century, swan ownership was shared with the Vintners’ and Dyers’ Companies. That continues today, with an annual ceremony called Swan Upping, in which cygnets, baby swans, are captured, weighed, checked for health problems, banded and released.
So Seven Swans A Swimming would have had royal as well as spiritual connotations.
Today in the U.S., migratory waterfowl are protected by state and federal laws. Permits are required to keep wild birds legally. If you are in any doubt about birds you are considering acquiring, check with the state department of fish and game, parks and wildlife or Natural Resources. This beautiful pen, a female swan, belongs to Craig Hopkins of Hopkins Alternative Livestock near Richmond, Indiana, http://www.hopkinslivestock.com/.
Mute swans are controversial residents along the East Coast, where they have displaced local Trumpeter swans, http://thechesapeakebay.com/swans.shtml, http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/issues/restoration/non-natives/workshop/mute_swan.html. Mute swans have been acquired as decorative waterfowl for parks and estates, but easily leave and become feral. To avoid those problems, the state of New Hampshire requires by law that Mute swans be pinioned, an operation done on young cygnets to remove the distal joint of the wing, making flight impossible.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Most modern domestic geese are descended from the European Greylag Goose, which still ranges across most of Europe and Asia. They have lived closely with humans for centuries. Even as little as a century ago, they were maintained as semi-wild livestock in England. Villagers let their geese forage and live on the River Cam. The geese spent the spring and summer on the village green, then migrated to the river for the winter. In February, the owners would call their geese, which responded to their voices and returned home to nest and rear their young. Those offspring were a significant contribution to the villagers’ income. Those Geese A-Laying were valued not for the eggs in themselves, but for the prospective birds into which the eggs would hatch. Eggs can also be eaten. Some modern breeds such as the China goose have been selected for laying, bringing their production of eggs up to 70 or more annually. The eggs are reputed to be superior for baking. The albumen is thicker than that of chicken eggs, making it unsuitable for whipping into meringue.
Geese typically choose their own mates and mate for life, although a gander may be willing to mate with more than one goose. They are good at brooding their own eggs and both parents enjoy raising the goslings. They will also adopt other chicks. They love having a family. This pair of Cotton Patch geese belonging to Dr. Tom Walker of Texas protect their goslings. One is out from under the mother and the father watches over it.
Those geese, through domestication and selective breeding, became the hardy Gray Goose. In France, pate de foie gras is a traditional food. Breeds in which the sexes have different plumage from each other are called auto-sexing. The males are solid color and the females saddlebacked, with contrasting color across their backs. Very ancient lines of geese include this trait, often tracing it back to locations where Vikings landed.
This gaggle of Saddleback Cotton Patch geese belonged to Jess Owens of Union County, Arkansas in the 1950s. Dr. Walker, who has championed the recovery of Cotton Patch geese, shared this photo with me. These geese were used regularly to clean cotton fields of grass and weeds. The Cotton Patch is a traditional American breed, very similar to the geese in this carol.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Pheasant has a long culinary history, probably since Neolithic times. It is a popular game bird, today perhaps the most hunted bird on the planet.
Ring-necked pheasants were introduced in the late 19th century first in Oregon, where they succeeded on the second attempt. After that, they were introduced in other states and are now the state bird of South Dakota. This photo comes from that state’s department of tourism.
Golden pheasants are successful feral residents in England, but they probably were not introduced there until later than the carol, perhaps as late as the mid-19th century. Their astonishingly beautiful plumage could certainly have inspired songs about golden birds!
The bird second from the top in this painting by J.C. Harrison is a golden pheasant. The other pheasants are a Reeves Pheasant, at the bottom, an Elliots Pheasant at the top, and an Amherst Pheasant in the center. The black bird at lower right is a Mikado Pheasant. The bird at top right is not identified at Gamebird, but appears to be a Copper Pheasant. Prints can be purchased from Gamebird magazine at http://www.gamebird.com/pheasantprints.html.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Blackbirds were and are destructive to crops in Europe. Like other small birds, they have been trapped and shot for food. Italian workers in the 19th century took ‘pot shots’ at small birds on their way home from work, Ann Vileisis reports in Kitchen Literacy. The nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence, refers to baking blackbirds in a pie. Mark Cocker in Birds Britannica documents the practice of placing live birds under a pie crust just before serving as a medieval custom.
Or it could have referred to domestic fowls, such as the old French breeds, all of which were often black, or black Spanish chickens., such as these reproduced in 1983 by Dr. J. Batty from Lewis Wright's Poultry. Black turkeys were popular in the 18th century in Europe.
Black birds lost favor because the dark feathers show up in the skin of the bird prepared for the table, unlike white feathers. In the 19th century, white birds went through a period of unpopularity, because they were thought to be constitutionally weak. Food fads.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Houdans have been known as Normandy fowl. They are a crested breed, recognized in mottled black and solid white varieties. Solid black, blue mottled and red mottled varieties have existed in the past and may be raised by fanciers yet.
In the U.S., Houdans were a popular dual purpose production breed in the 19th and early 20th century. They have five toes, like the Dorkings. This illustration is a reproduction of Lewis Wright's Poultry, published in 1983 by Dr. J. Batty.
The La Fleche, which may be the oldest of the three, was selected and managed for egg production in Britain and North America. They take their name from the town of La Fleche, around which production was centered in the early 19th century. They probably resulted from crossing Polish, Crevecoeur and Spanish birds, which gave them their white ear lobes.
Their unusual horned V-shaped comb is remarkable, in the past causing these birds to be called the Horned Fowl. Although now clean-headed, some breeders report occasional offspring with small crests or tassels. The French standard requires a crest.
Although recognized now only in black, they were bred in other colors in the past. In 1580, Prudens Choiselat wrote that blacks, reds, and fawns were the best. Blue and white strains have existed in the more recent past.
The Crevecoeur is sometimes compared to the Dorking, which has history on both English and French sides of the Channel. They also have V combs, although earlier in history they also had leaf combs. Currently recognized only in black plumage, white and blue were raised in the past.
The Crevecoeur was also used as a production fowl in the late 19th and early 20th century. These Crevecoeurs and the La Fleche are Robert Gibson's, from Yellow House Farm in New Hampshire.
Other French breeds would also be welcome on the Third Day of Christmas: Faverolles are a modern composite that would not have been contemporaneous with the carol. The unusual Salmon color pattern, unique to this breed, is distinguished by its remarkable difference between the sexes. Roosters are brightly marked with varied colors, while hens are more demurely light and salmon pink. They have both beards and muffs.
Marans are not yet recognized by the Standard, but their advocates are working toward that goal. They are an attractive sturdy bird, known for their dark chocolate brown eggs.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Turtle Doves are a wild breed of European doves, similar to North American Mourning Doves. They would have been common in England and France during the spring, summer and fall in the 18th century when this carol was published. It is a migratory species that winters in southern Africa.
Doves have symbolized peace and love for centuries. To the ancient Greeks, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was associated with doves and was sometimes depicted in a chariot drawn by doves. A dove brought Noah the olive branch, symbol of the renewal of life. The dove descended on Christ at his baptism, symbolizing the Holy Spirit.
Many fanciers keep domestic pigeons and doves. The terms ‘pigeon’ and ‘dove’ are often used interchangeably. Both pigeons and doves are in the same scientific family, but there are hundreds of species. Divisions are not clearly delineated, but generally pigeons are larger than doves
They are small enough that they can be kept as cage birds, although most keepers allow them some liberty. Trap and bob entries allow pigeons to enter, but not leave again.
Pigeons and doves are classified as either seed-eating or fruit-eating. Turtle doves are seed eaters. Most birds kept domestically are seed-eating, but fruit-eating birds can also be kept successfully.
This photo of a turtle dove appeared on the web site of the Times of Malta, http://www.timesofmalta.com/, in April 2008. At that time, a reader was complaining about a plague of turtle doves damaging crops and advocating allowing hunters to shoot them. The relationship between humans and wildlife is subject to friction, generally resolved on the side of the humans.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Some of the words have changed over the years: On Day Four, the ‘calling’ birds were originally ‘collie’ or ‘colley’ birds, meaning black as coal. The gold rings of Day Five were ring-necked pheasants. Those original meanings unify the verses around a bird motif.
The gray or English partridge was introduced to North America around the turn of the 20th century from its native Eurasia. It has adapted well and is now fairly common in North America. They are hardy birds, able to survive cold winter conditions in the Midwest and Canada. They aren’t much for flying, with a stocky body and short, round wings. Most flights are low, at eye level and shorter than 100 yards. They are 12-13 inches long with a wingspan of 21-22 inches and weigh about one pound.
The hens may lay as many as 22 eggs in a clutch and hatches of 16-18 are common. They are not usually raised as domestic birds.
This photo was taken by Terry Sohl on June 10, 2008 in Minnehaha County, South Dakota.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Another international research team has come to a similar conclusion,
http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2008b/081103MuirDiversity.html, which attracted the attention of the NYTimes Nov. 3, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/science/04obchicken.html.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
On the contrary, Blue is the only color variety of Andalusian chickens recognized for exhibition. The difficulty is with the inheritance of the blue color. Unlike other color varieties, it does not breed true, which means that when two blue chickens are bred to each other, all the resulting chicks are not blue. They will be a mixture of black, splash (black and white irregular patterned feathers) and blue individuals.
The APA Standard of Perfection describes it this way:
Blue Fowl, actually of a bluish slate color, genetically are black fowl in which the black pigment granules are modified in shape and distribution on the surface of the feather, creating a dilution of black and causing the characteristic bluish slate color. This condition is the hybrid expression of two hereditary color factors, black and a form of white (usually with some splashing), neither of which is dominant over the other, but which are blending in character. Blue to blue will produce offspring one-half blue, the other half evenly divided in black and splashed whites: and blue to black, and blue to splashed will produce the parent types equally, while black to splashed will produce all blues.
This sounds confusing, but if you think of the birds in your flock and how you would breed them, it will come clear.
It's more complex than breeding another color variety and knowing what to expect in terms of color. Breeding programs with the goal of approaching the Standard have more points to trip on. Conformation, comb, skin color and other breeding challenges have to be considered along with the additional complication of getting fewer offspring with the desired color.
They are beautiful, and this reader was especially fond of their large chalk-white eggs. They are worth the effort.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Andrea advises me not to draw any conclusions about the name 'Polish.' He documents crested hens for "many centuries" in Poland, according to an Italian reporter, Franco Holzer. Andrea considers it "more than possible" that the crested hens originally imported to England came from Poland. Crested birds were diffused in France, where they were likely crossed with the Polverara hen, resulting in the French crested breeds.
This black Polverara rooster is another of Andrea's flock.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
While she was recuperating, her owner put another chicken in her coop with her, to keep her company. They became very good friends and continue to spend time together. She and her friend Buffy and her brother Winston are perching, as Tiffany tries out her healing leg.
She and Buffy like to get on top of the table to peck some snacks.
Chickens can make remarkable recoveries. See Harvey Ussery's report of a chicken with a broken leg in the September 3, 2008 blog entry.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The main focus of the directory is the listing of SPPA members, what breeds they have and how to get in touch with them. Because historic breeds are so rare, it's often difficult to find stock. Some breeds are so rare it's difficult even to find stock from unrelated lines. Keeping flocks vigorous and avoiding inbreeding can require careful selection of birds. The Breeders Directory is the most significant document SPPA publishes.
The listing helps prospective small flock owners find birds of different breeds to add to their flocks. It gives novices just getting started the information they need to contact experienced breeders for advice.
This edition includes articles on Saving Our Heritage Poultry; Small Flock Breeding; Grading; Further Breeding Options; Chickens in America; Natural Incubation; Successful Hatches; Shipping Mature Fowl; and Nankin Bantams-- A Success Story. The directory also includes a list of all SPPA members, SPPA Lifetime Members, SPPA's History and its Constitution and By-Laws.
Thanks to Mary Ann and her team for bringing us a great directory. Get your copy by joining SPPA, either online through http://poultrybookstore.com or by sending a check for $15 for one year to Dr. Charles Everett, 1057 Nick Watts Rd., Lugoff, SC 29078.
Monday, November 17, 2008
“I'll be sitting at table near the ABA and the APA,” she says. “Let your blog readers know that I look forward to meeting them!”
The show is an annual event each January, at the Mallory Complex of the Eastern States Exposition Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The show welcomes Large Fowl, Bantams, Waterfowl, Turkeys, Trio Classic and Displays. It offers prizes for Junior Exhibitor and has a Showmanship Competition. For information, contact Cheryl Barnaba, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
They take to domestication well, as they have since before contact with Europe. Columbus may have introduced them to Europe along with the turkey, or Spanish explorers may have brought them from South America to Africa in the 16th century. From there, they traveled along trade routes to Europe. They were exhibited at the first American poultry show in 1849 and included in the first APA Standard of Excellence in 1874.
They are excellent natural layers, the hens often laying as many as 20 eggs in a clutch and raising two clutches in a season. They are good mothers and often used to incubate eggs of other birds.
Many commercial operations raise Muscovies for the table. They grow quickly to market size, but overfeeding them to increase growth can cause leg and reproduction problems.
The caruncles, the warty growths on the head, are unique to Muscovies and an important show point. For exhibition, the caruncles should be equally distributed on both sides of the head, not so extreme that it interferes with the crest feathers on top of the head and not interfere with the bird’s vision.
They are personable and self-reliant, although some are inclined to fight and may be aggressive. Many small flock owners warm to their sociable personalities. Females may be inclined to fly, although males may be too heavy. Clipping primaries may be necessary, although they are faithful to a good home. They are the quietest duck. Muscovies retain the strengths of their wild past in domestic life.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The difference is in the ground color of the feathers, silvery white or golden bay. Lacing should be lustrous black. They are small but sprightly, at a top weight of 22 ounces for cocks and 20 ounces for hens.
This painting of Silver Sebrights by Hishime Murayama was published in the National Geographic of April 1927, in its article "The Races of Domestic Fowl" by M.A. Jull. The article includes 67 illustrations, both color paintings and black & white photos and drawings. It's a classic.
The males lack sickle feathers, so both sexes are similarly feathered. This is sometimes called henny feathering.
"If the ladies cannot take to the Sebrights, I shall lose all faith in them (the ladies I mean, not the Sebrights)," writes Lewis Wright in The Book of Poultry, 1915 edition.
He cautions against the risks of inbreeding Sebrights to avoid infertility and deterioration in markings. He advises giving them time to mature before breeding, due to their delicacy.
"A pullet has not come to maturity, and hence has not gained her full strength," he writes. though if she be very forward and well grown and in good health generally, there is no reason why such a one should not be tried with the hens."
A reader is looking for Sebright breeders in Ohio. All contacts are welcome.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Terry got the inspiration for this book from her hen Snowball, a bantam of indeterminate breed but extraordinary personality. Read more on her WEb site, http://www.terrygolson.com/.
Terry also wrote The Farmstead Egg Cookbook, a happy compendium of egg recipes and chicken information.
Terry's Webcam in her chicken yard is linked to my home page. Recently I contacted an office in Kansas for permission to reprint some material. The woman I talked with was enthusiastic and interested in the project. As we got talking, I mentioned Terry's Webcam.
By the following day, she had all her colleagues watching Terry's chickens! They were, of course, delighted.
One of the most fun parts of my work is meeting people who add so much to my life.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
CANYON FARMS PRESENTS
FIRST ORANGE COUNTY, California OLD ENGLISH AND AMERICAN GAMEFOWL POULTRY EXHIBITION SHOW November 8, 2008, 10:00am
Old English Games are a traditional breed often seen in English artwork. The one at left is photographed by Poultry Press. Games are a foundation breed which are bred into nearly every composite in one way or another. Their influence on modern fowl is substantial and they hold a significant place in poultry history.
ORANGE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS & EVENTS CENTER, 88 FAIR DR., COSTA MESA, CA 92626.
Directions: From the 55 FWY - exit North on Fair Dr.
Country Meadows (lawn area next to Millennium Barn)
CLASSES: Black Breasted Red Light Leg, Black Breasted Red Dark Leg, Dark Leg Grey, Light Leg Grey, Golden Duckwing (Giro) Dark Leg, Golden Duckwing (Giro) Light Leg, Oriental, Trio (Hens and Cock must be of the same breed, variety and color), Any Other Variety (AOV), Hens and Bantam Classes.
JUDGE: Kenny Troiano. Judging starts at 10:00am. Birds must be cooped no later than 9:30am.
ENTRY FEES: $10.00 per bird entered. Bring your own drop pens. Please do not bring any sick birds or birds with bugs.
PRIZES: Best of Show - $500.00 GRAND PRIZE – Runner-up Best of Show - $250.00
All categories 1ST place - $100.00 per category including Bantams
Trophies - Ribbons ·
AUCTION – 50/50 RAFFLES – DRAWINGS Sponsored by local businesses ·
Kenny Troiano, author of “The Gamefowl Breeders Manual”· Anthony Saville – President of The American Gamefowl Society
Food and beverages onsite by OCFEC. No Alcohol Permitted! For more information, to offer help and/or donations contact: Frank Torres – (714) 785-2034 Daniel Torres (714) 390-4460
Please call us and let us know you will be attending.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
These old magazines are an invaluable resource for the original source documentation not only of husbandry practices of the past, but also of breed conformation, as these diagrams of Java hen and rooster illustrate. Thanks for the advice, Eric.
Monday, November 3, 2008
CONSCIOUS EATING... Lisa Ling, blog, October 11, 2008http://www.lisaling.com/blogs/Conscious_eating.html#blogcomments
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Birds of the breed applying for recognition must be shown at APA shows at least twice each year for two years. At least two hens, two pullets, two cocks and two cockerels must be shown on each occasion.
Judges then submit their opinions of the breed and a qualifying meet is held. No fewer than 50 birds must be shown at the meet. Judges expect the birds to resemble each other closely, to establish the breed type.
Marans are currently under consideration. The American Marans Club, logo on the left, is organizing efforts to get the breed recognized. Varieties like Cuckoo, one of the most common Marans varieties, tend to be less similar to each other than solid colors like white. Marans are also raised in Black Copper, Black-tailed Buff, Gold Salmon, Silver Black, Splash, Blue, Wheaten and Birchen.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Dan Sullivan, senior editor at The New Farm, Rodale Institute, http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/, Joe Davis, TipSheet and WatchDog TipSheet editor for the Society of Environmental Journalists, http://www.sej.org/, and I organized the Healthy Food Shed tour for the recent annual conference. Since Virginia Tech was the sponsoring institution, visiting Joel's Polyface Farm was a natural. He welcomed us graciously.
His pigs have got to be the happiest on earth. They greeted us and rolled in the sandy soil, lying down as they munched on the grass.
Mindful of the pigs' fate, we enjoyed pork (or beef or vegetarian) burritoes for lunch, courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill, http://www.chipotle.com/#flash/food_menu. The company makes a point of sourcing local foods as much as possible. They have worked with Joel to expand his pork operation to provide enough pork for one restaurant. Joel is emphatic about encouraging other producers to explore such commercial ventures.
We concluded the day at the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia, http://www.frontiermuseum.org/, where they have carefully acquired historically accurate chickens. They had Silver Gray Dorkings at the Irish Farm, Colored Dorkings at the English Farm and Spitzhaubens and Polish at the German Farm. The Colored Dorking rooster was magnificent, even if his tail lacked a few feathers due to molting. A regal fellow, indeed.
I am off to the APA National in Ventura, and will continue the tour, along with news from the show, on my return on Monday.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Raleigh News & Observer Wednesday September 24, 2008
Wake Forest approves household chickens
By Sarah Lindenfeld Hall, Staff Writer
WAKE FOREST - Emily Cole can have her chickens.
The Wake Forest town Board of Commissioners last week voted 4 to 1 to let Cole and any other town resident keep up to 10 hens.
Cole spoke to the town board last month, asking them to change a rule that required prospective chicken owners to get all neighbors within 500 feet to approve their plans.
Only one family has successfully convinced their neighbors to let them have chickens.
Cole couldn't. Though many neighbors had no problem with her plans, a few disagreed.
So Cole started a petition asking the town to loosen its rules. She eventually gathered several hundred signatures.
In August, town board members said they agreed that the rules needed to be changed.
Earlier this month, they considered a draft ordinance that allowed up to five chickens. Last week, after a public hearing, board members agreed to increase that number to 10. Cole had originally hoped officials would allow as many as 20.
"I'm really happy with the outcome, and I'm really excited that it didn't take six months to do it," Cole said. "I'm also really happy that the Wake Forest commissioners are open-minded. I'm excited that they realize it's a good step forward for the town."
Across the country, more urban and suburban residents are keeping chickens amid fears of the safety of the food supply and a desire to buy local products.
Until now, only the Bissette family in Wake Forest was allowed to have chickens. They were awarded a permit earlier this year after all of their neighbors agreed to their plans.
Neighbors and families at Holding Park across the street often stop by to see their hens.
The new rules mean that the Bissettes no longer have to get their permit renewed each year.
Dave Bissette said he wasn't concerned about getting the permit renewed, but it was a hassle. The family would have had to canvass all their neighbors again.
"I'm glad, quite frankly, I don't have to deal with it anymore," said Bissette.
Nobody came forward to speak out against the new rules at the public hearing. Town commissioner Pete Thibodeau was the lone dissenting vote.
Commissioner Frank Drake said many Wake Forest homeowners who live in neighborhoods where homeowner association rules ban chickens won't be able to keep them, despite the law.
Drake, whose grandparents tended chickens in a neighborhood when he was a child, said most people who contacted him supported the measure.
"I really don't think this is going to be as prevalent as vegetable gardening," he said. "Nobody seemed to have a problem with it once they realized that they lived in a neighborhood that had an HOA that forbade it."
Cole said last week that she wasn't sure when she will get her chickens, but it could be in the next week or so. Her husband has plans to build a miniature barn.
When Cole got home from last week's meeting, her husband and two young children were waiting to congratulate her with chicken drawings taped to the door.
They told her, the "chickens are coming."