Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tiffany and her broken leg

Pat, who had her chicken Tiffany’s broken leg set by a helpful veterinarian, reported on Tiffany’s progress this week. The veterinarian removed the cast July 17 and the bone was fully healed. However, Tiffany was unable to extend her leg completely and put her weight on it. Pat consulted with her physical therapist. She suggested using a product called Theraputty to help Tiffany extend her leg correctly. Pat also made a sling and helped Tiffany exercise. She sent the following report onTuesday:

“Today (July 29) when I came home from work and checked how Tiffany was doing in her little coop and little yard, I saw that she was standing with her left (injured) leg on three toes. This is the first time she has set the leg down enough to have front three toes touching the ground. The outer two are a little tentative but are resting on the ground.

"She is still giving a hop or a skip to go forward, after she rests weight on the left leg. It is very similar to us favoring one ankle or foot and not putting full weight on it before we bring our other one forward.

“I have been leaving Tiffany out in the small coop, which is addition to my pole barn. She can go out into a 5 X 5 fenced in area next to the big outdoor run the other chickens have. I rotate a couple of other Buff Orpington pullets in with her so she has company and also allies when she is finally released into the flock.”

Tiffany will go back to the veterinarian for an assessment on Thursday. Pat will keep us posted.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

When is a chicken a pet?

Dorinda Johnson contacted me a while ago about the encroaching housing developments that were coming closer to her Alabama home. Because someone in the development had a rooster, neighbors complained to the city and the Planning & Zoning Commission took up the question of regulating chickens.

Mrs. Johnson had driven around the neighborhood, to see if she could identify the house with the rooster and work out a compromise. She wasn't able to find the rooster's home.

She was prepared with contact information for the appropriate people, including the city attorney. I sent her information from SPPA and sent the city attorney links to information about other cities that allow residents to own chickens. Mad City Chickens,, has a lot of history and background and a summary of the essential elements that make Madison's ordinance successful. Judging from his recommendations to the city,
which are almost identical, the information helped him advise the commission on how to regulate rather than prohibit chickens. The Planning & Zoning Commission set up a subcommittee to research the issue of defining 'pets' and report back.

By working together, we can overcome obstacles to keeping chickens, even in urban areas. Perhaps some signs like this one from Signs Up,, would help. Thanks for being willing to participate in your local government, Mrs. Johnson. Keep us posted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fancy Fowl USA

Fancy Fowl, for years the leading magazine of traditional pure-bred poultry and waterfowl in the United Kingdom, now has an American publicatoin. Fancy Fowl USA published its premiere issue this month, with a Shamo rooster gracing the cover.
This first issue includes articles about Crested Polish and the special problems pertaining to Crest Maintenance; visits to the homes of several poultry breeders, including Gary and Audrey Overton in Ohio, Jim Konecny and Lou and Nickie Horton, in Illinois; a report on a poultry show at the Alabama State Fair Grounds; dealing with roup (coryza); articles on Javas, Marans and Blue Laced Wyandottes; advice on solving poor laying; and a section of Poultry Relics, historical items and information.
There's a delightful British flavor to it, since editors Claire and Terry Beebe are experienced exhibitors and judges from the U.K. They now live in Alabama. We can look forward to more connections with British colleagues through the inauguration of this publication.
Check the web site,, for information on how to subscribe and advertise.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another lawsuit planned against NAIS

The following press release was sent out before the lawyers understood what was involved in acxtually filing a lawsuit. They were not qualified to file in U.S. District Court and the lawsuit has not yet beden accepted and filed. It remains in the works, but as yet is not officially activated.

The failure to research all the requirements has hurt the prospective donors and caused controversy within the ranks of NAIS opponents. USDA has professionals that have set the rules for the arena in which this struggle is playing out. We must be united and as professional and smart as they are to engage them in open debate.

Legal Defense Fund Files Suit to Stop Animal ID Program

Suit Targets USDA and Michigan Department of Agriculture

Falls Church, Virginia, (July 14, 2008) — Attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund today filed suit in the U.S. District Court – District of Columbia to stop the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) from implementing the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), a plan to electronically track every livestock animal in the country.

The MDA has implemented the first two stages of NAIS – property registration and animal identification – for all cattle and farmers across the state as part of a mandatory bovine tuberculosis disease control program required by a grant from the USDA.

The suit asks the court to issue an injunction to stop the implementation of NAIS at either the state or federal levels by any state or federal agency. If successful, the suit would halt the program nationwide.

“We think that current disease reporting procedures and animal tracking methods provide the kind of information health officials need to respond to animal disease events,” explained Fund President Taaron Meikle.

“At a time when the job of protecting our food safety is woefully underfunded, the USDA has spent over $118 million on just the beginning stages of a so-called voluntary program that ultimately seeks to register every horse, chicken, cow, goat, sheep, pig, llama, alpaca or other livestock animal in a national database–more than 120 million animals. It’s a program that only a bureaucrat could love.” she added.

Meikle noted that existing programs for diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis and scrapie together with state laws on branding and the existing record keeping by sales barns and livestock shows provide the mechanisms needed for tracking any disease outbreaks.
She said the suit charges that USDA has never published rules regarding NAIS, in violation of the Federal Administrative Procedures Act; has never performed an Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment as required by the National Environmental Policy Act; is in violation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act that requires the USDA to analyze proposed rules for their impact on small entities and local governments; and violates religious freedoms guaranteed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“Other mandatory implementations, which weave NAIS into existing regulatory fabric and programs, have occurred in the States of Wisconsin and Indiana where premises registration has been made mandatory; in drought-stricken North Carolina and Tennessee, where farmers have been required to register their premises in order to obtain hay relief; and in Colorado where state fairs are requiring participants to register their premises under NAIS,” explained Judith McGeary, a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Fund board and the executive director of the Farm and Rancher Freedom Alliance.

“We are asking the court to immediately halt implementation of the program nationwide before more farmers and ranchers are strong-armed into participating in a program that the USDA has called voluntary.”

McGeary also questioned the accuracy of the existing database noting that an attempt by the USDA to make the information in the NAIS database subject to Privacy Act safeguards thereby removing them from public scrutiny was suspended indefinitely in a ruling last month by the same federal court that will hear arguments in the current suit. That suit had been filed by a journalist seeking access to the database to determine its accuracy.

About The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund: The Fund defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of sustainable farmers, and protects consumer access to local, nutrient-dense foods. Concerned citizens can support the Fund by joining at or by contacting the Fund at 703-208-FARM. The Fund’s sister organization, the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation (, works to support farmers engaged in sustainable farm stewardship and promote consumer access to local, nutrient-dense food.

Editor’s Note: A copy of the suit filed against the USDA and MDA is available at
Taaron G. MeiklePresident, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and Farm-to-Consumer Foundation703-537-8372,
Brian CummingsCummings & Company LLC214-295-7463,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Denizli Long Crowers

Denizli Long Crowers are indeed a rare breed. Reputed to crow as long as 25 or 30 seconds, they are a specialized interest for those who are in circumstances that can foster development of their talents. They are recognized national birds in Turkey, where the Directory of Province Agricultural Affairs selects breeding roosters. Burak Sansal, a tour guide in the area, has information about them on his site,

Steve Slates in Lexington, Kentucky,, has a rooster and three hens of this breed, extremely rare in the U.S. He likes them very much for their friendly disposition, good health and good laying. However, the rooster has never developed the long crow he was hoping for. Steve has a background with canaries, which benefit from other birds as tutors to learn to sing well. He suspects that, lacking other long crowing roosters, his bird simply hasn’t had a good example to follow.

He’s open to selling or trading this group of birds to someone who may be able to help this rooster reach his potential as a crower and a representative of his breed. Any takers?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Strong ostrich egg

I found this picture in "The Ostrich Communal Nesting System" by Brian C. R. Bertram, He and his wife are demonstrating how strong an ostrich egg is, with some humor.
Ostrich eggs weigh between three and a half and five pounds. For cooking, they are equivalent to a dozen chicken eggs. The shell is very thick, so breaking one open in the kitchen would require tools, such as a hammer and a chisel. And then think of the potential mess!
Ostrich eggs are too valuable to be eaten. Ranchers want to incubate every possible egg to raise a chick. Ostrich eggs are also decorated and sold. I wonder what they do with the contents of those eggs. Beth Ostapiuk,, who demonstrated decorating Pysanka eggs at the poultry club last month, had a little German device that would automatically extract the contents of the egg through a very small hole, so as to leave the shell intact for decorating.
Dr. Bertram and his wife studied the nesting behavior of wild ostriches. Several females lay eggs in a single nest, but only one female, the major or dominant one, assists in incubating the eggs. She sets on them during the day and the male at night. A very interesting arrangement, with selective advantages, depending on differences in size, strength, age and other factors, such as prior investment in a nest and number of eggs left to lay. "Cooperation, competition and manipulation all take place," he writes.
Although he has focused on scientific examination of ostrich behavior, he retains his awe of these birds. "One must not forget to marvel at what a remarkable organism the ostrich is, in many aspects of it slife, quite apart from its communal nesting system."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Successful turkey poult hatch!

Tina Tyzzer contacted me in May about the seven feral turkeys that moved into her yard the previous November. "They walked out of the woods and up to my bird feeders and have lived within a few small acres ever since," she wrote. They are apparently escaped domestic birds, including Royal Palms and Bronze varieties. Definitely not wild ones.

She didn't know how to care for them. The hens laid eggs and even hatched out a few poults, but predators took them every time. She wanted to find a way to protect them and help them hatch and rear some successfully. She suspected a neighbor's cat, but she also saw an opossum nearby one day. She lives on two and a half acres and keeps half an acre natural, mowing paths so that she can get to her bee hives and berry bushes. Plenty of space for wildlife.

She fenced around the nesting site one had chosen and kept her protected. Tina awoke to good news July 4: eight poults hatched successfully. A ninth hatched the next morning!
She worried at first that the poults weren't eating much, but was reassured at the information in my chicken book that chicks do not need to eat for the first day or two after hatching, while they continue to absorb nourishment from the yolk. "Poults must be the same, because as of yesterday, their appetites had also arrived," she wrote.
Here they are, and the improvised yard Tina fenced off for them. She and her husband plan to build a chicken coop this summer and acquire a few hens. Whether the turkeys, after having enjoyed their freedom, will be willing to accept confinement is another story. At first, fencing made them nervous and they paced along it until they found a way around, or simply flew over.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Managing an injured chicken

On Wednesday, Pat Barberi of Vermont contacted me for advice on what to do with a six-week-old pullet who had dislocated her hock, the joint above her foot. “Her left leg sticks out sideways. She was not born this way. She must have sprained it when she landed on a slippery surface in the coop,” said.

On Friday, she followed up on how she had handled the injury. Here’s her report:

I ended up speaking to Dr. Ben Lucio at Cornell Veterinary Medicine, The University of Vermont has no poultry department, but their animal science unit gave me Dr. Lucio's number and also Dr. Mike Darre at the University of Connecticut,

Dr. Lucio concluded that whether this was a break or dislocated joint, the leg should be set. I called my own vet but he does not do avian. They gave me referral to a vet in Waitsfield, Vermont, Dr. Leroy Hadden,, who does farm animals and regular services.

I took the pullet out there. Dr. Hadden gave me two choices: Leave her as she is, which would leave her with a twisted leg for the rest of her life, or leave the bird with him and he would set the leg. I chose the latter and cried all the way home with relief that someone was willing to help.

When I went back four hours later, the pullet had a cast on her leg. A metal rod held the leg in position, wrapped with gauze pads and held in place with vet wrap. Dr. Hadden gave her anesthesia and found that it was a complete fracture of leg above her "knee". He reset it. He said she came out of the anesthesia and the operation very well. He said he will take it off in two weeks, or that I could return and have him remove it and check her over.

Now she is in a comfortable guinea pig cage on my kitchen counter with treats, attention and help moving around.

The complete vet service, including the check up, was $65. They were apologetic when they gave me the bill, but I assured them that it was the best $65 I have spent in a long time.

The staff was so caring that I brought a flowering plant for the office when I went back. They asked if she was named and she wasn't, so we brain stormed some names, ended up with Tiffany, due to her high cost of maintenance! It was very heartwarming experience.

Thanks for sharing it, Pat. Your experience helps others find ways to treat injured chickens.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Modern Hen Fever

The Independent, London Monday, 30 June 2008,

Fashion for back-garden poultry attracts chicken rustlers
By Ian Johnston

Rare hens are being stolen to order by gangs of chicken rustlers after prices soared to as much as £250 a bird following the high-profile campaign to promote free-range by the chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

It is estimated that 1,500 birds have been stolen this year to meet the demand for rare breeds such as the Orpington, Marans and Welsummer. They are being taken largely from people keeping poultry for the first time, often in their back garden, who are prepared to pay considerably over the market price for a good-looking hen.

A leading bird conservation group said thefts had risen dramatically in recent months, with "a very lucrative market in stolen birds".

One poultry keeper described losing 150 of his birds - the result of 12 years of breeding - as being like a bereavement. The thieves left behind 50 birds which were slightly ill or below par in appearance.

Emma Gleed, of the Domestic Fowl Trust, said: "Criminals are now feeding the market. Rare and pure-breed chickens are being stolen by organised thieves from farms and breeders across the country.

"Ordinary people who want birds as pets are prepared to pay for the rare ones because they are the prettiest. Television chefs like Jamie have sent the popularity of keeping your own chicks soaring.

"The prices are now quite high and there's a real shortage. Unfortunately, this has led to a very lucrative black market in stolen birds."

The Channel 4 programmes Hugh's Chicken Run and Jamie's Fowl Dinners highlighted the conditions in which battery hens were kept, prompting sales of free-range chickens to soar by up to 50 per cent.

The programmes also increased interest in keeping chickens in back gardens as egg-laying pets and prices for rare birds have soared to as much as £80 for a Sussex or Marans, £100 for a buff Orpington - about 10 times the price paid last year - and even £250 for a chocolate Orpington.
Nigel Cank, 53, who lives near Whitchurch in Shropshire, kept about 200 rare hens as a hobby, but then he woke early one Sunday morning and, from the unusual silence, realised something was wrong. "Normally you would hear the cock-crowing, but I opened the door and it was quiet. The missus said, 'you better get outside, something terrible has happened'," he said.

"Someone had cut all the locks from my pens and stolen my birds. They took out the best ones; we had 200 and they took about 150. One of them left behind had the runs, one had something funny round the eye, so they had gone through, selecting them in the night.

"Trouble is you don't mark chickens normally, like you do with more valuable animals. But since Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall were on the television, a lot of people have gone out and bought poultry and that's pushed the price up."

He estimated he had lost about £14,000 as a result of the theft and, with no insurance, has decided to stop breeding chickens. "I've kept poultry all my life, it's been a hobby, but it's too much to lose to be honest. It's very much like a bereavement. I lost my brother a year ago and it's so much like the same feeling."

It is estimated that more than 300,000 people in Britain are now keeping their own chickens.

The breeds most at risk:
First bred in 1886. Varieties include the black, white, buff, chocolate, spangled and jubilee. Popular show birds.

Good at foraging for food on free-range farms. Said to be a friendly breed.

French bird popular for the dark brown colour of its eggs and tasty meat.

*Wyandotte -- at left is a Buff Wyandotte hen from Barry Koffler's website,

Has 13 varieties and is known as the 'bird of curves' because of its shapely body.

*Light Sussex
Has been in Britain for 2,000 years and provides a good supply of eggs and juicy meat.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Poultry in our language

Karen in Illinois sent this picture of her young Cayuga 'Ducks in a Row.' That reminded me of how poultry is entwined in our language. Having one's ducks in a row means to be well organized, to make all the appropriate preparations before beginning a project.

Karen prepared for her ducks, but they turned out to be four males and only one female. She's looking for someone who would like to trade for some of her males or sell her some hens. Contact me if you can oblige.

Other Ducks in our language:
The duck test: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. It means that things are probably exactly what they appear to be. It is used in the context of arguments that reach to make excuses or find alternative explanations.

It is attributed to James Whitcomb Riley, who wrote in one of his poems that "when I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."

Oregon’s Fighting Duck mascot is Donald Duck, the Disney cartoon character.

Duck soup is an easily accomplished task or assignment.

Send me more!