Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Free Old English Game Rooster

Cesar, an Old English Game rooster, has become too boisterous for his suburban surroundings. He needs a new home. If you live within driving distance of Paso Robles, California, and are interested, please contact Pat and Jeannine at
He is a cherished pet, but his early morning hours don't fit in with the community.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Golden Campine and Call Duck

Last year, Lynn Shelburne was kind enough to send pictures of her daughter Leah's Golden Campine winning best Continental at the Kentucky State Fair. This year, both mother and daughter did even better. Here's Lynn Shelburne holding her Best Continental Golden Campine Pullet, with judge Eric Engelsman. This beautiful pullet was also Best Large Fowl and Reserve Grand Champion of Show.
Daughter Leah Shelburne' sWhite Call Drake won Best Bantam Duck and Reserve Grand Champion of the junior show.

Judge Engelsman is getting to know these experts well! The local paper, The Spencer Magnet, published another photo of the winng girl and duck:
The Campine is a very old Belgian egg breed. At 3 1/2 pounds for a pullet and 4 pounds for a hen, they are relatively small but compact and active. Barry Koffler on quotes J. Butler from Old & Rare Breeds of Poultry, Beech Publishing House, 1997: "This is a precocious breed, and at one time it was thought that it might be most suitable for capturing the trade in petits poussins (milk-fed chickens, 6 weeks old, approximately 1.5 lb (650 to 700 g) in weight, and fattened on a special diet as a gourmet delicacy), but lack of enterprise on someone's part has allowed the opening to slip by. This same early maturity may have led to the present lack of body size, and, if so, breeders should try to combat this at all costs, and the time of year for hatching may have something to do with the matter." Could the Campine represent a small farm venture awaiting the ambitious rare breed enthusiast? Mr. Koffler asks.
As the Shelburnes demonstrate, Campines also take their place on Champions Row.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good News about Avian Influenza

NPR reported today on Morning Edition,, that it wasn't the flu that killed so many people in the 1918 flu pandemic. It was the bacterial pneumonia that afflicted many flu patients as a secondary infection. Because modern antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections, they would play an important role in reducing illness and death.

This is significant news, because the 1918 pandemic has been held up as a model for a future pandemic, often linked to H5N1 Avian Influenza. Media coverage has been inflammatory, although it has died down somewhat in recent months. Popular news accounts have often included the caveats that the virus had not crossed the species barrier although some humans had become infected and even died, and was no danger to humans unless it did. Then most stories would go on to describe devastation and misery, bodies piled in the streets, etc. etc. It frightened many people and has been the driver for emergency management planning to cope with closed businesses and schools, lack of food, and all the other crises that occur in natural disasters. We were primed by watching the government fail New Orleans during Katrina.

Cooler and better informed heads all along have counseled that improved communications and medical care make such a pandemic unlikely. H5N1 Avian Influenza is even more of a long shot, since the virus has not made the requisite mutations that would create it a fearsome human pathogen. Marc K. Siegel, a practicing internist and associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, took on the subject in a book, Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic. "The fear of bird flu has become particularly virulent," he writes. "There is a vaccine for this fear: it is called information with perspective."
However, birds of all kinds have come under suspicion, including migratory birds and small poultry flocks. Some people have even gotten rid of their birds and taken down bird feeders out of fear.

The actual incidence of H5N1 in humans has not been established. The death toll stands at 135 confirmed deaths, While any deaths are regrettable, other influenzas typically kill 36,000-40,000 Americans alone each year. No serology studies have been done to determine what the background infection rate may be in humans in the Southeast Asian countries where the disease has most commonly been identified. So claims about its mortality rate are unverifiable.

A pandemic is possible, as is being hit by a meteor and other natural disasters. Disaster planning is a responsible strategy for coping with the crises that are bound to happen in one place or another. Focusing attention on Bird Flu has created problems for small flock owners. Around the world, it has damaged local diets and economies,
Spreading the word on this Bird Flu development may not be as easy as spreading horrifying news of pandemic destruction, but the truth is always the answer.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Other books I love

A kind bantam owner sent a message about how much she enjoyed "How to Raise Chickens" and asked for suggestions of other books. I came up with these:

One of my personal favorites is "Presenting the Turkey: The Fabulous Story of a Flamboyant and Flavourful Bird" by Sabine Eiche. She is an art historian and this wonderful book traces the history of turkeys after explorers brought them back to Europe from the New World in the 16th century. Illustrated with wonderful reproductions of the artwork and fascinating material on how people lived. You can buy it through this site, $35 plus shipping.

Jan Irving compiled a book on Dorkings: Poultry, Fowls & Chickens. She's Australian but sells it through her site,, $30 plus shipping.

Stephen Green-Armytage's picture books, "Extraordinary Chickens" and "Extra Extraordinary Chickens are wonderful to look through. $12.95-$24.95,

"Exhibition Poultry Keeping" by David Scrivener has a lot of valuable advice as well as nice show pictures, $45.

In the future, "How to Raise Poultry," which I finished writing this past week and will be published in April 2009. It has chapters on ducks, geese, swans, turkeys, guineafowl, game birds, ratites (ostriches, emus and rheas) and of course, chickens. Lots of great pictures. I enjoyed writing it.

All these books except the Dorking book are, or will be, also available through and through major booksellers. Sometimes they are on the shelves and sometimes you have to ask for them. The turkey book can be difficult to find. That's why I decided to sell it myself. The Italian publisher doesn't have many American connections. Check with your local library, too. You may be able to take a close look at them that way befor eyou make a decision to buy. Tractor Supply stores carry "How to Raise Chickens."

Let me know how you enjoy these. Please pass along your favorites to me, too. A new book came out last month that sounds terrific, "Home to Roost: A Backyard Farmer Chases Chickens Through the Ages" by Bob Sheasley. I want to get hold of it and read it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sanford, NC prohibits city chickens

I was sorry to see that the Sanford, North Carolina city council refused to lift its ban on poultry, requiring a local woman to give up the chickens she has kept there for several years

Alex Reid moved her chickens under threat of daily fines being assessed against her, but will continue working to get the ordinance changed. Over the years they have had the 14 birds, her son and daughter have won ribbons at county and state fairs.

She has persuaded one council member that the issue should at least be discussed. She is organizing a demonstration, a letter-writing campaign and has conducted an on-line poll. Ms. Reid sounds like an able advocate for this cause. She has a good chance of changing this law and making the city more responsive to its citizens. Thanks for your work!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SPPA Breeders Directory

The Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities’ 2008 Breeders Directory will be mailed to members in September. The latest edition includes new articles on breeding, shipping adult fowl, chickens in America, saving our heritage poultry, successful incubation and more.

The Breeders Directory is an invaluable tool for historic breed poultry keepers. Historic breeds have become rare and finding the individuals who keep themsuch as these Black Cochins, can be difficult. The Breeders Directory compiles that information. These birds belong to Tim Lockett and the photo is from

The Directory lists members in alphabetical order by last name, by state and by what they breed. Listings include whether and how they will ship, drop off at shows or invite prospective purchasers to their farms. “Our Directory is the most useful tool we publish,” said Mary Ann Harley, SPPA Second Vice President, who compiled the information for the directory. “Where else can you find this information in one book ready for your use? You won't want to be without this Directory.”

It is available to nonmembers for $10. SPPA membership is $15 annually. Contact Dr. Charles Everett, 1057 Nick Watts Rd., Lugoff, SC 29078 for membership or a copy of the directory.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tiffany's progress

As of August 1, Tiffany, the Buff Orpington with a broken leg, continued to improve. Owner Pat Barberi reports:

I have been putting her out in the barn with the flock in the morning and bringing her in at night. This evening I could NOT recognize her as she mingled with the flock until she heard my voice and came over.

This morning for the first time she stood normally on both feet and actually pivoted on the repaired leg to turn around.

When she moves she stills limps a little bit, favoring the left leg, but it is planted firmly down and she can push forward with it. I went into the barn tonight and dumped some scratch in various places, one being an old coffee table I use for a saw bench when I am working on remodeling out there.

When I returned to that part of the barn, there she was on top of the saw table with two other pullets pecking away at the scratch. This was a three foot high benchmark for her to acquire.What a remarkable evolution of this rehabilitation of a major leg injury. I brought her in tonight, one more time, but starting tomorrow I think I can leave her overnight in the barn with the rest of the flock.

Harvey Ussery of says:

The recuperative powers of chickens are phenomenal. (Where injuries are concerned, that is--where disease is concerned, they seem mostly to have two settings: On, and Off.)

I once accidentally ran over a young Cornish Cross (Cornish Cross, mind you, one of the most compromised chickens on earth) with a mobile shelter. Picked it up to find one thigh bone snapped cleanly in half, just like you'd break a pencil. Set it back down and said, "You're on your own on this one, pal." I'd see it limping about afterwards, each time a little less awkwardly. When we ate that batch, I kept looking for a thigh bone with a big calcified "patch". I never found one.

These reports remind us that chickens are sturdy, resilient birds. Thank you both.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Buckeyes wanted at New York, Ohio State Fairs

A Buckeye breeder is looking for other breeders to bring birds to the New York State Fair,, for sale and exchange. Poultry events are scheduled August 23-25 and August 29-September 1. Another fancier would like to network with Buckeye breeders on August 7 at the Ohio State Fair,

Events at the New York State Fair include a daily Rooster Crowing Contest, culminating in a championship event of each day’s winners on September 1. I hope someone will send pictures of the winners!

State and County fairs are excellent opportunities to see and acquire new stock. Email me or post a comment for contact information for these eager Buckeye fanciers.
This Buckeye belongs to Bryan Oliver of South Carolina.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Million Dollar Hen

Luty Hawkins developed and manufactured hatchery equipment at the "Million Dollar Hen" factory in Mt. Vernon, IL from the 1930s until 1960. His grand-daughter, Jo Truty, is looking for information about the company and its products.

A Google search turns up patents for a hen laying cage, a dropping board scaper and a combined cage and feeder structure. Anyone out there know anything?

There might be some information in poultry publications from that period of time. He may have advertised the business. I'll post information as it becomes available.