Wednesday, January 30, 2008

SPPA Breeders Directory

This morning an enthusiast called me, looking for Norwegian Jaerhons. This is a wonderful breed that lays well through winter. It's been around for many years but was standardized in the 1920s in Europe. It is not recognized by the American Poultry Association,

I was able to refer him to several breeders by consulting my copy of the SPPA Breeders Directory. The next one will be compiled over the summer.

Many breeds, such as the Jaerhon, remain unrecognized for exhibition purposes but have their advocates. This rooster, Tage, belongs to Barry Koffler, and his photo is part of the Jaerhon entry on Birds of unrecognized breeds can be exhibited but cannot win top prizes. To become recognized, at least two hens, two pullets, two cocks and two cockerels of the breed must be shown at least twice each year for two years at APA shows. Judges then submit their opinions of the breed and a qualifiying meet is held. No fewer than 50 birds must be shown at that meet. The judges then decide whether the breed will receive recognition or whether more work needs to be done.

By definition, there aren't many flocks of breeds that have become rare. Enthusiasts may have difficulty finding flocks of the breeds they have or want to acquire. Exchanging birds to acquire new stock is important for keeping a flock vigorous and avoiding inbreeding.

The Breeders Directory is a crucial document in supporting rare breed owners. By having their contact information available to others, the community of rare breed owners becomes a network of support. You hold in your hand all the information you need to find other Jaerhon or Fayoumi breeders. Even relatively popular recognized breeds that have their own breed clubs, such as the Dominique Club of America,, find new breed enthusiasts in its pages. Not all fanciers belong to any organization.

Current members will receive a form to fill out and return to SPPA Second Vice President Mary Ann Harley in the Spring issue of the SPPA Bulletin. New members are welcome to join and submit their information before June 30. The 2008-2009 edition of the Bulletin will be available by Fall 2008.

Join through this site or by sending a check for $15 to SPPA Secretary/Treasurer Dr. Charles Everett, 1057 Nick Watts Rd., Lugoff, SC 29078.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Avian Influenza

I was gratified to see the New York Times backing up from The Sky Is Falling to The Sky Might Fall,, "A Pandemic That Wasn't but Might Be." The hysteria over H5N1 has never been justified, but those voices have been louder than voices counseling less dramatic predictions.

The eradication programs going on in India and Thailand are inexcusable, especially in light of the UN Food & Agriculture's conclusion regarding Highly Pathogenic Viruses,, that: "Policy makers in both developing and developed countries appear to accept that large-scale industrial farms have higher standards and self-discipline in biosecurity, while smallholders need more rigorous public oversight. But the realities of animal health, economic incentives, and the public interest in disease prevention are far too complex for simple rules of thumb like this to be optimal for society. Only a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to risk management on industrial and backyard farms can sustain a safe and affordable food supply."

Grain's April 2007 report,, "Despite their 'expert' status, those trying to outlaw backyard poultry are not acting on evidence. The only peer-reviewed study to compare the risks between family farms and industrial operations, based on data from the bird flu outbreaks in Thailand in 2004, found that "backyard flocks are at a significantly lower risk of [bird flu] infection compared to commercial-scale operations of broiler or layer chickens or quail." Nor are these "experts", or the government officials following their advice, responding to the needs of the vast majority of the affected people. If people are defying orders to kill off their flocks, it is not because they do not understand the potential dangers of the disease. It is because their immediate livelihoods are at stake and, compensated or not, they cannot afford to shop at supermarkets."

Policies of eradication are not science-based and inflict misery on the poor without demonstrable eradication of the HP viruses. Management and husbandry changes, combined with vacccination, will provide more protection with less economic pain inflicted on the poor.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sicilian Buttercups

Sicilian Buttercups get their name from the cup-shaped comb on both males and females. This breed is unusual for the different plumage on males and females, called sexual dimorphism.

Although they are named for the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean, the breed was actually developed in North Africa. It acquired the name from the English after birds were imported to England from Sicily.
This old breed was admitted to the APA Standard of Perfection in 1918, in the Mediterranean group. It seems to me that it is becoming more popular, as I have seen several very nice birds at shows recently.
These photos were sent to me two years ago and surfaced during our move. The person who took them sent a series of lovely pictures and the negatives, but the identification has been lost. If you own them, or see birds you recognize, please contact me. I want to thank you again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


The National Animal Identification System has been a big issue in the agricultural community, but hasn't had much notice from the general media and, consequently, the general public. People see it as a farm issue that doesn't relate to them. They don't understand the implications for their lives and the food that will be available to them.

Two recent high-profile articles have done a good job of bringing the issue to a wider audience: "Farmers Fear a Barnyard Big Brother," in the Los Angeles Times, January 14,, and The Nation Online, "USDA Bets the Farm on Animal ID Program," December 14,

Let's hope by shining more light on these programs we can get support to make NAIS truly voluntary, for those who want it, and not de facto imposed on those who do not.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Central Coast Feather Fanciers

Sarah Spotten, right, shows off her Blue Mille Fleur Dutch Bantam pullet at the January 16 meeting of Central Coast Feather Fanciers in Templeton, California. Sarah is District 6 Director for the American Dutch Bantam Society, She's looking forward to starting her new job as Webmaster for KSBY television,, in San Luis Obispo.
The pullet is one of six birds she recently acquired, five with the usual Mille Fleur coloration and this beautiful blue one. Three are roosters. Sarah is excited to have the blue variation because it can be a component of many other colors, including Buff Columbian and Mottled.
Amaya R. Dempsey, at top, eight years old, stands with the poster she designed, drew and colored for the Poster Design Competition at the Pacific Poultry Breeders Association 61st Annual Winter Show at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton, California January 12-13, Her poster, showing the popular bantam breeds, won first prize in the Eight Years Old and Under class.
Her prizes includeda one-year membership in the ABA,, and a pocket-size copy of the American Bantam Association Standard of Perfection. One of her favrorite birds is a Cream Blue Light Brown Dutch Bantam. She now has about 25 birds.
She attends third grade in Paso Robles, where she lives with her parents, Jim and Teri Dempsey.
These young people are an inspiration in their knowledge and dedication to fine poultry. Thank you both for your work.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

NAIS Business Plan

NAIS Updates From the Front Line

© Doreen Hannes

On December 19th, 2007, the USDA issued new documents in the Federal Register regarding NAIS. These are the "NAIS Business Plan" and new "User Guide" which you will find at the USDA's NAIS site, These documents go hand in hand with the Federal Register notice of July 18th regarding the final rule on AIN's called, "Livestock Identification; Use of Alternative Numbering Systems". (search the Federal register for the text)

Reading these documents leaves no doubt as to where NAIS is going and how it will get there. The USDA is to finally be commended for being somewhat forthright in their publications at long last.

To sum it up in a rather succinct fashion, the current game plan is to require compliance with NAIS through the registration of your property as a premise and attachment of NAIS "840" tags to your animals as a requirement of engaging in interstate commerce in any way.

Here are some of the particular points in these documents. NAIS premise registration will be required for movement of livestock across state lines with the required ICVI (interstate certificate of veterinary inspection) See pages 19,27,30,32,33,34 and especially page 53 of the Business Plan PDF to read about this for yourself. Please note that if you are reading it on your computer you will need to add 4 pages to the page number I have given.

Of tremendous import, in February of 2008, yes, a few weeks from now, the USDA intends to publish a proposed rule for rolling all animal identification numbering into NAIS compliant "840" numbering. This will include all mandatory disease control programs, including, Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Pseudo Rabies, Scrapie and Avian Influenza.

To help get all animals (and your real estate) into the program, the USDA will be focusing on having all the breed registries roll their identification into NAIS beginning in March of 2008. I have checked out the American Dairy Goat Association site and on the USDA link it will show a beautiful placement of AIN USAXXXXXXXXXXXX (it is indeed 15 characters) for your registered dairy goats. Also of note, membership numbers are conveniently seven digit numbers. I guess it's a good thing all of my registered goats died in a horrible barn fire.

Please don't take my sarcasm for surprise in anyway. I'm not surprised at all.. I am, however, completely disgusted.

Here is one of many excerpts from the Federal register Final Rule on AIN's from July 18th, 2008 that shows how certain this course of action is for the USDA:

"Because a uniform animal identification numbering system is
needed to make the NAIS successful, we do intend that, in the future,
only the ``840'' AIN will be recognized for official use…."

Page 36 of the Business Plan let's you know that the USDA means business. They contract with the states, and have this to say regarding the Cooperative Agreement, note the last sentence:

"APHIS-VS provides Federal support for NAIS implementation activities and infrastructure within each State, Tribe, or Territory through a Federal funding instrument referred to as a cooperative agreement. This differs from a grant in that grant recipients follow Federal guidelines but are more independent in using the funds. With a cooperative agreement, both parties contribute to the successful completion of the project as outlined in the application and mutually agreed-upon work plan. Cooperative agreement awards require quarterly reporting and engagement of Federal oversight in the successful completion of the goals, objectives, and description of efforts outlined in the work plan. Beginning with fiscal year 2008, this draft business plan will uniquely serve as a blueprint for the development of work plans associated with NAIS implementation cooperative agreement funding."

It is important to note that as of this writing, the USDA has -no- specific authorization to enact the National Animal Identification System. They claim it comes through the AHPA which passed as part of the 2002 Farm Bill, yet there is no specifically granted authority for the Secretary of Agriculture to assign a permanently attached Federal number to your property and call it a premise, nor to require that you electronically identify your animals, nor to require that you report animal movements on or off of your property to any entity whatsoever. If the Senate version of the '07 Farm Bill passes through committee as written, NAIS will have it's first mention in actual statute and that will authorize the USDA to actually do this program.

Cattle are listed as the highest priority in NAIS. This is commensurate with the international guidelines calling for cattle first and then other ruminants. The Business Plan has timelines and benchmark numbers set for cattle and all other species broken down on page 55 of the Business Plan.

Due to space, I will only hit a few salient points from the User Guide. first, the merging of all disease control programs is repeatedly referenced as noted below:

(page 26 of the User Guide pdf)
"The PIN is being incorporated as the standard location identifier in all Federal livestock and poultry disease programs……States and Tribes also have the option of allowing industry organizations or groups or other interested third parties to assist with collecting and entering premises data…."

Trickle down NAIS will move forward easily since many breed registries will incorporate "840" official identification into their registries along with the health paper and disease program roll ins. Remember, it is a felony to remove an official identification device:

(from page 30)
. " Producers who purchase animals and bring them into their operation will maintain the official identification already on the animal — no additional identification or change of identification of those animals should occur."

Note the command form of "will", it is not the permissive "may" as it would be were NAIS capable of actually being voluntary.

On page 25 there is no allusion to the false "Opt Out" option that USDA was touting as part of it's attempt to make NAIS into a kinder, gentler, more voluntary program under the first User Guide:

"It is important to remember that the premises identification number (PIN) is assigned permanently to a physical location. If an owner or entity sells his/her farm, the next operators of the premises use the original premises identification number that had been assigned to that location. If the seller buys a new location to build a new operation that never had livestock, he/she would register that location and obtain a new premises identification number (PIN)."

What this actually does to real estate will probably be decided in a court room. What it does to the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens will certainly be decided in the courts.

The part of NAIS that will remain voluntary is whether or not you desire to engage in commerce of livestock in any way. Hardly anyone will be able to avoid purchasing new breeding stock at some point. We'll end up with a bunch of unthrifty inbred stock and have to purchase new stock from black market breeders risking heaven only knows what kinds of fines and penalties should our criminality be discovered.

(page 31 of pdf):

“Animals that never leave the farm or are only moved directly to custom slaughter for personal consumption do not need to be officially identified. In such cases, these movements have little impact on the potential spread of disease and the traceability, if necessary, is adequate. (State requirements for custom may differ from this Federal guidance.

“Animals that do not leave their birth premises (e.g., die and are buried at their birth place) do not need to be identified.”

It's my hope that this breakdown is helpful to your understanding of how imminent the threat of NAIS is to your life and livelihood. There are many, many more points that should be covered for full understanding of these documents.

Opponents of NAIS have continually been accused of spreading "misinformation". When pressed about what it was that we were "misinforming" people about, Under Secretary Bruce Knight told Ray Cunio, "Don't believe what you read. Believe what I say". If you believe that, I have a "NAIS How to Handbook" you should read.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Schilling portraits

I was thrilled to win these copies of Arthur Schilling portraits at the California Classic Poultry Show raffle. They are 5" x 7" and there were two copies of each one. In order from the top, they are Buff Cochin Bantams, Old English Game Black Breasted Red Bantams, Rosecomb Bantams and Single Comb White Leghorn Bantams.

My understanding is that the originals have been dispersed and are in private collections around the country. What a wonderful project it would be to assemble them all for a special exhibit! Any art curators out there? I dream of a Fowl Trust Site that would have a wonderful gallery that could display such a collection.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Buff Chanteclers

Here's Mike Gilbert's Buff Chantecler again, to ignite a spark in your mind about this breed. Larry Stallings of Paso Robles needs some hens for the two roosters he acquired. Anyone with leads please contact me or call Larry at 805-237-7987 or send him a note at 7997 Feenstra, Paso Robles, CA 93446.
UPDATE January 14: Chuck McNeese, secretary/treasurer of Chantecler Fanciers International, the newly formed breed club, will be able to send Larry some hens in the spring. She reports that she has already hatched out 50 chicks! Thanks for your dedication, Chuck.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Duck and Goose Eggs

A reader inquired about what breeds of ducks and geese lay eggs well for commercial sale. He's considering this as a venture.
The table above compares production from several different kinds of poultry. It is from "The Book of Geese: A Complete Guide to Raising the Home Flock" by Dave Holderread, Mr. Holderread's book is an excellent reference and he is an acknowledged leader in waterfowl.
Runner, Harlequin and Campbell Ducks were developed with egg production as a goal, so they are all good egg producers. Muscovy Ducks are good natural layers, often laying as many as 20 eggs in a clutch, compared to the 12-15 typical of Mallard-type ducks. They may also lay a second clutch in the year. So they are also a good choice.
I grew up eating Muscovy eggs and they are delicious.
Geese have never been developed as market egg layers, so they do not lay year round. Their egg laying season is in the Spring. China geese are good natural layers that extend that season longer than other breeds.
Mr. Holderread's book notes that "Goose eggs are fine for most uses and are considered by many chefs to be the best eggs for baked goods. The albumen is firmer than in chicken eggs and normally does not whip as well."
I am seeking flock owners who are actively selling duck and goose eggs to find our what breeds they are raising and how they are managing. If you have such a flock, or know of someone who does, please contact me. Thanks!

Monday, January 7, 2008

4H Leader Needed

At the Golf Coast Fanciers California Classic Poultry Show last weekend, Norm Levy asked for help finding a 4H Leader for Poultry to replace him in Santa Cruz County. He's done a great job over the past four years developing the position. He's eager to pursue some other projects, but will be available to help the next leader. Currently, a capable high school senior is handling the job, and she will be there to help, too.

Anyone interested, or who knows anyone who might be interested, please contact Norm at (831) 336-8537.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

California Classic Poultry Show

Kim Jorgensen was one of the exhibitors who brought nearly 900 birds to the Gold Coast Fanciers California Classic Poultry Show in Hollister January 5 & 6. Here she shows her Blue Araucana pullet, her White Crested Black Polish cockerel and her Blue Silkie cockerel.
Despite the fierce storms that battered California the day before and blew through Saturday night, participants enjoyed a busy show. Organizers said that entries were down about 300 birds from 2007, which they attributed to the upcoming Stockton show the following weekend, January 12 & 13.
Many rare and historic breeds were on display, including Large Fowl such as a large class of Shamos and some Malays and Aseels, Naked Necks, Sumatras, a nice group of Sicilian Buttercups, many Minorcas, Australorps and Wyandottes. Bantams were plentiful, with lots of attractive Games, Wyandottes, Black Dutch and Rosecombs. Ducks were well represented by Harleqauins, Rouens, Pekins and lots of Runners and Calls. Several geese, including an impressive African male, several Sebastopols and an Eqyptian. A pair of Bourbon Red turkeys attracted much positive comment.
Judge Gary Agajanian and two Canadian colleagues enjoyed their duties. Larry Stallings brought one of the two Buff Chantecler roosters he rescued recently. He'd hoped they were a pair, but no such luck. So he is looking for some Buff hens. All Chantecler girls welcome!
Thanks to everyone for a great show. More tomorrow.