More from the March 2004 SPPA Bulletin:
Saving The Lamona
(Editor’s note: The following account was first printed in the 1986 SPPA Breeders Directory. Mr. Nash was SPPA Secretary-Treasurer from 1984 until his death in January, 1996 and worked to save the Lamona.) Back in January, 1985 I passed on to a young man very much interested in Lamonas the last of my Lamonas (2 cocks and 4 hens) after we had lost 30 birds to predators. Was very fortunate to find Lonnie Miller of Windsor, MO to assume the responsibility of saving the Lamona. I believe that some excerpts from Lonnie’s letters might prove of interest to you.
November 9, 1984: I will be taking over the Allen Hatchery, Inc. of Windsor. I realize that most mail order hatcheries don’t have a very good reputation with fanciers and breeders, and probably with good reason. I know the first thing on my list to change is our breeding. Also, I would like to add a few more breeds, or very good strains, to my list. One of those breeds, without a doubt, will be the Lamona. Since you sent me the literature on the Lamona I have really fallen in love with them. It was a shame that their popularity didn’t take off back in 1928 … if they have, they would probably still be a popular breed today. Their quality and characteristics were apparent then, and probably haven’t changed that much over the years. With my interest (not really experience) in breeding fine poultry, if they have problems, perhaps in the years to come I could make improvements for them.
November 24, 1984: I would be most happy to meet you half way and pick up the Lamonas. I am sorry to hear that you just have four hens and two roosters, however. It is too bad that the chicks your grandson hatched disappeared. I know how that is! When I first moved here to grandpa’s farm, I had varmints come in and get something nearly every night! There was hardly any night that I slept clear through without having to get up and either chase something off or shoot it! Last Summer I got rid of all my chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowl and was facing defeat in this war with predators. But Allen’s needed someone to have a flock of Brown Leghorns so I took 300! Believe it or not I haven’t lost a single chicken to any varmint at all.
February 13, 1985: The Lamonas are getting along alright, in spite of the cold weather we have been having. I lost one hen. I posted her but I suppose she died of natural causes. There is just one hen laying, and she lays about every day. It took them a while to start laying. I suppose due to the change and weather. They are the most content chickens I have ever been around. They are quiet and gentle, very easy going. It’s odd at how well the two roosters get along … usually when you have more than one male with a few hens they fight. But those Lamonas don’t seem to mind at all. I don’t know how many eggs I will get from them, but I will set all the eggs I can and get as many chicks from them as I can. I will do all I can for them, I promise.
March 16, 1985: I want to tell you that the Lamonas ARE dong excellent, especially as far as production. The second hen started laying in February, and most every day I got two eggs! Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get at least one. One hen laid ten days straight! They both took a day off yesterday, but I picked up two eggs again today. The third hen looks as if she won’t lay at all, but I can’t dispose of her! I think they are fighting for survival … and they do put up a great fight! You say you don’t know how old they are? I know one rooster has good-sized spurs. I am setting every Lamona egg … I don’t know what kind of a hatch to expect, but the eggs I am saving now should hatch better than the first set. Even though I gathered the eggs not long after they were laid, the cold weather could effect their hatchability. Also, it was awhile before I was able to get them set, so the first few eggs that they laid were about three or four weeks old.
April 18, 1985: The first 12 Lamona chicks are doing real fine. I had to debeak them tonight because they just started picking on each other a little. I just noticed it this afternoon so there was no problem. One problem, however, did happen with them today. When I went to shut up the chicken house door, I looked in the Lamona pen ad saw one dead on the floor. I hoped it was the hen that hasn’t laid at all, but sorry to say it was one of the best producers. This means that only one hen will be laying … now I just have two roosters, one hen that lays and one that doesn’t. The tragedy is seeing all those “would be” Lamonas when I posted her. I always post any dead chicken I have … happy to say there hasn’t been hardly any. I will have more Lamonas hatch this coming Tuesday and I hope they hatch good. Losing the hen tonight will cut down quite a bit on the number of eggs I can set. I have to save the eggs for a few weeks as I don’t want a lot of different ages to take care of. I don’t have that many places where I can keep them. I am remodeling my brooder house now, along with all the other things I have to do this time of year. I will move the Lamonas I have now in the brooder house when the next ones are ready to go in the coop they are now. I think everything will work out well for the future Lamonas. I sure hope nothing happens to the last producing hen! I suppose if something does happen, it just does, and I will still have more Lamonas to work with than I started out with. I’ll close for now so I can go to bed. I was going to bed at 10:00 but when I went to the chicken house to shut the door and turn off the light I saw the Lamona on the floor and I wanted to post her before I went to bed. I didn’t find anything out of the ordinary wrong with her like the last one. I still don’t’ know what was wrong with her … I had never seen anything like that in a chicken before. I guess the one died tonight of natural causes … she had been a good producer and there were MANY eggs on their way. I hope to have at least 24 eggs to set Tuesday and at least 24 more Lamona chicks to hatch the same day. I think the future looks well for the Lamonas. All I have to do is do my best because that’s what they are doing.
August 5, 1985: I have hatched and raised 38 chicks, all but a few of these eggs are from ONE hen who laid nearly every day … she died as well, however, so there will be no more eggs from the Lamonas as I got from you. I have one rooster left and one hen that never laid a single egg. Just guess … how old could those chickens I got from you be? Not as a complaint, but to “BRAG” ABOUT THE WAY THEY LAY! Of course, the hen that died first was full of eggs … the second one that died laid very well as I got two eggs many days before I found her dead on the nest. The one producer that did live was the very best one, and I would imagine that 90 per cent, perhaps more, of the 38 chicks I raised were hers. Let me tell you, these chicks are doing really GREAT! A man called me about buying a “spare” cockerel. He said all of his has crooked toes. Now the old one I got from you had crooked toes but none of the young ones do. The only defect I can see right now is the fact that some of the cockerels have uneven combs (I don’t know if that’s the proper term). At first I thought that they were rather leggy, but as the oldest pullets got older it seemed that they grew out of it. I guess that’s just the way they grow. It’s funny … working with the hatchery business all these years I have seen straight run chicks run just about 50/50 all the time. These Lamonas don’t … eight out of twelve chicks are pullets but the last five I hatched turned out to be two cockerels and three pullets. I also noticed that some of the chicks have little spurs, right when they hatch, and those are the ones that turned out to be cockerels … every time! I have two new houses, one 8X12 feet and the other 8X16 feet. They were at the hatchery and I moved them to the farm. These Lamonas are fascinating birds! I can sit in the backyard and they run to see me and jump up in my lap … following me all over the yard. They get in the way sometimes when I’m working with my plants, but they are just looking for bugs … it’s fun!
September 20, 1985: The Lamonas are getting along just fine … the oldest ones are sure beautiful. I will send you some pictures of them later. The old rooster that lived is a good one. I also still have that hen that never laid. (I think that’s her name.) I haven’t gotten a “sure” head count on how many pullets and cockerels I have. I do have enough cockerels to select pretty good for breeding stock, however. I was just looking at them again, noticing the combs on the cockerels. They aren’t good. They look more than a Leghorn type … uneven on some. BUT I do have a couple that are not unevenly serrated and don’t seem to have quite the Leghorn type. Legs … they are a bit leggy, as you told me, but most of the pullets are pretty good … it is just the cockerels. The wattles on most of them are O.K., but the good cock, the sire, had one long wattle and one short one … about 30 per cent of the chicks inherited this defect. No crooked toes at all! Their color is exceptional, no white in their ear lobes is noticeable yet. Lamona body type is definitely there, proper carriage and an abundance of feathers. I will have another chicken house soon. This one will have two pens. I want to put the best Lamonas in one pen and the rest of the pullets in the other pen. For the best ones do you suggest I select the shortest legs, and even wattles on pullets; for cockerels select for comb, legs, and wattles? If you have any suggestions I would like to have your advice. I would like to sell eggs, even chicks, next spring. I would like to hatch chicks for breeding stock from June sometime until the middle of August. With as many pullets as I have I think I can get enough during that time. The real problem I am having right now is that I have many ages … I would like to avoid that next year if I can. ***