Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Columbian Wyandottes ready for the table

Heritage Foods USA’s new Heritage Breed Chicken Tour is a great marketing idea. It provides a way for the public to try these old-fashioned chickens and showcases them to a public that’s unfamiliar with the idea of chicken breeds. Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch provides the birds. 

They’re pricey: $46 for two chickens, plus shipping (in my case, to California, overnight shipping would be $43). But the product is out there. Lots of popular products were expensive when they got started. Price will change over time.

As these old breeds get traction in the marketplace, I’m confident that the big change will be as demand inspires more farmers to offer them for sale at farmers’ markets and other local outlets. That will be the breakthrough. There’s nothing sustainable about overnight air shipping, but getting this product recognized and available is the first step. Frank’s birds are available locally in stores near his Kansas farm.

The Wyandotte is a wonderful first choice. Robert Frost wrote his poem, A Blue Ribbon at Amesburyabout one of his Wyandottes. I’ve acquired a Wyandotte pullet this year, and I’m amazed at how she fits the description shown here, in an article from the American Poultry Advocate of 1912.

She appears larger than her Welsummer and Ancona sisters who are the same age, but it could be her soft, fluffy feathers. She’s certainly round.

The Columbian color pattern is striking, but that won’t show up on table-ready birds. Nine color varieties of Wyandottes are recognized, but other colors are raised. My pullet is a Blue Laced Red, not a recognized color, but beautiful.

I’m interested in hearing from any readers who purchase Frank’s chickens. Please share your experiences.

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