Saturday, October 19, 2013

Biltmore Estate

During our recent visit to the Southeast, we visited the Biltmore Estate. It's often compared to the Hearst San Simeon Estate, so I've wanted to see it for a long time. One of my favorite Christmas carol videos is Judy Collins singing at the Biltmore.

 Antler Hill Village is the farm section, where the estate's provisions were raised and grown back in the 1890s. The farm now keeps about 400 chickens, all traditional breeds, and supplies eggs to the four restaurants on the estate. They told me they'd like to be able to provide for all the egg needs, but that would require 250 dozen a week, and they aren't quite up to that. What with molting at this time of year, they are getting about 50 dozen a week now. Allowing for breeding pens and the exigencies of hens who aren't laying, the farm manager figures she's need about 1,000 hens to reach that level of production.

They keep the birds all together, which has resulted in mixing breeds, hens with Light Brahma plumage but the muffs of Ameraucanas. 
 Kids get to come inside the barnyard with the chickens. They get a chance to be with farm animals and learn how to behave around them, no chasing. All the kids there when I visited were delighted but calm.

 This sweet Naked Neck hen had a mild disposition and was sociable with all the visitors.

They rotate the flocks around to other pastures. This attractive chicken tractor is a centerpiece of that part of the project. The donkey enjoys their company and also acts as a deterrent to predators, although they have has some losses.
 Several roosters preside over the flock in the pasture.

 This Barred Rock rooster didn't think he needed to stay inside the tractor enclosure. I hope his faith in his ability to outwit predators remains justified!

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