Thursday, January 30, 2014

APA officer election

Dave Anderson is running for APA president. Here's his campaign statement:

Dave Anderson, Kim Cook and Bill Patterson at the 2007 poultry show

I have submitted my name as a candidate for President in the 2014 election. I believe the upcoming years will be critical for the APA and require proven leadership with a strong business background. I have such a back-ground and served as President of the APA from 2006 - 2010. Those were trying times and I would refer to the progress made during those years as a testament to my capabilities.
The association is in an enviable position at this time with a strong financial footing and a vigorous Board of Directors. There are many opportunities available such as a heritage breed/flock certification program and the potential of poultry-based television programs that, if handled correctly, can greatly benefit the APA. In addition, we are in the middle of a three year program to significantly improve the quality of our Yearbook and we have begun the preliminary work on the next edition of the Standard of Perfection. In other words there are a lot of positive things happening.
As always, we have an unwavering focus on promoting and protecting the standard-bred poultry industry and supporting and encouraging poultry shows as the show window of our industry. I would be proud to serve in a position of leadership for this cause if the membership so desires.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Talking Chickenese

Eric Lofgren has published his own chicken keeping book, Talking Chickenese. The title sounds lightweight, but he's done a good job with the material. He is a serious observer and careful chicken keeper. His book reflects it.

I haven't met Eric, but he's clearly experienced with chickens. He has also kept detailed records and has a clear memory of what has worked and what hasn't. His advice on Moving a Broody Hen reflects his patience: "Place the eggs in the nest and then gently place the hen over the eggs. Talk softly to her and pet her back until she relaxes and lays down on the nest... She will eventually settle in."

He opens the book with lists of common chicken expressions that may be obscure to new chicken owners, such as the distinction between breed and variety. This kind of terminology confused me when I was starting out, so getting the basic vocabulary straightened out at the start makes sense. He adds common abbreviations, with some humor mixed in, (CBOF: Cantankerous Old Bag of Feathers) and his own take on commercial terms such as Free Range and Antibiotic Free. Learning these terms is important to the consumer as well as the poultry keeper. It's part of our job as poultry enthusiasts to educate the public as to what they are buying.

Lofgren's book is truly encyclopedic. He includes plenty of start-up advice, such as choosing between buying day-old chicks, hatching with an incubator and hatching with a hen. He devotes about a third of the book to medical advice, clearly presented and easy to understand. If my birds come up with something I'm not familiar with, I'll consult his chapter for guidance. His experience shows here, too: "Gatorade: Used as a supplement to aid n the replenishment of vitamins and electrolytes during times of stress such as heat prostration. Orange seems to be the most favored."

His humor leads him through the pitfalls of political issues, such as getting birds tested in the National Poultry Improvement Plan. "I talked with different agriculture agents. I had different agencies send as much information as possible which I really didn't want to do because then they had our address and I was envisioning men dressed in white lab coats peering over our fences with binoculars and notepads trying to figure out how they could destroy our birds,. Boy, I couldn't have been any farther from the truth....So put away your ears and get your birds tests, you will be happy you did."

He includes a section of drawings and diagrams to illustrate chicken anatomy, both external and internal. It's all useful and helpful to the chicken newcomer as well as those who have kept chickens for a while but don't know it all yet. I include myself in that category. I learn something new every day.

So saying, Eric Lofgren and written a worthy addition to the backyard chicken literature. I'm grateful to have it in my collection. Because it's privately printed, it's not generally available. Here's his information on how to get a copy:

"We are excited to announce that my new book, Talking Chickenese - The Logical Guide To Keeping and Raising Chickens, is finally here. It has turned out much nicer than any of us expected. 248 pages of useful information from the logical standpoint of raising chickens. The book covers such subjects as Poultry Anatomy, Incubation, Diseases, Parasites and more. There are 84 different topics and some fun stuff thrown in for your enjoyment.

"The book is exclusively available through our store by mail or in person. Cover price is just $16.95.
Shipping by Media Mail within the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Porto Rico, US Virgin Islands, APO’s and FPO’s is just $3.00 per book.
Shipping to Canada or Mexico is $9.00
Shipping to a Foreign Country is $17.00

"Wanting to order more than one book to give as gifts to the chicken lovers in your life? We are happy to combine shipping to cut the cost if sent to the same address.

"We accept:
Credit Card orders by phone at 352-861-1491
Paypal orders to
    (put “book” in the comment section)
Check or Money Order to
                 The Pampered Pullets Farm
                 13788 SW 5th Place
                 Ocala, FL 34481

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Red Junglefowl

A scientific paper from the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, Food and Feeding Habits of Red Junglefowl, focuses on the Malaysian Peninsula.

Tom Condon's captive junglefowl

Plumage varies on Junglefowl

The paper points out that females need more calcium than males and are laying eggs year-round, but that they probably get that from the snail shells and arthropods they eat. It also makes note of the Red Junglefowl as a "non-obligatory drinker." "On very few occasions the birds were seen drinking water in the morning. It has been reported that the required water intake can be compensated by the ingestion of arthropods, leeches and tender leaves, which contain higher contents of water," the authors write.
Tom Condon took these photos in India

Junglefowl prefer to scratch for their food.

The study on food and feeding habits of Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus spadiceus) was conducted in three agriculture areas (orchard, rubber and oil palm plantation) by direct observation and crop contents analyses in Selangor, Malaysia. Red Junglefowl moved continuously in search of food and preferred by scratching the litter. It would feed in open areas early in the morning and evening. The rest of the day it would feed in shaded areas especially under trees. Red Junglefowl eats a variety of animals and plants. It prefers to eat the pericarp of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) fruit, Iskandar palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae), Chiku (Achras sapota), Papaya (Carica papaya), Cempedak (Artocarpus integer), rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) nuts, and seeds of Macaranga sp. Analyses of crops content shows that among the animals, Dermaptera, Hymenoptera, Isoptera, Orthoptera, Coleoptera, Crustacea (Isopoda), leeches and snails were the predominant food. It also ate snails, eggshells, bones and snakes. The male Red Junglefowl consumed oil palm fruit more than did the female whereas the female consumed invertebrates and vertebrates more than did the male.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Nankins at Williamsburg

A flock of Nankins greets visitors to the poultry house at George Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. They are historically accurate and an educated man such as Mr. Wythe might well have kept them.

George Wythe was the first law professor in the new United States of the 1700s. Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall were among his students.

“The poultry yard should reflect his education,” said Rare Breeds Manager Elaine Shirley.

Mrs. Shirley increased Colonial Williamsburg’s Nankin flock from 20 breeding hens to over 50 in 2010. Part of the flock lives in the modern stable area, the rest at Wythe House. She often takes Nankins along on classroom trips and for other school groups.

“When I give chicken talks, Nankins are the ones I bring with me,” she said. “They are so easy to carry and so well-behaved.”

The Colonial Williamsburg flock provides hatching eggs to other breeders who are dedicated to keeping the Nankin breed vigorous.

These photos are by Roy and Dolores Kelley, taken on Thanksgiving Day at Colonial Williamsburg.
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chicken Escape!

I went out to lock up the coop last night at dusk. That's when I check for eggs -- my six girls are gradually starting to lay again -- and generally tuck them in for the night. Although there's some light,  it's dark inside the coop and I don't depend on seeing them. One hides herself inside a sheltered perch, but the other five are usually settled on easily observed perches. It's easiest to see Blondie, the White Dorking, but I don't generally count them. Where are they going to go? They have an entirely enclosed run and coop.

The gentle sounds of chickens settling down for the night were there, but Blondie's white presence didn't catch my eye. I looked around for her. No Blondie. Actually, only two  of the six were there at all, the Ancona who stays inside the nesting area on a perch and the Wyandotte.

With panic rising, I ran back to the house to get a flashlight. Perhaps they were huddled in some dark corner where I couldn't see them. No birds.

I called "Chicken Emergency" to my husband inside the house and began searching. There are two empty lots behind our house, where deer and turkeys often graze, but chickens at night would attract raccoons and foxes, our other neighborhood residents. Recently, in the drought, bobcats have been seen around residential areas, probably looking for water.

The wildlife is welcome, but is also the reason we have a secure chicken coop and fully enclosed run. They wouldn't stand a chance without protection.

The scratching of dry oak leaves got my attention --there was the Welsummer, trying to make her way back under the wire fencing into the run. My husband saw the Partridge Rock and the Speckled Sussex at the front garden gate. They'd given up trying to get in where they'd gotten out and walked around the coop to the front of the house.

Blondie was fretting between the two, trying to get her flock together. "It's all under control, I'm here, I've got them," she said, oblivious to the dangers that lurk for unprotected chickens.

I opened the gate and persuaded the two brown chickens to come in that way. The Welsummer and Blondie found their way back under the fence after my husband dug it deeper on that side.

I gave them a reward of dried worms, their favorite bedtime snack. My husband reinforced the section of the fence that they had dug out. All's well that ends well.

They do enjoy getting out of the run into greener pastures. We'll have to get them into the chicken tractor if we ever get any rain and have some greens for them to graze in.