Saturday, August 16, 2014

D'uccle Breeding Program Update

 Since the last update Ive been busy selecting the chicks I'm going to keep, overall I'm looking for good combs,beards,feet,color and good body shape, so far these chicks have grown into very nice birds.  Above is my 3 color cross which I will be using to try and breed a chocolate colored Mille Fleur.
 This is one of the Mille Fleur roosters that I have chosen to keep for the future Mille breeding pen, he is good in most areas of the breed, with thickly feathered feet , thick beard, good comb and decent color.
 This Mille hen has been shaping up to look a lot like her mom Cookie Dough ,  although her foot feathering isn't as thick as I like she has good shape and a thick beard, I will pair her with a rooster that has thickly feathered feet.
 This is one of a few Porcelain chicks that hatched this year, she has a lot more blue than any of my Porcelain chicks, we will be breeding her to the Self blue Mottled below, what the color will be I'm not sure but my guess is a Self Blue Mottled with some cream lacing?.
 This is a comparison of 3rd and 4th generation Porcelains that shows the feather quality difference, the one on the left is a pure bred Porcelain with typical feather quality, the one on the right is 3/4 Porcelain 1/4 Mille Fleur with a lot of improvement in feather quality.
And this is the Self Blue surprise chick that I didn't expect, which we will be breeding to the porcelain hen above.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

From Chick to Chicken to Freezer ~ Home Poultry Processing

This year my ( Bug's ) family decided that we were going to raise about 50 meat chickens for the experience and food. Last Tuesday was the day we chose to butcher the meat chickens I raised for our family . We have a local community resource that rents out all the poultry processing equipment needed to make the job easier for the affordable fee of $20.00. Above we have the assembly line setup and a picture of the killing cones. The cones are where the chickens are placed head down, killed quickly, and bled out before the rest of the process begins. We placed the killing cones in the gravel drive-way next to the hose for easy clean up.
After the killing cones we take the birds and dunk them into the scalder ( not shown ) which is a big tank of hot water at about 150 degrees. The chickens are quickly dunked into the scalder after they are killed. This loosens the feathers for plucking. Plucking the bird's feathers is the hardest and most time-consuming task of all if you don't have a plucker. Above is the plucker. Inside the plucker are many rubber "fingers" that remove the feathers from the birds by batting the birds around in the bucket without bruising or damaging the meat. The plucker has a drain the feathers fall into and are easily collected and disposed of.

This is the family assembly line. At the far end we have the plucker , in the middle we have the gutting table where the internal organs are removed, and at the end we have the packaging table.

After the chickens are plucked and gutted they are rinsed in very cold water until clean . Here is my younger brother & sister (above) , and below my younger brother is shown with another one of my sisters . He learned how to help us prepare the chickens I raised for our family for the freezer and our chicken dinners in the coming months.

After the chickens are rinsed well we put them into freezer bags ...
...and finally they're put into the ice chest to cool down before they are put into the freezer. This is my account of my fryer project ; home- raised chicken from chick to chicken, and then to our freezer. Later on this year these chickens will feed my family.  ~By Bugs

Granny Baa note : I love seeing and knowing my grandchildren are able to raise poultry, beef and turkeys for their family food supply. Bugs and one of his sisters also hunt and have provided enough food to fill the freezer. It is also good to know they realize our meat and poultry do not magically appear in the supermarket but are the result of raising live animals who need to be treated humanely throughout the entire process, and NEVER to be taken for granted. These grandchildren also help in the vegetable garden, pick the abundant fruit growing around their home and bake pies . Really yummy pies !

Thursday, June 19, 2014

D'uccle Chick Update

Last time I wrote about the new chicks and some of the different colors that hatched, in this post I will be updating on the chicks growth.  Above is one of my Mille Fleur hens, as far as color she is a little brighter than my past Mille hens and has thicker shape, although her foot feathering isn't as thick as I would like.
Above is the chipmunk patterned chick which still has the stripes on her back and dot on her head, she has also developed a lot of pattern at an early age, below is a close up of the wing patterning.

Now this chick is unique compared to the rest, it has a completely different feather type then the rest, it almost looks like the chick is wet,  the feathers are similar to frizzled but not curly , it will be interesting to see how this chick turns out.
This is one of the Porcelain chicks, the Porcelain chicks from this batch are similar to my other batches but have brighter color and better feather quality.
This is my Self blue Mottled chick, one of two colors to come from my black mottled hen.
And this is my Blue Mottled with red leakage , the difference between the Blue and Self blue Mottled is self Blue is all one color, Blue Mottled is black with splotches of blue and in this case with some red leakage, both colors having white spots.  This rooster is turning out to be pretty nice bird and with genetics from all three of my lines there is a lot of potential for this chick. By Bugs

Friday, May 30, 2014

Belgian D'Uccle Breeding Program ( surprising results ! )

 Since the start of this year I have been planning how to pair up this years breeding pen for the coming of a new generation of chicks. I started in about February by culling  & selling any unwanted birds , getting it down to one rooster and seven hens. I knew there were going to be some crossing of colors and I thought I knew what the outcome would be but I was sure wrong when this rooster threw some amazing surprises !
 Above is a fraction of the chicks hatched. Most of the chicks that first hatched turned out as I thought, but the blue mottled in the middle threw me off .  If you remember, the mottled porcelain cross hen from my post Black Mottled D'Uccle * breeding project, she is the parent of the blue chick above. I knew she carried the dilute gene but it shouldn't have shown till another generation. This left me thinking maybe the dilute genetics in her were very strong and it wasn't until later I  solved the mystery.

 Above was the next  group to hatch ,  above, there are a porcelain and a self blue mottled ( under the hen). These two colors should not have shown till another generation. I got to thinking about the roosters' parents at the time he was hatched and my breeding pen only had Mille Fleur's which meant his dad was Crimson and most likely the hen above, so there shouldn't have been any dilute genes in play. But one of the days in summer  a few months before the chicks hatched I had most of the bantams out to free range which left the possibility of different colors to mix . Copper ( the rooster above ) had a shape completely different than his siblings and parents, but had a similar shape to Glacier my Porcelain cockerel which leaves me to think Glacier is his dad and would explain a lot.
 This is one of a few chicks that came out looking like this with two pinstripes and a dot on the head. I think it will be fun to see if it will turn out like a regular Mille or somewhat different. So far 25 chicks have hatched with more coming. All colors hatched are Mille Fleur's with Porcelain genetics, a Self blue mottled, a Blue mottled, and Porcelains with Mille genetics. My main goal is to get better shape in my birds as far as now and  I've seen a lot of improvement in the last 4 generations with better foot feathering and better beards , thicker body type and posture. I'm pleased with the results.

Above are my two second generation pure Porcelain chicks with a Barred Rock Americana Cross for my new laying flock. To read how the Porcelain to Mille genetics work see my post D'Uccle Color Genetics *. I will update how the chicks are coming along soon along with some photos of their family tree.  By Bugs .

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ella & Fella (Sebastopol Geese ) Are Nesting

 Ella & Fella, my Sebastopol geese have grown up . I love them so much. Until recently they followed me around like doting puppies ,but I guess like all youngsters, they grow up and other things become more important. Spring has come to Cedar Pond and Ella & Fella  along with the ducks, chickens , sheep , birds, frogs, etc., have followed their instincts to reproduce .
 We placed a kennel in our vegetable garden last month to house Ella & Fella while they got used to living near the pond. They got used to the kennel for a week before I began opening it up during the day to let them outside the veggie garden , giving them access to Cedar Pond. The pond is fairly large. There is an island in the middle and we can row a boat around it, so it easily accommodates geese that need a large body of water for successful mating, along with our flock of ducks, the wild ducks, Blue Heron , occasional Bald eagles and hawks.
 Another view of the veggie garden . You can see the geese in the kiddie pool .It was their sole water source when they lived in the back poultry yard. My husband opened some of the fence wire in his veggie garden so the geese could come and go during the day. They also ate all the weeds and much of the greenery in the garden ( fertilized it too ) so he can rototill the garden next week and begin planting without as much work. Yesterday I blocked off all the garden but the kennel and pond access from my geese to protect my husband's garden from their efficient browsing. This allows them access to their home while Ella has started incubating the eggs she has laid in her nest in the back of the kennel. The geese have to be penned up at night, as do my ducks and chickens or predators would eat them. We have many raccoons, coyotes, dogs, possums, and feral cats who find my poultry tasty.

 Ella on her nest. Since Ella is a first time mama I want to make sure she can incubate and raise her young. Sebastopol geese are not too common and they are expensive , so I gave 6 of Ella's eggs to friends to incubate in their incubator , replacing her eggs with fertile duck eggs . She is sitting on 9 duck eggs. Duck eggs have the same incubation time and requirements as goose eggs. Plus, if she successfully hatches them, they will thrive with her as a mama. If she does well I'll let her tend her own eggs next spring.
Fella guarding Ella. Geese can be scary as they run at a person with their wings spread wide, hissing and biting, but Fella does not do that to me. I think he still loves me and knows I'll not hurt him or Ella, but he's not so nice to our dogs and the ducks ! Good for him.
I'll keep this blog updated regarding Ella & Fella's nesting. Whatever happens, I am still very happy with these geese. For now , here's a view of Ella & Fella heading back to the nest.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ducks In Winter

 The ducks coming up from the pond where they enjoyed  a cold swim & splash. No matter the weather, our ducks love the pond even when it is mostly covered in ice.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Poultry Management & Goals for 2014

 I am pleased with the Sebastopol geese I bought last spring. Ella & Fella are beautiful, easy to keep, and I am hoping they follow the plan and lay fertile eggs THEY will incubate & raise. These geese just make me happy. They know my voice and squawk & honk every time I speak to them. They also follow me around like puppies.
 Our laying flock is comprised of Americaunas, Cuckoo Marans, and white Orpingtons. The Cuckoo Marans have been a disappointment because after the first few months of laying, their chocolate brown eggs became the typical brown color of most every other brown egg layer. Aside from my disappointment over their egg color though, the Marans have been hardy chickens laying all year round and my Maran rooster is a handsome and very nice fellow.
 Last weekend I cleaned the laying pen out. 12 wheelbarrows of yuck were toted out and spread in the garden and a shallow area needing more fill. I dusted the flock with lice powder and also the nest boxes & perches. I am putting apple cider vinegar in their water and have begun giving them Hen Grit . They seem to appreciate the grit . For the last 2 months I've been getting only 1 or 2 eggs a day but since Monday of this week the girls are giving me 3 to 5 eggs a day ! I think the total cleaning, dusting, and minerals have helped but have to admit the increasing daylight hours probably are the reason for the better egg count. That and the girls are finally all done moulting.
 I love my Bantam White Cochins, especially the frizzled ones. I am definitely going to keep raising them , maybe add some new breeding stock . The rooster is my original rooster so he must be a few years old and from what I've read, the fertility of roosters decreases significantly as they age.
 This is Mr. Fancy Pants. He is a Silkie / Bantam White Cochin cross hatched and raised here by his momma. I was afraid he was a goner 2 weeks ago. My Bantam Barred Cochin rooster decided after a year of getting along with Mr. Fancy Pants and the flock that he wanted to kill Mr. Fancy Pants. I found Mr. FP cowered in the corner of the bantam pen, bloodied and battered. I captured the barred bantam and caged him up to be sold at the auction. I had planned on keeping the barred cochin for breeding, but I simply don't have the desire to accommodate aggressive roosters anymore and Mr. Fancy Pants is easy going, tends & protects the hens and their chicks from predators and is fun to watch. I was concerned he had lost his right eye in the fight and until today it was a swollen shut blob. But look he has healed quite well !
 The two youngest doves are sitting near the lamp keeping warm and out of the way of the adult doves.
 I have a pair of doves sitting on eggs again. My doves are prolific and the dove population is always growing around here. I have 3 pens of doves. this is the backyard pen where they thrive. I captured 6 of the 20 living here and took them to the auction last weekend. It seems they are intent on replacing their numbers.

 These are the chickens I am really excited about ! Paint Silkies. No, they are not dirty. ( Well, their head tufts are because they keep pushing their heads into the chicken wire surrounding their pen to get whatever looks good on the other side. ) They have black spots !
 I bought them at the poultry show I attended with my grandson Bugs. There are 2 roosters and a hen. I will be breeding the roosters to the white Silkies I already have and begin looking for some more Paints. I have been scouring the internet for as much info as I can find on this new variety. Just think, spotted sheep, spotted ducks, spotted chickens.....

Best of all fresh from the chicken eggs !
2014 Goals for my poultry :
  • Buy more white Orpingtons & Americaunas for laying flock
  • train geese & ducks to live and graze near the pond which will be a better home and environment for them ( in other words, they aren't to live in the backyard anymore )
  • Prepare the new Silkie Shack for my Silkies and breeding program.
  • Begin culling doves for the whitest , hoping to breed out the ghost of a ring around their necks I find in a few doves.
  • Nurture assorted bantam hens , make new nest boxes for them to incubate & brood chicks.
  • Buy new Bantam White Cochin chicks, some frizzled.
  • Learn more about the Porcelains I have ( thanks Bugs ) and begin preparing them for show.
  • Look into local poultry shows and begin preparations.
  • Enjoy my chickens fully !!!!!!!!