Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cochins, Spotted Silkie-Cochins, and Doves

 Bantam White Cochins. These two roosters are both purebred cochins , one is frizzled.  They both came in an order I received last June of Frizzled Bantam Cochins, White. Although one of the roosters does not have frizzled feathers, he is capable of siring frizzled chicks.
 I use kitty litter buckets as nest boxes for my bantams. The roosters seem to love them. I have observed the little hens waiting patiently for the roosters to get out of the nest boxes so they ( hens ) could get in and get busy.
 A sweet fluffy frizzled hen. I love these little fluffy balls of feathers !
 I obtained a pair of Paint Silkie Roosters last year. I placed them in a pen with my one Silkie hen and a few frizzled bantam white cochins. I did not get any successfully hatched chicks from the Silkie , but plenty of Silkie-Cochin crosses. Quite a few had spots, which I LOVE ! Spots like these are not common in chickens,
 I know these little chickens are not able to be shown because they are not purebred, and don't fit the standard for Sizzles (is there a standard for them ? ) but have decided I am going to aim for a particular standard of my own for these little chickens. I want small white chickens with very curly feathers, good sized black spots randomly placed all over the chicken, with blue under-color . I like the dark blue around the eyes and beak instead of the bright red.
 My preference here is the body shape & coloring of the chicken on the right, but the spotting of the chicken on the left. This is so much fun. My chickens make me smile, a lot !
 And then there are my doves. My sweet, easy-to-keep doves that coo and coo throughout all weather conditions. They faithfully tend their young and are so graceful , almost angelic appearing as they fly around their pen from perch to perch.
 My doves are prolific breeders and the numbers are requiring me to have to offer a few for sale again. I hate choosing doves to sell. Each one I choose is so perfect ! But I need to reduce the number of doves for the doves' sake. When there are too many of them they begin to compete for nesting spaces and perch space and get so busy chasing each other around they all suffer for the chaos.
A dove setting on eggs, more baby doves to come !

This is a glimpse of a few of my chickens and my doves this month. Every keeper of livestock & poultry needs to spend some time simply observing their animals. This gives the keeper an idea of the state of the flocks & herds, an idea of changes to be made. Sometimes simply taking time to observe them also allows the keeper to see things that alert him/her to health problems. Health problems caught early are often easily treatable and prevent serious infection or contagion. Feeding and caring for your animals should be a given, but knowing your animals and how they should behave is right up there with the most important things you should do. Besides, it's fun , after all, we're keeping animals we love and enjoy, right ?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Porcelain D'Uccle Breeding program 2011 to 2014


 I started about 4 years ago with the d'uccle breed to start my own project of showing, raising, and breeding bantams, and its been a fun experience so far. I originally started with 2 Mille Fleurs , which then expanded to 2 adults and 3 chicks ,  but about a month later a neighbor dog got into my pen and killed all my birds. In December 2011 my Grandma got me 25 cute little D'uccle chicks as a Christmas present, 10 Mille Fleurs, 5 Porcelains and 10 assorted d'uccles, and that's how my porcelain breeding program got started.
 The two photos above are of 2 of my original birds, Snowflake and Platinum.
 So far my Porcelains have had great temperaments, are great moms, and are good egg layers.
 One of some of my first Porcelain chicks that hatched out in 2012.
 Above is Colonel Blue who was out of the batch above and champion bantam at our community fair, he also won many other awards before the age of  1 .
 This is Copper a half porcelain  half Mille Fleur. His dad was Colonel Blues Brother Glacier , he is a 3rd generation bird and has put a lot of great traits into my birds.
 Above is a photo taken to compare feather quality. Generally porcelains have poor feather quality due to the lavender gene,but it can be improved by crossing them with mille fleurs which is where Copper came in, although he looks like a mille fleur, if bred to a porcelain the chicks come out with porcelain color. On the left is a 3rd generation pure porcelain , on the right is a 4th generation 3/4 porcelain which has a lot of feather quality improvement.
 This is Tundra a 2nd generation porcelain hatched this year out of my best 2 original birds, and is probably one of the best birds Ive bred so far. In this photo she is 6 months old and in moult, currently she is fully feathered and looks even better.
 Another angle of her.
 A close up of her pattern. As far as pattern goes, you want the wing spots to form wide u shaped lines in the middle of the wing ,  good spaced pattern throughout the body with nice blue barring and white spangles,  a light blue tail with a white spot on each tail feather.
A close-up of her foot feathering. Tundra has some of the longest and thickest foot feathers of my d'uccles, a trait desired in the breed , and hopefully she passes this on.
This is Polar, Tundra's brother. So far he's a great looking rooster, although he doesn't have much pattern yet. He has a good base color and better feather quality than most of my pure porcelains..
And finally one of my latest porcelain chicks , a  4th generation 3/4 porcelain. Platinum's great granddaughter, and hopefully her and my other 4th generation porcelains add the great traits they have onto the next generation with many more. ~ By C.T. ( Bugs )

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Washington Feather Fanciers Winter Brisk 2014

 This last week we went to the Winter Brisk (put on by the Washington Feather Fanciers ) to enter, sell, and look at poultry.The weather outside was cold but nice and warm inside the barn with lots of sounds of different poultry. This was an impressive Bourbon Red turkey displaying for us.
 This little Modern game bantam looked like he was walking on stilts.
 There were lots of different kinds of poultry there this year and some that I have never seen, including these frizzled Belgian D'anvers  .

 I entered some birds as well, although I  didn't manage to get photos of them at the show. ( I took some pictures afterwards.) Overall my birds did good. They got Reserve of Breed , Reserve of Variety and some firsts, pretty good considering there was a lot of good competition this year.
 One of the Mille Fleur pullets I entered.
 Her dad Copper.
 My Black Mottled hen . I managed to sell almost all my chicks at the show, and also picked up a new bird from the breeder with the winning Porcelains to add a new bloodline to my birds.  Overall my birds did good. I sold 12 birds ,got a new one and met some other good breeders, and I look forward to going next year !

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Golden Cuckoo Marans Rules the Roost

 My Golden Cuckoo Marans rooster is a little over 5 months old now and has proven to be the head honcho around the poultry pens. He rules the roost, literally. I am pleased about this because he was the rooster I intended to keep and it is disheartening to invest so much time and hope in a rooster that can't head up his flock.
 I haven't chosen a name for him yet, but he is rooster to a Golden Cuckoo Marans hen, some white Maran hens, 5 Salmon Faverolle hens, 2 White Orpingtons, and an Americauna. The Marans were my most desired chickens from the June order of chicks and all of them survived, were very healthy, hearty, and in spite of them being a medium sized standard chicken they began laying eggs at about 4 1/2 months of age. Most other medium standards I have raised start laying closer to 5 to 6 months.
 I would not ever show him because he has a serious flaw with his wings. Can you see it ? Yet he is healthy, vigorous, and I like him !
 This is the time of year the chickens get the discarded pumpkins from my fall decorating and they love eating pumpkins straight from the pumpkin shell. Hey, maybe I should name my rooster Peter ~ Peter , Peter, pumpkin eater !
 My rooster was clearly in charge of pumpkin-eating rights and the hens seemed to know if they were the chosen ones, the ones to be allowed the freedom to eat the pumpkin without my rooster chasing them away. Most of the hens in this little flock steered clear of the pumpkin until the rooster and his chosen hens had eaten their fill.
This picture shows the rooster with his partner, the other Golden Cuckoo Marans , a hen, She is the 2nd chicken from the left. She appears to have a lump or tuft of feathers on her head but it is really where the rooster keeps grabbing her with his beak for "rooster privileges". On one hand I am glad he likes the hen I want him to sire purebred chicks with, but on the other hand, he is a little too rough and she might need a separate pen for awhile to heal... a bother for sure. A decision I will make tomorrow.

I am so happy to watch my young flock grow and begin laying. As I sip my coffee while I watch my chickens in the morning I begin sizing up my newly maturing flock and thinking about the birds I will keep, the birds I will sell, and maybe the birds I might want to show , my rooster keeps reminding me in this little flock he rules the roost !

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mr. Fancy Pants Is No More

Mr. Fancy Pants is no more , and I miss him. He was a rooster who's mom was a Silkie and dad was a bantam White Cochin ( frizzled). Mr. Fancy Pants was a rooster with a lot of class who was very protective without being too aggressive when it came to his harem of bantam hens and their little chicks. He was a darn fine dancer too.

I discovered Mr. Fancy Pants was missing when he did not come running out of the shed he and his hens slept in over night. Where could he be ? I make sure they are inside before dark every night and I close and secure the door. Not only was there no Mr. FP in sight, but every day I was missing another hen. How could this be ? I had not heard or seen any predators, yet chickens I am attached to have been disappearing ,seemingly without a trace. No feathers about the area, no hawks lingering, nor any coyotes . ( My dogs would have alerted us to this )

The mystery was solved because the season changed and the fall took away the leaf cover of the trees. I can now see my chicken pens from our upstairs back windows. As I was enjoying the sight of one of my roosters courting a hen I happened to notice a lot of feathers on top of one of the dove pens. A LOT of feathers. A ladder and an investigation by my husband showed the remains of Mr. Fancy Pants and 6 hens were strewn all over the roof. Now we had to discover the stinking, slinking murderer. And we did.

Our German Shepherd Whimsy's barking alerted us one early morning ( around 2:00 a.m. ) and my husband discovered an opossum at a window in the shed near the roof of Mr. FP's home. Possums were killing the chickens and dragging them onto the roof to consume at their leisure. That particular opossum is no longer a problem, but we know there are at least a few more near-by who know there are chickens to be had.We have set traps for any future marauders and murderers and moved the few remaining chickens to safer housing.

FYI ,I think you might be interested to know we had detected a strong odor around my chicken pens for many days prior to our discovery of the culprits. The odor smells like skunk but is not as strong. That is opossum!

I am hoping one of my hens related to Mr. Fancy Pants will hatch out and raise another like him. Yes, I really do miss my Fancy Pants who is no more.

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 !