Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Freezing eggs

Eggs can be frozen for later use. They can be separated or frozen as beaten eggs. Frozen whites will beat up into meringue if allowed to thaw and come to room temperature over half an hour or so.

To freeze whites: Individual whites can first be frozen in ice cube containers, making it easy to use only the amount you need. Transfer frozen egg-white cubes into a freezer container, seal and label. They can also be frozen by the cupful or other convenient amount. Do not defrost and re-freeze egg whites.

Label them with date and amount. Defrost them in the refrigerator or in cold water. They beat up to better volume if allowed to come to room temperature.

To freeze yolks: Add 1/8 teaspoon salt to every four yolks or 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar to every four yolks and mix well before placing in a freezer container and freezing. The salt or sugar keeps the yolks from becoming gelatinous. Label them clearly as to whether salt or sugar has been added, so that you will know whether to use them in entrees (salt) or desserts (sugar).

Four yolks generally equal one-quarter cup. Measure a representative sample of your eggs to determine how they measure and label the containers, so that you can defrost the amount you need.

Whole eggs: Beat them slightly and freeze. Label with the number of eggs and date. Three tablespoons whole egg are equivalent to one large egg in recipes.

Keep them in a place in the freezer that isn't affected by changes in temperature. Don't keep them in the door. Use frozen eggs within a year. I prefer to use them within six months.

Thanks to the Georgia Egg Commission for the information on its site, http://www.georgiaeggs.org/pages/freezingeggs.html.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Here's another of George McLaughlin's Kraienkoppes, a young rooster.

George finds that the hens are good layers, giving him plenty of eggs. Despite their small size, around 5 lbs. for roosters, slightly smaller for hens. they make good table birds as well. The hens are naturally broody and raise their own chicks well. That means egg production can drop off at
times, as the hens are otherwise occupied, but he has enough eggs to freeze and tide him over.

He observes that they hunt insects enthusiastically but ignore rodents and small lizards.

Although his birds do not feather-pick each other, they are willing to pick at roosters of other breeds. And they do not avoid a fight with them, from which his always emerge the winner, despite their smaller size.

Here's looking ahead to more flocks of this attractive breed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

SPCA Seizes Russells' Dog Again

The SPCA seized another dog from Craig and Ruth Russell Monday July 23. Mr. Russell is president of the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities.

The dog was one of 127 animals that the court ordered the SPCA to return to the Russells after they were found not guilty of 15 charges of animal maltreatment in Snyder County Magisterial Court June 22. SPCA returned the dog, Boss, on June 28. Two counts involving caged birds remain to be adjudicated.

Mr. Russell found the dog underweight and worm-infested when it was returned from more than three months in SPCA care. Overnight on July 13, Boss and another dog got into a fight. The Russells treated Boss for his injuries at home for three days, but sought veterinary care on July 17, when some of the wounds became infected.

An SPCA official informed Mr. Russell by telephone on Monday, July 23, that the SPCA had seized Boss, who was still in intensive care at the veterinarian’s office.

Despite the fact that the court has already ruled on the issue of the Russells’ care of their dogs, the SPCA is apparently defying the court’s authority in taking action against the Russells in less than a month since that ruling.

“They had no case before and have less this time,” said Mr. Russell.

Several of the SPCA officers involved have been dismissed or resigned since the Russells’ court appearance in June.

Legal costs continue to escalate as the Russells defend themselves and seek the return of their animals. Send contributions directly to the Russells at 1400 Jones Hill Road, Middleburg, PA 17842.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


George McLaughlin of Oklahoma has lost his heart to Kraienkoppes. He wrote a charming account of his experiences in the June 2007 issue of the SPPA Bulletin. He took this beautiful picture of one of his hens and her chicks.
This hardy breed is alert to dangers in the environment. George tells of an episode in which all his birds took shelter when a hawk appeared, almost too far away for him even to see.
Kraienkoppes originated in the Bentheim area on both sides of the Dutch/German border, from Pheasant Malay stock. They were first shown in Germany in 1925 and are recognized in the German Standard. They are not recognized by the American Poultry Association. Bantams are recognized by the American Bantam Association, but are so rare neither George nor I has ever heard of anyone who has them. If you do, or know of someone who does, please contact me!
Although their ancestry is in fighting, the roosters are not aggressive. George has seen one get beat up by a hen who was protecting her chicks, however. He recounts that, "She beat him roundly, and then finished by doing a little two-step and crowing!"
Thanks for sharing your knowledge of this breed with us, George.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Travels of Bourbon Red

Sharon Tepsick of Wildheart Farm in Ezel, Kentucky created this fanciful turkey display to attract visitors to the SPPA table she sets up at poultry shows. She calls him Bourbon Red, the name of an actual turkey color variation.

The Bourbon Red color pattern is a variant of the Standard type, a deeper buff color with white flight feathers. The variation originated in Pennsylvania and traveled with settlers moving west and south. The rich color pattern was finished by breeders in Kentucky and southern Ohio. The name Bourbon Red is now accepted, but they are also called Kentucky Reds and Bourbon Butternuts.

Mrs. Tepsick dresses Bourbon Red in his SPPA t-shirt and stands him up next to her table. A tri-fold tabletop board with photos, articles and other information about rare and historic breeds offers the SPPA's brochure. The brochure includes the updated Critical List of rare chicken breeds and a membership form.

Her sense of humor and good nature support her knowledge and expertise as a poultry breeder. She is one of the stars that make SPPA so special. Thanks, Sharon!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Shipping eggs

Hatching eggs are live embryos. Their natural cycle would be to be laid in a nest and tended by a hen and gently turned daily during 21 days of incubation. In that perfect world, most fertile eggs would hatch.

Eggs aren’t intended to cross the country before they get back under the hen, but shipping eggs is a good way to send stock. It avoids the issues live birds raise, and they don’t cheep or cluck in the post office.

The Welsummer eggs shown here have arrived at their destination and incubation has begun.

The embryo in a fertilized egg that has been promptly collected and, if necessary, cleaned, hasn’t started to develop yet, but the fertilized ovum is very delicate. It can’t stand much jiggling, so securing it in its packaging is important. Eggs should be packed with plenty of soft padding, wide end down. Bubble wrap around each egg works, or plenty of absorbent shavings. The eggs can be secured in an egg carton or some other box that can be protected in another sturdy box.

The sturdy box with the wrapped eggs inside should then be wrapped in bubble wrap, foam or other packing material. This layer cushions the eggs and protects them from excess movement as well as insulating them against extremes of heat and cold.

The wrapped box is then packed into a heavy cardboard shipping box, protected with plenty of bubble wrap, air packs or other protective packing material. Make sure that it is packed firmly enough that the box is not subject to any movement. The less jiggling, the better their chances of hatching are.

Tape the box securely and label it as Live Embryos – Handle With Care – Avoid Shaking and Extreme Temperature Variations. This helps the postal employees know that special handling is required. I’m convinced that they do their best, but they handle hundreds of packages every day and need something to alert them when to special consideration.

An excellent Web site on the subject is Rocking T Ranch and Poultry Farm, http://www.poultryhelp.com/eggpacking.html.

When the eggs arrive, unpack them carefully and inspect them for cracks. Discard the cracked ones. Note which eggs arrived in good condition. They should be marked to identify them as to breed or breeding line. Allow them to rest overnight in a dark place before setting them under a hen or in an incubator.

The number of eggs that hatch divided by the total set is the hatch rate. The breeder who sent you the eggs will appreciate your report of the condition in which the eggs arrived and a follow-up of how well they hatched.

Shipping eggs requires care, but can be the best way to get new stock that isn’t available in your area. It can be successful and is worth the effort.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I was out of the office for a week, visiting my daughter in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We had a terrific time, visiting the Everglades and other unique places in this exceptional location.

In this picture, she is feeding a macaw at Jungle Island, http://www.jungleisland.com/, an attraction featuring tropical birds and animals. In addition to exotic and rare critters, Jungle Island has a barnyard petting zoo, with goats, zebu cattle and chickens and turkeys.
They have some White Crested Black Polish and Bronze and Narragansett turkeys. I stopped by to share my book with the management and invite the institution to become a member of SPPA. Many zoos and living history museums are members.

SPPA members are always available to help create interpretive materials to help the public enjoy the variety and beauty of poultry.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Prizewinning City Chickens video

This delightful video, Chickens in the City, http://www.christieherring.com/chickens/index.html, was one of the ten winners of the Independent Lens Online Shorts Festival.

Thanks to filmmaker Christie Herring for focusing her camera on this subject and doing such a delightful job!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Dutch Connection

Andrea Heesters, who lives in The Netherlands, has kept me and the SPPA informed of poultry news in Europe as the Avian Influenza problems have unfolded. She shared her story of vaccinating her geese and chickens last year. The birds were vaccinated again this past week, as cases of H5N1 are identified in Europe.

The vet comes to her property and vaccinates the birds with Gallimune flu H5N9 from Merial. In the picture aboved, he is vaccinating one of their Black Orpington bantams, held by Andrea's daughter.

In the U.S., the USDA forbids small flock owners from protecting their birds with vaccine. The agency's justification is that it needs to stockpile the vaccine so that it will be available in the event of an outbreak.

Since the vaccine requires two immunizations two weeks apart, by the time an outbreak is identified, it would be too late for many flocks.

Andrea is tireless in her support of poultry, geese in particular. Look for another article about her experiences managing Geese in the City in the August/September issue of Backyard Poultry magazine.

She has added this site to her poultry links pages, both in English, http://www.buffganzen.nl/html_uk/links.html, and in Dutch, http://www.buffganzen.nl/html_nl/links.html.

Thanks, Andrea!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

SPPA Brochure

This is the season for county and state fairs. They are great places to see exciting and beautiful poultry and make contact with breeders. I love attending shows and fairs, such as the Greater California Society of Poultry Fanciers Show in Fresno. The SPPA banner hangs above my information table in the center of the picture above.

Many of the exhibitors are SPPA members, and several have contacted me for brochures to offer to interested visitors and fellow breeders who are not already members. Ask around.
If you don't find one in person, email me and I will be happy to send you one.
The new brochure has a partial list of Old and Rare breeds. Some breeds are old, dating back prior to the 20th century, some are rare, having few breeding flocks, and some are both old and rare. Some old breeds continue to have enough advocates that populations are doing well.
The brochure has contact information for the officers and a membership application. You can also join through this site.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Helpful Chicken DVD

Phil Bartz, long-time SPPA member and poultry judge, was featured on WSEC-TV’s Illinois Stories in January. The popular Public Broadcasting System weekly local show is hosted by Mark McDonald.

Mr. McDonald interviewed Mr. Bartz about the basics of chickens and poultry breeding. Mr. Bartz explained about the difference between four- and five-toed chickens, using his Dorkings and Spanish as examples. He showed the difference between large fowl and bantams. He held incubated eggs up to a light to demonstrate candling and show the difference between a developing embryo and a dud.

In the picture above, judge Butch Gunderson demonstrates how a judge examines a chicken's head on a Buff Cochin pullet.

Phil did me the honor of inviting me to be interviewed along with him. I discussed the SPPA and the suitability of historic breeds for small flock owners.

We were blessed with mild weather following a severe storm that knocked out power to most of Central Illinois for the taping. A DVD of the program is available through the web site, http://www.networkknowledge.tv/resources/transcripts.htm.

Phil did such a great job of explaining what judges are looking for as well as general information about poultry that this DVD makes a great educational video. It's a valuable addition to our resources.