Friday, July 30, 2010


The Chantecler was developed by Brother Wilfred Chatelain as a distinctive Canadian breed. The original birds he bred where white. A Partridge variety was recognized by the American Poultry Association, but the birds with that color plumage were actually developed as a separate breed, the Albertan. A Buff variety is also raised, with advocates workiing toward formal recognition. This lovely rooster belongs to Gina Bisco of New York State.

Br. Wilfred held a doctorate in agronomy when he began working to develop a distinctive Canadian breed in 1907. The Cistercian Abbey of Notre Dame du Lac’s flocks comprised about a dozen breeds. He envisioned a practical, white, dual purpose breed with a small comb to withstand Canadian winters.
“It was [Br. Wilfred’s] desire to give his country a breed of poultry with personality, character, a particular quality,” writes Linda M. Gryner in her book, Chantecler & Other Rare Poultry Breeds (September, 1996).
A breakthrough in 1917 brought together a 7 ¾ -lb. Pullet who laid 91 eggs in four months and a 10-lb. White Plymouth Rock cock. The breed was admitted to the American Standard in 1921.

Originally, Chanteclers were held to weight standards of 9 lbs. for cocks, 7 lbs. for hens. The current Standard is 8 ½ lbs. for cocks, 6 ½ lbs. for hens. The unusual cushion comb crowns a dignified head, here shown on one of Ms. Bisco’s roosters.

Frances Backhouse has written about the Klondike in two books, Women of the Klondike and Children of the Klondike, One of those women, Gussie Lamore, was courted by a miner, Swiftwater Bill Gates. He tried to win her heart with eleven eggs, all the eggs in town. They turned out to be rotten, having travelled up from Seattle or Victoria, the only way to get eggs in that cold north country in the 1890s. Br. Wilfred saw the need for a northern chicken!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rare poultry available now!

A reader in East Texas, outside Texarkana, has some unusual historic breeds available for placement in good homes. His work is taking him out of the country later this year. They need a new home – or homes – by October. Sooner is better than later. He can help transport them on his half-ton truck, but needs crates for them. One person can take all, or choose what you like.

Contact him via email at or phone at 903-838-6298 to work out arrangements.

His collection includes chickens and ducks:

White Rosecomb Dorkings (including white & almost white):approximately 10 hens, 1 pure white rooster, 1 almost white rooster & 1 single comb rooster described below.
Other Dorking hens: 3 dark brown, 1 almost black & 2 white single combs
Crevecoeurs: 1 rooster (good size), 2 hens (small)
White Houdans: 2 white rooster (good size), 2 white w/ few black feathers (good size), 1 hen (small)
Spangled Russian Orloff: 1 rooster, 2 hens
- Cuckoo: 1 rooster (feather leg), 4 hens
- Blue: 1 blue cuckoo rooster (feather leg), 1 blue cuckoo (clean leg), 4 hens
- Splash: 1 rooster (feather leg), 1 rooster (clean leg), 1 hen
Light Brahma: 1 rooster + 4 cockerels, approx 13 hens
Cochins: 1 blue rooster, 1 dark partridge hen, 1 blue hen, 1 splash hen
Cochin bantam: 4 black roosters
Silkies: 1 white rooster, 3 white hens, 1 black hen
1 Salmon Faverolle hen
Black Breasted Old English Game Bantam: 1 rooster, 4 hens
Saxony ducks: 3 drakes, 5 hens
Pekin ducks: 1 drake, 1 hen
Production Rouen ducks: 2 hens

Contact Paul directly, but I'd enjoy being kept in the loop to follow where these birds go.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tina and Bosco

Tina Tyzzer of Indiana sends news of Bosco, a temporary resident at her house.

"Bosco will be six weeks old three days after this photo was taken. She’s about a quarter of the size of my chicks who are the same age, so I believe she is a Bantam breed chicken. She is at my house because raccoons invaded my neighbor’s barn and got all of her ten brothers and sisters. She is a true survivor!

"I have a secure chicken coop, so until my neighbor creates a safe haven for Bosco, she will stay with me. Unfortunately, Bosco isn’t quite certain that my coop is safe either! My chicks are giants compared to her, so she is afraid of them as well. Every time I enter the chicken yard, she runs out of hiding and 'jumps on board'….my shoulder, my back, my head…wherever she can find a safe spot. And, if I’m not within range, she will jump onto the highest roost and start cheeping at the top of her little lungs until I get closer.

"I’m not sure who said that chickens and turkeys were 'dumb' creatures, but I assure you they are not! This little gal has me trained very well and she’s only lived here a week."

Tina notes that she and her husband Charlie are at the McCordsville (Indiana) Farmer’s Market Wednesday from 4:00 – 7:00. "We won’t be their every week, because we’re just advertising that we will have roasting chickens, turkeys and eggs starting in September, so we are creating a mailing list for all of those who might be interested."

Contact her at for more information.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

English Chicken houses

Ian Daniels of Dobbies in England and Scotland,, has created a snappy brochure to help their customers get started with chickens, It's free to download and worth having. It's a route to get started .

Thanks, Ian, for sharing this with my readers.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Arsenic in feed

Arsenic, in the form of a chemical added to chicken feed called roxarsone, has turned up in people who eat the eggs, The feed manufacturer claims that the company doesn't use any arsenic compounds in its feed. However, when the chickens were fed another feed they were sure didn't have arsenic in it, and the kids ate those eggs, their arsenic levels declined.

This presents a problem for small flock keepers. How do you know what's in the feed you buy? Do you have to buy organic feed, at a much higher price, or raise your own to be confident?

In the meantime, here's a recipe for chicken feed from my book:

This regimen has been successfully used by traditional poultry keepers for many years:

Start chicks on a mixture of starter crumbs and finely chopped hard boiled eggs for two weeks. This is a good use for infertile hatching eggs.

At two weeks of age, add chick grit, wheat and finely cracked corn. Gradually decrease the amount of chick starter until it is only about half the ration at three months of age. Then mix of a ration of:

5 lbs. wheat
1 lb. corn
1 lb. barley
1 lb. oats
1 lb. black oil sunflower seeds
1 lb. buckwheat

Mix half and half with grower crumble starting at three months of age. At six months, transition to half and half layer pellets.

I'll be visiting with King Feeds in King City tomorrow, July 6. The original reason for the meeting was to discuss their plant conversion to organic standards. I'll ask about arsenic compounds and report back.