Sunday, July 17, 2011


Down Under in Australia, some chicken folks have come up with a good idea: Rent-a-Chicken:

CLUCKY Victorian families who want fresh eggs but are afraid to commit are renting chickens to try before they buy.

Sarah McKay, 37, dreamed of bringing up chickens in her Greensborough back yard, but was not sure she could handle them.

So when she heard about rental chickens she jumped at the chance.

"It was something I always wanted to do, but it just seems like a really big thing," she said. "I didn't want to just launch into it."

The mum of two convinced her husband, Nathan, 42, and at Easter they paid $150 to rent a coop and two female chickens, Maggie and Bianca, who have become part of the family.

"It really allowed us to see exactly what it was going to be like," she said.

This is a great idea, a way for interested folks to try out chickens as a home project without getting involved in building a permanent coop and making the full commitment. Thanks for finding another route to extend better chicken welfare and better food to more people. Every person who keeps a few hens for eggs is one less customer for the egg industry.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hobby Farm Home

The September/October issue of Hobby Farm Home features my article about Chickens in the Classroom on the cover. It's also posted on the web site.

The article was fun to write. I talked with old friends and made some new ones about how they are using chickens in the classroom. There's so much to learn and chickens provide an entry point for every subject I could think of. Chickens engage kids' interest and get them focused on what's going on. Kids. like this boy, love chickens.

Find it at your local bookstore.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pet Chickens

A local reporter has some fun with the Silkies who live there. This is Snooki and Gaga.

The article alerted me to the news that Tori Spelling carries around her pet white Silkie, Coco.
Chickens have been regaining the status that they enjoyed in past cultures. These high-profile chickens help acquaint the chicken-less public with the charming side of chickens. Thanks for brightening my day!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All Cooped Up

Dedicated poultry judge Pat Lacey has applied herself to the task of recording the history of the American Bantam Association. She has published it as All Cooped Up, available from major booksellers for $19.99. Order it from her personally and she'll sign it for you, as I got mine. I do that for readers who purchase books from me.

Pat has researched her subject thoroughly and has documented fascinating details, such as the inability of breeders to agree on standards at the first American poultry shows in 1849 and 1850. Imagine the uproar! That chaos and contention led to the establishment of the APA and then the ABA. Her chapter on the Pioneers, Artists and Illustrators of the ABA could inspire books in themselves, biographies of the amazing people who devoted their time and talents to poultry. Information on these individuals is difficult to find and Pat has done us all a real service by compiling it and making it available.

Pat has included a section of illustrations that I've never seen before, such as the 100 men of the APA in 1874 and pictures of F.L. Sewell and A. O. Schilling. I'm confident that I'll refer to this book for research in the future. It will enrich the work I do on history of poultry breeds. It tells a compelling story of the personalities and events that mark American poultry history.

It's also available as an e-book. Thanks for adding this important work to our poultry heritage, Pat!

Friday, July 1, 2011

New girls in town

The Speckled Sussex, here in front, is perhaps slightly more lively than her Partridge Rock sister, center, but they are a good pair. The two hens have taken a serious interest in educating these new girls. They are all getting along well. Buttercup hen Rosie keeps an eye on the young girls.

Barred Plymouth Rocks were recognized in the first Standard of Excellence in 1874, but the Partridge variety wasn't recognized until 1910, along with the Columbian. White, Buff and Silver Penciled varieties had already been accepted. The latest variety added was the Blue in 1920.

The Partridge color pattern is beautiful. Each feather has three or more pencil marks on it. The Standard specifies that "Pencilings in all Partridge varieties should be distinct in sharp contrast to the ground color, be regular in shape, uniform in width, and conform to the contour of the feather."

This young pullet has penciling that gleams iridescent green in the sun. I haven't been able to capture it in a photo. I find in the 1921 Second Edition of the APA Plymouth Rock and Standard Book that "Lustrous, greenish-black pencilings sometimes appear and are very pretty, though the Standard does not require penciling of such pronounced black." Only a pullet, and already a star.