BREEDING YARDS

Because of very strict biosecurity, we do not allow visitors to our farm. We thought it might be interesting to set up a virtual tour of our breeding setup.

We have 3 breeding yards in total, and each area is roughly 100 feet square. Each yard is fully covered by flight netting. This helps to keep wild birds out and our more mobile chickens in as well. Wild birds can carry disease, and we certainly want to keep them out of constant contact with our chickens, if at all possible. The peace of mind this give us is well worth the cost of the expensive netting. Each yard is also landscaped with lots of grass and trees and bushes of various age around the perimeter. Each breeding group takes a turn spending a day outside their runs, enjoying the sun, bugs, and grass, doing some dusting, and generally stretching their legs and wings. We find this makes them much happier and they in turn, give us more and better quality hatching eggs.



WATERING SYSTEM

We have automatic waterers set up for each breeding group, using a 5 gallon pail and the little giant fountains. We find we are only filling them up once a week, so this cuts down on chore time immensely. You may wonder why the pails are green. Green is the only color that cannot be utilized by algae, so any closed container that is green, won't allow any light except green through, and this in turn, doesn't allow algae growth. This keeps the chicken's water nice and fresh, without the need for scrubbing algae out. We have even started painting our other plastic waterers green!


BIOSECURITY

Biosecurity is one of the single most important things around here. We have so many rare birds, and breeds we have worked on for many years, that the loss of them would be disasterous, as many gene pools are extremely small, and many breeds are almost irreplaceable. We cannot afford to take any chance, therefore the "no visitors" rule. There are other things we do as well. We practise good hygiene at all times. The shoes and clothes we wear when working with the birds, are worn only here, and for that purpose. If we visit other farms, we always spray our shoes with bleach or lysol, before entering through the gate. Our chicks are kept in totally separate areas from the adults. We avoid bringing in any adult birds, and never visit auctions, even though it is very tempting to do so. If we have to bring in a juvenile or adult bird, because of the rarity of some of our breeds, that bird is quarantined for the entire summer, and only introduced in the late fall.

We know that even with all of these precautions in place, we will eventually get hit with something. It is nature. However, we do all we can to ensure that any birds you get from us are as healthy as we can possibly make them. We have spent many years fencing our entire acreage with 8 foot fencing. We have three Great Pyrenees dogs patrolling, and they keep out all four and even two legged predators.



OVERWINTERING

In the fall, to prepare them for their winter housing, we start allowing two or more suitable groups out into the large grass area each day. This allows them time to get to know each other, settle any disputes in an area that is big enough for them to escape, and generally get used to larger groups together. Once it becomes clear that winter weather is approaching and the nights start getting cold, we move all of them to their large winter building. It is 20 by 20 feet square, and 8 feet high. It is fully insulated, with an automatic ventilation fan, and has two large attached and covered runs. We find that moving them all together causes very few problems, and their body heat is enough to keep them warm and cozy. We close outdoor run doors as well, if the temperature gets to be too severe. We use heated dog water bowls and really don't baby them very much. The only breed we do baby a bit are the Ayam Cemani, as they come from Indonesia originally. They are the only ones that get a heat lamp above their roost, as we want to protect the delicate large comb of the roosters. They do get high protein treats during the winter, twice a week, to help them manage the cold and stress. Once spring rolls around, they are once again separated into their breeding groups.