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    April Diary.

     

    It’s very wet and windy today,hardly the weather to be outside, but if you have livestock their needs come first.

    Bit on the breezy side today.

    I hate seeing the birds all wet and glumly and not being able to roam out across the fields. Most of the non breeding birds are in the shed and out of the weather.The breeders are in their pens, some in the big shed and some out in the runs. Obviously the outside runs are getting very wet and muddy, but I have strawed down with wheat straw that helps a bit to keep them off the mud. It’s dry under the coops and they have enough room to get in under cover and scrat about in the bedding. They are low enough to stop the wind blowing them over. Big enough so the birds get a dry area to get into when wet and light enough to turn up on their sides to collect the eggs and clean them out. I rake all the bedding out and replace it with oat straw, as oats is softer than wheat. On a dry sunny day I muck fork all the straw on the ground into a pile to dry the ground out and the straw. The birds redistribute the bedding within a day or two. As I feed on the ground any lost grain that has started to sprout is a feed bonus for the birds. If I used a pelleted feed this would all be wasted and not healthy for the birds to eat after being wet. With grain it doesn’t matter.

    Some of my outside breeding pens.

    Ben (collie) has decided that his bed is best and retired to it. He has a room in the outhouses with a very big comfy armchair and carpet on the floor. A pile of dog blankets that will absorb a good deal of wet from his coat before he gets up on his chair. So what few birds that are out and about are un-protected.

    Any eggs laid in weather like this in outside pens are odds on to get covered in mud, so I collect about 3 times a day, especially if I have orders for the breed that needs sending off.

    Changing the oat straw regularly helps, as the birds always lay on the ground in nests they construct out of the bedding. They always seem to use the farthest corner from the door, so have to track through the straw to get to the nest site and I find oat straw takes alot of the dirt off their feet before they get to the nest. Sending out dirty eggs to buyers is a shameful thing to do. Your sending all sorts of problems along with the eggs if you do and I will bet my pension you won’t be getting any repeat orders from them.

    It would be better to email the buyer and say the eggs are not available than send them in a dirty condition and mail them again when you have some dry and clean eggs.

    Iv’e had a few test hatches out and with good results. 8 out of 11 from my Jubilee Indians. 6 out of 8 on the Welsh Blacks and the same on the Improved Indians.

    From now on in I crack test at about 6 days to check fertility, as hatching every egg would see me with far to many birds to look after and adding to my work load. You can see by day 6 if everything is going well and the fertility is up to the required standard.

    By the time these birds have got into the breeding pens they have been selected as the best of the pullets I bred 2 seasons ago, as these are all 2 year old birds. The male in the pen was probably the pick of about 20 males from the breed in question and all his brothers are now either in the freezer or have been introduced to a temperature of 180 degrees plus some olive oil and herbs. I do keep a few ‘back up’ males just in case, but they have to be good to miss the invite to lunch club.

    Improved Indian game 15/16th.

    I finally got around to picking the best of the male Welsh Black X Copper Marans, even though the bird was not the biggest I choose him as he had a good eye colour and the eye fitted into the socket perfectly. The choice, in the end was down to 3 males from 27. One had a light eye and the other birds eye didn’t fill the eye socket correctly. Other than that they were very nice birds. Totally black, with no sign of any other colour on the back or neck. The comb was how I wanted it and he had good conformation.

    Welsh Black X French Marans

    He is the bird nearest in the picture.

    He was penned with 3 very nice Black C Marans hens, but it will take him a week or two before he will have got the idea he is top cockerel, as he was down the pecking order while penned with the other two males. A male that has been sexually suppressed by a stronger male will not have fully functioning sexual parts until the dominant bird is removed.

    I shall watch the pen over the next week or two to make sure he is working properly.

    The hens he is penned with are a line of Marans bred from this male.

    French Copper Blue Marans.

    The size is well up on a normal Copper Marans and by adding more Marans to the gene mix I hope to hold the egg color.

    The Marans Rooster above is re-penned with 2 Copper Blue hens and after another week he will be put through to another pen with 3 Welsh Black X Copper Marans pullets that have just got into a full size dark egg after a very good effort on numbers in the pullet egg stage.

    Some eggs from both these pens of Welsh/Marans will be hatched and next year after grading the resulting birds the best from these two pens will be mated.

    And so it goes on, I must be crazy, but it’s a bit compulsive, just thinking about the next stage of this line makes me wonder just how many more birds I can keep.

    This year I fully intend to cut down, even if it means losing some of the strain/lines or breeds I have here. My two youngest boys are always going on about the work and costs involved in this project. My youngest is a tax consultant for a very well known company of accountants and it doesn’t take his expertise to know it’s losing money hand over fist.

    But I get so much pleasure from breeding birds and when any feedback is positive I feel a sense of pride in a worthwhile job well done.

    This season hatching eggs are being sent out to the people that have pre-ordered them and to any that have, as soon as I have eggs available from the breed you ordered I shall be in touch to confirm you still want them.

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