Happy New Year everyone and from myself, David and Caroline, we wish all our readers a great year for poultry keeping and hope that poultry gatherings, shows and sales soon return to normal.
Pure bred poultry keeping, especially for anyone keeping waterfowl, has become a lot harder due to the avian flu restrictions housing order in which all poultry and waterfowl have to be kept indoors or in enclosed housing to avoid contact with wild birds.
This has been the largest avian flu outbreak resulting in a number of infected commercial flocks having to be slaughtered.
Waterfowl that are normally used to free ranging are especially difficult to keep indoors and I know from my own set up that I’m frequently changing their water and bedding to try to keep them healthy.
Even the feed cost of keeping waterfowl indoors has greatly increased as, due to boredom and their inability to search for their own food, their meal consumption is much higher.
Let’s just hope that this avian flu outbreak soon settles and the waterfowl can again enjoy their active outdoors lifestyle.
Sadly, as this avian flu problem has become an annual event, I believe a reduction of waterfowl breeds will be on the cards for me this year.
The effects of keeping large and bantam fowl breeds enclosed is less detrimental to them than waterfowl and in fact a number of the pure breeds are laying well, which brings me on to the hatching season.
To try to keep a strain of fowl alive I try to hatch every year. Generally I start with the large fowl so hopefully we will hatch from the White Wyandottes, Leghorns and Minorcas first.
Although it is great to hatch large Indian Game early, unfortunately fertility is low until the weather warms up but Spring hatched Indian Game still grow well.
With keeping the three standard varieties of Indian Game, namely dark, blue laced and jubilee, a number of breeding groups have to be put together as Darks breed true but the blue laced and jubilee varieties are bred dark to blue laced and dark to jubilee to get the correct colours.
January often sees the geese starting to pair up and lay so the task in the next few days is to separate the three different breeds, namely the African, Pomeranian and Sebastopol geese in indoor pens and hope they don’t miss outdoors too much and that we can hatch from each of the breeds.
Although all winter poultry shows were cancelled, hopefully the Balmoral Show’s return to May will mean poultry can once more be shown here and at the other agricultural shows across the country. We hope to see you all there.