Nestled within parkland close to the Balancing lakes at Silverwood, Craigavon, is the wonderful Tannaghmore Open Farm, which attracts day trippers, parties and schools from across the country.
The open farm looks after an assortment of yesteryear farm animals, including the Oxford Sandy and Black pig, one of our oldest pig breeds, Irish Moiled cattle, Connemara ponies, Bagot goats.
Its wonderful collection of domestic waterfowl and poultry includes probably the biggest flock of pure bred Aylesburys in the country.
The incredible work carried out by head ranger Richard McKitterick and his dedicated staff was rewarded when the farm was awarded the Rare Breed Survival Trust NI support group’s Rare Breed Farm status.
The endeavours being carried out at the farm for the preservation of our old farm breeds is wonderful.
In the poultry breeds the farm has built up a great collection, including Silver Grey Dorkings, which are one of our oldest breeds with their heavy build and five toes.
They have the traditional Light Sussex, Rhode Island Reds and Orpingtons in both Buff and Black. Their light soft feather breeds include Minorca fowl, Welsummers and the very rare Buff Leghorn, which they were able to successfully hatch from in their first year at the farm.
The farm’s poultry is completed with a number of old traditional breeds such as the Old English Game, Indian Game and the oldest breed of bantam, the Rosecomb.
When the farm was being assessed for the award of Rare Breed Farm status, the adjudicator were very impressed with the domestic waterfowl and this section of the farm has improved further with their signature Aylesbury duck flock, which now is helping a number of other waterfowl breeders to maintain a healthy breeding stock of these enormous yesteryear ducks.
The Indian Runner duck collection has been selectively bred over the past few years and is showing great improvements with very well marked fawn and white Runners and Black Runner ducks.
The farm this year invested in new goose breeding runs, which paid dividends with a number of young Pomeranian geese and African Geese in both grey and buff being hatched.
Last Saturday was the annual Tannaghmore bird fair with young birds from the farm taking centre stage in the marquee within the fair.
Members of the public were given the opportunity to obtain birds hatched and reared on site with a number of quality Aylesbury ducks eagerly purchased by waterfowl breeders.
A selection of the different fowl breeds kept on the farm were sold in pairs and trios, with geese to be sold later on in the year.
Around the bird fair there were a great number of poultry sellers who between them were selling a vast range of breeds.
We arrived just before 8am and at that time a queue had formed. The great weather brought the crowds out to the bird fair and soon many of the birds that we had brought along were being boxed up to go to their new homes.
There were many of the top exhibitors moving on their excess stock with quality birds available.
In game fowl there were wonderful Sumatra Game in both blue and black. Jeff Weir, from County Tyrone, had brought along superb Carlisle Old English Game pullets and Mervyn Elliott had pairs of superb large Modern Game.
On sale were the mighty Cochin and Brahma fowl and the diminutive Sebright and the unusual Ko Shamo fowl. A vast range of Waterfowl was available.
This was a great bird fair that was well attended and well organized and a fantastic day’s craic.
I would like to thank Richard McKitterick and his team for the great effort in organizing this lovely day out in County Armagh which helps to preserve our wonderful yesteryear breeds of fowl.