Breeder profile: Oliver Flanagan

Ducks 30-4-20 SM Farm
ABOVE: Oliver judging the egg section at Ballymena.

Oliver Flanagan comes from Moydrum Castle Poultry Farm, Moydrum, Athlone, County Westmeath. He works at Flancare Warehousing & Logistics, Athlone, as a Warehouse/Transport Manager and lives with his parents on the farm, which also breeds pedigree Irish Angus cattle.

How long have you been keeping poultry?

I have been breeding poultry for 10 years and I must say that I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have made so many friends in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, where I have exhibited very successfully at various shows.

What got you into poultry?

A friend of mine told me about a poultry sale in Roscommon and I went along for a look. I immediately got the bug and purchased a few hens. The flock increased as I attended some more sales and the Rhode Island Red breed seemed to be my most popular then. After about a year I had built up a few different breeds like Welsummer, Rhode Island Reds, and Leghorns. I also purchased some Pekin ducks & Khaki Campbells.

Did you start to show right away?

My first show was in Athlone where I received a few rosettes for Pekins. Later I began to start showing duck eggs and hen eggs with mixed results.

Who got you into showing?

My father used to tell me that when he was a young fellow he showed eggs and poultry at shows in Ballina & Crossmolina in County Mayo. I suppose it is in my DNA. I attended a few local shows like Athlone, Granard, Moate, Roscommon, Elphin, Longford and Strokestown. I got on very well, especially with my eggs, and made some friends for life.

How many breeds have you kept over the years?

I have kept about 15 breeds of hens, ducks, turkeys, geese and guinea fowl.

What is your favourite breed and why?

My favourite breed is Khaki Campbell ducks because they are easy to manage and are great egg layers. Also, they can be nice show birds.

What are the greatest challenges with this breed?

Designed from the Indian Runner in the 20th century, the Khaki Campbell largely took over as the top egg laying duck. They are easily managed, very agile, very fertile and extremely prolific and are great egg layers.

You have had great success showing eggs – what are the challenges picking and preparing the eggs for exhibition?

Uniformity is the key when choosing eggs for show competition. Make sure that you adhere to the class rules outlined in the show schedule. You wash the eggs and let them dry naturally two days before the show. You pack the eggs careful in an egg box the night before. Make sure you take spare eggs with you in case of breakages.

What is your greatest achievement with birds or eggs?

My greatest achievement with eggs was winning the most points at the Royal Ulster Show 2018 and 2019. Also receiving Champion Eggs at Gwyneed Poultry Show in Wales, March 2019, and Reserve Champion Eggs at the English National Poultry Show in Telford November 2019.

If you were starting out in poultry is there any advice that you would give someone?

First, decide on what breed you are interested in, then get some literature on the specific breed and talk to someone that has them and get up-to-date info from them. You will want the proper type of housing and the meal and water requirements. If you are going showing, get advice from someone who has experience of the show circuit and they will advise you on what cages to purchase, etc.

Finally, is there anyone you admire in the Poultry world?

ABOVE: Oliver with his German Pekin ducks at the Mohill Agricultural Show.

I admire a lot of poultry people and the way they present their birds and eggs for showing. A lot of breeders concentrate on a few specific breeds and this makes the competition better and, of course, harder to win a prize. Dr James Rigby in Wales is a great exponent, with his Buff Orpingtons and Indian Runners.

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