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Sunday Evening Thoughts!

My program tells me a time for the Sunday Blog posts for this week. Several projects and experiments in the works this season.

The first one relates to a constant battle with Marek’s Disease here at the farm in Harrod. What I know to be true about Marek’s Disease; it’s everywhere, some breeds and varieties are resistant and some can’t fight it off at all, it affects new birds that are brought into the flock, vaccinating is difficult and impractical and will not totally rid you from the disease and you must keep doing it or losses will occur again.

I had old friend Dick Horstman visit last spring and was telling him about the battle I have with it every year and the devastating losses in my Chantecler Bantams this year He told me to disregard all the experts and get a couple Turkeys. Put several shovels of Turkey shavings with droppings into the pens when I put the chicks on the ground. I thought about it some as I have never had Turkeys other than to raise a few to dress out at Thanksgiving. I decided to order some so I got 10 Midget Turkey poults from Welp Hatchery and we were off on this experiment. I was able to keep 4 poults alive and sent two to Mike Sayre and kept two. All four turned out to be hens. So far this hatching season, I have three batches of chicks on the ground in grow out pens. I put several shovels of the dander, dust, droppings and shavings into each pen and to date there have been no losses due to Marek’s. The chicks which have been on wire in a brooder until this move, seem to love to root and dust down into this combination of Turkey stuff and new shavings. Time will tell and we will report back later if we incur any Marek’s related losses. So far, I am both amazed and impressed as I would have had several down with Marek’s by now. It does have some scientific logic as I understand the Marek’s vaccine is made from Turkey dander.

My second project this year is to work on improving the Buff and Partridge Chantecler Bantams by crossing out to our White Chantecler Bantams. I have about 30 of the Buff crosses out and I am pleased with the improvement in type and livability. Color work will come down the road but so far I am happy with this project and more to follow. I have several chicks which came with a silver penciled mixed with white pattern. Not sure yet what their purpose will be but I will keep a few. The Partridge White cross has fertile eggs in the incubator and anxiously awaiting their hatch to see what they look like.

My third project is the resurrection of NB White Polish Bantams. My start last year produced a pullet that I will call 1/2 Bearded. She is 1/2 Bearded and 1/2 non Bearded and carries a very small beard and muffs. She was the only one of my NB White project to survive Marek’s. I was able to find a nice young pair of NB Whites in Florida this January so I was back in business. I have this pure pair mated and also have a bearded white hen, my 1/2 Bearded pullet, and two WC Splash hens from my friend Jan Brett. This cockerel is a busy guy but I am excited to see what is produced this year.

My fourth project is Bearded Buff Laced Polish Bantams which were from Jerry DeSmidt. I had been after him for a start and he brought me three gorgeous pair to the Ohio National. They are mated up and I have a few chicks and several fertile eggs in the incubator. Looking forward to growing this up as it is one of my favorite color patterns!

Project 5-6 is kinda of an inherited deal. Mike got some fantastic Japs in BT White and Black from Steve Ferreira and Melissa Evans. Because the building is heated here, we decided to send the Partridge Wyandottes up to his place and I would winter the Japs and raise a few. I have several chicks out and it’s been a few years since I raised them and they are fun to watch

Project 7-8 are Snowy Calls and Black East Indies. I am getting them through winter and will mate them up in the Spring. Back at it in bantam ducks after a 10 year hiatus.

After all these projects are working, I hope to find time to hatch a few Black Cochin and White Chantecler Bantams and raise a few Nun Pigeons.

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