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Day late

A little behind on my blog posts but here it goes for this week. 16 1/2 years working for P&G, I learned one important thing, continuous improvement. Our job was to make the product and work processes better and we were tracked on what we did and when.

I applied this mentally to my poultry hobby a few years ago because when you are in continuous improvement mode, things get better and more efficient. That is why P&G products are #1 in the world in all markets they compete in, they don’t accept less.

I had been at this crazy hobby for about 50 years and pretty set in my ways. I soon realized there were better and more efficient ways of doing things and the “that’s the way I always did it” mentality was holding me back

Whether it was feed and feeding, housing, watering methods, supplements, incubation, pest control and general husbandry, there were better ways to do it than the way I always did it.

A lot of trial and error on my part but that was actually kinda fun. Mike Sayre can testify as I have tried nearly every feeding, watering and incubation device ever made and he usually gets the scrapped projects to use.

The main thing to take away from my ramblings is that there is always a better way to do things. Don’t get complacent and set in your ways. Use technology and new ideas to your advantage. Strive to make everything in the hobby better than it is today and you will enjoy it more. Complacency is the first step to obsolescence!

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Got a new phone

I got a new phone and had to restore my old stuff so I am a bit behind on my blog posts.

Last year at the Ohio State Fair, we came up with a new formula for exhibition poultry based on the ADM Enerpro Layer. I thank the folks at ADM for listening to our needs and wants and proving a fantastic solution. It was a custom blend and I was very happy with the final product as were several of my feed customers. It was called ADM M&M Marigold Layer. It has Animal Proteins and Marigold extract added to it and is a micro pellet. Several customers had exceptional results getting birds to lay, feathering out well, and my egg laying customers say the eggs taste better! I believe this is because of the addition of animal proteins. Chickens do not do well on all plant based protein feeds and when the mills switched to this nonsense several years ago, I found it very hard to get a bird in top show condition. This formula is the best feed formulation I have used since the old Kent Multiflock formula in the 1990’s. I started in the early 1970’s, helping my great great Uncle Fred with his laying flocks. We ground feed on an old Ford 8N Tractor using a formula he derived and made into a mash. When Ohio Farmers came out with a layer crumble bagged feed in the late 1970’s, I thought it was the greatest stuff ever invented. Over the years, I fed and tried several brands and formulas and this is the best to date. I am proud to announce ADM has given it an official brand code and will soon be offering it as ADM Marigold Layer. I hope it becomes available in more places for customers to try out.

A couple things I learned about feed over the years is more protein is of no benefit to the birds and is very hard on their kidneys and longevity. Over a certain amount, about 18%, they will simply pass it out and continuously feeding it is hard on their system. The proper amino acid balance (Lysine and Methionine) is very important as well along with correct calcium, fat and fiber levels. I believe ADM Marigold Layer is the correct formula for our show birds and home layer folks and my customers will testify to the results they get with it.

ADM Marigold Layer

Another thing I found while experimenting with my own flock is that ADM Meat Maker is an exceptional product designed to take meat birds from start to finish. I tried a bag as a starter grower feed for my birds, bantams, bantam ducks and Beltsville Turkeys. I was so impressed with the results that it is all I use for a starter grower and have several customers using it as well.

ADM Meat Maker
ADM Meat Maker tag

You will notice it only has plant based protein but the results seem to show that this works well to get them started and growing and after about 3-4 months, I switch them to ADM Marigold Layer. It also is non-medicated so if coccidiosis is an issue in your chickens, you will need to run Corid in their water the first couple weeks.

I will have my feed booth at the Dayton Fancy Feather Show in Greenville, OH, Moon City Show in Wapakoneta, OH and again at the Ohio State Fair to discuss your feed needs and issues. That’s it for now, good luck with your hatches and hope to see you at the shows and fairs

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Day late

I am behind on my weekly blog post. I was busy cleaning pigeon pens yesterday and forgot about it. The good thing about the Hatching Time grated flooring is that I only have to clean the pens 3-4 times a year but that is also the bad thing about it as they definitely needed cleaned out

I wanted to focus this week’s message on the importance of supporting the ABA, APA and Breed Club Yearbooks. I have done this since the early 90’s as the yearbooks are a timestamp into our hobby and it’s how you mark your place in that history. Even when I had limited funds to advertise with. I at least put in a small ad just to let everyone I was still at it.

The cost of production of the yearbooks and rising postage costs make it even more important to support them. The ads help defer that cost and keep your dues down. The ABA board voted last November to keep their dues the same citing the current economic climate but wanted to promote and get more ads in the year book to keep its cost manageable.

No excuse not to do an ad. There are several brilliant ladies who have volunteered their graphic arts services to help you with an ad and their work is outstanding. I have yearbooks back to 1914 and the current ad layouts rival the great ones from the old Art Deco days!

Get on board and do an ad and take your place in exhibition poultry history. Promote your favorite breed, club or yourself!

I have been fairly busy in retirement. I agreed to serve as the ABA Vice President once again along with being their new Special Projects Coordinator. First order of business is an update and editing of Fred Jeffery’s book Bantam Chickens. This book is like the poultry bible to me so much reverence is being used in preservation of the historical information and adding the needed breed updates. I hope to get it to the publisher in March. I am also Chairman of the ABA Judges Licensing Committee and we are excited to have several new apprentices signed up and in the program. My committee, Jacob Bates, Anthony Ashley, and myself have worked very hard to revamp the written and show room testing to more reflect the use of the scale of points. The tests have been reviewed by those who take them as hard but fair. There is not a question on it I would not expect a judge of my birds to know! I am also Chairman of the APA Welfare,Grievance and Appeals Committee so I keep pretty busy.

I often hear online and in the show room folks complaining about things in the hobby. One common trend I find with complainers is that they do nothing to help the situation. Don’t like how it’s done, get off your butt and fix it. You have only failed when you have failed to try. I tell everyone the worst possible thing that can happen is for no one to care!

Have a good week and if the good Lord is willing, I will be back to rant and blog some more next Sunday!


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Sunday Blog Time

Says it’s time to write again. I have been working on a project for the American Bantam Association which entails editing and some updating of Fred Jeffery’s book Bantam Chickens. I bought this book about 1975 and it is the most read and referenced book I own. It sold out of publication a few years back and it was decided it needed to be updated with some new data but I am careful to keep Fred’s original intent intact. I was amazed at how much the birds and hobby has changed since Fred originally wrote this book. I am trying to contrast the birds from the early 1970’s with those of today with a picture from back then and one from today. I am adding in some new breeds that were accepted after the book’s publication. It is over 400 pages and was typeset in an old typewriter type format. We are updating it to a new publishing format and font so I think it’s easier to read and follow. I hope to get it done at the end of March and my goal is to get it published in a hard copy which will be the 3rd Edition and also get it published as an Ebook. Lots of work and tedious formatting but I enjoy that kind of thing.

Mike Sayre, Tom Roebuck, Jeff Duguay and I are collaborating on a book on Cochin Bantams and Large Fowl. We are making some progress and look forward to the final project. There are so few good current publications for our hobby and with all the new folks coming in there is a need and demand for sound advice and knowledge. I am the champion of free and unsolicited advice and with the advent of social media, I now have to bite my lip and not speak my mind on some topics. I find that real breeders and exhibition poultry fanciers are few and far between but there are many internet experts with zero credibility.

Got some NB White Polish Bantam Chicks hatching this week for the first time this year. I am very happy with the Chantecler projects and have slowed their hatching down and going to focus on Cochins and Polish. Call ducks and Indies will be laying soon so that will start as well. Spring is not far off and planning on Greenville, Moon City, and Saulk Trail shows this spring if the good Lord is willing!

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Weekly Rants

My bot tells me it’s time for another post. Couple things that irk me on the Facebook sites.

Folks helping their birds hatch. This is detrimental to the breed. If it cannot hatch it’s own, there is a genetic problem that needs addressed, that’s it. You will breed them out of existence like so many Pigeon breeds that now only reproduce through the use of foster parents. Won’t do or condone it.

High protein diets reduce the longevity and productivity of the birds. Anything more that 16-18% protein for adult birds is passed out anyway and does damage to the kidneys. Seen it in my Moderns and a few other breeds.

Breeding correct blue color. Many that think it’s ok to cross out to pure blacks to improve type so they soon realize they lose whatever true Andalusian color they had. This produces a bunch of cull blues. Blue Andalusians carry the correct color because there isn’t anything to cross out to that will mess them up. Those that crossed to Black Minorcas soon found that out.

That’s it for this week. Nice to get out and fill the swim pans for the Calls and Indies, they loved it, over 49 here for a few days so they get to swim.


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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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Creating a line or perpetuating someone else’s line!

I see all this chatter online about starting out in exhibition poultry and some of it makes me chuckle under my breath. I started in the early 1970’s as a 12 year old kid with limited funds and access to quality stock. I was only able to get other breeders culls and had to breed them and sort the offspring and strive to make progress every year hoping they were better than the previous year. It was a long painstaking process but I know it made me a better breeder some 50 years later. I am forever grateful to Ralph Sturgeon’s book “Start Where You Are With What You Have”. Too many folks nowadays buy really good birds and simply reproduce those birds and perpetuate that line without ever improving them and oftentimes making them worse. My mentor and supporter, Clay Dove said that the line was not truly yours till you have bred it seriously for 5 years. Because in five years time you probably screw them up at least twice and have to breed your way out of it. This was sage advice and I have had many breeds and varieties over the years and some I improved and some I made worse but with each season you learn something new. When you purchase your foundation stock, buy them from a reputable breeder and ask for birds that will produce good stock. So often the mistake is made in buying or asking to purchase the best exhibition birds and not the best breeding birds. The majority of the time, two good exhibition birds will not produce good show birds better than they are. Strive to produce better offspring by mating a birds strengths to another birds weakness and always strive for improvement every year. This is sometimes not a one or two year program. Most times it is a five to ten year program. Mike and I often talk about the 5 year rule. We have seen many start with birds in this hobby and quit in about 5 years or less. If they make it after the 5 year mark they are usually dedicated and serious about improving their birds. Start with the best breeding stock you can obtain and breed and learn from the offspring every year. Realize that for the first few years you are just perpetuating someone else’s program and once you make improvements attributed to your breeding skills in the line then it is truly your creation. Matt’s Winter Rant for a Snowing January Sunday while watching the Bengals whoop on Buffalo!

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As baby chick season approaches and the price of eggs keep rising, I’m sure a lot of people are tempted to raise chickens themselves. Before people flock (no pun intended 🤣) to their local farm store and start buying all the baby chicks please consider the following 10 fun facts….

1. Most hens do not start laying eggs until 18-22 weeks of age (that’s about 5 months give or take)

2. For the first few weeks of their lives baby chickens need to be kept at a temperature of around 95 degrees Fahrenheit

3. Chicks need to eat…SURPRISE! And like the price of everything else chicken feed has went up. A 50lb bag of layer is over $20.

4. Chickens molt…what does that mean? Your chicken will become ugly and stop laying eggs for a period of time.

5. Chickens don’t lay as many eggs in the winter months.

6. The average lifespan of a chicken is 5-10 years.

7. Predators such as foxes, coyotes, neighbor’s dogs and even raccoons will hunt your chickens.

8. Chickens will poop EVERYWHERE and I mean everywhere so be prepared to clean their pen often or if they are free range be sure to check your step or look before you sit.

9. Chickens love to dig holes and destroy bedding around flowers in the yard, good luck keeping them from doing so.

10. Chickens can get medical issues just like any other animal.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from raising their own food in fact I think it’s great. However chickens are animals, animals that require attention and proper care.

So while I get that you don’t want to spend $7 on a dozen eggs double think your decision before you go gung ho on being a chicken farmer. Just do your research, it’s not like getting a fish 🤦🏼‍♀️

A fellow chicken owner

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2023 Ohio National Poultry Show Schedule

Thursday, November 9 – buildings open at 9:00 am – 10:00 pm for arrival and coop in

Friday, November 10 – buildings open at 7:00 am – 6:00 pm

Judging starts at 9:00 am

Junior Showmanship starts at 10:00 am (ages TBD)

Facebook live streaming 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Saturday, November 11 – buildings open at 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Judging starts at 9:00 am

Junior Showmanship starts at 10:00 am (ages TBD)

Facebook live streaming 1:00 pm – conclusion of Junior

Egg Show Awards at 3:00 pm

Junior Show Awards at 3:30 pm

Sunday, November 12 – buildings open at 7:00 am

Facebook live streaming 8:30 am – conclusion of awards

Open Show Champion Final Drive starts at 9:00 am

Champions Awarded at 9:30 am

Dismissal following conclusion of awards