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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

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Up for discussion


I have a few pairs of started 3-4 month old Partridge Wyandotte Bantams up for discussion( Aho/Shank lines). A few individual Polish Bantam Frizzles in various colors as well. Message Matt or email me at Pick up only in Harrod, OH or can deliver to Montgomery County Fair this Friday, Crawford County Fair on Monday, Ohio State Fair, Indiana State Fair or the Kentucky State Fair.

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Winter Video

I was working outside in the barn today and did a video showing my heater, Hatching Time Cimuka Brooders and some new feeders I made. Several folks requested this and finally had some time today! Links to all the sources will be below this post.


Hatching Time Brooders

DYI Self Feeders

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Great time at the ABA National!

Enjoyed our trip to the ABA National in Knoxville Tennessee at the historic Dixie Classic! We were blessed to win Champion Feather Leg Bantam with a White Cochin Bantam Cockerel and RV White Cochin Bantam on the 2nd place Cockerel. We had BB-RB Chantecler Bantam on a White Cock and Cockerel. Placed a few Wheaten OEG bantams and Partridge Wyandotte Bantams in some awesome classes! Congratulations to Emily Shoop on passing her ABA Judges test and welcome to the bantam judging world. Congratulations to our Florida friends, Billy Grooms on Best of Show with a fantastic Wheaten OEG Bantam Cockerel and to the Sebright Master Tom Carey on a beautiful Golden female! Always great to visit the Dixie Classic and see our friends in the South! See y’all at Lake City, Newnan and Columbia Mississippi in January! We will both be officially retired by then and let the Shenanigans begin! Matt and Mike. PS: Let’s Go Brandon #FJB