Poultry comes and poultry goes
[Originally posted March 18, 2014 at caitlinpatton.com/blog.]
It has been a time of comings and goings recently in the land of RosenPatton poultry. We acquired our new chicks and ducklings, and have had three departures in the last two days.
On Sunday a lovely gentleman purchased our pair of White Chinese geese. We were having trouble with the gander’s attitude – clearly he was terrified every time we came into the coop or pen, and he reacted defensively. The geese are so much happier in their new home, where they have 1.5 fenced acres to roam, with a lovely creek running through it, and the companionship of another pair of geese who are over 20 years old. We are happy all around to see them in their new home – happy they are no longer here, happy that their new owner seems to be thrilled with them, and happy that the geese themselves are happy.
The third poultry departure was less happy. We lost one of the ducklings last night, so now we’re down to five. They all seem more frightened of me than they were before; if anyone has any suggestions for good treats for ducklings, let me know. I’m hoping that maybe if I feed them treats by hand they will get used to me. We thought perhaps the unfortunate duckling was smothered by the others and that they might be getting over-crowded in their brooder, so the remaining ducklings have been moved into their own separate brooder. Here’s hoping that the rest make it…
On the arrivals side, I have 24 eggs in the incubator (my first incubation attempt ever!) and today is day 6 of the 21 days it usually takes chicken eggs to hatch. I candled one of the light-colored eggs tonight and could see veins!
I’ve also made a couple of decisions about future arrivals. Or, as I put it to my pun-happy hubby, I’ve been pondering my poultry project priorities. I was considering purchasing a breeding pair of Toulouse geese that I found on craigslist, and they looked lovely, but in the end I decided to pass. Instead I will be purchasing two Pilgrim goslings later this spring, with the hope of breeding Pilgrims next year. Pilgrim geese are considered critically endangered by the Livestock Conservancy, so I’m hoping to do what I can to help the breed recover. Visit the Livestock Conservancy here if you’d like to learn more about Pilgrim geese.
My other poultry project priority is turkeys. I just love turkeys! They are social, funny, sweet and yes, even smart. I have never seen a turkey drown by looking up at the sky when it’s raining. I would imagine that the commercial breed turkeys (who can barely walk or feed themselves and can’t even mate naturally) may be that stupid, but the heritage turkeys I adore have retained some brains as well as the ability to forage and mate. I’m fascinated by many heritage turkey varieties, but two have emerged as my top interests:
1. Bourbon Red Turkeys: we already have one Bourbon Red hen. They are attractive red and white turkeys and are on the Livestock Conservancy’s “watch” list. Click here to learn more about Bourbon Reds.
2. Chocolate Turkeys: no, not the kind you see on the table for dessert at Thanksgiving. Chocolate refers to their color, and these turkeys are critically endangered. Click here to learn more about Chocolate turkeys.
I am currently exploring sources of poults (baby turkeys) for both of these varieties in order to establish my breeding flocks. I look forward to the day when I will be hatching and selling poults bred right here in Galena!