Poultry gatherings suspended following avian flu case – Press releases – GOV.UK

Further measures announced to reduce the risk of avian flu spreading

Source: Poultry gatherings suspended following avian flu case – Press releases – GOV.UK

It is a huge shame that in precisely two weeks we have gone from preventative measures taken as a precaution, to an outbreak of AI, albeit localised, and then to the inevitable ban on poultry gatherings such as auctions, fairs and exhibitions.dsc_2618

It comes as no surprise, and whilst it is not something I would have wanted to predict at this time of year when we are only part way through the winter show schedule, there was always an air of closing the door after the horse has bolted, given the announcement a fortnight back.

That isn’t a reflection on the authorities, or those who have worked hard to come up with the most viable approach to the problem being witnessed on the continent. It is instead a sad a reflection of the knife edge on which we perch when it comes to disease pervasiveness and industrial scale global food production.

A ban on poultry shows is minor collateral damage from which the hobby will recover, however I suspect the same cannot be said of those producers whose livelihoods depend upon the livestock they grow for the food chain. The truth is, the more uniform and clinical something becomes the higher the risk that transmission will result in a total wipe out. If this were not the case then there would be many more dead wild birds being found with AI across our countryside.

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Poultry Genetics Workshop hits Devon

Back in 2013 I went on Grant Brereton’s Genetics Seminar and it was very well received by those who attended, myself include. Earlier this year he told me he was doing a few ‘gigs’ down Devon way so I figured I’d take the opportunity to put a few questions to him especially as he’s redesigned it as a ‘workshop’…. and given we were in interview mode the other day for one of the titles we both write for (Country Smallholding), what better time to strike!
Grant in America
Why a ‘Workshop’ this time and not a Seminar?
GB: I think ‘Seminar’ sounds a bit too studious and official for what we’re trying to achieve in Devon.
Ok, so what’s that?
GB: Well the Oswestry Seminar was in large hall with a stage, live birds in show pens, and props etc. But this workshop in Okehampton will be on the Farm of Ian and Gillian Dixon, so there will be many birds on site that they breed and rear there. Plus we are breeding specific crosses for the course. People will be able to handle the chicks and growers and see many points demonstrated. There is also an outbuilding for presentations and slideshows etc, so I intend to make full use of that.
Sounds a fun day, so are you planning any more?
GB: Nothing official so far. I have a few venues interested in a UK ‘Breeding and Genetics’ tour, so to speak, but Jim Adkins of the Sustainable Poultry Network wants me back in the US in 2016 and I’ve had many offers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Continent too. But such events take a lot of planning, and what with my journalism and editorial work, hence so few and far between at present.
So how many places are available each day?
GB: We’ve restricted it to 25 per day because we feel that’s a nice amount of people to be working with. We want it to be an enjoyable and rare experience for all who attend. The Saturday 30 May only has 2 places left, but there are a few more places available on the Sunday 31.
Ok, and what level of genetics are you assuming people will have?
GB: I think it’s very hard to find common ground in that respect, so I will be keeping it simple in many ways – and emailing everyone individually beforehand to see what they hope to get out of the day. But in saying that, I will be available to answer any manner of genetics questions – no matter how complex.
You’ve called it a ‘Breeding and Genetics Workshop – presumably that has some significance?
GB: Yes, absolutely. I want to cover how to breed better stock, and look at pure breeds as well, which are more important really. And for this reason, and so it’s not just me preaching all day, I’ve enlisted the help of my good friend, Jed Dwight, who is a respected breeder and exhibitor. He’s my guest speaker on both days!
So what will people get for their £35?
GB: We tried to keep the cost as reasonable as possible. All who attend will get a FREE e-book download of ‘Breeding For Success, ‘ a FREE souvenir workbook which they can refer to time and again, and a FREE lunch as well as refreshments throughout the day. There will also be some prize giveaways as each person will get their own ping pong ball to be drawn out of a hat later in the day. We also intend on a few hidden extras, plus special discounts on my book range and South Yeo East’s poultry range.
And you think you’re the right person for the job?
GB: I hope so. I’ve spent the last 17 years breeding intensively and most of that time studying inheritance. I’ve conducted many experiments and made many observations along the way. I do believe I can deliver the course in my own way, which I know people enjoyed last time and I’m sure those attending Devon will feel the same.
Are you pleased with the ticket sales so far?
GB: Oh, I think you have to be! Okehampton in Devon isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘central’ but I agreed to do it when some Devon folk found the Oswestry one just a tad too far to travel. So yes, it’s wonderful really; a great compliment.  A few people left it too late last year, which is frustrating, understandably (I could have sold 120 places), but you just never know who is planning on coming and leaving it till the last minute – that’s the hardest part: planning for how many people will come.
So what do those lucky enough to have a ticket need to bring with them?
GB: Well knowing the British weather, a coat, a pair of wellies and a notepad is all I ask. I would also ask them to participate if they want to and just to enjoy the day. It’s supposed to be an insight into becoming a better breeder and delving a little bit into that ‘seemingly complex’ world that makes for all the wonderful permeations of colours, features and plumage patterns in poultry. But the most important part is that people have fun!
To book your ticket for either May 30th or May 31st workshops then click here: http://www.gbpoultry.com/Devon_Workshop.html
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Chicken & Egg by Andy Cawthray and James Hermes | The Womens Room

The first review of the new book and hopefully the first of many positive ones too 🙂

Chicken & Egg by Andy Cawthray and James Hermes | The Womens Room.

Blatant Book Plug – Chicken & Egg: An Egg-Centric Guide To Raising Poultry

Well it’s my blog, so why not plug my new title due out in the Spring of 2015…..?

The title might sound a little corny however the focus of the book is in fact “eggs”. The origins and science of eggs along with the ways to get the best out the breeds you choose with particular emphasis on a number of the key laying pure breeds, all beautiful illustrated in the loose water colour style of that exceptional artist, Kate Osbourne . I’ve yet to see the finished product but if it’s anything like the previous title I worked on with Ivy Press then it will be exceptional and well worth owning…. and I’m not just saying that because I wrote it, but because the other book genuinely is a cracker 😉

New title due out in Feb 2015

New title due out in Feb 2015

“If you like chickens….”

Flyer

“If you like chickens, are interested in chickens, have chickens, want chickens,
live near chickens, or are a chicken – you should get this book.”

….and so the review concluded on Amazon. I felt rather proud to have been involved in the writing of that book even if the comment brought a chuckle to my face.

I have a lot of poultry books and obviously as a co-author of the above you’d expect me to say it’s a good book…. but it is! And whilst you might think this is just some PR to boost sales…. it isn’t, I’ve had my pay cheque already. Instead I’ll leave to another poultry keeper to share his review…

I have a large collection of poultry books from the 1930’s through to the present day and I am always eager to open the cover of a new release to see what else I can learn about chickens which have become part of my working life as well as my passion.
There are so many very basic ‘how to keep chickens’ books out there and once you’ve seen one… it gets a little, well, boring reading another and lets face it there are some good websites out there these days with a lot of this kind of information available.
“The Chicken. A Natural History” is different. It is not a ‘how to’ book but is aimed at pretty much anyone interested in chickens, beginner or not. The first 4 chapters covers what science can tell us about chickens. From evolution and domestication to anatomy, biology, behaviour, intelligence and learning, all fascinating chapters that are well presented with no shortage of amazing photos.
From wattles and combs to hatching, flock formation to chicks imprinting on their mother, it really is all covered in this book!
The fifth and final chapter covers an introduction to the breeds which covers many of the different breeds you will come across. From layers to table birds, Game to ornamental breeds, each with their own photograph and breed profile covering their origins, some history and information about their behaviour and upkeep. This chapter is very well written and could make a small book of its own!
Overall, an excellent book. I think this could well be in my top 3 best books on chickens. If you want to learn about chickens and their breeds, don’t look any further, this is definitely the book for you.”

….and on that note, best I press on with writing the next book….. well maybe later, I feel the urge to go sit in the sunshine in the middle of the field surrounded by Brahma’s and read a book  🙂

An Intro to Poultry Genetics (and free books too!)

When it comes to the modern day understanding of poultry genetics there is one person who repeatedly crops up as being ‘the man in the know’ and that chap is Grant Brereton, editor of Fancy Fowl magazine, prolific writer and author and one
of the leading authorities on the genetics of the domestic fowl.

It gives me great pleasure to provide a guest blog spot for Grant as I have immense respect for his understanding, knowledge and experience in the world of poultry breeding and genetics. So over to Grant who has also kindly offered copies of his E-book “Making New Colours 2” to 5 randomly selected readers who contact him.

Grant's E-Book full of photos and explanations - a great read for the poultry breeder

Grant’s E-Book full of photos and explanations – a great read for the poultry breeder

And if that’s not enough, ALL people entering will receive a copy of one of his other E-books “The Newcomers Guide to Poultry Breeds.”

Grant's E-book for the newcomer to Poultry - FREE with every competition entry

Grant’s E-book for the newcomer to Poultry – FREE with every competition entry

All entry details are at the bottom of the blog post and the deadline is midday Friday 15th Feb 2013…. Over to Grant to explain more

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Poultry Plumage
Most people think of hens as plain-old-brown in terms of colour, and don’t give much thought to anything else aside from their ability to lay eggs.
The ‘show world’ is so far removed from most poultry keepers, that they are unlikely to discover its existence by accident; that is unless they attend agricultural shows and have a chance encounter with the poultry tent.
My own awareness of the wonderful world of poultry plumage was brought about when I received the book ‘Bantams in Colour’ as a child back in 1984. I couldn’t believe how many  different colours and varieties of poultry were available.
I kept the odd pure breed over the years, but it wasn’t until I could drive myself to the Wernlas Collection of Rare Breeds in Shropshire (now closed), that I could truly observe all the different shapes, sizes and colour patterns in poultry; I was dumbfounded by the choice.
They were laid out in attractive breeding houses (with attached runs) consisting of a cockerel and 4 or more pullets. The sight of all these different pure breeds in their separate quarters had a wonderful impact on me; it really sold the idea of perpetuating a single ‘predictable’ type as opposed to breeding hybrids, which I had done most of my life.
Traditional Cockerels
Looking back, there were several things that prompted me to question the genetics behind the wonderful colours and patterns in pure poultry. However, the first real time was when I observed that the ‘traditionally-coloured’ Welsummer cockerel was very similar to the Partridge Wyandotte, but that the females of both varieties were very different…
A pair of Partridge Wyandotte bantams

A pair of Partridge Wyandotte bantams

A flock of Welsummers

A flock of Welsummers

I asked the late Geneticist, Dr Clive Carefoot: ‘What would happen if I crossed a male of one variety to a female of the other?’ ‘Some nice clockers (broody hens)’ was his reply, assuming that I wouldn’t understand any explanations.
He later came to respect me, and we would eventually converse on the same level. However, that initial doubt only made me more determined to understand what was at the route of the all the different plumage patterns as well as physical features.
Once I eventually understood how all the patterns were linked, and that crossing two varieties together has to result in ‘something.’ it was a great feeling – as if I’d entered a door to a new world. (The E-books I subsequently wrote, are to help people understand what that ‘something’ may be).
Back to Wernlas…
Only living just over an hour away, I was a regular visitor to the Wernlas Collection from the late 90s onwards, and it wasn’t long before owner, Shaun Hammon made me stand up and take notice.
I observed that he had created his own breeds – one of them being the ‘Cobar.’ I realised quickly that he had taken the barring gene from something else and added it to his Partridge Cochins. ‘Wow’ I thought – how creative! To see a pen of Cobars with a really attractive male and 4 females was a real treat. I knew that I wanted to be part of this wonderful creativity.
In case there was any doubt, it really was all over for me when I saw Dr Carefoot’s Chocolate-Partridge Wyandottes. He had Partridge Wyandottes and Chocolate Orpingtons  (among other breeds), so it wasn’t rocket science to work out how the Chocolate-Partridge Wyandottes were created. I found this idea fascinating and so inspirational – all I could think was: ‘What can I create?’
Grant's self-created Chocolate-Partridge Wyandottes, the ancestors of which are on the cover of his E-book: Making New Colours 2

Grant’s self-created Chocolate-Partridge Wyandottes, the ancestors of which are on the cover of his E-book: Making New Colours 2

To cut a very long story short, I created new colours of Wyandotte (as well as being an advocate for pure breeds), and continued to show both. In 2008, I wrote the paperback ‘21st Century Poultry Breeding.’
Book3
In 2011, I wrote the follow up to my original E-book, this time called ‘Making New Colours 2.’ It has been hugely popular with breeders and fanciers alike.
I am giving away 5 copies of this E-Book, so simply email me at grantbrereton@btinternet.com before midday Friday 15th Feb 2013 and head the email ‘Chickenstreet Comp’
All entrants will get a FREE copy of my E-book on pure breeds: ‘The Newcomers Guide to Poultry Breeds.’
Take care,
GBrereton
Grant Brereton
Poultry Journalist
Fancy Fowl Magazine Editor
Author of Making New Colours 1&2, The Newcomers Guide to Poultry Breeds (E-books)
21st Century Poultry Breeding, Breeding for Success – out May 2013 (Paperbacks)