UK – The Animal and Plant Health Agency is warning farmers and smallholders not to feed catering or kitchen waste to livestock such as pigs and poultry, even if they are being kept as pets.
OSWESTRY POULTRY AUCTION
SATURDAY 25TH APRIL 2015
The weather report for the weekend wasn’t good, with the fine sunny weather reported to be turning cold and wet. It was certainly cooler but the rain stayed away in the main.
The other thing that was cooler was the volume of birds entered. A number of sales up and down the country have had to cancel or postpone auctions due to the lack of entries however this isn’t due to the lack of demand but really down to the lack of available stock around at the moment.
It’s a bold statement to make perhaps but it’s easy enough to back up as the sale and prices were hot! The auction had just over 140 lots of eggs, deadstock and poultry available and even with the upset prices applied to the auction only 3 lots failed to reach either their reserve or the base price.
A couple of vendors didn’t show on the day and if their reasoning was the low numbers of entries then they could well be kicking themselves given the buoyant prices.
Top for the day
Large Fowl White Wyandotte Pair (K Williams) £80
Buff Orpington Pair £42
Sebright (Gold, PR) £68
Sabelpoots (TR) £64
Sumatra (White, PR) £40
Serama (PR) average £38
Faverolles (Salmon, 2 pullets) £60
Wellsummers (TR) £50
Oxford (Pyle, PR) £44
Legbar (pullets) average £20/bird
The next sale will now be Sat 22nd August – Poultry, Poultry Deadstock, Farm Machinery & Antiques.
On a final note many thanks to the vendors and buyers who come to the auction. We are in our 5th year now and appreciate your continued support
Now this is one I need to try… looks wonderful!
Is that you? It could well be as I know quite a few folks who read or follow this blog fall into that urban farming category.
To cut a long story short I’ve been contacted by Will Steel of STV via Jane Perrone of The Guardian (ok, ok, name dropping… did I mention I was on Countryfile the other month? I did? Oh well my apologies) and he is developing a programme about people who have chickens and pigs in their city gardens.
As such he’s looking for anyone who has chickens in their city home who he could potentially contact about the programme? At the moment he’s just looking for some stories but you never know, this could be a fine opportunity to show your flat pack farm or backyard Bonanza !
If you are interested then contact Will directly email@example.com
In wild forms of the chicken such as the Red Jungle Fowl a moult can occur in two stages effectively giving the impression of two moults. It is particularly evident in the males. Firstly they will moult their brightly coloured body and head feathers replacing them with more subdued tones more akin to the females. This affords them a level of discretion and camouflage whilst they go through the vulnerable stage of moulting their wing feathers and primary flight feathers.
When these are moulted and not yet fully grown the birds ability to evade predation by short flight is compromised hence the ‘eclipse’ of their coloured plumage. Once the wing feathers have re-grown the second stage of the moult occurs where the temporary dull coloured feathers are replaced by the bright breeding plumage.
Moulting in this manner is more frequently seen in ducks where the drakes on a lake seem to disappear. They are in fact still present but hiding in more subdued female looking feathering.
More space doesn’t always mean better welfare
A stimulating debate was aired recently on BBC Countryfile which then spilt over on to various websites, agriculture press and social media. It wasn’t a humdinger but because there was a chicken element involved that I found myself following it quite closely, and became interested in the questions it was throwing up. The debate was whether Red Tractor was better than Freedom Foods.
If you are not familiar with the two concepts they are effectively assurance schemes that cover food production and within them there are welfare standards that livestock must be kept to. The purpose behind them means the producer is able to use product labelling such as “Red Tractor” or “Freedom Foods” which in turn provides the buyer with confidence that the animal product they are buying comes from a strictly controlled and monitored level of operation.
So why the debate if both are aiming to provide assurance and buyer confidence? The crux it would appear for many involved in the discussions was in the term “welfare”, and which scheme provided the better or higher, levels of welfare. This is probably in part due to the media creating a situation where low to high welfare sits on the same sliding scale as cage to free range organic does, if we use chickens as an example. It doesn’t, welfare is a measure of well-being, happiness and health. High welfare is happy, healthy and well cared for animals; by the same measure low welfare is distressed, sick and unkempt animals.
At this stage in my life I live in quite a rural environment. The nearest bus stop is 2 miles away alongside the nearest shop and the nearest Post Office is a further mile away. My environment is clean and unpolluted and such I consider my welfare (eg my happiness, health and well-being) to be quite high. In 30 years time though I might struggle being so remote and moving to a village or town with amenities on my doorstep would improve my welfare along with downsizing. Being human I will always endeavour to monitor and manage my environment to maximise my welfare.
The issue as I see it is not which scheme provides a perceived ‘better’ environment for the livestock, it is the one which has the most effective management practices and most importantly of all, the quality and standard of the monitoring procedures which feedback into the process to ensure welfare is maximised. Without close checking and scrutiny of livestock operations then it doesn’t matter what the standard or policies are, they are open to abuse, and abused they will be unintentionally or otherwise.
Returning to chickens, but moving away from the commercial side of things, I’ve seen a vast range of poultry keeping setups. There have been the small fixed pens containing trios of birds that are kept indoors and under artificial light through to the free ranging flock who ‘roam for miles and love to roost outdoors’.
At face value the later would seem to be the better welfare set up but closer inspection shows the penned birds to be exhibiting all the correct behaviours expected from a content and healthy animal whereas the free rangers are an underfed and lice infested flock whose love of roosting outdoors is down to the fact their house is crawling with red mite.
Sure, providing an environment that’s is as natural as possible will contribute towards attaining the requirements of better welfare but it’s down to the keepers management and monitoring to ensure those levels of health, happiness and well-being are in fact achieved. A stockperson lacking in those skills is a liability to livestock welfare regardless of the setup they have for their animals.
A couple of blogs ago I mentioned I’d been out a few of the Royal agriculture shows working with The Rare Breeds Survival Trust promoting the UKs rare breed poultry as a part of their 40th Aniversary celebrations. Even with all the recent food scares and the general greater awareness of the public with regard to food production I hadn’t anticipated the level of interest there would be with huge numbers of people wanting to learn more in order for them to be able to ‘do their bit’ for poultry too.
Most folks don’t have the space to keep a few sheep, goats or other larger livestock so feel they are a little inhibited when it comes to hands on breed conservation, but when they started to learn about the UKs endangered poultry and in particular chickens, people started to realise that they are far more accessible and with the right knowledge it would enable many more people to play a direct role in conservation.
It was a brief appearance on BBC Countryfile and has already led to a number of questions on where to source stock and how to help the work of the RBST, but lets hope it, and the wider the campaign, raises awareness of the dozens of poultry breeds in need of help as their preservation for the future is as vital as any of the traditional farm livestock.
For a full list of the poultry breeds at risk then click here.