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Dave Beta

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since May 08, 2012
Wanaka, New Zealand
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Recent posts by Dave Beta

Hello, the answer to this may be on one of these forums somewhere but I haven't been able to find it. I know chickens can tear apart and eat modern 'naked wheats' if you toss them a few heads but can they get into the husked ancient grains? From my research the old grains are quite difficult to process due to their husks. This makes them very resistant to wild birds or insect attack. They also tend to have higher protein than any modern wheat, and can grow in a 'gravel pit' (einkorn in particular). However, sourcing the seed is quite tough in this part of the world so it would be good to know if chickens can 'do the job' on them.
7 years ago

Tim Canton wrote:

John Polk wrote:

The sex-links are also excellent layers, but since they are hybrids, they will not breed true.  They are some of the most docile/people friendly hens around (and often, the first in the flock to begin laying).  Since they will not breed true, I know of nobody that keeps the roos beyond freezer camp, but I would imagine that they would continue to breed good, docile egg layers...worth a try for a generation or two.

how do the boys add up as meat birds??    I could see keeping a flock of BR and throwing a RIR roo in there with them and end up with some sex links.  The egg layers would out produce but what about meat?

I have butchered quite a few black sexlink cockerals, rhode island red over barred rock hen, which I'll call blackrocks. They definately grow faster than purebreeds of either breed. My barred rock roo was from a laying strain, ie he was only medium sized for the breed I think, but my barred rock pullet is pretty big. I have Hyline commercial layers (pullets also) and I would say that the barred rock has almost kept up with them for egg production, (aside from when she did go broody and raise chicks.) It's now 5 weeks away from the shortest day here, we've got about 10.5 hours of daylight and she just laid 6 eggs in a row. Our laying hens are on organic layer pellets, a fair bit of sprouted wheat and freerange.

We killed most of the blackrock cockerals around 18 weeks old and they dressed out at 1.4 to 1.5 kg on a mostly sprouted wheat, scraps and freerange diet from 6 weeks old. They were delicious roasted and would feed about 6 people. Ive kept one of the blackrock roos as our stud cock, as his RIR father got a foot problem and had to be culled. We named him Thor and he has been incredibly active with his ladies since he was 6 months old. At that age he was as big as his old man.

I think with a bigger RIR cock and a hen rather than a pullet the cockerals would be quite a bit bigger at 18 weeks, and you could definately feed them more than I did. Next season Im going to use a Black Langshan over my barred rock hen, and the other option I would like to try is Astralorp over barred rock. Both of these are black sexlinks. I have 3 cockerals from RIR over langshan and they are very fast feathering, you can tell their sex at about 2 weeks as their combs grow very fast, and one in particular is very wide and looks a bit like a cornish cross that he's hanging out with in body formation.

Langshans are hardy, good forragers, great winter layers and carry a fair bit of breast meat. Apparently they don't vary too much between strains as they have a fairly tight genetic background which was locked in hundreds of years ago, or something to that effect. Their only downside is they are slow developers, although the fastest of the asiatic breeds. Hence the benefit of crossing them with something faster developing.
Here's Thor at about 23 weeks, with one of his half sisters, who is 2 weeks younger
7 years ago

Guy De Pompignac wrote:Things to think about :

Produce enought :

* omega 3 (short and long chain)
* vitamin D in winter
* proteins
* calories

i think its the most limiting factors

While I would love to get into the Vegan vs omnivore debate I am going to try and respect the thread starters wish and not go there too much... I have the book The New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency by John Seymour. John is widely regarded as the grandfather of self sufficiency. The book is an awesome resource for the self supporter/permaculturalist. John was a big fan of having a house cow, preferably a jersey or maybe a dexter. I Quote 'Nothing keeps the health of your family, and your land, at a high level better than a cow. If you and your children have ample good, fresh, unpasturised unadulterated milk, butter, buttermilk, soft cheese, hard cheese, yogurt, sour milk, and whey, you will simply be a healthy family, and that is the end of it. A cow will give you the complete basis of good health. If your pigs and poultry also get their share of the milk by products, they too will thrive. If your garden gets plenty of cow manure, it too will thrive. This cow will be the mainspring of all your health and wellbeing. He then says that if you followed a regime of grazing and crop rotation on one acre of land (admittedly with hay bought in for the winter) ' I would be very surprised if, after following this regime for a few years, you did not find that your acre of land increased enormously in fertility, and that it was producing more food, for humans, than many 10 acre farms run on ordinary commercial lines.'
If you had 2 acres of well managed land, it's likely you wouldn't need to bring any hay or outside feed in for your animals. The cow would provide all of the omega 3, winter vitamin D, protein and good fats for a family for the year. Combined with poultry, maybe a few pigs, whichever grains and vegatables grow well in your climate, and fruit and nut trees, that's ample nutrition for anyone.

Now as for the vegan diet being more healthy, natural, and better for the environment and animals. If everyone became vegans, as many vegans advocate, what would happen to all our domesticated livestock? It would be pointless keeping them, as they would just be taking up land which could be planted in edible vegetation. So would we release them to wander around untill they starve to death, or do we kill them all? Do we keep the ones which have usefull products like wool and leather, and then kill them and bury them somewhere where their neutrients can't contaminate our plant food (proponents of veganic gardening seem very concerned about animals or animal manure getting into their food, otherwise known as the 'neutrient cycle') or do we all wear synthetic clothing made out of oil? In a future with little oil, animals are going to once again be needed to provide muscle on farms, from pigs turning compost, to horses pulling manure spreaders over fields, or even bullocks trampling straw into clay to mix cob for building (the traditional British method).

As for a vegan diet being healthier, the fossil record shows that in North America for example, where indians went off their hunter gatherer diets and started cultivating maize in the south, skeletons became smaller and tooth decay became an issue. The Indians further north, whose diet was largely one of animal products with an emphasis on 'guts and grease', the early European settlers were amazed at their muscularity and height. Their traditional healthy animal based diet is the reason Native Americans are so prone to alcaholism and diabetes now, along with other cultures like Pacific Islanders who traditionally had few starchy carbohydrates in their diet.

So back to John Seymour. When he was in his eighties he was convicted of sabotaging Monsanto's GE feild trials in Ireland, still sprightly enough to scale fences and destroy crops. He was instrumental in Monsanto abandoning their GE beet trials. When he was 90 he called his family togeather and informed them he had had a great life and it was time to move on. He died later that week. He may not have lived to 110 like some Japanese or vegans on a restricted calorie diet think they're going to but I reckon 90 is plenty old enough and it shows that all those dairy products did him no harm at all.

7 years ago

Phil Hawkins wrote:I was at an agricultural show yesterday, and mentioned that I keep free range chickens. The person I was talking to assured me that isa brown chickens would "lay themselves to death" without bagged feed. This sounds like something invented by a feedstock company, but it seems plausible that we may have (through selective breeding) created chickens that are quite unnatural, just like cows that can die from falling over and bloating, which presumably would not have been the case 'naturally'.

Anyone know whether there's any truth to this?

I spend some time at a local organic farm which runs ISA browns completely free range on large (8 hectare) paddocks. My mate who works there says some have gone wild and live in the shelterbelts, and he reckons they are the healthiest looking hens. Its a pretty fertile area and I think there is a water race there. No idea if their laying or not. ISA browns are super hyperactive, can lay 2 eggs a day sometimes, eat a lot more food than heritage breeds like RIR and Barred rocks, and tend to die at age 3 from eggs breaking inside them. They also feel the heat much more than the dual purpose heritage breeds, as the DP birds insulation works both ways. DP birds are also far more resistant to lice, partly from their denser feathering and partly I think because they look after themselves better as they havent been bred to suffer like the commercial hybrids have.
If you've only got the room for one rooster I would keep Barred rock Hens and have either a black Langshan, Astralorp or RIR cock. The langshan is large, has quite a bit of breast meat for a heritage fowl, is a docile good forrager, lays well in winter and has some broodyness. The astralorp is more broody, lays well also and is large. In my experience RIRs arent very good eating roosters as they grow slowly but crossed with barred rocks the cockerals dress out around 1.4kg at 18 weeks and are great eating on a freerange and grain diet. All three of these roosters will make black sexlink chicks when crossed with barred rock hens.
7 years ago