imageI went to the annual Country Living Expo last weekend. As always, it was interesting and educational, and a time to run into and catch up with friends and acquaintances.

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I put this rooster in the barn months ago, maybe around lambing time. He had a wound on his foot, probably from fighting with other young roosters, and he was limping. The others were hassling him, so I stuck him in the barn for some respite. I sprayed some antibiotics on it a few times. It healed on the outside, but must have sequestered infection on the inside. This is apparently called bumblefoot.

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Photo courtesy of NABC

Another seminar I enjoyed at Focus on Farming was getting to tour the new mobile poultry processing unit owned and operated by the Northwest Ag Business Center (NABC). I had heard about this, but it was neat to see it in person.

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I’ve incubated a couple of batches of chicks. I’m taking advantage of a peculiar genetic phenomenon called sex-link, where when a red- or buff- colored rooster is bred to barred-colored hens, the offspring are different-colored by sex. In this case, I have a Rhode Island Red rooster and Barred Rock hens. The chicks hatch black, but the male chicks are destined to have the barred pattern, so they have a white “thumbprint” on top of their heads. Voilà, instant sexing of day-old chicks (which is much more accurate than a layman trying to eyeball their teeny genitals to guess). This hybrid “breed” is often called Black Star. They are supposed to be good egg layers, due to coming from two good egg producing breeds, and leveraging heterosis.

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I went to Focus on Farming again this year, and enjoyed it, as usual. Sometimes there is a session where no class jumps out at me as a “must hear,” so I just randomly pick something, and end up finding it really interesting. The first one of these was a class called Locally Sourced Grains for Poultry Production. It was taught by James Hermes, Extension Poultry specialist at OSU. In fact, he’s the only Extension Poultry Specialist in the West; and the last one hired since the ‘80s.

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I haven’t raised any poultry in  a long while, it was one of the many extras that had to go while I was working in Seattle. My duck population is low, from attrition and butchering all the males. So I loaded up the incubator with a big batch of eggs.

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I was delighted this spring to learn that our nearby Cenex store would be the keeper of a new set of rental poultry processing equipment, which is funded by the Northwest Ag Business Center. There was a set up at a Mount Vernon feed store, but the drive was far enough that I never bothered to rent it. This new development gave me no excuse to procrastinate any longer on butchering some roosters and drakes I had that were just standing around eating too much food.

I hate butchering poultry, it’s the plucking of smelly birds that I find the most distasteful. Plus, I’m not fast at it, so it’s so much work, and the whole time I keep thinking I can buy a chicken at the grocery store for five bucks. The equipment makes it a lot easier.

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