Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dubbing Advice - How To Dubb A Rooster. For Show Fowl, Gamefowl and OEG's

Chickens - Dubbing Tips For Show Fowl - OEG's

I've dubbed hundreds of OEs and gamefowl and the only part of dubbing I look forward to is the way they look when they're all healed, it changes their appearance dramatically. All you will need is some SHARP scissors or dubbing scissors, something to wrap the rooster in ( a slightly damp towel works good ), blood stop powder ( just in case ), a roll of paper towels, alcohol and a clean bucket of cool water. Clean the scissors and wipe them down with the alcohol, snugly wrap the rooster in the damp towel and if your lucky enough to have a good helper have them hold the bird and keep the head still by holding the comb.

I start with the wattles, pull the wattle down stretching slightly and as close the beak as you can starting from the front working your way back towards the earlobe, remove the wattle getting ALL folds and wrinkles. When the wattle is removed go to the earlobe and pinch up all you can with your off hand, WATCH HIS EAR and remove as much as you can. Repeat the procedure on the other side. I try to leave a thin strip of skin between where the wattles were, if you don't it'll look like you cut his throat, But it's OK, it'll heal. Now the comb, take your time and decide how much to leave, too little or too much and the bird will not look as good as he could have. These little roosters have a natural line that runs horizontally in their comb, use that as a guide ( I usually cut slightly above the line ).

The first thing I remove is the back part of the comb ( the blade ), cutting as close to the comb's base as you can, cut it off ( straight up and down ). Then starting at the front ( some start from the back ) as close to the beak as you can begin making the cut ( some like a straight cut, some like a slightly curved cut ). KEEP IN MIND YOU CAN'T PUT IT BACK IF YOU CUT TOO MUCH OFF. When you've completed cutting you should have a point at the back, round it off, slightly. Look him over real good to see if you need to go back and trim anything you may have missed. A good clean dubbing job makes a lot of difference at the shows.TIPS,DON'T DUB IN HOT WEATHER, their blood is thin and the game birds bleed a lot heavier.

I dub my roosters at night but early enough that I can watch them for a few hours. They are easier to catch and they settle down quicker in the dark.Sometimes you'll have one that bleeds a little heavy, when that happens I pull a downy feather from under his vent and put it over the comb and sprinkle the blood stop powder over it.TAKE YOUR TIME, it's a chore you'll want to be over and done with, BUT, poor dubbing hurts your chances at the shows.

Some people dunk the roosters head in the bucket of cool water after dubbing, I just use it to clean the dubbing scissors.It takes about 3 weeks for them to be COMPLETELY healed so keep that in mind when getting geared up for the shows.

Alfalfa meal on the feed for a few days before you Dub helps with bleeding, it has natural vitamin K.

NOTE: There are some that like to dub in 2 stages. They believe that you should trim the comb early to keep the rooster small. Then wait until the adult sickle feathers are completely in before they dub the wattles and earlobes to promote longer tails.
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Monday, December 05, 2005

Poultry - Bird Flu May Now Be In The UK

Over 1,500 birds found dead in Ukraine

(Reuters)

KIEV (Reuters) - Officials in Ukraine, so far free of bird flu, have sent experts to investigate the sudden deaths of more than 1,500 birds in the Crimea peninsula, the Agriculture Minister said on Friday. [see the site map]

Oleksander Baranivsky, speaking to 1+1 television, said the birds were found in a half dozen villages in the peninsula jutting into the Black Sea. He gave no details on the type of birds or other information.

"At the moment we have 1,621 dead birds. Tonight, the situation will become more clear," Baranivsky told the station by telephone.

"Measures are being taken. Experts have been sent there. If cases of any specific virus are found, further measures will be introduced."

The channel said the sale of privately raised domestic poultry had been banned in Crimea.

Romania on Friday discovered new cases of bird flu in the Danube Delta it shares with Ukraine and samples were being sent to a British laboratory to determine whether the infected birds had the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain.

Romania became the first country in mainland Europe to detect the H5N1 virus in two villages in the delta.

Bird flu has also been found in several regions of Russia, Ukraine's northern neighbor.

Ukrainian officials have performed analyses on thousands of domestic and wild birds but detected no cases of bird flu. All hunting of birds has been halted and residents have been told to keep their stocks indoors to prevent contact with wild birds.

Source (Rueters)

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Feeding Tips For Poultry, Chickens, Gamefowl and Waterfowl

Feeding Chickens For Best Health and Performance
By Anne Fanatico, NCAT Agriculture Specialist

An important part of raising
chickens is feeding - feeding makes up the major cost of production and good nutrition is reflected in the bird's performance and its products. This publication discusses feeding traditional rations as well as mixing your own rations, organic diets, and special concerns for feeding chickens in some of the pasture-based models discussed in the companion ATTRA publication.

Feeding Options
The most convenient way of feeding
chickens is with a balanced pelleted ration, whether the birds are confined indoors or allowed to range outdoors. Most diets contain corn for energy, soybean meal for protein, and vitamin and mineral supplements. Commercial rations often contain antibiotics and arsenicals to promote health and improve growth, coccidiostats for combating coccidiosis, and sometimes mold inhibitors. However, it is possible to obtain unmedicated feed-check feed labels to see if they contain feed additives.

In the industry, the feed is pelleted so the bird can eat more at one time. Chickens are nibblers and make frequent trips to the feed trough for small meals, which requires energy. Pelleting reduces the amount of energy required for a bird to feed. However, many producers of pasture-based, "natural" poultry believe that the meat is better when the bird receives more exercise.

If the bird is eating a fibrous diet, grit such as oyster shells is supplied to aid in grinding up coarse feed in the gizzard. Industry
birds usually don't use grit because the diet is low in fiber. Outdoor birds also pick up small stones.

Different rations are often used, depending on the production stage of the bird. Starter rations are high in protein-an expensive feed ingredient. However, grower and finisher rations can be lower in protein since older birds require less. A starter diet is about 24% protein, grower diet 20% protein, and finisher diet 18% protein (1). Layer diets generally have about 16% protein. Special diets are available for broilers, pullets, layers, and breeders. Whole grains can also be provided as scratch grains.

Access to
clean water is important. Levels of total dissolved solids above 3000 ppm in the water can interfere with poultry health and production.

Home-mixed Rations
Some producers decide to mix their own rations in order to be assured that only "natural" ingredients are used.

Poultry feed ingredients include energy concentrates such as corn, oats, wheat, barley, sorghum, and milling by-products. Protein concentrates include soybean meal and other oilseed meals (peanut, sesame, safflower, sunflower, etc.), cottonseed meal, animal protein sources (meat and bone meal, dried whey, fish meal, etc.), grain legumes such as dry beans and field peas, and alfalfa. Grains are usually ground to improve digestibility. Soybeans need to be heated-usually by extruding or roasting-before feeding in order to deactivate a protein inhibitor. Soybeans are usually fed in the form of soybean meal, not in "full-fat" form, because the valuable oil is extracted first. Whole, roasted soybeans are high in fat which provides energy to the birds.

Chicken feed usually contains soybean meal which is a by-product of the oilseed industry. In the industry, soybeans are dehulled and cut into thin pieces (flaked) to improve the action of the solvent (usually hexane) which is passed through the soybean to extract the valuable oil. Vegetable oils such as soybean oil are used for edible and industrial purposes. The soybean is then toasted as a method of heat treatment to deactivate an inhibitor which would otherwise interfere with protein digestion in the animal.

However, chickens can also be fed unextracted (full-fat) soybeans. An advantage of feeding unextracted soybeans is that they still contain the oil which provides high energy fat to the bird. Unextracted soybeans need to be heat-treated-roasted with dry heat and then ground, rolled, or flaked before mixing into a diet. Another method of heat treatment is extruding. Extrusion involves forcing the beans through die holes in an expander-extruder which creates friction which heats the beans sufficiently (sometimes steam is also applied). The result is a powdery material which does not require further grinding. Roasted and extruded soybeans should not be stored for long periods of time, especially in hot weather, because the oil turns rancid.

Since protein is generally one of the most expensive feed ingredients, the industry uses targeted rations and reduce the amount of protein in the diet as the birds grow (chickens require less and less protein as they age); however, it may not be cost-effective for small-scale producers to have different diets for starters, growers, and finishers.

Vitamin pre-mix is usually added but may be reduced by using vitamin-rich plant sources such as alfalfa. Other plants also provide vitamins in their leaves, hulls, and brans. Fish oil can provide vitamins A and D. Yeast provides some of the B vitamins. Sunlight is a good source of vitamin D for ranging chickens (converting a precursor to vitamin D). Poultry in cattle pastures may obtain vitamin B12 when picking through dung pats for insect larva.

Sprouting grains, although a labor-intensive process, is used by some producers for vitamins when access to range is not possible. Sprouting can increase the amounts of carotene (vitamin A precursor) in the grain and as a source of year-round forage, could be an advantage for certified organic poultry production to reduce the amount of synthetic vitamins required in the diet. Eating plants may provide a yellow color to the skin of slaughtered chickens and a deeper yellow color to egg yolks.

Trace mineralized salt is usually added to poultry diets, but other sources can provide minerals. Minerals, although not present in high levels in plants, are provided in fish meal and kelp (seaweed). Meat and bone meal is an excellent source of minerals, particularly calcium and phosphorus, as well as being a good protein source. However, if a producer does not want to use meat and bone meal, then dicalcium phosphate can be substituted.

Access to pasture can reduce the vitamins and minerals needed in the diet since the birds get vitamins from plants and both vitamins and minerals from insects. An example of an all-grain diet is enclosed.

Probiotics are sometimes provided to chicks during placement and before shipping. However, preparing a balanced diet can be a complex, possibly costly process, especially for producers with little background in nutrition. Specialized knowledge is required about the nutrient requirements of chickens and the nutrients contained in feedstuffs. Feed ingredients need to be sourced, milled, mixed together according to a formulation, and the mix is usually pelleted.

Ration-balancing of home-made diets is important, especially on a commercial scale, to achieve the right amounts of nutrients. If diets are not properly balanced, then birds will suffer from nutritional diseases. The National Research Council's
Nutrient Requirements for Poultry (2) specifies the amounts of protein, energy (carbohydrates and fats), minerals, and vitamins. The quality of the protein is important since it is made up of individual amino acids, some amino acids being essential to bird health.

The proper amount of these nutrients needed in diets depend on breed, age, and type of production. The reference issue of Feedstuffs magazine (3) has a charts of feed composition which lists the amount of nutrients provided by various feedstuffs. Feeding textbooks such as Applied Animal Nutrition: Feeds and Feeding (1) also have such charts. Feedstuffs can also be analyzed in a laboratory for nutrient make-up.
Poultry nutritionists or Extension agents can provide help in ration-balancing. In preparing your own diet, formulation is important. Sample diets are enclosed. Some diets do not include meat and bone meal--call ATTRA for more information.

If you are mixing a large volume, you may be able to get a local feedmill to mill, mix, and possibly pelleted (requires different machinery) for you. Feedmills also have access to feed ingredients and staff with nutritional expertise who can formulate diets.

Ellie MacDougal, a Maine farmer who keeps 50 layers primarily for composted litter for an herb operation, is an example of a producer who mills and mixes her own ingredients on-farm. She purchases whole grains and mills them as needed to retain nutrients. She says that milled grains should be fed within 30 days or else they begin to lose nutrients. She suggests a hand-mill for small quantities or a motorized mill for larger amounts. Another option is to buy already milled grains and just do your own mixing.

Some producers feed whole grains. An "old-fashioned" way of
feeding chickens is the "mash and grain" method which is a two-feed system of providing whole grains along with a high-protein ration in order to reduce costs. The whole grains cost less than the high-protein ration and can even be grown on-farm (4). Contact ATTRA for more information on mash and grain feeding.

Certified Organic Diets
Home-mixed diets are particularly useful to certified organic
poultry producers. Although pre-mixed organic poultry rations are available for purchase, they can be expensive and may need to be shipped from long distances. Call ATTRA for a list of organic poultry feed suppliers.

Many producers look for local sources of organic feed ingredients. If you have difficulty in finding sources of organic feedstuffs locally, the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) (5) may be able to provide you with the names of organic producers in your area. Some producers raise their own organic feedstuffs.

A useful contact is Craig Kovacik (6), an organic poultry producer in Michigan. He raises an average of 50 broilers per week in a pasture-based model. He mixes and sells organic poultry rations and is familiar with organic standards for processing feed.

At present, the USDA does not permit "organic" labels for livestock products, because the federal standards are not yet set for organic livestock production. However, private and state certifying agencies provide certification is an operation meets their criteria. Most programs' standards for certified livestock production require that 100% of the feed be certified organic and that no antibiotics, wormers, growth promotants or insecticides which are not on the program's list of approved natural products be used.Feeding Concerns for
Chickens in Pasture-based Models.

When raising birds in a pasture-based model, it is important to keep in mind that the digestive system of the chicken is geared towards the digestion of insects, seeds, and grain rather than the digestion of forage, and they will still need concentrate feed rations to produce well. However, chickens can make some use of high-quality forages, particularly legumes. Ladino clover was a recommended forage in the 30's and 40's when grazing poultry was more common. Sudan grass was used for summer grazing, oats and wheat were used in the winter, and alfalfa provided perennial legume pasture.

Joel Salatin (7) developed the popular "pastured poultry" model in which broilers are pastured in floorless pens which are moved daily to fresh pasture.
Feed concentrate is provided in the pen, along with water. In this system, allowing the birds to forage on plants, seeds, insects, and worms which reduces concentrate feed costs by 30%. (See the ATTRA publication Sustainable Chicken Production for more information.) Salatin does not believe that forage species is important for poultry range. He believes that a diverse, perennial mix of forages is key to providing nutrients. He says the forage height is important and keeps his pasture sward at about 2 inches.

If the grass is tall, chickens in the confined field pens ("
pastured poultry") tend to mat the grass down and it becomes unsanitary. Fresh, vegetative pasture provides more nutrients to poultry than fibrous, stemmy pasture, and a good sod pasture prevents muddy, unsanitary conditions. Some producers use mangles, kale and even tree forage, such as mulberry or persimmon, as poultry feed.

Salatin also developed a free-range model called the "eggmobile." This is a portable layer house which is moved every few days to a new pasture location. Birds range freely during the day (see the ATTRA publication Sustainable
Egg Production for more information). If chickens (particularly the more aggressive layer breeds) are raised in a "free-range" model such as the eggmobile, it may be possible to feed whole grains cafeteria-style instead of milled, mixed rations. Salatin feeds whole grains to his layers in the "eggmobile". Corn, wheat, oystershell, and meat scraps are fed cafeteria-style, so the birds can choose what they need.

If, for example, the birds have been eating a lot of grasshoppers on pasture, they may consume less of the expensive meat scraps. This style of feeding may make costly organic feeding more feasible, since whole organic grains could be purchased and fed without the additional processing costs of milling and mixing into rations. However, birds in the confined field pens of the pastured poultry model may not be able to forage sufficient insects.

Although
feed requirements can be reduced by allowing access to range and the accompanying insects, benefits of ranging poultry may lie more in marketing and animal welfare rather than in the feeding.

Summary
Chicken nutrition and feeding is an important part of
production. If you are going to mix your own diet, great effort may be required to produce well-balanced diets, especially certified organic diets. Chickens are able to obtain some of their nutrients from insects, worms, and plants when on pasture, thus reducing costs.
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Friday, November 25, 2005

Cockfighting - Gamefowl History They Don't Teach You.

Gamefowl Cockfighting - A History They Don't Teach You.

An Excellent Article Full Of Facts You May Not Know About.
The rising popularity of
cockfighting in the past decade has placed the Ozarks, and in particular the White River region, in the forefront of this ancient blood or pit sport. Sportsmen in our region, and others with family connections here, have served as officers and lobbyists in the national and Missouri United Gamefowl Breeders Association.

Animal rights activists in Missouri have risen to
oppose cockfighting, seeking prohibitive legislation, so far unsuccessfully. The debate over this sport, which is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Ozarks, calls for an historical review. Such a review is especially helpful in considering cockfighting since, as one southern mountaineer said in regard to the sport, "Here’s history they don’t teach you."

A wise Missouri jurist wrote that "Tradition depends not at all upon thinking, nor is it disturbed by thinking. Of all the influences which affect the conduct and affections of men, none is so powerful as tradition. Resting upon use and custom, it is independent of the caprice of man and exercises over him an uncontrollable dominion.

The value of tradition lies in its unreasonableness. It contains experience rather than thinking." And therein lies much of the debate: tradition unites us, convictions divide us, a rule that Thomas Jefferson knew well when he said that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing."The power of words in any debate is always important, but our interests include the legacy of tradition. Cockfighting has bestowed upon the English language an array of popular idioms upon which modern sports depend heavily. In boxing they include, match (in weight, to pit one against another), main event, battle royal, the ring (early
pits were round instead of the squarish or rectangular ones ultimately used), weigh-in, handlers, and clean-cut (de-wattled). Even boxing gloves are a descendant of cocks’ spurs covered with muffs for sparring.

One’s spirit is often described by a cocking term: cocky, game (plucky), chicken, raised hackles, crestfallen, and yellow. Orchestras are seated in the former cockpit space in theaters, and pilots reside there in airplanes. Affluence is described as well-heeled, a reference to good-fitting steel gaffs attached to the cock’s natural spur for fighting. Workers are familiar with the pecking order on the job and supervisors who are cocksure. Nearly everyone has used cocktail, originally "cock ale," a stimulant that was and is fed to fighting cocks before a main event. The term cock of the walk, a champion bird, referred to the
gamecock exercise area and is better known now for the restaurant chain.

In a world where change is the constant, the blood sports of cockfighting, bullfighting, and dogfighting have survived virtually unchanged for three thousand years; cockfighting is by far the most pervasive.

Most authorities allege that the
beginnings of cockfighting were in southeast Asia, where partridge and quail competed, but as a sport, it seems so ubiquitous that no specific country can claim to be the point of origin. Some claim that the domestic chicken’s ancestor was the wild junglefowl in the dense Asian tropics. Once the cocks were domesticated, travelers and merchants diffused them and the pit sport through India, across Persia (modern Iran), and into the Middle East. Mediterranean cultures practiced the sport widely in the late first millennium B.C. while elevating the gamecock to divine status, as some Asian cultures did.

Themistocles, the Athenian general, is credited with introducing the sport into Greece, and Greeks intro-duced it into Rome, while Rome diffused it into the greater empire including Britain. Ancient lore records that Mark Antony’s gamecocks always lost to Caesar, a portent of Antony’s own future. The Romans introduced artificial spurs for combat, developed organized cockfighting, and engraved fighting cocks on silver coin of the empire.

Archaeologists, at the Italian excavations of Pompeii (destroyed in 79 A.D.), unearthed a mosaic of two cocks in combat. Pit sports, in general, took deep root in Roman society, culminating in the contests of lions against Christians.Cockfighting in the Ozarks comes more immediately from our British colonial inheritance; in fact, the sport (after boxing) was probably the first European one in the New World. By the 12th century, schoolboy cocking was an annual event in some grammar schools. Students brought their cockpennys to school, building a fund to finance the event at the end of the term --prizes were awarded to the winners. The grammar school competitions in Britain continued into the early nineteenth century.

By the sixteenth century, pit sports -- bearbaiting, bullbaiting, dogfighting, boarfighting, lionfighting, and cockfighting --were a national theater that grew to international renown into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. "Hawks, hounds and cocks were true marks of a country gentleman," said one commentator, and gambling became irrevocably tied to the sport.

Shakespeare referred to the pit sports in many of his plays -- Macbeth, King Lear, several Kings Henry, and others knew well the bear garden and
cockpit. Indeed, King Henry Viii’s new cockpit at the Palace at Whitehall, constructed in 1536, remained a sporting center until 1816. English kings of the seventeenth century recognized cocking as a national sport, including the appointment of a cockmaster who supervised the breeding, rearing, and training of gamecocks for the royal pit. All classes participated in the sport, but the aristocracy set much of the tone in celebrating well-bred and well-trained gamecocks.

By the nineteenth century, their named birds became champions for spectators to place wagers upon.The degree to which participants idealized game-cocks seems little short of remarkable to modern observers. Flags and banners waved atop cockpits to advertise the sport. A chord of dissonance, however, did criticize the events.

A serious complaint by Puritan preachers began during the reign of Elizabeth 1(1558-1603) that denounced the brutality of blood sport and urged suppression of the spectacles. By the end of the seventeenth century, secular voices joined the religious ones. As cockfighting assumed widespread popularity in the eighteenth century, England’s literary masters castigated the sport as cruelty to animals. The famous British historian Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859), taking an explicit shot at the critics, claimed that the Puritans deplored such sport "not because it gave pain to the animal but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." "This articles continues" Click here to read the rest of the article "
cockfighting facts they don't teach you".

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Facts About The Wild Turkey - Poultry World

Facts About Wild Turkeys
By Larry Chandler
Reprinted with permission.

Imagine going on a turkey hunt only to find there are no
wild turkeys! It sounds far fetched, but in the early 1930s this grand game bird was on the verge of extinction. But today, thanks to hunters and wildlife restoration programs, the wild turkey is abundant and thriving in its homeland.

Wild turkeys are native to North America and there are five subspecies: Eastern, Osceola (Florida), Rio Grande, Merriam's and Gould's. All five range throughout different parts of the continent. The eastern is the most common and ranges the entire eastern half of the U.S. The Osceola (Florida) is only found on the Florida peninsula, while the Rio Grande ranges through Texas and up into Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. Rios are also found in parts of the northwestern states.

The Merriam's subspecies ranges along the Rocky Mountains and the neighboring prairies of Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. And you can find Gould's throughout the central portion of Mexico into the southernmost parts of New Mexico and Arizona.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 feathers cover the body of an
adult turkey in patterns called feather tracts. A turkey's feathers provide a variety of survival functions-they keep him warm and dry, allow him to fly, feel and show off for the opposite sex. The head and upper part of the neck are featherless, but if you look close, you can see little bumps of skin on the bare area. Most of the feathers exhibit a metallic glittering, called iridescence, with varying colors of red, green, copper, bronze and gold. The gobbler, or male turkey, is more colorful, while the hen is a drab brownish or lighter color to camouflage her with her surroundings.

Two major characteristics distinguish males from females: spurs and beards. Both sexes have long powerful legs covered with scales and are born with a small button spur on the back of the leg. Soon after birth, a male's spur starts growing pointed and curved and can grow to about two inches. Most hen's spurs do not grow. Gobblers also have beards-tufts of filaments, or modified feathers, growing out from the chest-which can grow to an average of nine inches (though they can grow much longer).

It must also be noted that 10 to 20 percent of hens have beards. Wild turkeys have excellent vision during the day but don't see as well at night. They are also very mobile. Turkeys can run at speeds up to 25 mph, and they can fly up to 55 mph. When mating season arrives, anywhere from February to April, courtship usually begins while turkeys are still flocked together in wintering areas.

After mating, the hens begin searching for a nest site and laying eggs. In most areas, nests can be found in a shallow dirt depression, surrounded by moderately woody vegetation that conceals the nest. Hens will lay a clutch of 10 to 12 eggs during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day.

She will incubate her eggs for about 28 days, occasionally turning and rearranging them, until they are ready to hatch. A newly-hatched flock must be ready to leave the nest within 12 to 24 hours to feed. Poults eat insects, berries and seeds, while adults will eat anything from acorns and berries to insects and small reptiles. Turkeys usually feed in early morning and in the afternoon.

Wild turkeys like open areas for feeding, mating and habitat. They use forested areas as cover from predators and for roosting in trees at night. A varied habitat of both open and covered area is essential for wild turkey survival.

Lack of quality habitat was a problem in the past, but with the passing of the Pittman-Robertson Act in 1937, an excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, wildlife restoration programs now have money to use to restore wild turkeys and wild turkey habitat.

And with the invention of the rocket net, wildlife agencies and the NWTF can trap and transfer turkey populations to areas of suitable habitat. From only 30,000 turkeys in the early 1900s to nearly 7 million today, this intriguing species has truly made an awesome comeback.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

New Bird Flu Outbreaks In China

BEIJING - China reported on Sunday November 20, 2005

Two new outbreaks of bird flu in which almost 3,700 poultry died and more than 7,000 were culled as provinces hit by the deadly virus tightened preventive measures.

About 3,500 geese died at a family farm in a development zone in Shishou city in the central province of Hubei, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that 3,800 poultry were slaughtered within a radius of 3 km (2 miles).

In the northern region of Inner Mongolia, 176 domestic poultry died and 3,202 poultry were culled, Xinhua said. It gave no further details.

The agency quoted Health Minister Gao Qiang as saying China has basically brought bird flu under control.

Beijing and four provinces have tightened preventive measures, the Web site of the Ministry of Agriculture said.> China has been trying to contain about a dozen outbreaks of the H5N1 strain among poultry in at least six provinces in the past month. It announced last week plans to vaccinate billions of birds.

A lethal strain of the H5N1 virus has killed 67 of the 130 people it has infected in Asia since late 2003 -- mainly Vietnam and Thailand.

But the real fear is that it will mutate and acquire the ability to pass from human to human, causing a global pandemic.
Last week, Asian Pacific leaders vowed to bolster co-operation to fight bird flu and stage a "desktop" simulation drill in early 2006 to test regional responses and communication in the event of a pandemic.

Beijing was roundly criticized for covering up SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which started in southern China in 2003, then spread to Hong Kong, the rest of Asia and North America, killing hundreds of people.
Courtesy (Reuters)

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Tips For Pigeon Breeds and Doves - Poultry Advice

So You Would Like to Add Doves to Your Collection?
By Jeff Downing

I have received many questions from people who keep pigeons about adding doves to their collections. So when I was asked if I would be interested in writing an article for the Los Angeles Pigeon Club, I thought this would be a great time to address this topic.

Like many of you, I started keeping pigeons when I was very young. My love and interests grew for the birds as did my desire to keep different species.
I raised Homers, Tumblers and Rollers and learned that methods of keeping varied between these types of pigeons. I also discovered that I had to provide differently for the pheasants I added to my collection.

Even more differences were found when I wanted to add Ringneck doves, Diamond doves and now the many species of Exotic doves to my collection.

If you already have pigeons, you know the basic needs in housing, feeding, watering, and possibly breeding your birds. I will not attempt to detail each process from start to finish. My goal here is to bring up points that I feel are specific to the care and keeping of doves and how they may differ from your present practices in keeping pigeons.The biggest problem I find that people have when adding doves to their collections is "Not Being Prepared" before the birds arrive. If you are interested in adding doves, do some research first. Talk to people who already keep the birds you think you want. Yes, I said "think you want," because you may change your mind as you learn about the different species. Keep an open mind.

With all the species of doves out there, there is one that will probably work well within your desires and abilities. Read all you can about the birds you want. Learn about their behavior in the wild and about their habits in captivity. I have found that most people keeping doves are very willing to take the time to help someone who shows an interest and willingness to learn.

Check as many sources as you can. No one is an expert, especially when it comes to living things. By talking with and reading many sources, you will find many tips and methods that may work well for you and your situation.

Overall environment is probably the largest factor to deal with. Know your area well, noting the extremes that temperatures can reach, the amount of wind, rain and sun you can expect. Some of the larger doves, like Ringnecks, Wood Pigeons and Australian Crested doves, can tolerate freezing temperatures and harsher weather. However, many of the dove species cannot.

If you are unable to provide protected or even heated areas for the colder months, you will want to avoid the more delicate and less cold-tolerant species.
A good example in higher management needed is in the raising of Cape or Masked doves. They are originally from the arid regions of South Africa. Capes can be fairly easy to keep as long as they are managed well. They are not cold tolerant at all. The hens tend to be rather delicate and a chill can harm them quickly. I have raised Capes for years here in Maryland, but I must bring them indoors in the Fall and cannot bring them back out until late Spring. I am fairly successful in breeding Capes, but it takes much more management and resources due to the environment in Maryland. In talking to others around the country who raise Capes, I find even when I have had a good year with mine, those living in more arid areas are even more successful.

Maryland is very humid through the Summer. It seems the Cape dove does best in areas that are very hot during the day and have low humidity. So, take into account your overall environment, yearly temperatures, humidity, rainfall, winds, and direct sunlight and your ability to alter or manage these when researching the types of doves you would like to keep.

Housing requirements can also be very different for doves. Where many of the varieties of pigeon can be kept in the same coop, many of the species of doves cannot. Some doves get along very well while others can be very destructive to any other birds in the same flight.

I follow a few rules, which I have found to be generally true. Species that live in different levels of the environment tend to get along. For example, a ground dwelling dove will generally get along with a dove that spends most of its time in the trees. I also find doves from different regions of the world often get along, where species from the same area (often competing for the same resources) do not get along.

Construction is also a consideration. When I was flying Homers and Tumblers, I had a single large door to my coop and cannot remember a pigeon flying past me to escape. Do Not try this with doves! If pigeons do escape, you often have a good chance that it will stay in the area and allowing you a chance to catch it. Though there are always exceptions, generally doves that escape will fly away and not be able to survive for long in the wild. I do not know of an exotic dove that can be free-flown and return with any regularity. Some will say that Ringnecks can be free-flown, but I have yet to see a successful program.

Doves can be very flighty and will fly upwards towards open light when startled. I recommend building a Man-Trap into all of your outdoor pens or buildings that will possibly have doves in them. A Man-Trap is an enclosed area that you can walk into and completely close behind you before you open the door to any area holding birds. This way if a bird does get by you, it can go no further than the Man-Trap and you can easily retrieve it.

I have even seen people build and use portable Man-Traps that they can wheel to the entrance of the desired flight and enter safely. If a Man-Trap is just not possible in your situation, I have found that lower doors do much better to reduce escapes. Build doors narrow and as low as possible that you can still stoop through.Ceiling requirements can also be different for keeping doves. The escape instinct of most doves is to fly up and away quickly.

Many dove keepers find that stretching a small holed plastic netting about six inches or so below the ceiling of a coop or the welded wire of a flight greatly reduces scalping and more severe injuries from startled doves. Many doves also seek the highest areas of a coop or flight to roost in. I have heard of birds choosing to roost high and exposed to the elements rather than low and under the cover. They do not always do what is best for them when following instincts. Because of this, if the pen has an open wire flight area as well as a covered area for protection, it is better for the covered area to be taller inside than the wire flight. Provide safe perches in the taller areas or the birds may be putting themselves in awkward positions to roost high. Looking at the lower level of your pen, many doves spend a great deal of time during the day on the ground, searching for seeds and bathing in the sun. Some species even nest on the ground or very close to it. It is important to provide clean, dry areas on the ground available to direct sunlight for your doves. My last point on overall housing is on plantings.

I rarely see pigeon coops or flights planted with live vegetation. With doves, having potted or planted vegetation often means the difference between a successful program or not. The plants serve a number of purposes with doves. They provide a more natural surrounding, more variety in perches, greater sense of security in cover to hide in and obstacles to slow down a driving male.With pigeons and doves being in the same family, they do eat much of the same food. The size of the seeds often correlates with the size of the birds. If you put a good quality pigeon mix in front of smaller doves like Zebra or Diamond doves, the larger peas and seeds will be left while the millet and grass seeds will be gone.

Research is still the key. It is important to know the natural diet of the birds to be kept. But, it is equally important to know what the birds have been eating at their last home. It is often too great a shock for doves to completely change their diet, especially when combined with the stresses of changing environments and homes. Be sure to have the last owner send feed along or tell you the last diet they were fed. If you plan to switch diets, do it gradually over a period of time. It has been proven that many doves do not need grit to survive; however, many do seem to enjoy having it available.

Generally it is good to have a fine, starter sized grit available at all times. I also like to mix a little fortified red mineral salt in with the grit. Fresh water is a must at all times. It is very helpful to know where they are used to finding water in their last flights. Present water in as close to the same area as possible. With new birds, I provide water in many different areas of the coop or flight and gradually remove or move the sources towards the final location. Many of the dove species benefit from other forms of feed as well. I provide a variety of soft foods. From time to time, I offer steamed rice, cornbread, mealworms, chopped fresh vegetables and hard boiled eggs crushed shell and all. They may not take to the varied foods at first, but quickly learn to seek them.

With some doves, diet is very complex in comparison to feeding pigeons. The digestive system of Fruit doves requires completely different things to be prepared and fed. They are not set up for and cannot digest a regular seed diet. These are very high maintenance birds to keep and are not recommended for starters.You will also need to approach breeding doves differently than pigeons. Where many pigeons will breed together in a large coop as long as nests are available and some territory can be established, most doves will not.

Very few of the doves will breed in colonies unless very large areas are provided. Many doves are not comfortable going into an exposed box or closed compartment to nest. They often prefer open basket style nests that are well hidden. They generally are poor nest builders, so bowls or platforms with edges are very helpful. I try to provide at least two nest sites per pair of birds in the flight. I position the nest baskets in varied locations and heights throughout the flight. It also seems more important to provide some form of cover to help hide the nest location for doves. For example, Golden-hearts tend to be difficult to get to nest, incubate and raise the young without abandoning at some time.

If you visit a friend of mine that I find to be very successful at raising these birds, you will wonder if there is any room left in the Golden-heart's flight for the birds. The flight is so overgrown with vegetation, that it is wonder he ever sees the birds. They surely must feel safe, secure and well hidden. They breed and raise young for him on a regular basis. I also mentioned previously that plantings and cover could be helpful during breeding. In some species of doves, the male can be rather aggressive, even harmful to the female.

Cover and obstacles can be helpful to the hen in escaping and hiding from the male during this time. Some doves breed and raise very well in captivity. For those that do not, setting up foster parent pairs might be necessary. This added process should be taken into account while looking into what doves to keep.So, if you are currently successful at raising pigeons, chances are you will also be so with doves.

As long as you research the types of doves that will best fit your situation and make a few adjustments in your flights and management practices, you should get great enjoyment from adding them to your collection.

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