Category Archives: Free range

The Egg-Cellent Guide to Chicken Breeds

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Different types of quail cover

The northern bobwhite is the native quail species found throughout Arkansas. These predominantly ground-dwelling birds are primarily found in areas that contain large amounts of edge habitat. Edges are boundaries between different habitat types or land use practices.

The home range of a quail covey can cover as little as 20 acres up to 160 acres. In that home range, quail require various types of habitat, including: escape cover, nesting habitat, brood rearing habitat and feeding and loafing areas.

So, what is a “covey headquarters” and how does it fit into the equation for great quail habitat? Covey headquarters are patches of escape cover with dense, shrubby canopy cover and little ground-level vegetation. Headquarters are used by quail on a daily basis to provide protection against severe weather and predators along with resting and loafing areas.

The percentage of the landscape designated as covey headquarters can range up to 20 percent of the total area, with the remainder set aside for the other habitat components needed by quail. Covey headquarters should be provided in clusters of not less than 30 feet by 50 feet blocks of shrubs that are not more than 150 feet apart, which will allow the quail to have quick access to their escape cover if the need arises.

Shrubs that serve well for this habitat component include: wild American and Chickasaw plum, fragrant and smooth sumac, rough-leaved dogwood, deciduous holly, cockspur hawthorn and American beautyberry. Plum thickets are an excellent example of quail convey headquarters and occur naturally on many properties across Arkansas.

Existing Thickets — Protect and manage any existing plum or other shrubby thickets on your property. These shrubby thickets can be improved to better benefit quail. If invasive grass species take over the ground-level cover, those grasses should be treated with a herbicide, timing depending on whether they are warm season or cool season. This will re-open that ground-level cover making it easier for quail to move throughout the headquarters. Also, any over-hanging or adjacent trees to the plum thicket should be removed from the area. This strategy will help reduce predation from overhead predators and also provide a clear flight path for quail to escape from ground predators.

Creating Thickets — If thickets do not occur naturally on your land, they can be established by planting seeds, seedlings or container-grown shrubs. For beautyberry, dogwood and sumac, spacing should be on a 3 foot by 6 foot spacing. Other shrubs can be planted on a 5 foot by 8 foot spacing. Just remember, thickets intended for use as covey headquarters should be established in edge habitat, those areas of transition between habitat types and in open fields lacking shrubby cover. After you have identified the best location for your headquarters, the existing vegetation should be controlled using an herbicide before you plant the shrubs. This will promote the growth of your new plantings as well as open the ground-level cover to facilitate quail movement throughout the new headquarters.

Headquarter Maintenance — Whether you have existing or newly planted covey headquarters, you should avoid damaging these when conducting other habitat management practices on your property, i.e. prescribed burning or disking. Herbicides can be used to control invasive grasses within and around your thickets; however care should be used to avoid spraying shrubs. Also, livestock should be excluded from these areas to maintain the integrity of the thicket as a quail covey headquarters.

Source: http://www.magnoliareporter.com/sports/individual_team_sports/article_3631b0d2-d4ca-11e2-999a-001a4bcf887a.html

A Honking Mess

Too many geese in the ArcticScientists hope increasing hunting pressure will bring the expanding population of Ross’s geese under control and stop them from overgrazing and destroying their habitat in Arctic Canada.

Wildlife scientists want Inuit hunters to kill more Arctic-nesting geese in an effort to manage populations so out of control the birds are destroying their own habitat.

Experts acknowledge the plan isn’t likely to work and admit they don’t know what to do about ballooning numbers of Ross’s geese that are denuding large areas of the North.

“It’s really unprecedented in waterfowl management history to have a population that’s out of control and can’t be controlled through hunting,” said Jim Leafloor of the Canadian Wildlife Service. “We’re not really sure at this point where it’s all going to lead.”

Ross’s geese — which migrate between Canada’s northern coastline and as far south as California — were once hunted so extensively that their numbers were down to a few thousand in the 1930s. Environmental protections and the spread of agricultural practices that favour bird foraging have changed all that.

Kiel Drake of Bird Studies Canada estimates there are now about two million of the small, white geese. Together with about five million lesser snow geese — which have tripled their numbers since the 1970s and have similar habits — that spells big, honking trouble.

“It’s the way they feed,” said Leafloor. “They strip vegetation from fairly large areas.”

Sky-filling flocks are hammering their tundra nesting grounds in the Queen Maud Bird Sanctuary along the Northwest Passage. The destruction follows their migration path south, through the coastal marshes of Hudson Bay and James Bay.

“A lot of that habitat is already destroyed,” said Leafloor. “The losses there just continue to mount and expand into other areas.”

Grazing geese strip the land bare, exposing soil and peat. Recovery is slow in the Arctic’s cold climate and poor soil.

Ripping out vegetation also changes the flow of soil moisture. It draws salts to the surface and prevents normal plants from growing back. That, in turn, affects other birds and animals.

Last week, wildlife service officials asked the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board to agree to have Ross’s geese declared overabundant, which would allow managers to expand the hunting season. The board has made a recommendation to federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, who is to make the final decision.

“We think the population of (Ross’s geese) might be small enough that it could be controlled through hunting,” Leafloor said. “That remains to be seen.”

Snow geese were declared overabundant in 1999. Hunters are allowed to shoot them spring through fall, but it hasn’t made much difference.

“We think that’s an example of a population that’s beyond the ability of hunters to control.”

Nor is Mother Nature likely to take a hand by reducing numbers through overcrowding and disease. If their regular habitat becomes too degraded or crowded, the birds just find another area and strip it.

Others stay behind and eke out a living on their original feeding grounds, preventing recovery.

“The problem expands as the population expands,” Leafloor said.

No one really knows how much of the Arctic is already affected. And no one really knows where the problem is headed.

“Nobody knows what the limits are,” said Leafloor.

“We don’t know what the carrying capacity of the Arctic is. We don’t know how much food is there and how much natural habitat is available to support these geese.

“What we’re doing right now is monitoring them and watching the changes in population size and documenting changes in their range.

“But beyond that, what do you do with multimillions of geese?”

Source: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/a-honking-mess-goose-population-out-of-control-in-canada-s-north-1.1337986#ixzz2XEN8CfUW

Radnor may try swans to get rid of geese

The problem is so bad in Radnor Township that one of the ball fields has been dubbed “Goose Poop Field.”

As they have all over the region, geese have been fouling the fields, lakes, parks, and grassy lawns of housing developments in the wealthy Delaware County community, prompting residents to request action.

Radnor officials say they may have a partial solution to the “rodents with wings”: mute swans.

The township is considering deploying the swans at the Willows Park, a 47-acre former estate off Darby-Paoli Road.

A memo from Stephen F. Norcini, director of public works, concluded that the swans, known to act aggressively toward other winged creatures, were “a reliable way to control a pond’s Canadian goose population around the clock.”

Actually, they are Canada geese. Not that they have to pass through customs; they are members of the nonmigratory species Branta canadensis maxima.

Norcini did not return calls seeking comment.

The memo proposed to purchase two of the graceful white birds from a breeder near Harrisburg for $1,000 and build a $500 island at the pond at the park. The swans also would “add beauty and excitement” to the area, the memo said.

“Noooo, bad idea,” said Barbara Avers, a waterfowl and wetland specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, where swans have proved to be a growing threat to native animals, habitat, and people.

She said the township might be trading one problem for another. As Michigan’s population of the white swans increased, so did the complaints.

Avers said the swans will feed on vegetation important for native species and can quickly alter the wetlands ecosystem, affecting native birds, fish, frogs, and turtles.

Mute swans are nonnative, invasive, and extremely aggressive to people, Avers said, especially when guarding their nests or young.

Myriad swan attacks appear on YouTube, including one that shows a bride trying to flee with an irate swan firmly attached to the back of her dress. (see video below)

In April 2012 an Illinois man working for a company that used the birds to deter geese drowned after he was attacked by a pair of nesting swans when his kayak toppled.

Last year, Pennsylvania’s goose population was estimated at 220,000 and growing, along with droppings.

“We created our own problem,” said John Dunn, chief of game management for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

In the 1930s, nonmigratory “giant” Canada geese – native to Indiana and Illinois – were introduced to Pennsylvania for hunting and to bolster the dwindling migratory flocks, Dunn said.

Humane methods for goose control include loud noises, installing cutouts or blowups of natural predators, applying repellents to lawns, and nest and egg destruction. Landscape techniques have been effective: Geese love short well-kept lawns, but shy away from long grassy areas where they can’t see.

Another option is the border collie.

“We are crazy busy,” said Brandon Schaaf of Langhorne-based Geese Management. “This always works.”

The company employs 17 border collies that chase birds in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. “They want to herd, not hurt,” Schaaf said.

Schaaf said he had contracts with about 20 locations where swans and geese coexisting on the sites.

As for using swans for goose control, Elaine Schaefer, president of the Radnor Board of Commissioners, said she was unaware of problems. While the memo outlined the pros of using the birds, she said more study and public comment were needed.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/2013-06-21/news/40095857_1_mute-swans-canada-geese-geese-management


Bird blizzard

More than a million snow geese take flight over the skies of Missouri – creating the illusion of a blizzard – in these awe-inspiring pictures. The spectacle was captured in Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge as the birds began their annual summer migration back to the Arctic tundra found in Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. Groups of birds numbering between 100 and 1,000 make the journey together alongside others, their swooping mass blotting out large swathes of sky.

Epic: The snow geese take flight at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri. More than a million birds take refuge there as they migrate northEpic: The snow geese take flight at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri. More than a million birds take refuge there as they migrate north
Migrant: The birds breed in Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Siberia but summer in warmer climes throughout North AmericaMigrant: The birds breed in Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Siberia but summer in warmer climes throughout North America
Glorious: Groups of birds numbering between 100 and 1,000 can make the journey togetherGlorious: Groups of birds numbering between 100 and 1,000 can make the journey together

Photographer Doug French, from Nebraska, captured the jaw-dropping scenes earlier this year. He said: ‘This flock of more than one million geese were seen leaving the refuge early in the morning at sun rise. ‘At times more than 100,000 geese would erupt from the lake in a solid white and black wall of geese and the sound of their wing beats would drown out everything else. ‘You could not see through these giant walls of geese.’

Veil: The snow geese take to the sky in their hundreds of thousands, forming a barrier that cannot be seen throughVeil: The snow geese take to the sky in their hundreds of thousands, forming a barrier that cannot be seen through
Photographer Doug French, from Nebraska, captured the scenes arlier this yearPhotographer Doug French, from Nebraska, captured the scenes earlier this year
Tourists: Some vagrant geese make it as far afield as ScotlandTourists: Some vagrant geese make it as far afield as Scotland

Air traffic control: The area is known as the Central Flyway due to the high volume of birds. Right, a close-up of a snow goose in mid-flight

Flying symphony: In the background thousands of birds can be seen blanketing the surface of the lakeFlying symphony: In the background thousands of birds can be seen blanketing the surface of the lake
The area is popular with the lesser snow geese because they can feed on the abundant corn and sorghum

The area is popular with the lesser snow geese because they can feed on the abundant corn and sorghum. The photographer described the scenes as ‘magnificent’

The area is popular with the lesser snow geese because its rich agricultural land provides an abundance of corn and sorghum. After feeding in the area – known as the Central Flyway due to the high volume of birds – the geese eventually head north in April and May to their Arctic breeding grounds. Mr French added: ‘The spectacle of seeing this number of snow geese in one area was truly magnificent to see and hear.’

The birds mate for life The birds mate for life, usually in their second year, although breeding does not usually start until the third year.
Snow goose females are strongly drawn to the place they hatched when they want to breedSnow goose females are strongly drawn to the place they hatched when they want to breed
Lake placid: The birds clump together on the surface of the lakeLake placid: The birds clump together on the surface of the lake
As well as being an incredible sight to behold, the sound the massed birds make is also said to be spine-tinglingAs well as being an incredible sight to behold, the sound the massed birds make is also said to be spine-tingling
Photographer Doug French said: 'The spectacle of seeing this number of snow geese in one area was truly magnificent to see and hear'Photographer Doug French said: ‘The spectacle of seeing this number of snow geese in one area was truly magnificent to see and hear’
Escape to the sun: Snow geese winter in warm parts of North America from southwestern British Columbia through parts of the United States to MexicoEscape to the sun: Snow geese winter in warm parts of North America from southwestern British Columbia through parts of the United States to Mexico
Final approach: Two birds fly in to land in the floating crowdFinal approach: Two birds fly in to land in the floating crowd

He added: ‘It is one of Mother Nature’s must see events.’ Snow geese breed north of the timberline in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia, and winters in warm parts of North America from southwestern British Columbia through parts of the United States to Mexico. Occasionally some make their way to Europe. Snow Geese are visitors to the British Isles where they are seen regularly among flocks of Barnacle, Brent and Greenland white-fronted geese. There is also a feral population in Scotland.

Snow geese nests often fall prey to Arctic foxes and skuas, a type of seabirdSnow geese nests often fall prey to Arctic foxes and skuas, a type of seabird
Formation: The snow geese take to the sky en masseFormation: The snow geese take to the sky en masse
This incredible picture gives an impression of a blizzard as the birds swirl upwardsThis incredible picture gives an impression of a blizzard as the birds swirl upwards
Covered: The water is almost completely covered by the massed creaturesCovered: The water is almost completely covered by the massed creatures
The breeding population has increased by more than 300 per cent since the mid-1970sThe breeding population has increased by more than 300 per cent since the mid-1970s
Maelstrom: A chaotic scene as the birds rise into the sky as oneMaelstrom: A chaotic scene as the birds rise into the sky as one
Snow Geese travel through the Central Flyway, across some of the richest farmland in AmericaSnow Geese travel through the Central Flyway, across some of the richest farmland in America
Soaring: The snow gooe often nests in colonies. The female selects a nest site and builds the nest on an area of high groundSoaring: The snow gooe often nests in colonies. The female selects a nest site and builds the nest on an area of high ground
Ballet: The graceful mass movements on the geese are a must-see spectacle for nature loversBallet: The graceful mass movements of the geese are a must-see spectacle for nature lovers

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2346886/Bird-blizzard-More-million-snow-geese-blot-sky-make-epic-journey-Arctic-tundra.html#ixzz2XE5ANf8c

The case against antibiotics in poultry

More than 50 billion birds a year are produced in industrial poultry hatcheries worldwide.

On January 4th, 2012 the FDA quietly prohibited the “extralabel” or unapproved use of the common (yet strong) cephalosporin class of antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys to be effective April 5, 2012. The FDA says it is taking this action to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans, for it has been noted that as cephalosporin use increases in animal agriculture, human effectiveness diminishes.Cephalosporin antibiotics are a stronger cousin to penicillins. Doctors currently use cephalosporins to treat pneumonia, strep throat, tonsillitis, bronchitis, urinary tract infections and to prevent bacterial infection before, during, and after surgery.

Currently, unapproved use and abuse of antibiotics for food-intended animals is common practice. Sources say, some 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are being fed or injected into cattle, pigs and poultry on industrial factory farms.2

One such unstudied and unapproved use of cephalosporins in food-intended animals, is their injection into poultry eggs. Although the FDA has approved the use of cephalosporins on animal farms for various specific veterinary purposes, such as curing an existing infection, the unapproved or “extra-label” use of cephalosporins, to suppress potential future infection, by injecting doses into chicken eggs just before the eggs hatch, has become widespread.

Every five weeks, a large poultry farm sees a delivery of newly hatched chicks (which have been mechanically injected with a third generation cephalosporin just prior to hatching). The chicks are then rapidly fattened with a feed laced with low-dose antibiotics, most likely amoxycillin and tetracycline, which are currently allowed in animal feed and will continue to be allowed in feed by the FDA.3 When the chicks reach three and a half pounds they are sent off for slaughter. Years ago, it took two months to fatten up a chicken, today they can eat their way to 3.5 pounds in just 33 days. Today’s low dose antibiotics are the reason the birds are bulking up so quickly. Upon exit of the chickens, the floor of the once crowded pen is cleaned for the first time in over five weeks, the month plus of excrement that the birds have been sleeping and sitting in from day two of their lives, is scraped away, and the process repeats itself. These are the types of conditions that set in motion the use of preventative antibiotics.

The FDA has taken a bold and much needed first step to reign in antibiotic use. FDA officials, scientists and physicians have been warning for years that antibiotics in agriculture pose a “serious public health threat” and action needs to be taken on the issue, but no concrete steps to limit the drugs had been taken until the January 4th announcement.

Another way to decrease antibiotic use on factory farms is to reduce demand. There appear to be three options: become a vegetarian, buy from a local, sustainable, humane farmer, or, for those who are capable, start your own small scale hatchery or poultry farm! The number of people dependent on big industry would decrease, and many a chicken and turkey would lead a more dignified life.

While we’ve all heard that over-prescription of antibiotics to people is one cause of resistance, another major cause is due to the unrestricted use of antibiotics on factory farms. And not just when animals are sick: healthy animals are fed antibiotics every day because it makes them grow bigger, faster. Marketplace tests 100 samples of chicken for antibiotic resistant strains of sakmonella. www.cbc.ca

The U.S. animal farming industry consumes over 30 million pounds of antibiotics per year.

Antibiotic use on U.S. livestock in 2010:  Cephalosporins- 54,207 pounds (24,588 kilograms),  Penicillins- 1.9 million pounds (870,948 kg),  Tetracyclines- 12.3 million pounds (5.6 million kg). www.mnn.com

The use of penicillin and tetracyclines – the fattening drugs the F.D.A. has chosen not to regulate – increased 43 percent and 21 percent from 2009 to 2010. In anticipation of the new law, the use of cephalosporins dropped 41 percent from 2009 to 2010.3


*1)  www.miller-mccune.com

*2)  newsfeedresearcher.com

*3)  bittman.blogs.nytimes.com

Studies:

Leverstein-van Hall, MA et al. Dutch patients, retail chicken meat and poultry share the same ESBL genes, plasmids and strains. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 2011.

Pappas, G. An Animal Farm Called ESBL: Antimicrobial resistance as a zoonosis. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 2011.

Further Reading:

About cephalosporins: www.emedexpert.com

FDA Press Release: www.fda.gov

www.huffingtonpost.com/factory-farms-antibiotic-resistance

In Germany, although non-therapeutic use of antibiotics has been banned – conditions are poor: www.spiegel.de

Source: http://www.inspirationgreen.com/antibiotic-chicks.html

Japanese quail farming possesses enormous potential

Japanese quail farming possesses enormous potential

Lahore- Although chicken is the major source of meat and eggs in Pakistan but efforts are being made for exploiting other suitable economical sources for the production of meat and eggs. Towards this end, quail farming seems to be the most promising and one of the best alternate sources for production of meat and eggs.

This was revealed in a research paper, conducted by a scholar, Jibran Hussain for his Ph.D thesis, who hopes the new research would bring a great revolution in avian industry. The research is supervised by Dr Muhammad Akram, Chairman Department of Poultry Production UVAS.

Jibran Hussain, who is also a lecturer at Avian Research and Training (ART) Centre, told The Nation that he conducted a research on improvement in three-week body weight in Japanese quail through different techniques of selective breeding and has got very promising results in this regard.

His research paper reveals that Japanese quail (Coturnix Coturnix Japonica) is a type of popular commercial line which is known as “betair” inPakistanand has certain specific advantages. The quail can be used for meat production within a very short period of time (4-5 weeks) and mature at an early age of 6 weeks.

While informing about the situation of quail farming inPakistan, the researcher maintained that quail farming possess enormous potential but remained as one of the neglected components of poultry sector in the country. About 4 decades back, breeding stock of hybrid Japanese quail with good genetic potential for excellent growth performance, better egg production, egg quality and hatching traits as compared to local quail called “Betair” was imported in the country. But unfortunately, genetic potential of this imported quail has been deteriorated due to continuous inbreeding/uncontrolled breeding. At the same time no serious attempt was made to improve the genetic potential of the native quails.

This very poor situation of quail farming in the country brought about a challenge to the researchers from theUniversityofVeterinaryand Animal Sciences,Lahore, to adopt all the strategies to make this meat production system economical and commercially viable.

While unveiling the details of his study, the researcher informed The Nation that day old body weight in generations 1 was about 6.68g which raised up to 7.80 gm in generation three. The same was the trend in 1st and 2nd week body weight that showed an increasing pattern. The most promising results were observed in three week body weight that increased from 104 gram to 116 gram after two generations of selection. Caloric and protein intake per gram body weight gain also decreased with the advancement in generations. As the generations progressed, selective breeding showed positive impact regarding mortality rate as it reduced significantly from 1st to 3rd generation.

While concluding the results of his research, Jibran said that selective breeding in quail is quite successful and can also be multiplied in other avian species in order to improve their production performance in our local environmental conditions.

Source: http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/09-Jun-2013/japanese-quail-farming-possesses-enormous-potential