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3rd Annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour – Austin, Texas

How about having a (figurative) Easter egg hunt at The 3rd Annual Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour on Saturday, April 23, 2011? Here is a rundown of the key points:

Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour 2011 – Chicken Coops

DATE: 4/23/2011
TIME: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., rain or shine

NEW TO THE TOUR OR WANT MORE INFO?
Check out this “First Timer” overview. You can also see or print the First Timer info in this PDF File.

DOWNLOAD YOUR MAP

You will want to make sure you download a map for this free tour before you go. Maps will not be available at tour sites.

You can download your map from Funny Farm Industries, a sponsor of the 2011 Coop Tour, or you can download the map from The Austin Backyard Poultry Meetup. Please make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader on hand.

While there are many coops, but it would be a challenge to try to see all of them.  Review the coop information and select some coops of interest.  There are photos and videos online for many of the coops.

GET MORE INFO, WIN RAFFLE PRIZES, WIN A FREE COOP!

In addition to the 19 coops from which to “peck” and choose, there will also be an Information Center at Buck Moore Feed & Supply. You can also enter to win a FREE coop from Mobile Chicken Coops. There will be many other raffle prizes throughout the day at The Sustainable Food Center (SFC) booth at the Information Center. All raffle proceeds benefit SFC. Don’t forget to get a commemorative 2011 t-shirt.  You get 10% off all chicken-related purchases through May 2011 at Buck Moore feed.

COOP PREVIEWS

Preview the coops and the Information Center on the Coop Tour’s YouTube channel. There are also many coop photos online.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

There is plenty of information at the Coop Tour’s website and on Facebook.

MOST IMPORTANTLY…

Have a great time!

Cockfighting Bill, Texas HB 1043 update

Shamo

How will the bill delineate birds for show from fighting?

Updates to 3/29 Public Hearing on Texas H.B. 1043:

The Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence had a full agenda.  The discussions on cockfighting began later in the evening. Key points included:

1) Cockfighting has been illegal in Texas since 1908.

2) Texas is one of only six states where it is not a criminal act to be a spectator at a cockfight.

3) H.B. 1043 is modeled on current effective dogfighting laws in Texas.

There was testimony in both support and in opposition of the bill that literally continued for hours. There were some people who raised exhibition poultry who expressed their concerns that their equipment for show birds could be misidentified as cockfighting paraphenalia. The Committee members noted they would examine the wording of the bill to more clearly identify the matters.

Under the current draft of the bill, a person who owns or trains a cock with the intent of using in cockfighting is charged with a misdemeanor, not with a felony as with other parts of the bill.

The hearing went on into the early morning hours. The bill as of 3/30, is listed as “Left Pending in Committee”.  At this point, the bill’s language could be reworded and voted upon by the committee, or it is possible the bill would not leave committee. See the latest bill updates here.

ACTION ITEM

Please contact The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence’s members to express your support (or requested changes) for the bill. The contact information for the Committee members is listed below. Pete Gallego is the Committee Chair, Wayne Christian introduced the bill, and the following representatives are joint authors: Eddie Lucio III, Eddie Rodriguez, and William “Bill” Zedler.  Also consider contacting your local representatives.

A sample letter recommending “training, boarding or possession of birds or posessing paraphenalia (spurs, slash[ers], etc.) for cockfighting” be a felony instead of a misdemeanor follows.  Feel free to customize the wording or write your own letter.

CONTACTS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

HB 1043 Information: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB1043

COMMITTEE: Criminal Jurisprudence

Representative Christian: Email

http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=9

House District 9–Representative Wayne Christian
Capitol Office: CAP GN.7
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0556
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 202 E. Pillar, Room 209
Nacogdoches TX 75961
Phone: (936) 560-3982

Representative Gallego: Email

Rep. Gallego, Pete P. District 74 Capitol Address: Room CAP 4N.9, Capitol
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
(512) 463-0566
(512) 236-9408 Fax
District Address: P.O. Box 777
Alpine, TX 79831
(432) 837-7383
(432) 837-1153 Fax

Representative Lucio III: Email

http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=38
House District 38–Representative Eddie Lucio
Capitol Office: EXT E2.510
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0606
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 2402 West Bus Hwy 77, Suite I
San Benito TX 78586
Phone: (956) 361-2795

Representative ZedlerEmail
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=96
House District 96–Representative William ‘Bill’ Zedler
Capitol Office: EXT E1.302
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0374
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin TX 78768

Representative Rodriguez: Email
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=51
House District 51–Representative Eddie Rodriguez
Capitol Office: EXT E2.408
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0674
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin TX 78768
Phone: (512) 463-0674

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear Representative <name here>:

Thank you for your hard work and perseverance on HB 1043.  This is a bill long overdue in Texas to provide “teeth” to prosecute illegal activity.

I support the bill but would request even stronger penalties (felonies) regarding: “”training, boarding or possession of birds or possessing paraphernalia (spurs, slash[ers], etc.) for cockfighting”.  Note that over 30 other states in the U.S. treat the acts listed in the previous sentence as felonies, as noted by The Human Society at:

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/cockfighting_chart_2010.pdf

I have included requested changes to the current bill’s wording as follows:

Sec. 42.105.  COCKFIGHTING…..

b)  A person commits an offense if the person knowingly:

(4)  owns or trains a cock with the intent that the cock be used in cockfighting as evidenced

by the presence of gaff, slasher, or other sharp implements designed for attachment to a cock with the

intent that the implement be used in cockfighting ;

(5) manufactures, buys, sells, barters, exchanges, possesses, advertises, or

otherwise offers a gaff, slasher, or other sharp implement designed for attachment to a

cock with the intent that the implement be used in cockfighting; or

(c)  An offense under Subsection (b)(1), (2), (3),(4) or (5) is a state jail felony.

Note in (b)(4) I have added language to further clarify how to identify cocks raised with intent of cockfighting from those being raised for show birds.

Thank you again for your time and dedication to stronger laws against cockfighting.


Sincerely,

<your name>

<your district>

<your contact information>

Rooster Laws

The Shamo game breed

Proposed law needs to protect people showing game breeds for poultry exhibition from penalty.

There are good reasons for roosters in the city. Most importantly, roosters guard chickens from predators (e.g., stray dogs, cats, hawks). Roosters can be raised as pets, roosters can be raised for breeding and perpetuating endangered breeds, and roosters can be raised for food. Raising roosters for cockfighting, though, is not among the good reasons.

Last year, when The City of Austin considered a ban on roosters in the city, we
learned of an interesting loophole in Texas law allowing people to raise cocks for fighting but not allow cockfighting itself. In one instance, a woman had a neighbor with an oversized lot who managed to follow city code yet keep 20 roosters, each in their own separate pen, all in sanitary conditions and in compliance with other poultry codes. There are not many reasons to have that number of roosters individually housed long-term without poultry show exhibition or other education purposes.

Now that the Texas Legislature is back in session, there is a chance to change those existing laws addressing cock fighting.

In the 82nd Legislature, Representative Wayne Christian has (re-)introduced a bill to strengthen existing laws against cockfighting with more severe penalties, H.B. 1043. Cockfighting related materials and activities can result in felony charges. Under the currently drafted bill, we would recommend that subsection (b)(4) for a person owning or training a cock for use in an exhibition of cockfighting also be treated as a felony instead of a misdemeanor when other devices listed in this bill associated with cockfighting are also present. We want to insure that the wording penalize raising cocks for fighting while protecting those raising game breeds for poultry exhibitions, a hobby which helps keep many chicken breeds alive and with good genetic lineage.

There will be a public hearing in Austin, Texas on 3/29/2011 for the Texas Committee on Jurisprudence on the matter. If you are interested in expressing your opinion on the proposed bill, we encourage you to contact your representative to let him/her know your thoughts.

More information on the bill is included below.

====================================== ========================
HB 1043 Information: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB1043

Find Your Representative: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/

3/29 Meeting Agenda: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/schedules/html/C2202011032900001.HTM

COMMITTEE: Criminal Jurisprudence
TIME & DATE: Upon final adjourn./recess?Tuesday, March 29, 2011
PLACE: JHR 120 ?CHAIR: Rep. Pete Gallego

Representative Christian: http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=9
House District 9–Representative Wayne Christian
Capitol Office: CAP GN.7
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0556
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 202 E. Pillar, Room 209
Nacogdoches TX 75961
Phone: (936) 560-3982

Representative Lucio III:
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=38
House District 38–Representative Eddie Lucio
Capitol Office: EXT E2.510
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0606
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 2402 West Bus Hwy 77, Suite I
San Benito TX 78586
Phone: (956) 361-2795

Representative Zedler:
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=96
House District 96–Representative William ‘Bill’ Zedler
Capitol Office: EXT E1.302
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0374
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin TX 78768

Representative Rodriguez:
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/member-page/?district=51
House District 51–Representative Eddie Rodriguez
Capitol Office: EXT E2.408
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0674
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin TX 78768
Phone: (512) 463-0674

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear Representative:

I am writing regarding HB 1043 introduced by Representative Christian and scheduled for a public hearing on 3/29 as noted at:

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB1043

I commend Representative Christian and his colleagues’ efforts on this bill to close a loophole on raising cocks for fighting, and I request that you also support this bill, with even more stringent cockfighting laws than listed. Specifically, I would like to see item 4 of the proposed bill for “owns or trains a cock with the intent that the cock be used in an exhibition of cockfighting”, to be evidenced by cockfighting equipment listed in the bill, also be a felony. It is agreed that there are reputable persons who raise cocks for show, but such persons do not have the fighting cock equipment identified for purposes of poultry exhibition.

While there are many good reasons for a rooster in a residential backyard flock, raising roosters for cockfighting is not one. Thank you for your support of stronger legislation to criminalize such behavior.

Sincerely,

Chicken Breed Selector for Apple Mobile Devices

How time flies.  Spring is here and the feed stores are stocking up on those cute baby chicks. Have you been meaning to do your homework to start or even add new breeds to an established flock, but you’ve running around like a…? Well, you know what we’re saying.

Get chicken advice and resources on the go with the Pickin’ Chicken™ Breed Selector iPhone app by Mother Earth News. Find out about over 70 breeds of chickens, with photos, profiles, and additional information.

Pickin’ Chicken is available for purchase from the Apple  App Store under Reference for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices.  If you don’t have a mobile Apple device, you can still get great information on chicken breeds from Mother Earth News’ Chicken Breed Survey results.

Have fun.  Braaawwwk!

Chilly Chickens

“Chilly Chickens” was the title of a recent post on a chicken forum. For those of us not used to drastic weather changes, it is difficult to know how our chickens will fare in extreme cold.  In general, chickens, depending on the breed, do better in more severe cold over intense heat. Here’s a simple survival checklist to consider for the cold for full-grown or full-feathered chickens:

Shelter

Shelter should have protection from north winds. It is good to have ventilation but not drafts, as drafts can pull heat away from the body and potentially contribute to frost bite on combs.

Your coop should also have a good roof without leaks.  If your birds get wet or chilled, they can become susceptible to the elements. An easy way to insulate an open aired coop is to have straw or hay bales on the outer perimeter of the coop. You can use the hay or straw as flooring as well as a wind breaker when needed.

You can add a heat lamp near the roost for additional warmth, but the additional warmth should not bring the coop temperature up much above freezing.

Heated Water Bowl

A heated waterer will prevent frozen water.

Food and Water

Make sure your birds have plenty of food, as they will eat more as fuel to keep warm. The water should be fresh, clean and not frozen.  Take appropriate precautions to prevent freezing on any auto-waterers and spilling/leakage on any waterer in use. You can buy heated waterers if you will have extended freezing temperatures.

Litter/Flooring

Some type of layered flooring, such as hay, leaves, or other materials will add insulation. Would you rather be on a rug with bare feet in the cold or on a plus carpet? The deep litter method gives off heat and can be another form of insulation and warmth.

Other Considerations

Birds with larger combs, such as Mediterranean breeds, or with less feathers, such as Naked Necks, may require extra considerations. Larger combs are more susceptible to frostbite, which can be a serious condition if untreated.  Some say using Vaseline or oil on the combs will help prevent frostbite, although there is debate on this topic. Keep in mind, frostbite can affect extremities, including toes, so watch for discoloration and monitor the symptoms. Prevention is the best treatment, but frostbitten areas can often turn black and fall off without issue. Make sure to treat symptoms accordingly if infection begins. The addition of a heat lamp, as mentioned above, may help. Breeds like Naked Necks definitely should have protection from drafts and other areas. They have half the feather insulation of many other breeds.

Minorca rooster with large comb and wattles

This Minorca rooster's large comb and wattles are more susceptible to frostbite.

Naked Neck Hen

WIth 50% less feathers than most breeds, the Naked Neck is not cold hardy.

Young chicks that have not fully feathered require extra attention and should be in a more sheltered and heated area.

And if things go awry…

Chickens are hardy critters. If you find a nearly frozen chicken, don’t put her in your freezer; heat her up…and not on the stove, either! A heat lamp or hair dryer can often revive a nearly departed chicken. Give it a try if needed.

Unexpected weather happens, but chickens are generally hardy and resilient. You can be prepared with some easy tips.

We hope you will share your favorite cold weather tips for your flock?

See just how exciting and intricate the world of chickens can be?

Pickin' Chicken iPhone App
Learn more about chicken breeds in our iPhone App, available now in the App Store

Last Minute Holiday Ideas

As I came home from a trip into town, it felt like life had gone mad. People in cars jerking, swerving, swaying…all in a holiday frenzy, it seems.

If you haven’t done any holiday shopping but want to give gifts, here are some ideas of giving without the holiday mayhem.

Sustainable Giving

Farm Fresh Eggs

Photo Courtesy of the Austin Backyard Poultry Meetup

Do you raise backyard poultry (OK, you had to see that one coming, right)? Why not give the gift of fresh eggs from your working girls? Inspire your friends and family with the golden-orange or orange-red yolks from your own flock. It doesn’t get any fresher.

Give eggs with a twist – bring some homemade eggnog to a holiday gathering. Of course, never undermine deviled eggs from pastured hens. Showcase the simple pleasures.

No poultry? Not a problem. What about a green gift? Growing any winter goodies – flowers, veggies, herbs? You can put a nicely crafted bouquet of goodness together. A simple piece of twine can accent the beauty of the garden. A little packet of your garden’s seeds makes a gift that keeps giving.

Another option…

Gift of Time

Don’t underestimate the gift of time and its power.

Make a meal for your friends and family. Slow down, visit, and enjoy company.

Put together a small raised bed for a giftee.  Consider also helping on a community project for a local school, a retirement home or a family in need.

Volunteer for a non-profit to help around town. There are so many opportunities, especially near holidays, to volunteer. You may find a bigger gift from knowing your help made a difference, and volunteering may become a habit you don’t want to break.

Donations

Another way to give back – provide your financial support to an organization in which you believe or donate in a loved one’s name. Here are some ideas if none come straight to mind:

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
The American Livestock Breed Conservancy
Organic Consumers Association
Slow Food USA
Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (for you Texans)
The Sustainable Food Center (yea, Austin 🙂 )

Go digital

The great thing, you can actually gift online the item you want for instant delivery in many cases. Consider…

An e-book or gift certificate for an online book or other sustainable gift.  Raising Chickens for Dummies and City Chicks are both online. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is another classic.

Sustainable apps! Of course, we love Pickin’ Chicken, but check out other great options.

Online magazine subscriptions.  Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine make great reads and are filled with all kinds of wonderful ideas.

Other Ideas

If you are going to go out to stores anyway, you can buy local many times. Check to see if any Farmer’s Markets are going on, even tomorrow. There are sometimes special holiday market hours.

Does your city or town have some sort of local business program? For instance, in Austin, we have a Go Local card that rewards customers who purchase locally with discounts or treats.

Just throwing out some last minute ideas. Most importantly, enjoy your visits and holidays you celebrate whole-heartedly with gratitude.

Happy and Blessed Holiday wishes to all!

Pickin’ Chicken: When Size Matters

Did you know that chickens come in many breeds and also different sizes?
  • There are Standard or Full-Sized chickens. These are what we think of when we see the traditional picture of a farm with chickens running around.
  • There are also Bantam chickens that are around one-fifth to one-quarter the size of a full -sized chicken, depending on the breed. Bantams with Standard counterparts are scaled down versions of the Standard, “Mini-Me’s”, if you will. They should have all the full sized breed’s characteristics, except their eggs will be extra small in size.
  • True Bantams have no large counterpart and are naturally small, with extra small eggs to match.
  • A breed may offer a Standard size only, a Bantam size only (True Bantam), or have both Standard and Bantam sizes available.

Black Aseel Cockerel. Aseels do not have bantam counterparts.

An Aseel (Asil) only exists in standard size and does not have a bantam sized counterpart.

Quail Belgian d'Anvers Pullet

Quail Belgian d'Anvers Pullet. A true bantam.

Belgian d’Anvers breed is a true bantam.

Many chicken breeds have both standard and bantam size options. Just shrink the standard size down and you have the bantam. Examples include many popular breeds, including Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucanas, Australorps, Orpingtons, and others.

Of course, there are always tricky cases.  For instance, there are breeds of Shamo and Ko Shamo. “Ko” is Japanese for “small”, so you would think that the Ko Shamo is the small or bantam version of the Shamo. Such is not the case. Ko Shamo is a true bantam, while the Shamo breed has its own bantam sized version with the same name of Shamo.

AOC Ko Shamo Pullet

AOC Ko Shamo Pullet. A true bantam.

Shamo Hen

A standard sized Shamo hen.

See just how exciting and intricate the world of chickens can be?

Pickin' Chicken iPhone App
Learn more about chicken breeds in our iPhone App, available now in the App Store

Pickin’ Chicken Featured in Edible Austin’s Cooks! Edition

Pickin’ Chicken is among the sustainable apps featured in Edible Austin’s Cooks! Edition.  Thanks to Edible Austin and Kristi Willis for the notice and for turning us on to other cool sustainable apps!

Edible Austin Cooks! Digital Edition

Check out Edible Austin's Cooks! Digital edition

Pickin' Chicken story in Edible Austin Cooks! Edition

See the iPhone App Story

Pickin’ Chicken: The Egg has Hatched!

Pickin' Chicken iPhone App

Need to find the best chicken for laying eggs? Cold weather? A great roast? Find the perfect chicken for your needs with Pickin’ ChickenTM!  Pickin’ Chicken has been released today in the App Store.  Learn more >>

Join our mailing list for the latest updates! (We will not sell or otherwise distribute your information.)

Molting Season is Here

Are your birds starting to look a little bare? Has egg production dropped? Your birds may be molting. Molting generally happens annually and is when chickens lose their old feathers and grow new ones. Shorter daylight hours stimulate molting season for many breeds.

How long a bird will molt and when it will first molt varies. Some become nearly bald and may stop laying. Others have slower molts with patches and keep laying. Regardless of the time involved, the order of feather loss is defined from head down to tail.

Molting requires additional energy and impacts the hormones. As such, keeping the chickens’ environment relatively stress-free and supplementing their diet can help them through this time. Feathers are mainly protein, so supplementing with additional high quality protein helps. Some high protein options include a handful of high quality cat food every other day, or, if you do not have a cat, mixing or gradually replacing their laying feed with chick starter during the molting season. You can also add a calcium supplement, such as oyster shells or cleaned, dried, crushed egg shells.

Your birds will thank you for the extra help and consideration!