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Keeping Chickens Newsletter

Page 08

April 2012 Vol. 2

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April 2012
Vol. 2

I'll be honest; I've never been hungry enough to consider eating an animal I know by name. Call me a panty-waist or a candy-ass. Call me a city slicker cleverly camouflaged in Carhartt. If I have friends for dinner, it is safe to assume they will not be the main course.

The helpful gentleman at the Hitchin Post turned out to have another idea as well: feathers for fancy fly-tying. The right kind of exotic feathers are worth inordinate sums of money to hobbyists and sportsmen with inordinate amounts of disposable income. Unfortunately, there is not much of a market for the type of feather we happen to have on hand at present. If, however, I could successfully raise a Kori Bustard or a Great Argus Pheasant alongside my chickens, we'd cover all our expenses and actually turn a profit. One pair of matched secondary wing feathers from the Great Argus, for example, retails for $90 to enthusiasts who enjoy tying Atlantic salmon flies either to cater to or engage in one of the most expensive habits on the planet. I found an extreme example of what this market will bear: a fishing fly - the centerpiece of which is a diamond-studded 14-karat gold hook - that sells for $9,000.

Here's the problem: Kori Bustards are native to African grasslands and Great Argus Pheasants hail from the jungles of Borneo, Sumatra and Malay Peninsula. I'm not sure either species would do all that well in Kansas, especially in winter. Kori Bustards are among the so-called big bustards, the largest land birds that can still fly, sort of. They really prefer to walk or run, which they do the minute they notice a human being in the vicinity. I can already see how this could be a serious problem in our operation. In their favor, bustards are usually stately and silent, but when they do

have something to communicate - like alarm when they spy a human - they bark loudly. This would undoubtedly scare the ever-living you-know-what out of a chicken, which is only about one-eighth the size of a big bustard to start with. All in all, as you can readily see, this is not a very practical economic recovery plan. Still, I appreciate the creativity behind the suggestion.

Another bailout strategy suggests itself whenever chicken-coop-cleaning time arrives. Chickens produce prodigious quantities of...well...let's just call it fertilizer. I know that this waste material is valuable, because we use it to boost soil fertility in our vegetable gardens, but until I did a little research and found "Cockadoodle DOO" brand organic fertilizer, I had

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Keeping Chickens Newsletter - Published April 2012 by