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Interview with a Silkie Chicken Farmer

2012-12-05

This time we interviewed a breeder of Silkie and Welsumer chickens from Nauheim.

We appreciate his wish to share with us his experience in keeping or breeding of chickens. If you are interested to give an interview, just send us a letter and read your answers in our blog.

Hi, how did you start chicken keeping?
One of my friends presented me several wild goose eggs. He said that if I could hatch just one chick from these eggs, I would be his hero. I have managed to get a total of six wild goose chicks hatched. I raised them and let them fly away. I liked that so much that made up my mind to buy chickens.

Perhaps, the cosiest chickens ever: Silkies
Perhaps, the cosiest chickens ever: Silkies

What is your main motivation for chicken keeping and breeding?
My main motivation is relaxation. Especially in the summer when I can come home from work and I sit down with my chickens around in the backyard. That gives me a good feeling. I even like being involved and experiencing how life is developed from eggs.

What is the greatest point for you in this hobby?
The constant renewal of life and, of course, eggs and meat of the chickens.

Which chicken breeds do you nurture?
I keep and grow Silkies and Welsumers.

Why do you keep Silkies and Welsumers?
I am a great fan of the Silkies’historical background. They were already mentioned in 1292 by travel writer Marco Polo. They are very beautiful animals, very quiet, cannot fly, and they are particularly loved by my girlfriend. My Welsumers lay great big eggs.

Do you put many efforts in keeping chickens?
Actually, the amount of work depends on people. If somebody needs to work much, another one just spends little time. For me personally, it’s not much work. Of course, it always depends on how many chickens you care for, whether they are large or small chickens; little chickens make less work and less dirt. It depends whether you keep a few chickens for your pleasure, or you want to breed them.

This Silkie hen is a small beauty
This Silkie hen is a small beauty

What would be a good chicken breed for beginners in your opinion?
I think New Hampshire Bantams. Generally, Bantams would be the best choice. For larger chicken breeds you need more food, a bigger running area and, of course, they make more dirt.

What you consider to be important when purchasing chickens?
For me personally, it is especially important that they come from a breeder. Chickens from a breeder have much better characteristics. They look according to the provided breed standard, must be vaccinated as well as clean and healthy. When you buy chickens at a market you never know where these chickens come from, which conditions were there, whether it was clean in that area and if they are vaccinated. You don’t have any background. And they must be wild-coloured. The hawk would see them much worse than if I bought a white chicken.

 
A funny little “band” of Silkies and Welsumers
A funny little “band” of Silkies and Welsumers

Do you feel happy about your Silkies and Welsumers?
Yes, very!

Worth it the effort in your opinion?
No, not really. Not in the literal meaning of the word “worth”. You do not get a lot back in the material point of view. Of course, I get eggs and meat, but not so many or much so that I could say the bill is worthwhile. But I wind down, and it makes me happy.

Do you breed and attend exhibitions? What do you think about it?
As for breeding, yes, I do it, but not as much as before. Once I had 400 chickens and I attended exhibitions. I’ve won almost all the prizes at the shows, except for the European champion title. In the future I also want to enter again, but it’s very complicated. If you breed chickens for exhibitions, you incur many expenses and must care about many details. You must pay attention to the right colours, that everything sits where it should be, there is no crooked leg or an oblique sight. If I, as now, breed and keep chickens just for myself at home, it does not matter what they look like. The main thing is that they are healthy. It makes me feel more relaxed.

How sensitive are your chickens to cold?
Most chickens, mine as well, are very sensitive to cold. Of course, it is also a question of how to keep them. I keep my chicken very naturally. They do not sit on cold stones but run around the green space with lots of ground and leaves. They often sit voluntarily outside in the rain and enjoy it. Until it becomes inconvenient for chicken, it has to be very cold.

 
It should not always be very expensive: The romantic type of the henhouse
It should not always be very expensive: The romantic type of the henhouse

Have you built your coop yourself or purchased it?
It is homemade; a purchased coop would rotten too fast. They are usually made of a thin material. They are just tacked, not screwed.

Describe us your insulation and ventilation systems of the house.
There is no isolation because I have deliberately avoided it. So, the wood freezes through and the parasites that hide inside just die off. Also, a proper ventilation system does not exist. But I have never had any problems.

 
Again a lovely couple of Silkies
Again a lovely couple of Silkies

What about a terrain and a sand bath?
They are both available. I have about 4,000 square meters of an open terrain. But since my chickens usually stay close to the coop, 2,000 square meters would be enough. As for dust bathing, the chickens find a dry place in the backyard.

Which feed do you use for your Silkies and Welsumers?
I buy compound feed. It already contains forked corn, barley, wheat and shell grit. I also mix oatmeal with purified sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds contain a lot of fat, which is especially good in winter and during molting. For the splendor of their plumage I add rapeseeds into the feed. Rapeseeds make the plumage look blue. Corn, in turn, gives their plumage a green color. However, we cannot add too much corn or too many rapeseeds to the feed. You have to pay attention to a balance.

What do you do if you suspect some disease?
First, I isolate the suspected animal and watch it for a while. Then the symptoms help me understand which disease it is. I also think if it does not happen out of molting. I can always consult with a breeder or a veterinarian.

What are the most common chicken diseases that occur most frequently?
The chicks may catch a cold/rhinitis in most cases. I give them camomile tea and they quickly get better. The adult chickens get ill in coccidiosis or sometimes worms. If it is worms, my chickens get a teaspoon of vinegar in their drinking water, and it usually kills all the worms. Marek’s disease might spread in our region sometimes, but not yet with me.

Do you vaccinate your chickens? If yes, against what?
The association which I am a member of services us with all types of vaccination. They tell us about the schedule and which vaccination is important for us in this area. In any case I vaccinate against coccidiosis and New Castle. In this case you get a vaccination record where all vaccinations are entered.

Beautiful, natural running area
Beautiful, natural running area

Are you are a member of any association? Which one?
Yes, I belong to the Nauheim Poultry Association.

What do you do with your chickens when you go on vacation?
Then my parents take care of them.

What do you need to consider when your parents take care of your animals? Actually, nothing special. I prepare a few containers with feed in advance, which they have just to hang in the coop. It is more difficult, of course, if I have chicks at this time, as they need additional feed, etc.

How do the eggs of your chickens taste?
Very good!

And the proud Welsumer rooster – a king of the chicken flock
And the proud Welsumer rooster – a king of the chicken flock

Do you chickens’ eggs taste different from the supermarket eggs?
I cannot say exactly. I do not notice the difference but I know where they come from. So, you know what you mow is that you sow.

 

Are we allowed to make pictures of your chickens and a coop?
Yes of course. With pleasure.

Do you know our website thechickenkeeper.com?
Yes.

Do you like our website?
Yes, it is very informative.

Would you change something on the homepage? What would you change?
I cannot say exactly now, as I’ve read too little.

Many thanks!

Comments

  1. wrote on May 27th, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Ella

    Ist ein Seidenhahn sehr laut?

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