What's New at the Holderread Farm

 Welcome!  Life is always full here at HWF & PC with our many breed conservation and research projects.  We will be using this page to help keep interested customers and patrons up-to-date with farm news and announcements.  Thanks for your interest in our work.

 

 

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The most recent news will appear first; entries are written by Dave unless otherwise noted.

 

January 2017--2017 Prices Info Our prices for 2017 remain essentially unchanged, so the 2016 catalog is still useful!  Just add $1.00 for shipping rate increases.  In addition to the breeds listed in the 2016 catalog, we are also making Shetland goslings available @ $145/pair.  The online version of our 2017 catalog has been updated to reflect postage increases (and corrections).

 Please note that our hatching season is shorter--and is currently scheduled to begin in early April and end about mid-May. As you may have noticed, we still have a few adults available in Australian Spotted and Mini Appleyards, which are both breeds we are discontinuing as part of down-sizing.

An addition to what we have been offering:  Dave is available for consultation at $75/hour.  If you are interested in taking advantage of his wealth of experience and expertise, email or call to schedule your consultation.  (Wanita)

September 2015--Update on Breeds Available  During the long, strenuous days of the 2015 hatching & day-old shipping season, we were forced to acknowledge that we do not have as much energy as we had in our younger years.  We have made the difficult decision to make a major reduction in the number of breeds we are going to continue breeding here at the Waterfowl Preservation Center.  Because we maintain multiple strains and matings in each variety of waterfowl we breed, each breed/variety that we discontinue will help reduce the amount of chores and record keeping required.

Many of the breeds we have been diligently working with for 25 to more than 50 years.  Our hope is that some of you who are dedicated preservation breeders will continue to perpetuate these high-quality strains.

We are offering for sale all of our stock in the following breeds, with the number of years we have worked with them in parentheses:  Cayugas (42 years), Runners (51 years), Miniature Silver Appleyards (24 years), Australian Spotted (28 years), Miniature Overbergs (15 years), and most varieties of Calls (40 years).

Mature stock of other breeds (that we are continuing to breed) that are also available this fall:

     --in ducks:  Saxony, Silver Appleyard (large), Golden Cascade, Welsh Harlequin, Dutch Hook Bill, and Silkies;

     --in geese:  Oregon Minis, Shetlands (we will only be selling Shetlands as adults from now on), Buff Africans, Brown Africans and White Embdens.

Other Breeds Discontinued:  Earlier this year when our nephew, Christopher Green, moved to Montana, he took with him all the East Indies and most of the Calls.  For years, Christopher helped Uncle Dave with many of the farm chores, and eventually took over primary responsibility for the East Indies and most of the Calls here.  In May, he moved to Montana.  To see more of what he and his business partner, Beau McLean have available, visit their website: Duck Creek Farms.  They will also be continuing to breed the beautiful Australian Spotted and Mini Silver Appleyard bantams.

 

 

 

November 2014--Article on Prolapsed Oviduct Treatment  From time to time we get requests for more information on the treatment of hens with prolapsed oviduct.  Recently, Luke Page--who spent some time here at HWFarm this past summer--wrote an article describing his experiences in successfully treating a Runner hen.  If you're interested in reading a detailed account of Luke's experience, click here.  (Wanita)

 

 

 

October 2014--More Changes  As part of our ongoing efforts to cut back on our workload, we made the difficult decision to sell all of our Brown Chinese.  In mid October, we saw the last of them leave HWF and for the first time in 50 years, Dave does not have any Brown Chinese to charm him with their beauty and unique style.  (Wanita)

 

September 2014--Photo Gallery Update  The Silver Appleyards have finally been added to our Photo Gallery.  Hope to have some additional updates in the next month or so.  (Wanita)

 

April 2014--Another Colt! Contessa, the last of the pregnant mares that we acquired almost a year ago, foaled early in the morning of April 22nd.  The new stud colt, Suave, managed to dry off before the cool rain started and showed us all how debonair he was at the tender age of a few hours. 

 

 

 

October 2013--Golden Cascade Ducks  We are once again breeding Golden Cascade ducks after a 2-decade absence.  First of all, we want to thank the people who have kept this breed going over the years. 

The idea for the Golden Cascade came to us in the late 1970s.  While running an applied poultry science teaching and research program in Puerto Rico and advising agricultural development workers in various countries, it became apparent that in many situations ducks were considerably more practical and adaptable than chickens for the production of meat and eggs.  One of the requests we received from development workers was for ducks that could be mated to the local indigenous ducks to produce offspring with improved production rates and whose gender could be easily identified at hatching.  So, upon moving from Puerto Rico to Oregon in 1976, we began working on developing a breed of duck that would lay as well as Khaki Campbells but be calmer in temperament and larger in size.  Plus, have a gender-linked color genotype so that when the drakes were mated with most other breeds of ducks, the resulting offspring would not only be highly efficient egg-layers and fast-growing meat birds, but also the gender of hatchlings could be identified by a quick glance at their color.

In 1984 we introduced Golden Cascades and they performed splendidly.  As time passed, we reluctantly dispersed the Cascades to free-up breeding pens as we added older breeds to our preservation program.  In the interim, folks who continued breeding the Cascade, report that egg production has remained exceptionally high. 

However, we observed a significant change in the breed.  The plumage genotype has drifted and become variable, making them less useful for the production of color-coded ducklings.  We have added Cascades to our preservation program and have begun the process of restoring them to their original genotype. 

To improve their chances for long-term survival and as a safe guard against inbreeding depression, our strategy for re-establishing the original plumage genotype is to work towards it gradually over the course of 3-4 years.  Each generation, our breeding stock will have a higher percentage of individuals that have the original plumage colors. 

We hope that other people who are currently breeding the Cascade will continue to use their stock as a foundation and then gradually work towards the original plumage genotype.  If we all work together and use sound breeding principles, the Cascades' excellent productivity can be maintained while their unique plumage is fully restored.

In 2014, we will have at least half-dozen pedigree matings.  Though they still will have variations in plumage color, the offspring will be quick growing, superb layers and tremendously hardy.

 

 Pair of Young Golden Cascades from the 1980s--taken from an old faded print.  On the females, the exact amount of cream markings on the face and front of neck will vary some and is not critical.

 

This Golden Cascade female, photographed in 2013, is one of the few we were able to locate that had the same color genotype as the birds we bred prior to dispersing them.  This photo was taken immediately after she had gone through a full molt and feather re-growth, so her plumage is brighter and more distinctly patterned than it will be after fading somewhat due to sun and weather exposure.

To help keep our workload do-able when we add a new breed or variety, we have a policy of discontinuing breeding some other variety or breed.  This is always a hard decision because we would like to be able to continue with all of our breeding projects.  Because of the number of Cascade matings required for this restoration project and substantial numbers of young being raised to select the next generation of breeders from, we have made the tough choice to discontinue breeding Khaki Campbell ducks, and Tufted Roman and Brown Chinese geese.  All of our mature breeding stock in these two breeds of geese is offered for sale (the Khakis have already been sold).

 

 

August 2013--A Star Is Born  Early on the morning of July 27, Millie and I headed out shortly after daybreak to check on the recently acquired Puerto Rican Paso Fino mares.  To our delight, a surprisingly frisky newly-born foal with a large white star on his forehead was shadowing his attentive mother, Carrissa. 

The first horse I remember riding as a young child in Puerto Rico was a stallion named Estrella (Star) who lived in a pasture bordering our yard, so it seemed appropriate to christen the new little colt, Estrella de David (Star of David).  News of his arrival spread quickly among friends and neighbors, and Star had a steady stream of admiring visitors to his pasture home.  By the second day, it was clear that Star was convinced that the world consisted of two kinds of horses--those with four legs and those with two, and he felt comfortable with both.

 

Carrissa de CdC and Star a few hours after his birth

 

 

Estrella de David (Star)

 

 

I find it fascinating to compare the differences in the anatomical proportions of young versus adult in various species of animals.  For example, day-old ducklings have feet, legs, bodies, necks, heads and bills that are nearly the same proportions as in adult ducks.  However, the hatchlings' wings are underdeveloped and much smaller in proportion to what they will be once adulthood is reached.  Within just a few days after hatching, wild ducklings are capable of running, swimming, diving and feeding almost like adult ducks, due to similar overall proportions.  However, they will not be able to fly until they are approximately two months old.

In horses, foals are born with legs that are approximately 80-90% as long as they will be as an adult, and their ears and eyes are almost adult sized.  On the other hand, the bodies of foals are short, narrow and shallow (a big help in birthing) and their necks are so short that they cannot reach the ground with their mouths without spreading their front legs apart.  The newborn foal's proportions allow it to run fast, nurse, and have acute hearing and eyesight.  A longer neck and grazing can wait for another day!

(For more information about the horses, you can visit our horse website here: Bluebird Paradise Paso Finos.)

 

 

 

March 2013--Five-Year Results of Electrified Poultry Netting Experiment  Something we work hard at is allowing our waterfowl to live outside in the natural elements as much as possible.  This concept is critical to our preservation work, both for quality of life issues for our waterfowl, as well as for the genetic hardiness and adaptability of their offspring.  Evidence is mounting that livestock breeding stock that is housed in buildings most or all of their lives start undergoing genetic changes that make future generations less adaptable in a surprisingly few generations.

The goal of keeping poultry breeding stock outside is a simple concept that in reality is surprisingly difficult to accomplish--especially if you are dealing with a large number of breeding units that need to be kept separate to maintain genetic purity.  There are a fair number of complications in these extensive systems, but just to home in on one, consider predators.  In almost any locality, there are a variety of hungry predators that are eager to dine on young and mature birds, as well as eggs.  In our setting, we have all of the usual suspects, including but not limited to fox, raccoons, dogs, cats, skunks, possums, hawks, eagles, owls, crows, ravens and jays.  And then there are what our regional wildlife predator control officers calls "the big kitties" (bobcats) and "the bigger kitties" (cougars).

In 2008, we decided to commence an experiment to see how well electrified poultry netting from Premier1 Supplies would protect geese in our setting.  To truly put it to the test, we have been using it continuously since 2008 in some areas where there is no other perimeter fencing and coyotes and bobcats are common.  Amazingly, to date, we have not had a single case of a predatory mammal injuring or killing any of the geese kept in these areas 24 hours daily, on a year-round basis.  At a later date, we will give more details.

A group of young geese in a temporary pen fenced with electrified 48" poultry netting

 

 

July 2013--Rare Pure Puerto Rican Paso Fino Horses  The truth of the proverbial saying that states "a person should be careful what they wish for" came home to roost for us recently.  As Millie and I sat on the airplane during the return flight from our January visit to our former home in Puerto Rico, I turned to her and said, "if we ever get another horse, it's going to be a Puerto Rican Paso Fino from the old traditional island bloodlines." 

Just a few months later in May, during our very busy waterfowl hatching season, our friend Lyn informed us that the longtime owner of North America's largest herd of rare, registered pure Puerto Rican Paso Finos was no longer able to care for his horses and the herd of 53 was being dispersed.  There are very few Paso Finos of any strain here in the Pacific Northwest.  Ironically, this genetic treasure was located just an hour from us.  To add to the intrigue, most members of this herd were related to horses that I was familiar with when I lived in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and 1970s.

What makes these horses special is their exceptional hardiness, versatility, natural smooth riding gaits and wonderful temperament.  Additionally, equine historians and geneticists have identified them as being some of, if not the purest, descendants of the horses brought to the "New World" by Christopher Columbus and the Spanish explorers who followed him.

 

 

Turabo Segundo, an 18-year-old Puerto Rican stallion, photographed a few minutes after arriving at our farm, while Dave gives him a halter lesson and acquaints him with human touch.  His sire, Turabo, was foaled in Puerto Rico.

 

After carefully considering the situation, we decided it was important that not all of the horses in this unique herd should be haphazardly scattered and "lost".  Several of us went together and selected a core conservation group that includes two stallions, five mares and two foals at their dam's side which were sired by a third stallion.  One other mare is confirmed in foal and due next month.  Our selection criteria for these conservation horses centered on rarity of bloodlines, sound conformation, exceptional temperament and, when possible, quality of mature offspring.  We are pleased that nearly every foundation bloodline found in the original herd is represented in the core group we procured.

Royalty's Belle de Fleco, a 10-year-old mare, pictured at her home prior to coming to our farm.  She is a great-great-granddaughter of Dulce Sueño, the legendary stallion that was foaled in 1927.

From a conservation standpoint, there were a number of intriguing characteristics of the original herd and the way they were managed.  To begin with, the wide range and rarity of the bloodlines was rather exceptional. Then the fact that some of the foundation horses were only one or two generations removed from the island helped increase the chances that they represented the qualities sought after by their Puerto Rican breeders and had not been "Americanized."  Due to unusually long generation intervals, some of these horses are a startlingly few generations removed from key horses who lived in the first half of the 1900s.  A significant example is a mare that is a great-great granddaughter of the legendary stallion, Dulce Sueño (who was foaled in 1927), the most famous Puerto Rican Paso Fino of all time.  To have a horse today that is only four generations removed from an ancestor that was born 86 years ago is unusual.

The herd our conservation horses came from had been kept in semi-feral conditions for years, increasing the probability that only the hardiest individuals survived and successfully reproduced.  In their previous home, each chosen stallion ran with a harem of mares in a pasture with a stream running through it and deciduous trees for shelter. The mares foaled and raised their offspring in their bands where foals had playmates and were taught horse manners by the mares and herd stallion.  The end result was that the young horses were socially well-adapted and unspoiled by humans.

Some of the challenges with these horses are that they have no foundation training in being lead, tied or groomed, having their feet handled for routine care, trailer loading, etc.  Some of our first priorities are getting them solid in these basic and essential skills.

People sometimes express surprise at the combination of horses and waterfowl.  These two vastly different species actually complement each other in a variety of ways.  For example, some of our major predators are fox, coyote, bobcat and cougar.  The presence of the horses is a first-line of defense in protecting the waterfowl.  We use the composted manure to fertilize our waterfowl and horse pastures. Because of the unique nutrient profiles of the different manures, it is best to vary the type of manure used on grasslands.  Additionally, parasites of different species tend to be host specific; the combination of horse and waterfowl tends to reduce overall parasite issues.

Over the year, I've observed an intriguing phenomenon:  people who have learned to work well with horses invariably are the quickest to learn how to work well with poultry and other animal species.  Many of the problems I see people having with their poultry projects stem from the fact that they have underdeveloped observational and empathy skills, making them oblivious to the fact that every time they are around poultry, they are effecting them.  If you observe humans around poultry, you will frequently see them terrorizing their birds due to inappropriate movements and actions.  So why is this a big deal?  Poultry (or any domestic animal) can only attain its potential in egg production, growth, etc if its basic needs of feeling safe and secure are met.

Some of the reasons horses are great teachers include their size, athleticism, the fact that they are the ultimate domestic prey animal, and they are very sensitive to human emotions.  Because people have the notion that it's a good idea to ride horses, they have to learn to control their emotions, to see the world through the horse's eyes (empathy), and learn to communicate with the horse in an assertive, but calm and respectful manner.  These are all skills that translate directly to working with waterfowl.

 

 

April 2013--Spotted Call Duck Breeding Project  The Spotted Call is an attractive and unique variety that in our experience are naturally the friendliest variety of colored Calls.  We added them to our preservation program because of their extreme rarity. As we have gotten better acquainted with them the last few years, we have been drawn to their charming personalities and attractive plumage that is prettier in real life than any photos we've seen of them.

Drakes in nuptial plumage have iridescent emerald green heads and necks, with a white ring encircling the lower neck.  The rest of the male's plumage can be described as mallard colored, frosted heavily with white.  The female has a base color of white.  Her head, especially over the crown, is marked with fine-grained gray/black spots, while the shoulders and back are delicately etched with gray/black markings.  The spotting on the females becomes more distinctive after the first year.  Typically, there is very little brown in her adult plumage.  In both genders the wing speculum is gray/blue, with more-or-less iridescence. 

Dr. C. Darrel Sheraw wrote in his "The Call Duck Breed Book (2003), that the Spotted Call "...variety was developed in the Boston area when in about 1952 a South American ambassador imported several pair of tiny ducks resembling today's Spotted in color..."  At one time, Spotted Calls had a number of breeders in some of the New England states, but this attractive variety never was made readily available to folks in other parts of North America.  Our desire has been to make these little charmers accessible to more people and increase their chances of long-term survival.

While they are not as extreme in conformation as the best exhibition birds in more common varieties, Spotted Calls are extra hardy for this breed and have respectable Call duck type and size.  Despite the similarity of their names, Spotted Calls and Australian Spotted do not have similar plumage colors. 

 

A mature Spotted female with an average amount of spotting

 

A mature Spotted drake with average markings and color

 

 

January 2013--Dave & Millie's trip to Puerto Rico: With all that is involved in operating the Farm and Preservation Center, it is very difficult for folks here to get away for any kind of vacation.  So it was a supreme delight for us to be able to return to Puerto Rico for a week--after leaving there 36 years ago in 1976-- as the guests of the Leland & Wilma Miller family of upstate New York.

 During the 1980s Leland lived and worked here at the Farm for 5 years, and in gratitude for that experience invited us to join the Miller family in visiting our old Caribbean stomping grounds. 

We reveled in visiting old friends, colleagues and observing the marvelous tropical flora & fauna of the coast and rugged mountains, dining daily on authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.

 

 

A Salinas' beach scene from one of our favorite restaurants  on the south coast of Puerto Rico

The beautifully renovated "Casa Ulrich", the original headquarters of the Ulrich Foundation in Aibonito. It was on these grounds that Dave and his family joined other Foundation workers for holidays and other festivities in the 1950s.

 

Linda (Ulrich) & Harry Nussbaum, Dave & Millie (left to right) in front of "Casa Ulrich", January 2013.  Millie worked with Linda and Harry in the 1970s.

 

 

 

 

One of the pleasures of our recent trip was to see once again the incredibly nimble and smooth-gaited descendants of the horses the early European explorers brought on their voyages to the Caribbean Islands.

I lived in Puerto Rico as a boy and then returned in 1972 when asked to develop and  and teach an applied poultry science program.  Millie moved to the island in 1973--where we met and married.  The photo to the left is of Millie and me in 1975 with one of our horses, a Puerto Rican mare named Flecha.

 

 

One of our many enjoyable experiences was visiting Café Gran Batey, a small family-owned coffee plantation in Utuado (Café Gran Batey). On the left are Leland & Wilma and family. On the right, Millie is standing next to the proprietress, Sra. Lotty Aymat, who prepared a delicious sampling of their fine coffee and reminded us how much we really enjoy Puerto Rican coffee!

 

 

One of our favorite trees, Royal Palm, line the driveway at the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park in Utuado, Puerto Rico.

 

Our time in Puerto Rico re-reminded us what a privilege it had been to spend the years we did among the wonderful people of this enchanting island.  And, it was in Puerto Rico in the 1970s that I saw first-hand how incredibly versatile, adaptable and hardy ducks and geese are, and realized the importance of saving the old, useful breeds of waterfowl that were in danger of disappearing.

We are grateful that our trip was made possible because of the gift that Dale, Wanita (Miller), Christopher & Maggie Green family gave us by volunteering to take over complete care of the farm while we were being rejuvenated in the warmth and hospitality of the island.

Copyright 2014 Holderread Waterfowl Farm & Preservation Center