Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gust Front Farm is now NPIP Certified!

Our flocks were tested by the Kansas Department of Agriculture today for pullorum, typhoid, and avian influenza as part of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). We are pleased to say that they tested clean and that Gust Front Farm is now NPIP certified. Our NPIP number is 48-372.

This won't mean much to you if you are merely a fresh eggs customer. But if you want to buy hatching eggs or ducklings from us, you can be completely assured that our stock will not transmit these diseases. And importantly, we are now able to send hatching eggs across state lines.

We don't have any Ancona duck hatching eggs for sale at this time. About 1/3 of our flock is laying, but the eggs are not yet fertile. When they are fertile, we'll be ready to go!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2013 Plans

We've accomplished a lot here on Gust Front Farm in 2012 and it looks like 2013 will be another year of growth. 

Ancona Ducks

Our main focus for 2013 will continue to be the Ancona Duck. (Read this article to learn why the Ancona is so special.) 

The Man of the House has been hard at work studying duck genetics. This is just the sort of geeky project he enjoys. That is said with much love because geeky is just the way I like my men-folk. ;) 

Our flock currently consists of 6 ducks (four black, one chocolate, and one blue) and three drakes (two chocolate and one blue). 

The ducks enjoying a little late fall pool time

We are going to construct two additional breeding pens and then divide our flock into trios to improve patterning and increase the variety of colors. We'll be hatching for ourselves, hatching to sell to local buyers, and will ship the hatching eggs anywhere in the US. More information about this to come. 


I really had my hopes up for a huge expansion in the chicken department, but I'll settle for something more modest. We are consistently sold out of eggs every week. We will be adding a few extra layers, but not a lot. 

The big news is that we will be adding a flock of Cream Legbars. The Cream Legbar is a unique breed of chicken that is a newcomer to the US, only having been introduced from the UK in 2011. Legbars are crested, lay blue eggs, and are auto-sexing, which means you can sex the birds from birth by their appearance. The Cream Legbar was developed by Dr. Reginald Punnett, the man who created the Punnett square you probably worked with in high school. Chickens straight from Punnett = geek heaven! 

My goal is to breed Cream Legbars towards the UK Standard of Perfection. There is no American Standard at the moment, though it is being ironed out. Hopefully by next fall we will have Cream Legbar hatching eggs for sale.

We are going to construct an additional pen for our legbars, more housing, and some garden boxes to fill with green forage for the birds.

We'll be busy!

~Emily, Resident crazy chicken and duck lady

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why do our eggs taste so good? It's all in the feed.

Our family recently made a trip to the National Agriculture Hall of Fame. The highlight of the visit for me was the National Poultry Museum  located on the Hall of Fame grounds.

The National Poultry Museum was opened in 2009

I don't think the museum is worth going out of your way to visit, but if you are a poultry-fancier and happen to be in Bonner Springs, KS, it has some cool things to look at.

A Jamesway Mammoth Incubator from the 1920s

A collection of chicken catchers. At our house, we call these children.  :)
My 6 year old is the champion chicken catcher of the bunch.

One of the rooms is filled with paintings of many different poultry breeds. I was able to show the family some of the new birds we will have next year.

"See honey, they will look like this!"
We are adding pure-bred Ameraucanas to our flock next year for their blue eggs.

I wasn't surprised but I was definitely disappointed at the pro-Big Ag position the exhibits took. One display discussed the prevalence of battery cages in the US without mentioning the ethical concerns associated with the practice.

And then there was this little gem that made me roll my eyes:

Is the modern poultry industry progressive or regressive?  

Without a doubt, poultry feeds today are much more scientific. They have been formulated to give the exact amount of protein, fat, vitamins, and carbohydrates that a chicken needs to grow at a maximum rate. But does fast growth and pushing your hens to lay the maximum number of eggs mean you'll also get great taste?

We don't think so. If you want happy, healthy poultry and delicious eggs, your birds need green feeds. A customer once told me that she was surprised at how dark the yolks and how delicious our eggs are compared to what she had been buying at the grocery store.

An egg from one of our Ancona ducks. Look at that yolk! 

Our chickens do have access to a top-of-the-line natural chicken feed. They have NEVER been fed antibiotics and are given an Omega 3 supplement to enhance the nutritional value of their eggs. But that's not why they taste so good. The real difference between our eggs and those from the store is because our birds are happy chickens and ducks that eat grass and bugs, scratch in the dirt, loll in the sun, and have plenty of homegrown, organic green feed.

This bucket of rainbow chard will make for some very happy chickens, turkeys, and ducks

In addition to our poultry, our homestead also has an organic vegetable garden, orchard, and berries. Our birds benefit from the culled produce from our garden as well as from the crops we planted just for them.

Black oil sunflower seeds are a wonderful poultry treat.

Fresh food does matter! The better the chickens eat, the better the eggs taste. Period.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Welcome to Gust Front Farm's Blog!

As our poultry occupation has grown from a hobby to a (very) small business, I decided to start writing this blog to get the word out there about what we do. This also gives me an alternative place to post all the duck and chicken photos that are currently cluttering up my personal Facebook page!

When I talked to my grandma a year ago about my desire to get chickens, she pretty much laughed at me. You see, I'm not exactly known for being outdoors-y, or dealing with the dirt and muck that come with livestock. When the chickens arrived, it was love at first peep! Those first chickens led to yet more chickens, then turkeys, and finally ducks. My love of poultry has been contagious and my two oldest children have gotten involved in our egg selling business.

I'll post photos of our birds, articles, and links to useful information for the crazy poultry keepers out there.

~Emily, resident crazy chicken and duck lady