Friday, August 5, 2011

Black Javas at Diamond T Poultry

4 month old Black Java Cockeral
    Five years after the Civil War, the Diamond T brand was registered in the State of Texas. In that time there have been different  species and breeds produced by my family, including horses, mules, cattle and poultry.
   For many years Old English game large fowl were produced and exported to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, The Philippines and Central America. While gamefowl were the predominate breed of poultry produced for many years, there was also always chickens of many many breeds produced and sold for meat, eggs and exhibition, both bantam and large fowl as well as turkeys and guineas for the commercial market.

   In 2010 while reading about the the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, I of course paid particular attention to the chickens. At which time I decided to add another breed and I preferred a heritage breed. At the  time I only had American Poultry Assoc., Standard of Perfection recognized English class breeds, Australorps and Orpingtons. I decided that I wanted to add a rare and endangered American class breed. While Dominques were the oldest American breed, I had raised them as well as every other breed in the American class in years past, except the second oldest American developed breed, Black Javas. I found there were a lot of theories and claims as to the actual origin of the breed. But after a lot of research, thanks to Al Gore for inventing the Internet, I discovered that there were only two producers with a salable  production, The Garfield Farm Museum in Illinois and Duane Urch in Minnesota. While I admired what Garfield Farm was doing, I opted to try and get birds from Duane Urch, a longtime and  well known A.P.A. Judge and Grand master exhibitor, who better to choose breeding birds?
   In January 2011, my friend and chicken partner Ruth Caron ordered mottled and black Java chicks from Mr. Urch, I still hadn't ordered chicks, I was waiting for warmer weather, we had just went through a series of cold days in the 20's and that is extreme in South Texas. February 15th she received the liveliest order of shipped chicks I had ever seen. After a week I told her I was going to order my chicks, or I would buy her's. Later that day she called me and said she would sell me her black chicks, and she would raise the mottled. Of course I agreed and that's when my admiration of Javas began.
   After many years and many different breeds My black Javas are by far the hardiest, easiest to keep of all the breeds I have had. I brought them home when we were having a series of days in the upper 40's and low 50's for high temps and freezing at night. In the 2nd week that I had them, Sometime during the night I had a power failure in my brooder room and of course I didn't know what time it happened, but when I discovered it the thermometer in the brooder room read 43 degrees. Assuming the worst I got the power on and opened the first brooder to discover 1 dead Orpington chick and 2 Australorps and 5 sex link hybrids I was raising for replacement layers. I then checked the Javas and while they were very cold they seemed to be fine, so after dumping very cold water out of the waterers, and filling with warm water, I added feed to their feeder and after the lights had been back on for about 15 minutes the Javas were eating and running around like it was just another day. While I assumed that over the next few days I would still lose a few because of the effects of getting so cold to my surprise I have yet to see any effects.
   Of 12 chicks I received in Feb. 2011, I ended up with 3 cockerels and 9 pullets, that's, a new experience also, it's usually the other way around on the male and female ratio. At 5 months I gave in and sold a Java Breeders of America member an excellent pair to get started. Now at 6 months old, I have not lost any, and they have thrived. At 4 months old I did remove 1 pullet because of incorrect body type and conformation and she became just another layer.
   They are currently 6 months old and doing well. We are currently in our 41st day with a high temp of 100 degrees or above and it is a constant battle to keep conditions tolerable for all the chickens. And while all of the chickens are suffering to some degree, my Javas seem to be effected less than the others. They are all in individual 28” x 36” pens as I am currently conditioning them for a Brazos Valley Poultry Club Show and Java Breeders of America meet, the first Saturday in  September. They seem to be thriving and all of the pullets started laying by 20 weeks with a couple starting at 19 weeks. With 7  pullets, I have for the last 8 days averaged 5 eggs per day. While still small, the eggs have great shape and shells. I do have 1 pullet that has been laying for 4 weeks and has laid 3 double yolk eggs while that's  good for egg sales and consumption, it's not great for breeders, but we will see what happens when the time  comes to choose breeders.
   The cockerels at 6 months old are very large, 7 ½ pounds currently and have developed very well, with very full, well developed breasts with great station and tail angle. Javas are described as slow growing, but these seem to be maturing very well. My cockerels Could stand to have a little darker eye and a little more pronounced yellow coloring on the soles of their feet. I realize That I can fix that easily in a couple of generations. I subscribe to the theory that it doesn't cost anymore to feed a Standard of Perfection correct bird that it does to feed a mutt. So after speaking with  great Java breeders, Mr. Monte Bowen who has been breeding and showing them for 12 years and Duane Urch, I have a plan.
    At this time I can honestly say that if I was going to have 1 breed of chicken whether it be for meat, eggs, dual purpose free range type farm chickens or exhibition birds, I wouldn't hesitate to choose Javas
   At this time I am looking forward to, through shows and the Java Breeders of America, giving people an opportunity to see a great old American breed, that has become dangerously threaten with extinction. And show them that Javas warrant a second look as an all around classic American breed.
   Enjoy your birds and support the American Poultry Association and the Standard of Perfection as well as the Java Breeders of America.
   And remember youth are the key to moving the fancy forward. Be sure to subscribe to the Poultry Press to read more of Jeffs articles about Javas.

                              Jeff Thornton
                              Diamond T Poultry
                              Seguin, Texas

1 comment:

  1. I live in the Chiriqui province of Panama, I want to raise chickens here. I am new to chicken being a city girl (Los Angeles, Ca.) but I've retired and have time. I have a couple babies my first try they are thriving here in my casita. But I really want several pairs of the more unusual breeds I have seen. My question is based on your statement of having exported chickens to Central America. How to do it? were these live chickens? Or dinner? Would I have more success with chilled eggs, babies, or adults? Or when I return from L.A in September would bringing them be more feasible? Thank You for your help.
    Sylvia Robinson