Monday, December 19, 2011

ALBC Java Recovery Project

Mottled Java Chick
From Steve Moize  of the ALBC:  
Just wanted to share an update on the ALBC Java Recovery Project, it has been a great 2011 season and we are ready for an even better 2012...

Happy New Year folks,

I just want to send this e-mail wishing you all a very Happy New Year and my hopes that 2012 is a great year for everyone. The 2011 season has come to a close and I wanted to take the opportunity to give everyone an account of the ALBC Java Recovery project in 2011.

First, and most importantly, thank you all for participating in the Java Recovery Project in 2011. ALBC and I are most grateful for the time, effort, and, birds that have been put into making this season of the project a success. We could not have done it without all of you and all your amazing help. Personally, I am also very thankful to Jeannette Beranger, Alison Martin, and others at ALBC for their wisdom, assistance with the project, and help evaluating all the birds we have handled in 2011. I/we could not have done it without everyone's participation. THANK YOU!
Mottled Java Cockeral
In 2011, the Java Recovery Project began in earnest with a census of the Java (in all four color variations). One of the goals of the census was real numbers, the other was identification of significant bloodlines and breeding populations. In terms of real numbers, the total population of all Javas is somewhere around 900 birds. Of those, a relatively small percentage represent significant breeding populations. Among those breeding flocks we have identified a small handful of foundation flocks or bloodlines that have had selection and breeding pressure applied to the birds to improve their quality and meet breed standards.

After the census was well under way we began to collect hatching eggs from folks who were identified as having breeding flocks, and who were willing to share in the project. (I want to again thank all of you who donated eggs and chicks to the project last year.) In the hatchery aspect of the project and in communicating with other growers we realized that there were some rate of lay and hatch rate issues last season. Overall the birds did not lay large numbers of eggs and the fertility/hatch rate was slightly less than expected. The upside to this is that the birds started to lay well later in the season and fertility/hatch rate increased. In the end we hatched all four colors, from about half a dozen bloodlines…all in all we placed and evaluated about 300 birds.

Those 300 birds were placed on about half a dozen grow out farms in NC. Bird placement was in NC in 2011 for the ease of logistics and management. In 2012 we will significantly expand the scope of the project. (A very special thanks to all our grow out farmers, you raised some nice birds.) Those 300 or so birds were evaluated and culled down to roughly a third of the original number. The birds were mostly uniform and consistent due to the great care and management of our grow out farmers (again great job everyone). There were some expected differences between the flocks/bloodlines and that was a great display of relationship (or lack of relationship) between flocks. The diversity also spoke to selection pressure applied by the breeders.

Our 2011 overall and very generalized observations were:

One, that the Java breed could benefit from further selection for laying qualities. ALBC has some great info on how to select for laying qualities (partially based upon the 1913 book by Hogan-Call of the Hen) . So let's look at those hens (and roosters) and work on their production qualities.
Mottled Javas
The second observation is that in many birds the color and combs need some more work. The Black and Mottled Java have an APA Standard of Perfection, the White Java SoP dates back to 1908, and the Auburn has never been APA recognized. The combs on many birds are too large with too many points. The Mottled Java color is not as well pattered as it should be in some cases. Some Black Javas are showing white primary/flight feathers on wings. Many white Javas are showing legs of a nonstandard color and smokey/grey feathering on wings and hackles. The Auburn Javas are all beautiful birds, some darker some lighter in color, definitely worth breeding and selecting to get a good standard color in place. In 2012 I would encourage folks with multiple colors of Javas to separate their breeding birds/flocks by colors to better select for color and standard of perfection.

In summary, in 2011 we saw some nice birds and we thank you all again for everything you have done to help us. We made some new friends and turned some new folks onto the passion of raising heritage breed chickens. Most importantly to the project, we had the pleasure of increasing the Java population by roughly 100 breeder quality birds and adding half a dozen flocks to the census of folks with breeding quality birds.. Let's keep up the great work!

So, on to 2012!

Right now, we are planning the 2012 season and getting ready to make it a great one. I would like to encourage everyone participating to let me know how we can help make it a great season for them and their birds. Also, we are currently coordinating with some of the grow out farms to swap birds amongst each other, if any of our grow out farmers want more birds, less birds, to focus on one color, etc…just let me know and we will see what we can do to help.

I would also like to ask our grow out farms to let me know when they would like to start receiving chicks in 2012, or do they want to maintain current flock size.

I am also compiling a list of farms to be grow out farms in 2012, so please send me the contact info of anyone you know who may want to participate.

I am weeks away from firing up the incubators and collecting hatching eggs, so we are about to officially kick off the 2012 season. Please re read the info we previously sent out on collecting hatching eggs in preparation for this season. We will be ready to accept hatching eggs as of Feb 1st. Please let me know when you will be ready to collect and send hatching eggs in 2012 and we will start to schedule things on the calendar.

One of the most exciting things for me in 2012 is that we will be using genetic (blood) testing results to help determine our breeding/mating strategies in the coming year. Many of you met Alison Martin (ALBC Research & Programs Director) in our evaluations this year as she pulled blood samples to send off for testing. We are anxiously awaiting the info that we will get from those tests and hope it will scientifically guide our breeding decisions in the coming years. I also hope it sheds some light on the possible interrelatedness of poultry breeds (especially in the American Class).

The ALBC Java Recovery Project plans for 2012 are basically to take the birds and observations of 2011 and make sound breeding decisions in the coming year. This season we will make critical decisions on crossing flocks and birds to best serve the central goal of the project: continue to improve Java as a breed, per the APA Standard of Perfection & ALBC techniques on improving production attributes. Then place the second generation chicks with grow out farms all over the US in larger numbers. We hatched roughly 300 chicks in 2011, I personally would like to achieve a goal of three times that in 2012.

The 2012 season has the makings of a great season thanks to everyone's help in 2011! I am proud to be a part of this great project with ALBC and to have the opportunity to work with all of you again this coming year.


Steven Moize
ALBC Java Recovery Project Coordinator
The Shady Grove Farm
PO Box 34
Hurdle Mills, NC 27541

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