Dedicated to the Preservation of Heritage Poultry Breeds
Some of Our Big, Beautiful 2005 Javas (And Our "Token" Buff Orpington Pet Hen)
2008 Javas Making a Mess of the Barn!
THE IMPORTANCE OF PRESERVING "ANTIQUE" BREEDS
There are many compelling reasons to work to save rare poultry breeds and we are passionate about them all. But, basically, what it comes down to is this: WHEN THEY'RE GONE, THEY'RE GONE. We lose an irreplaceable and unique set of genetics for every poultry breed that disappears into extinction--a true tragedy.
However, on a more positive note, there is a growing awareness of the value of heritage fowl. Keepers of poultry are finding that the "old fashioned" breeds are generally pretty versatile in terms of both utility (dual purpose--eggs and meat) and care requirements (being hardy and good foragers). The antique breeds also bring "style" to the farmyard, offering a wealth of feather colours and patterns not available in modern production birds.
"Snowball" is our extremely rare WHITE (a recessive genetic trait) Java Hen. Note the one small black breast feather, which gives a clue to her black parentage.
"Jake", Our Big Black Java Rooster
THE BLACK JAVA STORY
Javas were commonplace fowl in American farmyards from the 1850's through the 1880's. They were known for their hardiness, tastiness, and (brown) egg laying ability. Unfortunately, their numbers started to decline rapidly when the breed was used as foundation stock for the development of more efficient "market birds". By 1999, there were only 300 to 400 Black Javas left in the world and 175 of those were at the Garfield Farm Museum in Illinois. (White Javas, a recessive variant of the Black, had not been seen since the 1950's.)
In order to halt the inevitable march towards extinction of the Java, the Garfield Farm Museum began a cooperative venture with the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Java eggs were collected and incubated in the MSI hatchery and the resultant chicks were sent all over the country to start "seed" flocks. In the Spring of 2002, Dawn Land Farm was the lucky recipient of both black (and white!) chicks.
The story of the reappearance of the White Javas is a bit of a miracle in itself. The long lost white genes--hidden in the black flock--first showed up in 1999, with the hatching of four gray and yellow chicks that feathered out white. Three years later, at the time that we received shipment of our Javas, the number of White Javas had increased to slightly under one hundred!
A Black Java hen. (Note the glossy, loose feathering and the angular body silhouette.)
ABOUT OUR JAVA CHICKENS
We have had our Black Javas for almost eight years now, and we are very pleased with our choice of this heritage breed. The Javas have matured into fairly heavy birds--roosters: 9 pounds; hens: between 6 and 7 pounds--about the size of Barred Rocks. (They do seem, however, to take a bit longer to reach their mature glory than other heavy breeds that we have raised.) Javas are handsome and hardy chickens with a calm personality; our huge rooster tolerates kid hugs without protest! Although we haven't compiled an official tally of egg-laying ability, we have found the Java hens to be productive all-season layers of large light-to-medium brown eggs.
AT PRESENT--Winter 2011--WE HAVE A FEW ADULT WHITE BREEDING PAIRS AVAILABLE, FOR LOCAL PICK-UP ONLY AT OUR FARM. We are looking for committed homes that can provide a safe environment for these rare birds. Please E-MAIL with your interest. We send a sincere "thank you" to all the folks who have inquired about our Javas. For non-local farms interested in Java preservation, we suggest checking out the ALBC Breeder's Listings for flocks nearer to home. Good luck to all who want to undertake the preservation of a historically unique and farmstead-practical chicken and again, thank you for your interest.
MARCH 2008 BREAKING NEWS! Our persistently stubborn broody hen has hatched six chicks (out of seven eggs!) on March 29th. She brooded those eggs, in the unheated loft of our barn, during the most frigid and snowy winter that we can remember. What a surprise we had to find her protecting newly hatched chicks on a 20 degree day! (The lighter chicks are destined to be white and the one black/yellow chick--under Mom's beak--will be a black.)
AND FINALLY, A FEW PARTING THOUGHTS ON THE PASSING OF THE RURAL AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE
A fitting end to a discussion about heritage breed conservation must include mention of the necessity of preserving agrarian lands and lifestyles. With the disturbing "spread" of suburban sprawl and all its attendant values, people are pushed further than ever from the farm. Indeed, the pressure to develop more and more suburban subdivisions has directly contributed to an increasing intolerance of the self-sufficient rural lifestyle. In many locales, the keeping of any sort of livestock is prohibited by statute!
It is sad to realize that the whine of a weed-wacker or the drone of a lawn mower is more acceptable to more people than the sound of a busy barn. So what's a backyard farmer to do? Education and networking on the local level are fundamental tools to increase acceptance of small-scale farming operations. For example, "Open House Farm Days" can serve as positive introductions to the charms of barnyard inhabitants. The sale of quality farm products is another way to introduce people to the value of local agriculture. Yet another technique to broaden exposure to an agrarian way of life is to get kids involved in farm-based educational programs. Whatever the strategies used, we need to work together in support of small holdings. If we don't act to do so, a traditional way of American life will be totally lost to history.
Every Kid In America Should Have The Opportunity To Hug A Chicken!
WE ARE A SMALL FAMILY FARM EMPHASIZING EDUCATION, COMMITMENT TO THE HUMANE AND INDIVIDUALIZED CARE OF OUR ANIMALS, AND RESPECT FOR THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE THAT SURROUNDS US...