Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Into the Field and into the Lowcountry: Day 2

Day 2
Jeannette and Liz were joined by Gray and another poultry breeder, Sam Ormont, as they continued into the heart of the Lowcountry to meet with Buckeye producer, Lee McKenzie. Together the group went through a training session lead by Jeannette and using Lee’s flock of Buckeyes.
The group reviewed the process of selecting breeders for productivity and collectively picked out the best candidates for the 2009 breeding season. (You can learn about this process by visiting the ALBC website’s Educational Resources page for the Chicken Assessment to Improve Productivity) Following the flock assessment, the group of poultry producers moved to discuss the possibilities of forming a co-op to support a small network of breeders and hatcheries.

Before leaving the farm, we all had the opportunity to see Lee’s prized herd of Marsh Tackies. Lee is a long time breeder of these horses that are rarely found outside of the Lowcountry. Lee’s pride and joy is his young stud horse, Rebel, who is an up and coming stallion that he will begin to incorporate into his breeding program in 2009. Rebel’s breeding was very carefully planned and represents years of understanding of the breed in order to bring out the best of what they represent.

We said our goodbyes to Lee and the rest of the group and headed to Sam Ormont’s poultry farm to plan an ALBC sponsored turkey husbandry workshop that will be held on the farm on February 21 & 22. As we arrived we were greeted by 100+ turkeys that have been selected for productivity and personality, making them a good fit for Sam’s breeding program. All of the birds were impeccably kept and it was clear the site will set an excellent example for people wanting to learn more about raising turkeys.

Following the visit to the Ormont farm, Jeannette, Liz, and Gray made one more stop that day to the plantation of ALBC Board of Directors member, Landon Thorne. The 110+ acre Hoota Plantation (named after the Lowcountry slang word for “owl”) is a project that Mr. Thorne has been working on to set an example and promote organic production in his region of the state. Landon needed advice on how to incorporate rare breed poultry and cattle into his project and asked that we stop by and meet with him while we were traveling in the area.

The habitat we viewed on Hoota Plantation offered a wide range of grazing opportunities for chickens and small herd of Pineywoods cattle, a breed that was once widespread in South Carolina in Colonial times.
We all thought that the most logical choice for a chicken breed would be the Dominique since historically, they too were widely used in the area. Landon’s idea of bringing the breeds back into the Lowcountry is one with promise and a good chance of success as he carefully plans the incorporation of the breeds into the overall land management strategy on his farm. The day ended with Jeannette and Liz saying goodbye to Landon and Gray and making their way to the next destination, Hilton Head Island.

More photos from Day 2:

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