-Second oldest breed of poultry in America“Getting Started With Black Javas” “Culling of Black Java Chickens” “Black Javas at Diamond T Poultry”
Third Quarter Newsletter August 2011
From the Pres. Roy J. Autrey Hey Java enthusiast. I hope everyone has had a really good spring season and the new chicks are doing well. Our first hatches were terrible and then I found out that a fan moter on my large incubator was getting over-heated and not working at times. Finally got it fixed and started having decent hatches. However, I was only able to fill about half the orders for Java chicks that I had. The chicks look good and most are out of the Cockerel that Kalee was showing this spring. The judges always liked the boy and we have about 50 chicks on the ground that we are raising for ourselves. Our hens have just about quit laying but should start back soon. We have had so many people that have lost their loved ones, their homes and everything they own in the storms that just ravaged Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. Not to mention the flooding that has occured along the Mississippi river. Please stop and pray for these folks and be thankful if you didn’t have to suffer. Our club is growing and many thanks to Ruth for the big effort she puts out and the other folks that have supported Javas. We cannot stop now. It is time to push even harder to bring new people into the wonderful world of exibition poultry. And of course, we want them to raise Javas. Also, if you raise Javas, join your local meetup group and talk to everyone on the boards about your birds. They will get interested if we are. Roy J. Autrey Autrey’s Friendship Farms www.AFFPoultry.com “remember not to drink downstream from the herd”
Send your stories, pictures, recipes, show wins, or anything else Java to Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org From the Secretary/TreasuerWow its been hot here in Texas (110 degrees) and pretty much everywhere else and Javas seem to be handling the heat well as long as they have lots of cool water and shade. One of our very experienced Java club members who has recently taken a liking to Black Javas will be writing a series of articles about raising and showing his Black Javas. He has taught me a lot about proper care, and selection, as well as showing and conditioning birds. I am very impressed with his techniques and so I have asked him to write a monthly article for the Poultry Press for the next year. He is also willing to write, LOL that’s good!!!. Everyone is welcome to join the Java Breeders of America Poultry Club. The purpose of the Java Breeders of America Poultry Club is to encourage the long term preservation of Javas through selective breeding, exhibition, and through sharing knowledge. We also realize it takes alot of hard work and determination. The Java Breeders of America poultry club publishes a quarterly newsletter, which is sent to all members by email. Visit us on the web at www.javabreedersofamerica.com Contact Ruth Caron at email@example.com.
From the Vice Pres. Tacey Perkins You know, there are a few touchy subjects some people just don’t like to talk about, Religion and politics being prime examples. I would like to bring to light a subject that is near and dear to my heart. One that I hope will always be embraced and brought to the fore front like it recently has been. It is conservation! Conservation comes in many different forms, it is as important to us as human beings as it is to the Java breed of chicken.When setting out to acquire chickens for our small farm, I felt compelled to do my part in conservation. I felt how a lot of you felt and fell in love with the idea of a conservation project and a hobby rolled into one. I fell in love with the Java! Over the years, I have realized, that a lot of people are aware of the critical state the Java is in today. But, the thing that most are not aware of, is why the Java is where it is today. A lot of people say how could this wonderful breed be almost gone. How could it have gone from being the most popular breed to own to almost extinct. And why is it now gaining popularity again? It’s simple, it is all due to conservation! A lack of knowledge is a horrible thing and could damage on a large scale . With knowledge you can make wise decisions and make conscience efforts to change things. Well, if you have read our website you are very familiar with the history of the Java. And in the 1800’s it was the main choice for the commercial chicken market, homestead and farm. Providing them with a wonderful meat source. Which the breed was bred for. And it continued to be a great provider because of the other fine attributes it brought to the table- literally! Eggs, this breed is a great egg layer. Not as prolific as hybrid egg layers, but I have found mine to be consistant through the year. And another great attribute is that this bird is tops when it comes to foraging. Which means that you don’t have to pump it full of costly feed to get a good return. They are happy in a field scrounging up their own grub. Then times changed, people started to want food faster, and the Java couldn’t keep up. Unfortunately, that was a huge part in the Java’s demise. A Java takes at least 8 mths to mature. Forcing commercial chicken farms to look to other breeds of chickens for their needs. Both the Plymouth Rock and the Jersey Giant owe much to the Java. The Java was used in the creation of both of these breeds, which later replaced it. So, it lost it’s popularity and started to plummet in numbers. Till, we today in this decade, figured it was worth saving! The Java has retained all it’s wonderful attributes that made it so popular over 150 years ago. People are starting to notice them and take action AND IT IS ALL BECAUSE OF CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION. I think people are being smarter and more aware of their food sources. Not compromising their beliefs and settling for food just because it is faster to mature. Taste, time and money all come into play. And the Java is a great bird that will be sure to please. Like the old adage says... good things come to those who wait. I think they were talking about the Java. Have you tasted a Java before. Like different types of cattle taste different, so do chicken breeds. I for one think the meat is fine, like a fine aged beef or wine! It really is different then a commercial store bought chicken. There are many who feel the same way. Take for instance, one of the fastest growing national food communities, SLOW FOOD USA. Did you know our Java was on the Slow Food USA- Ark of Taste list? So, what is Slow food USA? It is a community program that believes in conservation of the foods that are good for people to eat, good for the farmers and good for the planet. What is Slow Food? Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. continued on page 3
What is USA Ark of Taste? Saving Cherished Foods, One Product at a Time- The USA Ark of Taste is a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction. By promoting and eating Ark products we help ensure they remain in production and on our plates. Describing and Promoting Forgotten FlavorsThe Ark is an international catalog of foods that are threatened by industrial standardization, the regulations of large-scale distribution and environmental damage. In an effort to cultivate consumer demand—key to agricultural conservation—only the best tasting endangered foods make it onto the Ark. Since 1996, more than 800 products from over 50 countries have been added to the international Ark of Taste. The US Ark of Taste profiles over 200 rare regional foods, and is a tool that helps farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, retail grocers, educators and consumers celebrate our country's diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage. You can also find farmers on local harvest offering their Slow food Ark of taste products. Another reason to love the JavaSo, because this wonderful dual purpose heritage breed is all it's cracked up to be, it is gaining popularity again. There are many people, clubs and programs that have been involved in it's resurgance. Educating the people about the importance of the Javas conservation is helping. We are still not out of the woods yet, but we are getting there. I encourage you to check out our website where you can find out all about the Java breed, including where you can get your own Javas and how to help promote them. Also, check out Slow food USA-Ark of taste and help conserve something that is worth conserving! And thank you to all who are doing your part to educate and conserve. ~Tacey Perkins V.P. Java Breeders of America Here is what Slow Food USA had to say about the Java... Ark of Taste - Java Chicken The Java is considered the second oldest breed of chicken developed in America. Its ancestors were reputed to have come from the Far East, possibly from the isle of Java. Sources differ on the time of origin of the Java. But they were known to be in existence in America sometime between 1835 and 1850. They did not reach Britain until 1885, and this is important as those that claim they originated in pure form directly from the island of Java cite England as their source of stock (from Java by way of England). It is possible 1835 may even be late in the development of this breed. The Java is a premiere homesteading fowl, having the ability to do well when given free-range. While slower in rate of growth when compared to some more modern breeds, the Java was noted for the production of meat during the mid 1800s. The Plymouth Rock and Jersey Giant breeds owe much to the Java, as the Java was used in the creation of both of these breeds, which later replaced it. Javas come in three varieties: Black, Mottled and White. The Black Java is noted for the beetle-green sheen of its feathers, a green sheen more brilliant than any other black fowl except the Langshan (speaking in terms of English and American experiences). The Blacks further have very dark eye color, being dark brown or even nearly black. Black Javas have black legs with yellow soles on their feet. Mottled Javas should have very intense red eye color and their feathering is black with splashes, or mottles, of white. The legs of the Mottled Java should be a broken leaden-blue with yellow soles. White Javas have yellow leg color. The White Java was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection but was removed prior to 1910 as it was felt that it and White Plymouth Rock were too similar. All Javas have yellow skin and lay brown eggs. The body type is one of the most distinguishing features of Java's. They have a rectangular shape, much like the Rhode Island Red, but with a sloping back line. Their backs are supposed to be long; in fact they should be the longest in the American Class. And they have a full, well-rounded breast. Originally this breed, like the Buckeye and the Rhode Island, had tight feathers. Another distinguishing feature, the single comb on all Java's should not show a point too far forward on the comb (the first point should be above the eye, not above the nostril). While this last point is of no economic value, it may be of value in terms of identifying purity of the stock. This point also indicates a single combed bird that was produced from pea-combed ancestors. Sources - American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, www.albc-usa.org. American Poultry Associationhttp://www.amerpoultryassn.com Society for the Preservation of Poultry Antiquities - http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/SPPA/SPPA.html
Getting Started with Black Java’s By Robert Blosl
Breeding season is over and we have located a breeder of Black Java’s who is willing to share his older birds with us and some of the cockerels and pullets that he used in this past years breeding season. He has placed these females in a large pen and the hens have red leg bands and the pullets have white legs bands which make it easy for us to know the ages of the potential breeders that we can purchase from this Java breeder. His males are in a barn in four foot by four foot conditioning pens and they also have red leg bands for the cock birds and white leg bands for the cockerels. As we go into the breeding pens we want to study the males first to see of the four cock birds and four cockerels which ones we want to pick from. As we look over the males we see one Cock Bird that stands so gallant and proud in his coop. He has such a flashy looking head. He has six well serrated points with a nice clean blade and this male you would hope to fix this kind of head on all your Java off spring in the years ahead. His legs are dead center or plum to the ground. He has such elegant grace to himself just asking us to please take me home with you. I will help stamp the great traits that I have on your strain for many years to come. You look at his top line and it’s just a little high but this could be compensated with a female that has a good top line or maybe just a little low in elevation on her back side. Over all he could use just a little more breast, but that can be worked on with maybe a better mate or another male that has a good full breast. As we look over all the males in the barn there is no doubt this male is a great Java and will help us not only this coming year but if mated intelligently for up to three more years to the right type females. Next we look at the cockerels and we see a young male who has a future trait that we wanted on the cock bird a nice full breast. His legs are dead center and stand very balanced in the conditioning pen. He has a seven point comb which is except able it’s only a half a point cut for the extra points and if mated to the right females down the line you can get to a five to six point average on his off spring. His tail angle and back is right on the money for a cockerel and looks like the best cockerel in the bunch as a breeder but maybe not as a show bird. We are trying to pick breeders to build and breed genes on our future strain. We do not have to have the best birds on the farm to do this. It has been proven by many great breeders that I have studied that all the show winners are purchased with the beginners who want to win started wins and leave the old timer with nothing but culls. Yet the next year he carefully mates the birds that he has left and produces another fifteen or twenty killer birds that the cash customers come to buy to show so they can go on to become master exhibitors in their favorite breed club. But we are not here to purchase trophies birds we are here to purchase breeders so one day we will breed up our birds to produce trophy winners. So we leave the barn with the old cock bird and cockerel and we go to an empty barn that has show coops in them and we put these two males in a cage on the right and a cage on the left. We look at them and say to ourselves if we can find a neutral female that has well all around points we might in three years get the head and body of the cock bird on the body of the cockerel and if we can pull this off we might have a great near perfect Black Java Male. So now with good points and bad points in our minds we go to the female pens and see five pullets and five hens in a large 8x12 pen and from these females we hope to find at least four females to mate to the two males we have already placed in the show coops. As we look at the females and you point to me look at hen number five. She has a five point comb,
her legs are dead center, her top line is right on the money and what a finish for a hen who has been in the breeding pen for the past four months. We go and grab her and put her in the show coop and we can see not only is she a great specimen as a hen but she is the best bird in the barn with the cock bird and cockerel. Then I say to myself if we mate her to the cockerel first toe punch the chicks then wait ten days when the weather warms up and then mate the cock bird to her for the rest of the breeding season we should get a good male from the cock bird and a good pullet or two from the cockerel and then the next year mate these two together and we will have the great traits of both males on one chicken. Our dream Black Java male that we hope to develop with a neutral female to help us gather the good points from each male to produce the dream male or female in three years. We go back out and we see two pullets that are scratching in the littler looking for something to eat and are singing up a storm as vigorous as they can be. We look at the other pullets and they are sitting on the roost taking an afternoon nap. Don’t look very vigorous so we grab these two females and bring them into the barn and put them in a show coop. We can do the same think mate the cock bird two these pullets latter in the season and mate the two pullets to the cockerel in the early part of the season in January or February of next year. We go back out and find another nice hen her top line is a little dopey but has a good head legs just off center a little which makes her walk a little tilted than we want but she has many good features if mated to the right male to compensate for any of her faults maybe not this year but we may save her and mate her once we get the right cockerel the next year. We put her in the show coops and we see one more hen that just looks worn-out from laying her heart out however is a good over all Black Java female. We will put her through some good nutrition and help her go through her molt and she will make a great breeder either to the cockerel or the cock bird next breeding season. So we leave the master breeders home with a good start. We have two good males and two pullets and a good group of proven breeder hens. We have the potential to hatch about fifty to seventy five chicks, but we want these chicks to be mated correctly to produce the best chicks we can. We will also set a goal to cull hard as the little ones hatch and grow as we hope to have next season four good cockerels and eight good pullets to choose from and we will do it all over again next breeding season. As we are driving down the road to take our Black Java’s to our new breeding pens we think to ourselves what if we get a great pullet from one of these males would we mate her back to the male she came from the nest year? What happens if we get a better female than her the following year could we mate this female back to the old male bird? The answer is yes. Some of the best matting’s is mating the best male back to his mother or aunt for three years in a row or mate the best daughters each year back to the original sire. We are fixing traits using such a brutal line breeding method and then after we improve our birds we will cross these birds onto another family line where we may have done the same. What about Rotational Line breeding in two or three years? Yes, that is possible, but we got to improve all these birds from 92 points to 94 point average before we do this. After we reach this level we can rotate a male from the pen one to the pen two, the best male from pen two to pen three and the best male from pen three back to pen one. Summary: This is just a method I could visualize with you if I was with you at the master breeder’s h ome or you are on your cell phone one Saturday afternoon and you are telling me what you see as I have described above. To be a master breeder of standard Breed Heritage Fowl as the Black Java you have to breed with your inner eye. You have the look in your head that you have visualized by looking at your black and white picture of your standard of perfection of the black Java. You always got to ask yourself as a breeder WHAT IF I DID THIS OR THAT could I get THIS. You do not have such a bird, but with the birds you purchase even if it is a pair or a trio you can in three to five years have a great strain of Java’s. I hope you will take up the hobby of not being a master exhibitor as anyone can do this with money and good facilities, but to be a Master Breeder as others have done before us. Can
this be done with any breed? YES do many accomplish this goal? NO. Many are called but few are chosen just as in hatching and rearing your young birds so is it in breeding. As a successful breeder you have to have a line breeding plan, small goals and most of all the key trait of a breeder PASSION. I think what I have learned with Rhode Island Reds and Plymouths Rocks and studying the great master breeders of these breeds you can do what I have described with any large fowl breed there is today. I look forward to working with you and your new club and this great old fowl the Java. Become one of the Few the Chosen Become a Master Breeder. Photos courtesy of Amanda
Mission Statement for Javas
The purpose of the Java Breeders of America Poultry Club is to encourage the long term preservation of Javas through selective breeding, exhibition, and through sharing knowledge. We also realize it takes alot of hard work and determination. Here are the steps we will take In order to achieve our goals. We must show quality sportsmanship among our fellow members. Provide our members with adequate information on breeding Javas. Help our members locate hatching eggs, chicks or breeding stock. Educate our members with information on breeding and showing Javas. Help the general public to recognize that the Java is on the threatened list and what we can do to increase its numbers. ◊ Encourage and educate the junior poultry person on the value of breeding Javas. ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊
With these goals the Java Breeders of America Poultry Club will presevere. Members will learn about showing Javas and the steps they need to take to become an exhibitor as well as receiving awards from our club. The Java Breeders of America poultry club publishes a quarterly newsletter, which is sent to all members. We also have special discounts for club members only. Membership to the Java Breeders of America Poultry club is $10.00 a year. Please send a check or money order to Got Java? 195 Northglen Lane, Martindale, Texas 78655. Make sure to print out the form below. Also make check out to Ruth Caron.
Black Javas at Diamond T Poultr y 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 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 Dominique’s 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 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 Mr. 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. You can Visit Diamond T Poultry on the web at www.diamondtpoultry.com Jeff will be writing an article each month for the Java Club that will also be posted in the Poultry Press. Jeff Thornton Diamond T Poultry Seguin Texas firstname.lastname@example.org
Culling of Black Java Chickens By Jim Ward I recently culled through my black java cockerels. I thought it might be helpful to others to share my observations and pictures. To the new hobbyist selection of chickens might seem to require a magical eye, and asking questions of judges and experienced breeders akin to being required to understand a foreign language. (Cockerels are males under a year of age. Pullets are females under a year of age. Roosters are males over a year in age. Hens are over a year in age.) Mostly though it is just care and patience in choosing birds that suit what the keeper wants out of their birds. For me I want my black javas to be good layers, especially during the winter time. I also want them to grow quickly and dress out nicely with plenty of breast meat. I would like for them to hatch their own chicks and be good mothers. They should be calm, but active. They should be easy on the feed bills because they can forage for much of their own food. They should grow well without requiring special feeds or medications. They should be healthy and robust in a variety of conditions, whether penned or out in the open. Lastly I want them to be competitive as exhibition poultry. The problem of course is not breeding for one trait or another. The problem is producing a balanced flock of black javas whose individuals have on average most of the traits listed above. This is what makes breeding a challenge and bit of an art. For example a black java hen might have yellow feet but be small. Another black java hen might be large but have pink feet or be a poor layer. It is usually unwise to breed an otherwise poor specimen just because it is strong in one trait. It is usually equally unwise to discard an otherwise superior bird just because it lacks in a specific trait. In the end, each breeder must decide which birds combine relatively more of the desired traits to keep and use as breeders. They must also try to mate birds so that they complement each otherâ€™s weaknesses and hope that over time all the traits will come together in some of the chicks. Generally speaking the more javas that are hatched and raised, and the more stringent the culling, the more opportunities there are to make progress in breeding the ideal black java in the shortest period of time. For the past five years I have tried to raise 100 chicks each year and to cull about 85 to 90 of them. However, significant improvements can be made by keepers with many fewer javas just by keeping the best cockerels and pullets they hatch, or even better that their hens hatch, each year. While most of the traits I will touch upon below deal with the javasâ€™ appearance since I am first and foremost a poultry exhibitor, I am still very concerned with my flocks temperament and productivity. Besides what I am doing along these lines with my own flock, I am trying to assist in the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ABLC) breed improvement project for the black java to restore and improve its historic levels of productivity (egg laying and meat production). (See the June/ July 2011 issue of Backyard Poultry for more information.) For those especially interested in selecting their javas for their productivity traits the ABLC has several nice publications for helping to do so.
Birth Defects and Abnormalities A small percentage (one or two per 100) of my black javas have malformities when they are hatched: curled toes, cross bill, splayed or twisted legs, etc. These birds are all immediate culls. For the past five years I haven’t introduced any new java blood into my flock. Sometimes maintaining a line-bred/ inbred flock such as mine can result in an increase in the frequency of malformed birds and other problems, but I haven’t noticed this yet. My mentors, long-time poultry keepers, believed that line-breeding was the best way to improve a flock. As long as progress was being made each year towards the breeder’s goals, they didn’t bring outside blood into their flock unless a bird could be obtained that was superior to their own. They also believed that flocks go through bottlenecks. Initially there is an increase in the frequency of malformities and other problems, but overtime as the birds with the malformities are eliminated from the flock, the flock becomes less prone to having these issues. ***This is also true of disease resistance. It may be harsh, but the one time I had a sick java I killed him immediately to protect the flock. I also killed him based on the belief that the bird likely had gotten sick because of some inherent genetic weakness. In addition to that one bird, three or four have died unexpectedly over the past several years. In general though, I found my black javas to be very healthy. They have also always tested negative for all of the diseases monitored as part of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). Yellow Feet Five years ago I started with a pink-footed hen from Duane Urch and a yellow-footed rooster from Monte Bowen as the foundation of my java flock. The hen was a superior bird in most every way except for her foot color so I made the decision to work with her. The APA and ABA require that the bottoms of the feet of black javas to be yellow. Birds with pink feet (the absence of yellow) are supposed to be disqualified. Yellow bottoms of the feet are also taken as a sign of java stock purity. Given these, my initial decision to use the pink-footed hen has resulted in my having to cull a great number of birds for not having yellow feet. The trade-off is that I didn’t have to cull birds for numerous other problems. In principle yellow feet is a simple recessive trait, meaning that if you mate a yellow-footed rooster to a yellow-footed hen all of the chicks should be yellow-footed. In practice it has proven much more difficult to fix in my flock. One reason is that yellow-footedness is affected by the bird’s nutrition making the determination of pink and yellow feet sometimes a tough call. Birds kept inside and only fed a commercial laying ration are generally very pale. Also, hens in production naturally lose their yellow feet. A second reason may be that pink-footed hens lay better, which means since that I haven’t made individual matings, they disportionately contribute to the next generation of chicks. Size At present most black javas are too small, so size has been a priority for my recent breeding efforts. Even after five years I still have to cull about half of my cockerels and pullets for being too small. Size is easiest to compare when all of the birds are of the same age. (Obviously too, pullets must always be considered separately than cockerels.) It isn’t always possible to hatch all of the birds I want at the same time. In those cases a small animal/ baby/ bathroom scale can be helpful. An actual weight at a predetermined time point gives a measure of objectivity to determine which Size has two components- frame (bone structure) and weight. Javas should have the weight of a plymouth rock, but a somewhat smaller frame more akin to that of the rhode island red, assuming one knows good specimens of those breeds from their local poultry shows. Javas grow slowly and
sometimes it takes seven or eight months for the size differences to become obvious from just their appearance. Size can sometimes be assessed earlier based just on the relative sizes of the shank bones (the featherless portion of the leg). Birds with large, thick shanks almost always grow larger than birds with thin fine shanks Type Type is the most important characteristic of a breed of chicken. It refers to the overall shape of the breed, which is determined by the depth of the breast, the length of the back and the legs, the carriage of the tail, the posture of the bird (how it stands), etc. The java, as I understand it, should have a rectangular body with a slightly sloping back or top line. It should have plenty of breast reflecting its traditional use as a market fowl. It should stand relatively tall with its legs even spaced and centered on its body. It should be long and broad. It should have a lot of tail which is held high (55 degrees from horizontal for males). There should also be a soft break in its top line where the tail turns up. The past several years I have chosen the birds that I thought had the best type based on the descriptions and pictures in the American Poultry Associations Standard of Perfection. Then I exhibited them at several poultry shows. (This was after my flock had been culled through for yellow feet and size.) At the poultry shows, I asked the judges for their opinion of my birds and listened to any advice and comments on how they could be improved (highlighted below). Later I used the birds that they deemed best in my breeding pens. Leg- Javas should have a hock that is distinct in profile from the undercarriage of the body. The hock is the feathered part of the leg or the drumstick. Judges refer to having long, distinct hocks (and shanks) as having “leg”. This year I culled a number of birds that had reasonable size because they did not have enough “leg.” Fortunately I haven’t had the opposite problem of too much “leg”. Tail- The tail is comprised of two types of feathers: the stiff straight main tail feathers and the curved soft sickle feathers. Females only have main tail feathers. Males have both types of feathers. The main tails of both males and females should form a “tent” or a broad triangle when viewed from the rear. If the triangle is collapsed in, the bird is said to be “pinched.” Not just about aesthetics, “pinched” birds are also likely to have narrower pelvises, which will adversely affect their egg production. Java males should have a long tail with abundant, wide sickle feathers that hide the main tail feathers. This year it was pointed out to me that one of the males I was exhibiting had a noticeable shorter tail with less or delayed development of the sickle feathers. It was culled. Back- The java is the longest bird in the American class. Typically large birds are also long. I try to chose the longest birds for my breeders. If visual inspection is not enough, a tape measure can be used to confirm that some birds are longer than others. Besides being long, the backs of javas should be broad. The broadness of the back should extend from the shoulders all of the way to the tail as much as possible. Avoid birds that have a triangular or tear shaped body when viewed from above, i.e. wide at the shoulders and narrow at the hips. Narrow hips again translates into poor egg production. A back problem that java breeders may need to watch out for is “roach back.” All of the cockerels in the first group of javas that I obtained from Duane Urch unfortunately had “roach back”. “Roach back’ is a when the back is not flat but has a convex shape or hump.
Breast- Javas when they were the market chicken of choice for New York city in the 1880’s were reknown for their fine breast meat. It is important then to select the birds with largest broadest breasts. Javas will never match cornish breasts, but based on my experiences there is still plenty of room for improvement. I have had birds with almost no breast and others that were reasonably plump. The breast forms much of the line that comprises the undercarriage profile. Attention should be paid to the differences between the Java undercarriage and those of the black giant and australorps, the two breeds of chickens most often confused with black javas. While the java should have ample breast and depth to its body, it should not have excessive depth to its body which would detract from the general rectangular appearance that is unique to its type. Head- Javas should have a neat medium sized comb and wattles. The comb should have five points and the blade (the fleshy part at the rear of the points) should extend straight back and not follow the contour of the head. A judge commented a couple of years ago that my javas had too much head, meaning too large of combs and wattles. He said that their heads were becoming Australorp-y. With culling for yellow feet, size, and type I have only recently paid attention to the heads. I might caution against being a “head hunter” and culling javas just because of their combs and wattles. The combs and wattles are one of the most visible parts of the chicken, but not the hardest to fix. Size and type are much more important and difficult. This idea is supported by the number of points the Standard of Perfection allocates to type and size versus head based on the scale of points that was used to judge poultry in the earlier days of the APA and which is still valuable for encouraging a balanced evaluation of any chicken under examination. One thing that I have slowly been culling for is extreme numbers of points, (more or less than 4 to 6), side sprigs (points that extend horizontally out), and fused points. Because the pullet’s comb is smaller and less noticeable than the cockerel’s comb, it is easy to overlook. However the pullet’s comb should be evaluated similarly to that of the cockerel’s. The pullet and the cockerel equally affect the head of their chicks. Color Color is separate from type. Black, mottled, white, and auburn javas should all have the same type. I previously mentioned the yellow bottoms of the feet of black javas. Now I will focus on a few of the other aspects of the black java’s color. White Feathers- Black javas are disqualified if they have more than ½ inch of positive white in any part of their plumage or two or more feathers tipped or edged in positive white. This refers to the adult plumage. Chickens grow three sets of feathers before becoming adults. Juvenile black javas have white primary wing feathers. I’ve been fortunate not to have any white color issues, but I have heard that some breeders have had some difficultly with white feathers because of recessive, or latent, mottled genes. Monte Bowen for instance told me that his line of mottled javas was completely derived from his black javas. White feathers may also be an issue if the recessive gene for white plumage color is hanging around in the black background. Luster/ Green Sheen- In contrast to white feathers, red feathers in the hackle of black javas are somewhat desirable if only present in a few of the birds in the black java flock. Early on when I started breeding chickens, I was told by a breeder of black sumatras that the occasional red feather in the hackle was linked to black chickens having excellent beetle green sheen. If a “red”
hackled bird wasn’t used in the breeding pen every once in awhile then the sheen would be lost, and the birds would start appearing dull. I don’t know if this is true, but since only a few of my chickens have red feathers in their hackles I have never discriminated against it. Obviously for exhibition purposed a solid black chicken with excellent sheen is preferred to birds with traces of red. Often an off-colored feather can be pulled before a bird is shown. Eye Color- Black javas should have dark brown eyes. Culling birds only based on eye color is ill advised for the same reason as choosing birds only because of their head. The Standard of Perfection’s scale of points allocates only 2% to the color of the eyes compared with 66% for type. Focused on type, I have not culled birds for eye color. Undercolor-Undercolor is the color of the fluff or the downy part of the feather not visible on surface of the bird’s plumage. In black javas it should be slate (dark grayish black). A judge noted that the undercolor of some of my black javas was too light- only light grey. As with eye color, I have not culled any birds specifically for bad undercolor. However I keep it in the back of my mind, in case a bird arises in my flock with superior undercolor. Feather Width/ Quality Every judge who handled my javas has assessed then for feather quality. The Standard of Perfection emphasizes feather quality because of the role of feathers as the protective covering of the chicken. In the case of the wings and tail, the judge inspects how wide the individual feathers are, with particularly attention given to the outer (thinner) edges of the primary and secondary wing feathers, and the sickle feathers. Feather width is linked to how fully and quickly a bird grows in all of its feathers. Generally birds with the broadest feathers “feather out” faster and have smoother, better-looking feathers, free from fraying and splits (not to be confused with fraying and splits caused by the bird being in poor condition). I try to breed from the birds with the best feather width but again balanced against the other important aspects of yellow feet, size, and especially type. Egg Laying Javas should be excellent layers of big brown eggs. In general, I have found this to be the case with my black javas. However, I have had a few problems: some of the eggs have been chaulk-y on the outside, and one or two of my hens have had problems metabolizing calcium, resulting in eggs being laid with weak or nearly missing shells. Unfortunately, the eggs with missing shells are easily broken. The past two years the broken eggs have touched off an epidemic of egg eating in my flock. I now have to routinely trim the upper beaks of my hens to prevent the egg eating. My long term solutions to these problems are to cull any hens that I know are laying defective eggs and to never set eggs that are misshapen or defective. Temperament Black javas should be calm, friendly chickens. I have never had a rooster turn aggressive towards a human. Occasionally though I have had what I call a “coward” rooster. These roosters hide in the corner of the pen and won’t stand up for themselves in the presence of the other members of the flock. Coward roosters generally become evident when cockerels are five or six months old, but occasional when they are older and have lost their place in the pecking order. I have culled these roosters, worrying that they will have low fertility and not mate well, and because I don’t wish for them to be injured or starved (kept from the feeders).
The Java Experience Raising a Critically Endangered Breed By Michael Dougherty Arkansas According to poultry historians, the Java breed is either the oldest or second oldest American chicken breed, dating back to the mid 19th century, possibly as early as 1835 or earlier. From those early beginnings, the breed rose in popularity to become a dominant commercial breed. In the early 20th century, more specialized chickens bred for either eggs or for meat replaced dual-purpose heritage chickens like Javas. By mid-century, so many poultry farms had converted to these more specialized breeds that the Java breed nearly died out. Most of the dual-purpose American class breeds are derived at least in part from Javas, including: Jersey Giants, Rhode Island Reds, and Plymouth Rocks. However, by around 1990, there were fewer than 200 Javas known to exist in spite of their excellent attributes for small holders. But for the efforts of a few breeders, Urch/Turnland Hatcheries, and the Garfield Museum they would be extinct. Even today, the numbers are low and the bird remains critically endangered. Depending on the source, the estimated total number of Javas today is either under 2,000 or under 1,000. Quick Facts for Javas Place of Origin: USA Type: Standard/ Bantam Class: American/ SCCL Size: Large (cocks= 9 Â˝lbs/ 36oz) Rarity: Very Rare Purpose: Dual Recognized Varieties: Black, mottled Unrecognized Varieties: White, auburn Egg Laying: Fair (2/ wk) Egg Color: Brown Egg Size: Large Hardy In Winter: Yes Housing: Free-range or penned Especially Docile: No Setter/Broody: Yes Personality: Active but calm, enjoys table scaps Special Features: Heritage Breed. The Garfield Museum near Chicago led the effort to bring this breed back from extinction in the 1990â€™s. The Museum holds a rare breeds show every May. Javas are workhorses, and not really show horses. I consider them sturdy and attractive birds, and well suited to a small holding, but they are not eye candy like my Black Breasted Red Phoenix or White Crested Black Polish chickens. By comparison, those breeds are toys. They eat more feed, and they lay much smaller eggs. We enjoy them, but if I had to make a choice, I would always choose the Java as my homestead bird. Featured in the Aug./ Sept. 2007 issue of Backyard Poultry Javas are built like tanks with square, stocky bodies with big breasts. Michael says his rooster Moonpie weighs at least 10 pounds. For more information on the Java breed, or to locate breeders, contact: The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC): email@example.com