Poul­try Peo­ple

Jeremy Hob­son talks to Paul Hal­lum, an equine vet, about his work as sec­re­tary of The Leghorn Club, his art­work and, of course, his choice of chick­ens!

Your Chickens - - Contents -

Hen­keep­ers of note

In view of your role as sec­re­tary to the Leghorn Club you are ob­vi­ously a lover of Leghorns… but do you have other breeds? I have kept lots of breeds since start­ing with birds about 30 years ago. I got into exhibiting through Sus­sex ban­tams and since then I have had RIRs, An­conas, Span­ish, An­dalu­sians, Ply­mouth Rocks and, of course, Leghorns. I used to keep the lat­ter in all colours in large and ban­tam but was find­ing it dif­fi­cult to jug­gle the hobby with the daily de­mands of my job as an equine vet so I have cut down to a more mod­est num­ber.

What is it about Leghorns that at­tracts you? I think it’s be­cause of the chal­lenge in breed­ing a good spec­i­men and the wide va­ri­ety of colours that have been stan­dard­ised. Since the birds seem to be at their best for a short time one needs to hatch with spe­cific shows in mind to en­sure a sup­ply of good birds. I also like the fact that the Leghorns have re­tained their util­ity qual­i­ties in spite of be­ing de­vel­oped as an ex­hi­bi­tion breed. Fer­til­ity is very good early in the sea­son as are egg num­bers in both the large and ban­tam.

Did the re­cent bird flu re­stric­tions af­fect your daily chicken-keep­ing rou­tine – and, as a vet, have they af­fected your think­ing about bio-se­cu­rity? The bird flu re­stric­tions had a min­i­mal ef­fect on the way my birds are kept. They are all in out­door pens with very small gauge wire and solid tops so ac­cess from wild birds is min­i­mal or non-ex­is­tent. In some ways the prob­lem has been ben­e­fi­cial in that it has made me think about how many chicks I ac­tu­ally NEED to hatch and I have been strict and kept my breed­ing stock to a bare min­i­mum. We are all guilty of get­ting car­ried away with the in­cu­ba­tor at this time of year but we should all think twice about where we plan to house the young stock as they grow.

I know that you are a keen artist and many of your paint­ings (un­der­stand­ably, in view of your pro­fes­sion) are of horses – but do your birds ever fea­ture in your work? When I have spare time I do like to paint. This hap­pens mainly in the win­ter months in the long evenings. Most of my work tends to have ei­ther horses or dogs as a sub­ject but I have also re­cently de­vel­oped a lik­ing for paint­ing poul­try. One of the re­cent ones show­ing most colours of Leghorns was raf­fled at the AGM and raised a sub­stan­tial amount for the club. Fi­nally, do you have a few words of ad­vice for any as­pir­ing chicken-keeper who may be read­ing this? Al­ways keep in mind that the birds are a hobby and are meant to be en­joyed. Avoid over­stock­ing or the hobby will soon be­come a chore and if you de­cide to em­bark on the fas­ci­nat­ing ex­hi­bi­tion side, try not to take it too se­ri­ously: en­joy your birds and most of all en­joy the in­ter­ac­tion with other fanciers.

CRE­ATIVE: One of Paul Hal­lum’s paint­ings

TOGTHERNESS: Paul Hal­lum and friend

HORSE EX­PERT: Paul is an equine vet

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