Raising peafowl and chickens
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The first flock
Jay and Jen Louden were not raised on farms, but a trip to their local farm store eight years ago led them into the poultry business. A display of baby chicks delighted their young children, so the Loudens decided to hatch six eggs on their Newbury, Ohio, acreage using a neighbor’s hand-me-down incubator. The family was captivated by the little birds, but was soon devastated when an animal killed most of their flock.
“That’s when we stepped back and said, ‘Do we really want to do this? Is it worth it?’” said Jen. “And we decided that yes, yes we did.”Date Published: October 2, 2013Date Updated: April 10, 2014
To find a niche, Jay and Jen researched less popular chicken breeds that weren’t as easily found in hatcheries. They settled on Black Copper Marans, Bantam Russian Orloffs, Lavender Ameraucanas, and Olive Eggers.
The idea of selling hatching eggs of different colors was appealing to the couple and they were happy to find there was a market for it in their area. Their next step was becoming certified to sell outside of the state, which required a visit from a state representative of the National Poultry Improvement Plan. After that, it was simply marketing.
“We started by creating a website, a Facebook page, and began attending more poultry shows,” said Jen. “By word of mouth, we became more successful."Date Published: October 2, 2013Date Updated: April 10, 2014
Adding some color
In 2008, the Loudens decided to add a bit more color to their flocks. After some research, discussion, and help from mentors, Jen and Jay purchased four young peafowl chicks and became involved with the United Peafowl Association (UPA).
“We just wanted to see something pretty in the yard, so that was our starting point,” said Jen. “We didn’t even wait for those initial chicks to grow into adults before finding more in another color, and then another color, and it snowballed from there.“Date Published: October 2, 2013Date Updated: April 10, 2014
Today, Jay and Jen have 84 adult peafowl used as breeders. Unlike chickens, peafowl take two to three years to reach maturity. Not having instant gratification makes successfully crossing breeds to get that desired result all the more exciting, Jen says.
Louden Farms is home to birds of all five of the approved UPA patterns and seven of the approved colors. The family is also working to have a sixth pattern approved. The “progressive pied” starts out looking like a traditional peacock, but after two to three years it begins to gain more and more white feathers during the molting periods, Jen says. The farm is home to two colors of progressive pied birds: blue and bronze.Date Published: October 2, 2013Date Updated: April 10, 2014
A family affair
The four Louden children, ranging in age from 2 to 10, adore living the country life and have all taken an interest in different areas of farm chores and animal care, says Jen. One of their sons, 6, is particularly interested in the peafowl and is responsible for his own bird and pen.
“Our oldest daughter loves to collect eggs, label eggs, and help with the incubator, “ said Jen. “And our oldest son refers to himself as a farmer and loves to grow treats for the birds.”Date Published: October 2, 2013Date Updated: April 10, 2014
With all hands on deck, Louden Farms is a successful family-run business that had the privilege of hosting the UPA conference in the fall of 2013. Jay, who originally thought it would be fun to have a couple of peafowl on the farm, is the vice president of the organization. The acreage that was intially home to a mere six chicks is now housing over 200 birds of all kinds.Date Published: October 2, 2013Date Updated: April 10, 2014
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