Rare birds flocking to city

Three Red Deer parking lots will look a lot like a barnyard when the Canadian Heritage Breeds group hosts its first annual sale.

Liz Munro feeds silver grey dorkings on her farm east of Red Deer Thursday.

Three Red Deer parking lots will look a lot like a barnyard when the Canadian Heritage Breeds group hosts its first annual sale.

On Saturday Sept. 5 from 12-4 p.m., the group welcomes everyone to see more than 60 breeds of poultry birds on display and sale. The event will take place at 4838 52nd St., the home of Fletcher Printing and Altalaw.

Event organizer Liz Munro said this is the first event for the Canadian Heritage Breeds, a group she recently formed in Central Alberta. The Delburne-area resident has plans to expand the group nationally.

Besides birds, the group will focus on heritage breeds among all livestock.

Among the birds on hand in September will be turkeys, ducks, chickens, geese and guineas.

“A high percentage of them are heritage and rare breeds,” said Munro. “Lots of them are on Rare Breeds Canada critical list which means 100 or less in Canada.”

Some of the chickens on the critical list are the silver grey dorkings, which date back to at least the 1850s.

“The rooster is predominantly black and white, and the hen has a salmon-coloured breast and she has some silver-grey pencilling throughout the rest of the body.”

The chantecler, a breed developed in Canada in the early 1900s, comes in various colours. White is the most common.

“The one thing about the chantecler is it’s cold-hardy,” Munro said. “It can lay year-round, even in the winter.”

About 30 to 40 breeders from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan will be on hand to tell people about bird care.

Munro said the group’s aim is to increase the number of heritage breeds, which are becoming “dangerously low.”

The average cost for a hen will run between $20 and $30 while a rooster will cost between $15 and $25. Very rare birds will cost more.

Generally, people are eating eggs from commercial layers, also called production birds. They lay daily for a short period of time and usually culled afterwards.

“The nice thing about the heritage breeds is that they will lay for a number of years, usually three to five years,” Munro said. “Some lay daily.”

For more information, go online at www.canadianheritagebreeds.com

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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