Look no further! Asagi Hatchery t-shirts in adult and keiki sizes.
We are proud to be an authorized reseller of da’Kappa Water Regenerator. Come in or call and ask us about it. Or go to their web site daKappa.com
In March, we hatched our first batch of heritage breed chickens. Then two weeks ago we hatched another batch. Araucanas, Javas, Buff Orpingtons, White Crested Black Polish, Buff Cochins, Black Cochins, Blue Cochins, Plymouth Barred Rocks, and Silver Laced Wyandottes. All were pre-ordered and all went to great homes.
Here are some photos from the hatch:
White Crested Black Polish
Silver Laced Wyandotte
Why are we starting to hatch these specialty breeds, and why call them heritage breeds?
Diversity, it seems, is revealing itself to be a key to balance in our lives and for our planet. Diversity in our diets, diversity in the gardens and farms, diversity in our community.
Diversity is the goal of farmers and horticulturists who have been on a decades long effort to create seed banks. Thousands of varieties of seeds of plants that have taken thousands of years to evolve into something strong and nutritious, are being collected and preserved by organizations hoping to perpetuate public access to seeds that are not genetically modified or patented by corporations.
Along those same lines is an effort to preserve particular breeds of chickens, once heralded as great farm or show breeds, great layers or gardeners, many of them dwindling to a few hundred over the last decades due to corporate food industry’s need to homogenize. This homogenization, this translation of plants and animals into units, have forced farmers into using only one or two particular breeds in order to stay in business.
Things are changing. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (link http://www.albc-usa.org/) is bringing this concern into focus by organizing lists of breeds that are in need of some care. The idea is that if we start growing them, as pets, as layers, on farms, they will flourish once more and our futures won’t hold just three kinds of chickens.
People talk about preserving our heritages. We think this also involves our heritage as an agrarian society, one that knows how to cultivate and care for, as well as create or construct.
Most of the breeder farms use summer and fall as a resting time for their flocks. Our next big hatch of heritage breeds will happen in January. We’ve been talking with one source who may be able to supply us with certain breeds in September, but we are still working on it.
Things to keep in mind when ordering heritage chickens:
– You should be willing and able to accept them as male or female, for these breeds we can’t tell the difference until they are months old. This is good for you if you are serious about helping the preservation efforts, since you will be able to let your chickens multiply.
– If you plan raise a mix, don’t worry about the breeds getting along, they will. They will still establish a pecking order, but that is natural to them, and the order helps them to live together.
– Like all chicks we sell, we source the eggs from professional farms, the eggs are also inspected several times by the time we receive them. The chicks are vaccinated before you get them as well, so you know you are getting healthy chicks.
If you are interested in ordering heritage breed chicks, please email us. I’m already collecting orders for the next hatches.
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Asagi Hatchery was mentioned in a great article by Wanda Adams published in the Honolulu Advertiser, this past Wednesday: Isle Egg Crisis.
Thanks to everyone who called or came by to lend their support to the efforts to promote local eggs!!
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Believe it or not, there’s a book on raising poultry in Hawaii. It was published in 1947 by Charles M. Bice, who was the Extension Poultry Husbandman for the University of Hawaii’s Agricultural Experiment Station back when the University of Hawaii’s main focus was still on agriculture. It’s title is simply Poultry Production in Hawaii.
I call it the blue book, because over the years the threadbare copy we have is slowly fading through the most beautiful shades of blue. It is the first item in my personal sanctuary of books about chickens. It belonged to our grandfather, Mike Asagi. His name is written on the inside front cover. The wonderful Hawaii State Library System also has a few copies in circulation, but the copy I saw was bound with a brown material, perhaps another printing.
The book may be 60 years old, but it is site specific and is full of no nonsense information about starting up a small poultry farm here, the old fashioned way. It contains information on raising chickens, turkeys, muscovy ducks and squabs in Hawaii. Some may look at the information it contains as outdated, but for anyone interested on how things were done before the boom of industrialization – this book might be something worth reading.
According to Bice, the first commercial poultry operation in the islands started right here on O’ahu. The book states that in 1903 Mr. Charles H. Bellina had established on his Palolo Valley ranch a flock of more than a thousand imported layers. His operation grew to 5,000 hens 11 years later when moved to Kuliouou, where he expanded in another way as well, adding a dairy component to his farm.
Site specific information that may be of interest:
– Bice writes that popular breeds of chickens that do well in Hawaii’s climate conditions are: Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire, Leghorn (White), and the Plymouth Rock (Barred and White)
– Almost an entire chapter is dedicated to nutrition knowledge that farmers worked with at that time. Also, it is interesting to note that the UH Agricultural Experimental Station was busy in this particular area helping farmers assess local vegetation that complemented the dietary needs of chickens. He has an “All Hawaiian Emergency Rations” recipe table, something that might come in handy should the farmer find herself cut off from feed supply for a short period of time. The recipe is measured in pounds of different varieties of meal and grit. As a supplement to this mixed meal diet, he added:
5 pounds per 100 birds daily
1. Koa haole leaves
2. Pigeon Pea leaves
3. Sweetpotato vines
4. Honohono grass, plus sunshine — coral sand in hoppers
He goes on about local grasses, how they should be untreated with chemicals and finely clipped since chicken bodies, like human bodies, are not built to digest long grass or hay. It can get clumped in their crops. Other supplements he includes are lettuce, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, alfalfa, leaves of young oat plants, cull sweet potatoes (cooked if you can), cull avocados, cull bananas, cull papayas, coconuts, peanut meal, prickly pear, pineapple bran. He says that they love succulent greens and that the greens should be cut in shorter lengths for easier eating and less waste. Also, a word of caution to avoid attracting grasshoppers as they carry eggs of the gizzard worm.
– Chapter 13: Records and Accounts – The Laying Flock–Pullet and Cockerel Raising–The Incubator Enterprise has actual tables that are direct examples in the style of ledger record book, with customized layouts. I don’t know how else to describe them except for grandfatherly in their simplicity, practicality, and charm. Keeping track, keeping records. One form has columns for “Hired Labor” and “Family Labor.” Snaps you back to the days of paper and pencils, instead of macbooks and quicken. Nostalgia or clarity?
– The last chapter is dedicated to Back-yard Poultry Production. Here he mentions that the meat and egg shortage during WWII, caused many housewives to manage backyard flocks to supplement their family’s meals. He goes through starting the flock, feeding, culling, capons, housing and records, ending with a short pop quiz (all the chapters end with this touch of correspondence school brand of self-education).
I’m sure when it was written, the intention of this book was to give a farmer or future farmer the tools to take on raising poultry as a business in Hawaii and to encourage backyard flocks, to fortify the economy here and help feed the growing population.
More than half a century later could any of this information be still relevant? When you really get down to it, this could depend on what you value, what is of relevance to you.
In the midst of the field of dry text, data tables, and strictly informational b/w photos, you find a paragraph like this:
“Among the chief characteristics found in successful poultrymen are the love of poultry and willingness to devote a great deal of their time to the care of their stock. Poultry raising is a 365-day-a-year occupation; therefore one must have the desire to live and work with poultry. If one is to get the most out of the enterprise, this desire must be greater than the desire to make money.”
This book was published at a time when poultry farms still considered themselves to be a business and not an industry, when the egg or the chicken you were gratefully savoring was raised less than a thousand miles from your house. And you probably knew the farmer or someone related to the farmer. And because of this, the farmer felt the value of what she or he was doing those 365 days a year.
We don’t mind working on Mondays at the hatchery for one reason and one reason only: Mondays are the pick up days for people coming in for nineteen day old eggs (eggs that have been incubating for nineteen days) and will soon be hatching. In fact, most are already hatching. On a hot day like today, in Kalihi Kai, it was nearly 93 degrees and over the top humidity, so most of the eggs were already beginning to crack and we could hear faint peepings by ten this morning.
Over the years, lots of people for all kinds of reasons have come for hatching eggs. A large portion of these eggs are fetched by teachers from k-12 schools, for hatching in school incubator/hatchers as part of a life sciences study. But some come searching for chicken eggs ready to hatch for other, more personal reasons.
One couple came in on behalf of a duck who sat on some eggs that did not hatch, but was determined to hatch an egg, any egg. The duck managed to hatch a bunch of chicks and raised them as her own.
Here is a picture they sent of that duck with her new kids:
Another week, a couple came in with plans to help a wild hen that had adopted them and taken up a nest in their backyard. They had grown attached to the hen, realized that it was sitting on the same batch of eggs for much too long, acting distressed, even depressed. They were hoping to switch out unfertile eggs with hatching eggs. Many human friends have come to us for this same reason, always wondering if it is too far fetched to work. And it isn’t.
Here is a picture of that hen and her new brood, sent in by her friends:
Today, three families dropped by to pick up eggs about to hatch.
The first ran an organic vegetable farm in the Wahiawa area. On the land, they found a hen who had built a nest but was sitting on infertile eggs. He was hoping to switch the eggs for her, to give her a brood. She was sitting on ten, so he picked up twelve. That will keep her busy.
The second family had started a life sciences project to do for their kids during a long school break. They had a built a small incubator and picked up some eggs a few weeks back, to try and incubate and hatch from the full 4-21 day cycle. That is a difficult task if you are handturning them three times a day, because opening the incubator fluctuates the temperatures sometimes too much, and in the earlier stages the eggs are sensitive. They came to pick up some eggs ready to hatch to complete their project and to keep the chicks as pets.
The third family came to pick up hatching eggs for a science project their daughter was conducting for school. They have some hatchers already set up and good homes lined up for all the chicks. They may be sending pictures in, so stay tuned.
Times are changing. The decades of big industry farming in Hawai’i are gone. And some of us can see a glimmer of hope in this, what could very well be viewed as financially disastrous by others. That glimmer involves small farms focused on sustainable practices rising to the challenge of supplying local communities with fresh and untampered with food. The glimmer is farms all over the Pacific making a go at helping their communities be less reliant on shipped in canned or frozen goods. And more glimmer: individual citizens seeing the value in keeping well their own chickens that supply them with fresh eggs, non-toxic fertilizer for their gardens, and good company.
Times are changing. And from what we hear from our customers, it is not a new change at all. It’s more about recognizing what worked, before all the large scale corporations, pesticides, splicing jellyfish with jellybeans, and everything else.
And it is best said by a man in a red t-shirt who just happened to be stuck in traffic on Nimitz on his way home from work, saw our sign, and decided to drop in. He wanted to know if we still sold chicks. He was planning to set up his backyard to raise some chickens like his grandfather did for him and his cousins when they were growing up. He said that that was how he learned how to take care of something, something that was alive, and something that would help his family keep alive in return — by supplying them all the time with fresh eggs. He said he wants to make sure his grandkids get that kind of connection. And he misses the taste of a fresh egg.
Here are photos of our plant a seed booth and the chicks at the Hawaii Farm Bureau’s annual Farm Fair.
We had a lot of help caring for the chicks from the 4-H kids. They were a great bunch to hang around and talk with, lots of them grew up caring for animals on their family’s farms.
The chicks were mesmerizing and more than a dozen hatched in the incubator during the fair. Everytime I stood in the throng of folks watching the chicks go through the process of hatching from their eggs, I could hear all kinds of discussions happening between kids and adults about what they were seeing, about the miracle of life, about how quickly all living things grow and come into being. Some people would stand there for close to an hour, watching and maybe even connecting with the struggle that each chick went through – how impossible it seemed that a living being could emerge from such a small seemingly stationary thing like an egg, how between the intervals of struggle and wait it grew strong enough to stand on its own, how it never gave up.
All of the chicks went to good homes at the end of the fair and we sent more than sixty newly planted seedlings nestled in half egg shells and filled with organic soil home with vegetable loving fair goers.
That was a few months ago. We’ve been pretty busy since then with a lot of interest from people on Oahu and the neighbor islands looking for chicks as additions to their families, starting small backyard flocks, and farms.
Due to popular demand we are now carrying feed – Chick Starter and Triple Duty. Both can act as main food supply for chicks in their first month. Triple Duty can be the main grain supplement for older chickens as well, though we recommend supplementing the diets of your chickens as much as possible with veggie and fruit. We sell them in two pound bags. If you ever need larger amounts, just give us a call.
We are also carrying water and grain feeders, as well as portable incubators.
Thank you again for visiting our website and our blog. We’re devoting more time to keeping you updated here and will be posting more pictures as requested by some of you. Take care!
We’ll keep posting information here that we come across and want to share.
We’re happy about the website. We thought it would be good to expand the site, since there have been a lot of folks finding us through the simple site we put up last year. The website and blog was built by the visual art and web talent in our family – web designers Jesi Asagi and Rob Dunn, and their independent firm Mascot Theory.
At the moment we are getting ready for the Hawaii Farm Bureau’s annual Farm Fair. It’s taking place over the next few weeks on Oahu, over at the Kapolei field on the west side of the island.
Every year, since the beginning of time, the hatchery has contributed a chick display in the 4-H farm animal tent. We bring over a portable incubator with large, warm shiny windows for kids who want to see an egg hatch. There are also chicks running around in a pen, next to the pigs, cows, goats, and other furred and feathered friends.
We’ll be there in person on the weekends, Saturday and Sunday, July 21 & 22, then July 28 & 29, from noon to 2 p.m. With our interactive project – we’re calling it “Hatch a Seed.” We’re supplying organic soil, a half egg shell, and a seed for planting. The idea is a little reminder of the nutrients in eggshells that are good for gardening.
This ties in with our growing efforts to support local food growing, sustainable farming in all sizes – including lanai or even kitchen counter gardens.
Stop by if you can for your portable little planter of an egg shell that you can bring home and grow.
Thanks again for stopping by.