Wendell poultry farm works to preserve rare breeds

05/26/2014 12:00 AM

02/15/2015 11:22 AM

Cande Honeycutt-Killian’s small army of 300 chickens started off as a project for her daughter, Isabel Honeycutt.

Her daughter wanted an Ameraucauna chicken, a breed known for laying colorful eggs.

Before she knew it, Honeycutt-Killian had two and a half acres full of chickens and other poultry that she now keeps as part of a conservation effort for rare breeds of chickens, geese and ducks.

“(It started) as a 4-H project that got a little out of control,” she said of her family’s Owl Meadow farm, which is less than half a mile outside Wendell’s town limits.

Owl Meadow Farm is a livestock conservancy, providing rare breeds for other farmers or homesteaders and protecting endangered species.

“There are a lot of North American breeds that were once prevalent, but basically production farming eradicted that,” Honeycutt-Killian said.

The farm mostly has breeds that do not lay white eggs. In fact, Honeycutt-Killian said there is only one breed of chicken they have that lays plain white eggs.

“It’s Easter every day,” she said.

The primary focus of Owl Meadow Farm is not providing eggs for consumption, although they are participating in Knightdale’s farmer’s market this year.

Even as a first-time vendor, Owl Meadow’s tent was popular among residents, offering different-colored duck and chicken eggs for purchase.

Instead, the farm provides eggs to other poultry farms who may want to raise the same breeds. Honeycutt-Killian said her family does not harvest the birds to eat, but whether a farmer she provides eggs to wants to do that when the bird is mature is up to them.

Honeycutt-Killian said the farm’s purpose is not to produce those eggs, but selling some allows them to break even, an important part of the farm’s operation, considering how much it costs just to feed the birds.

For the whole group of birds, Honeycutt-Killian said her monthly feed bill can run almost $600 a month and that doesn’t factor in repairs she may have to make to coops and fences.

“(Buying our eggs) is an indirect way to support conservation efforts,” Honeycutt-Killian said.

Owl Meadow Farms will have a booth at Knightdale’s Farmer’s Market, selling cartons of duck and chicken eggs, among other items.

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