Haven graduate raising rare Barred Hollands breed of chickens
HAVEN — Kendall Schoenhals, 18, loves animals. She especially loves horses and chickens. So much so, this recent high school graduate decided to raise a rare breed of chickens - Barred Hollands.
This heritage breed is on the critically endangered list. Back in the 30s, most eggs produced in the U.S. came from small farms. According to the Livestock Conservancy, the majority of farmers raised dual-purpose animals - chickens who were good for both laying and eating.
White eggs were a delicacy back then. The chickens that lay these eggs were typically lightweight.
In order to come up with a good chicken that laid white eggs, several breeds were mated, with one of the breeds originating in Holland. This procedure resulted in the Barred Holland.
"They're super friendly," Schoenhals said. "There are less than 200 of these birds in the U.S."
Schoenhals just graduated from Haven High School and will attend Kansas State University this fall. Although she plans to take her horse with her to school, she cannot take her chickens.
But she is adamant she wants to help this breed, so her little brother, Evan, 12, and her parents will take over while she is away.
Recently, Schoenhals bought a portable coop, known as a chicken tractor, for her roosters. The portable coop, Egg Cart’n, was made by David Yoder in Partridge. This way, the roosters can move around her pasture, always having fresh grass.
"They like scratching and looking for bugs," Schoenhals said. "I want to be able to move them at least once a day. (The coop is) very sturdy. It can withstand Kansas winds."
Along with the movable coop, Schoenhals has a stationary one with her chickens having access to the pasture and the coop all day. Her dog, Bean, likes to play with the chickens, but the animal's real job is to protect them from predators.
"They're great foragers," she said. "They lay really well in the summer and spring."
Evan hopes to raise his own heritage breed as well - Nankins. These birds, according to the Livestock Conservancy, are one of the oldest bantams.
Increasing the flock
The siblings want to build up their flock and eventually raise them to sell as breeding trio chickens and breeding eggs.
"I want to keep genetic diversity in the breeds we have now," Schoenhals said. "They play a really important role in building better breeds in the future."
Schoenhals plans to major in industrial design - leaning toward agriculture.
"I love the ag tie," she said. "I want to work hands on with products that I can help agriculturalists with."
Although she is headed off to college, this Haven native does not want to give up her passion.
"I definitely think hobby farming is in my future," she said. "My goal is to reach a primary breeding flock."