Brian Glassey checks one of his barred rock roosters. Photo by Maureen Bishop
Brian Glassey doesn't really know how many birds he has on
his property just out of Ashburton, but he estimates the
number is about 400.
There are fewer than a couple of weeks ago following the
Ashburton Fanciers Society's annual auction - the only one of
its kind in the country - but a visitor would never notice
A poultry fancier and breeder of nearly 50 years, his
interest began as a teenager when one of his chores was to
feed the hens at the family property.
A job at a poultry farm taught him the basics of keeping hens
and his interest began.
It was 1968 when he exhibited his first bird at a show. The
chance of breeding the best bird to beat off the competition
still appeals and Mr Glassey will cage his best birds, load
his van and head to shows from Blenheim to Dunedin this year,
as well as to the national show in Palmerston North at the
beginning of June.
New Zealand's strict biosecurity laws make it difficult to
import overseas breeds into New Zealand so the gene pool for
breeding is quite small.
''New Zealand is almost disease-free and we can't get any new
blood in. It can cause some problems if the breeding is too
close,'' he said.
''I would hatch 20 or 30 of a breed in a year and then cull
out the weaker ones.''
His poultry includes several versions of the original
Plymouth Rock breed - Columbian, barred and white rocks -
Australorps, Wyandottes, Ancona, white leghorns and silkies.
Then there are the bantams - white leghorns, white
Wyandottes, Australorps, Anconas and white Pekins.
There are also a few cockatiels, some pigeons and a pair of
The birds are fed twice a day. The change to standard time
has made that a little more difficult as Mr Glassey has to
fit it in around his fulltime job at Ashburton Mega Mitre 10.
The birds are fed before work and then again at lunchtime.
Mash is the staple food, together with some grain.
''I'm spending about $400 to $500 a month on mash and then
there's the grain on top of that.''
All his show birds are housed - some in sheds, others under
trees - and that means a regular job of cleaning cages.
Bedding is woodchips, sometimes with pea straw added.
Poultry has not been Mr Glassey's only interest. For 40 years
he grew cut flowers, mainly chrysanthemums, supplying local
retailers. Nowadays, he grows just to enter shows.
With 1.2ha to look after and being almost self-sufficient in
fruit, vegetables and wood, his problem is a lack of time. He
believes poultry-breeding is holding its own and a move back
to keeping a few chickens by families is helping.
''People are looking for birds and that helps us. They don't
want the old brown shavers but perhaps want a spotty one or a
buff-coloured one. Purebred are not as good as layers but
people want the different birds.
''It's good, as it teaches kids to look after animals and to
- by Maureen Bishop