The Phoenix is a very unique bird. It can grow tail feathers up to 10 meters in length. Of course this can only be accomplished by proper housing , feeding and general care. Considered one of the most controversial chicken species because as legend would have it they are part pheasant and part jungle fowl. Selective breeding by the Japanese government has made them not only a national treasure,but also a bird that has been considered at times a phenomenon. http://www.shaku1.com/onagadori.htm
It is said that to keep these birds a diet of fresh fish, kelp, vegetables, and rice is necessary. It is also extremely expensive for the average hobbiest here in the United States. Organic chicken feeds and commercial grade feeds are most often based with wheat and corn, not rice. Bone meal is also a common ingredient in commercal US feeds. This is a major factor that creates stumbling blocks for North american breeders. http://www.freewebs.com/napalongtails/phoenix.htm
In my research I have found a variety of alternative feeding plans. Most to date have not been able to achieve the great lengths that the Japanese pride themselves on. The most common is to feed a combination of commercial game bird feed set at 21% protien, Oyster shell for additional calcium, Spinach or other High Iron greens, Yogurt for fat and to help balance the digestive tracks, cooked whole grain rice, and kelp meal. Some also believe in feeding cat or dog food that has been softened first by adding water.Unfortunately feeding programs vary widely and to date I am not aware of anyone being able to document the actual feed/ tail growth ratios here in the US.
Housing posesses another problem that needs to be addressed. The Japanese breeders use a cabinet system called Tombaku that forces the birds to stay perched facing forward. The tail is then either set in a sling type device, or set out the back portion of the cage to be kept clean and free from debris. The birds then must be handled several times a day to be exercised . Because of the labor intesity of this type of housing few breeders have the time or want to take these measures. At the very least the birds require a tall roost, and dry flooring. Special precautions must be made to protect the birds in freezing temperatures as the single combed birds have a tendency to loose portions due to frost bite.
Now as to what I do with my birds, My birds are housed inside a large building. I have 2 types of pens for them. The first is a 4x4ft wooden framed cube the sides have all been covered by a soft yet sturdy shade cloth to prevent the tails from breaking. The top and fronts of the cube are standard chicken wire to allow the birds to see goings on and to allow ventilation. The roosts are then set 20 inches from the back of the cabinet and 28 inches from the bottom. This allows the birds to move freely on the perch yet not rub the feather up against the walls.
The other type of set up we use is a 3x4x6ft pen . These house only a single bird. The roosts are set at 30-36 inches from the floors. The cage material is solid sheet metal 36 inches and then a smallguage cyclone wire for the remaining 3 ft. The floors are 1 inch rubber mats, set on a concrete pad, then we add a small amount of pine shavings to keep the pens dry from feces. Feeders and waters are hung at the same height as the perches so the birds basically have no need to get off of their perches. Wehandle these select males daily and weather permitting have an exercise yard that they are given play time in. I feed as many fresh vegetables as my garden will allow, when fish are caught we boil them then use the fish water to cook rice for the birds. In winter they recieve warm oatmeal for breakfast typically with a teaspoon of strawberry yogurt. Come spring time and about 4 times per month I make a carrot slurry, it combines in the blender of 4 carrots, 1 clove of garlic, 2 echinacea caplets 1000mg vitamin C, and 1 cup of cranberry juice. And of course fresh clean water is always available.
I have enclosed several links . I have photo albums so feel free to email me if you'ld like to use any of the pictures. My online names are lenleo, lenleo1 and napalongtails.
And on feeding... steming from a conversation I recently had with another owner. You can not feed any chicken ,let alone a phoenix this much scratch. The combination of corn and wheat are simply too high in fatty acids. Thus can cause heart failure, Liver disease, and other internal problems. I do not abdicate the use of homemade feeds. There are some good feeds out there that when supplemented can be fed as a regular phoenix diet. For instance, I went to our local feed mill and asked for copies of all of their chicken formulas. What I found were only small differences in the recipes and ingredients. So as not to double up on things by adding my own fresh ingredients I now know with confidence which of their feeds I can use as a daily diet and if for some reason I need to switch formulas I know what their diet would be lacking. One feed carries whey powder, one feed carries fish meal, one carries vegetable oil and one carries mineral oil. the difference in protien levels is from 15% to 21%. The lowest uses mostly grain by products while the higher ones contain alfalfa and soybean meals. All of them contain wheat, corn and barley however. One is evidently better for breeding hens as it contains a high level of soybean meal which helps w/ the production of estrogen. However too much estrogen can be detremental to the males hormone levels. Thus in the off season when females are to be housed together in a common pen this is a great benefit. Males on the other hand are better off with a feed that contains no or less soybean meal. And to enrich the blood feathers a feed and or supplement of fish or kelp meal. I prefer vegetable oil over mineral oil as it is more NATURAL in my opinion. Some feeds contain whey which is great for low light months as it is a vitamin d supplement. However since None of the feeds contain vitamin C I find it to be a necessary add in to help with iron absorbtion and immunne defense.
See tons of photos including coop designs and brooders http://s171.photobucket.com/albums/u293/napalongtails1/?start=20
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