Garfield Farm Heading

Garfield Farm home page | News Index

News from Garfield Farm

Garfield Farm Museum's Chicken "Manhattan" Project

CAMPTON HILLS, IL       With the outbreak of Gallus gallus domesticus spreading across city and suburbs, on Saturday March 19th at 10 am, Garfield Farm Museum will host a lecture, discussion, and lunch on the genetic diversity of chickens. Special Projects Manager and director of the chicken breeding program, Dave Bauer, will cover the origin of chicken breeds and the 20 year effort at Garfield Farm Museum to preserve America's second oldest breed of chicken, the Black Java.

    With the popularity of raising backyard chickens, this presentation will go beyond the how to care for these birds and look at how a creature from the same genus, the same species and same subspecies can come in so many different colors with a multitude of characteristics. Bauer will discuss the many different breeds and divisions and how a number of modern breeds descended from the Black Java.

    In an effort for a museum staff who had not ever raised chickens, being assigned the task of saving the rare Black Java felt akin to the 1940s all-out effort to discover the secret of the atom, the Manhattan Project. Chicago again has played a role just as Stagg Field was the secret location of the first atomic pile, Tim Christakos with the Museum of Science and Industry for all to witness, have helped in this breeding effort since 2000 hatching out over 4000 Java chicks for the MSI?s display. When former staff member William Wolcott and David Bauer were faced in finding out why so many White Java chicks were increasing in number amongst the museum's Black Java flock the challenge was on. Now after 6 years of hands on experience Bauer can share his knowledge with novice fanciers and intermediate students of Gallus gallus domesticus.

    For all the backyard chicken enthusiasts, the inevitable question will arise as to what happens if the backyard hens had a visit from a rooster of a productive bloodline for eggs or meat or of a different breed. Bauer will discuss the effort to breed to the desired characteristics listed in the book, "Standard of Perfection" while examining how two Black Java parents could wind up producing not only white, but what is being called the Auburn Java. Getting eggs from the backyard can evolve into a great experiment for budding biologists, poultry enthusiasts and breeders. Understanding classic genetics paves the way for comprehending the challenges that genetic engineering offer.

    There is a $20 donation for the class that will include lunch. Reservations are preferred and can be made by contacting the museum at (630) 584-8485 or  Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL, off of Illinois Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. Garfield Farm is a former historically intact 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn that is being restored as a working 1840s farm.