Mother Goose with Goslings and Orpington/Wyandotte Mix Hen Win USDA Cutest Bird Contest

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An extended family of goslings under the watchful eye of a mother goose in Michigan and a Buff Orpington crossed with a Silver Laced Wyandotte hen in Virginia are the winners in the USDA Cutest Bird Photo Contest for the month of February. Suzanne Muma of Charlevoix, MI and Jessica Gibson of Charlottesville, VA took the prizes in each of two categories in the Biosecurity For Birds competition.

Suzanne Muma of Charlevoix, MI, submitted the photo which won USDA's Cutest Bird Contest for February 2016

An extended family of goslings under the watchful eye of a mother goose in Michigan and a Buff Orpington crossed with a Silver Laced Wyandotte hen in Virginia are the winners in the USDA Cutest Bird Photo Contest for the month of February. Suzanne Muma of Charlevoix, MI and Jessica Gibson of Charlottesville, VA took the prizes in each of two categories in the Biosecurity For Birds competition.

Muma’s group of 19 goslings share the same father, with three mother geese. “The mothers share responsibility for looking after all of them.” Meanwhile, she adds, the gander is fiercely protective of his family. “The mothers get a little skittish when you come near their babies, but the father will fly at you like he wants to bite your head off,” she says with a smile.

The Muma family began raising birds years ago when their then 4th grade daughter joined the 4H club and began a small flock as her project. That daughter is now 25 and while all five of the Muma children have grown and left home, Muma says her nest is hardly empty. She has ducks, geese, and chickens to fill the gap.

Gibson bred the Orpington crossed with a Wyandotte hen herself. “She has a wonderful rich color,” she said. Gibson, an X-ray technician and her husband, Justin, a corrections officer, are both in their 20s and are avid farmers. They currently raise about 50 chickens and are expecting a human baby to add to the family. “I guess you could say I’m breeding in all senses of the word,” said Gibson with a smile.

The growing young family also is considering adding a vegetable garden, pigs and goats and cows to their multi-acre property. They will shortly be getting their flock tested for National Poultry Improvement Plan certification, which will establish disease-free credentials for selling their birds nationally. “We’re serious about this farming thing,” said Gibson

The four month Cutest Bird Photo Contest began in December. At the end of each month, the winning photos are posted on the Biosecurity For Birds website. The winners will be considered for inclusion on the 2016 Biosecurity For Birds Calendar.

The Biosecurity For Birds program, begun in 2004, is designed to educate backyard poultry owners and bird enthusiasts about highly contagious poultry diseases and other threats to birds. The program helps inform bird lovers how to prevent disease and tells them what to do if they suspect their birds are infected.

Media representatives may contact Joelle Hayden at joelle(dot)r(dot)hayden(at)aphis(dot)usda(dot)gov (301) 851-4040 or Pam Goldstein at pgoldstein(at)diversitymc(dot)com 973-377-0300, Ext. 14

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Pam Goldstein
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