Mark Tully runs Blue Hills Poultry Stud, www.rarechooks.com.au, west of Brisbane. He has more than 160 breeds sourced from around Australia and has dedicated his life to preserving rare and threatened species of foul.
“The world loses three breeds of domestic livestock to extinction every month,” says Mark. “Most people aren’t aware of that. They know about the pandas but not about humanity’s living history which is our domestic livestock breeds.”
Mark is a ‘livestock crusader’ and has taken part in an award winning documentary film, Rare Chicken Rescue which won awards at Sydney Film festival and Sundance film festival in 2008. His website gets over a million individual hits a month and he often receives more than 4000 individual email inquiries a week which he finds overwhelming considering he has only two helpers on his farm!
Rare Chicken Rescue tells the story of Mark’s long battle with depression combined with his mission to protect endangered chickens. He begins an epic chicken chase fuelled by his determination to find more lost breeds. During the chicken chase Mark covers over 10,000km and spans five Australian states as he tracks down rare heritage breeds and meets others who share his passion.
You can watch a trailer for the video
Mark has over 40 breeds of rare poultry on his farm. Below are just a few examples of some of his varieties and his thoughts on them:
The Old English Game:
“These birds have a firm meat and broad breast and can grow on really poor food,” explains Mark.
The Chinese Langshan:
“Black and shiny, these birds no longer exist in China so are often referred to as Australian Langshan.”
“These are large black birds which are a great meat producer.”
This is Mark’s favourite because it has beautiful meat and is a really old breed - over 10,000 years!
“Their dark plumage has a deep green or purple tinge which makes it harder for predators to see them. It is a Mediterranean breed, which means it is closely feathered and lays green-coloured eggs,” says Mark.
Silver & Grey Dorking:
“These are another very old breed - over 10,000 years old. They were the main source of protein for the Roman legions.”
Mark’s farm is the only place in Australia that has all eight colours of the Sussex. “The Sussex is a well known breed which originated in the county of Sussex, England,” says Mark. “They were bred for utility purposes because they are a good ‘table bird’ and egg layer.”