Our southern way of speaking has led to a number of misnomers

Published 7:08 pm Saturday, January 7, 2017

Our southern heritage is responsible for some of the rural misnomers we’re used to hearing.

The family farm is where some incorrect word usage began and the chicken yard was the source of a couple of errors of speech.

For instance, there is no such word as “banty” even though a lot of people still think that is the right term for miniature chickens.

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Nope. They are properly “bantams.” Now, readers more than two generations removed from the farm might not have heard relatives reminisce about grandma’s “Dominecker” hens or rooster.

That erroneous name for a fowl breed that was and still is popular referred to chickens with feathers colored by alternating bars of gray and white, thus its real name, “Barred Rock.”

There was and still is a totally different breed with gray and white narrow pencil mark width stripes and its breed name is “Dominique.” That breed never was as popular among southerners and there just weren’t enough around to note the difference.

So Barred Rocks became “Domineckers” in southern henhouses.

For fun, I used to tell my northern ag university counterparts my people combined the French fancy “Dominique” with our own humble but proud “redneck” and called our chickens “Domineckers.”

Another farm animal that had its correct name colloquially altered is the Brahman breed of cattle. Most people say “Brahma” and some go with “Brammer” that sometimes comes out as “Brimmer.”

In addition to giving the proper pronunciation, I’ll go further and let readers know the Brahman is a completely different species than all the other breeds of beef and dairy cattle we have in the U.S.

The others, be they Angus, Hereford, Jersey or Holstein, are Bos taurus and all originated in Western Europe. The Brahman breed was created from four subspecies in India and Brahmans and their ancestors are of the Bos indicus species. How’s that for some livestock trivia?

Backing up to the chickens, I remain surprised at the continued popularity of “backyard poultry.” I read there are even some municipal ordinances now that allow for “non-crowing poultry” within city limits.

As a chicken yard man, I can report if chickens are offered 24/7 all-you-can-eat retail price laying pellets, those two dollar-a-dozen eggs at the store are a better buy. I can also report chickens will eat most anything, including chicken, especially in my jambalaya and casserole attempts.

The best advice I can give folks contemplating chickens is to remember my three “P”s when designing facilities. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or huge. But do all building with the poultry, the predators and the proprietor equally in mind.

Give the birds a dry, ventilated spot year round. Construct it to keep out dogs, hawks and every other chicken-killing critter including low-down raccoons.

And build a front door access people-only roomette.  Store feed there. Reach the feeders and nest box from within there. Make it the cleanest, driest, nicest part of the whole thing.

Chickens don’t like it out in the cold rain and neither will you.
Terry Rector is spokesman for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District.