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Title: The Dollar Hen
Author: Hastings, Milo M. (Milo Milton), 1884-1957
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dollar Hen" ***

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[Transcriber's Note: This printing had more than its share of typographical
errors. Obvious typos, like "tim" for "time", have been corrected.]












Twenty-five years ago there were in print hundreds of complete
treatises on human diseases and the practice of medicine.
Notwithstanding the size of the book-shelves or the high standing of
the authorities, one might have read the entire medical library of
that day and still have remained in ignorance of the fact that
out-door life is a better cure for consumption than the contents of
a drug store. The medical professor of 1885 may have gone
prematurely to his grave because of ignorance of facts which are
to-day the property of every intelligent man.

There are to-day on the book-shelves of agricultural colleges and
public libraries, scores of complete works on "Poultry" and hundreds
of minor writings on various phases of the industry. Let the
would-be poultryman master this entire collection of literature and
he is still in ignorance of facts and principles, a knowledge of
which in better developed industries would be considered prime
necessities for carrying on the business.

As a concrete illustration of the above statement, I want to point
to a young man, intelligent, enterprising, industrious, and a
graduate of the best known agricultural college poultry course in
the country. This lad invested some $18,000 of his own and his
friends' money in a poultry plant. The plant was built and the
business conducted in accordance with the plans and principles of
the recognized poultry authorities. To-day the young man is bravely
facing the proposition of working on a salary in another business,
to pay back the debts of honor resulting from his attempt to apply
in practice the teaching of our agricultural colleges and our
poultry bookshelves.

The experience just related did not prove disastrous from some
single item of ignorance or oversight; the difficulty was that the
cost of growing and marketing the product amounted to more than the
receipts from its sale. This poultry farm, like the surgeon's
operation, "was successful, but the patient died."

The writer's belief in the reality of the situation as above
portrayed warrants him in publishing the present volume. Whether his
criticism of poultry literature is founded on fact or fancy may,
five years after the copyright date of this book, be told by any
unbiased observer.

I have written this book for the purpose of assisting in placing the
poultry business on a sound scientific and economic basis. The book
does not pretend to be a complete encyclopedia of information
concerning poultry, but treats only of those phases of poultry
production and marketing upon which the financial success of the
business depends.

The reader who is looking for information concerning fancy breeds,
poultry shows, patent processes, patent foods, or patent methods,
will be disappointed, for the object of this book is to help the
poultryman to make money, not to spend it.


Unless the reader has picked up this volume out of idle curiosity,
he will be one of the following individuals:

1. A farmer or would-be farmer, who is interested in poultry
production as a portion of the work of general farming.

2. A poultryman or would-be poultryman, who wishes to make a
business of producing poultry or eggs for sale as a food product or
as breeding stock.

3. A person interested in poultry as a diversion and who enjoys
losing a dollar on his chickens almost as well as earning one.

4. A man interested in poultry in the capacity of an editor, teacher
or some one engaged as a manufacturer or dealer in merchandise the
sale of which is dependent upon the welfare of the poultry industry.

To the reader of the fourth class I have no suggestions to make save
such as he will find in the suggestions made to others.

To the reader of the third class I wish to say that if you are a
shoe salesman, who has spent your evenings in a Brooklyn flat,
drawing up plans for a poultry plant, I have only to apologize for
any interference that this book may cause with your highly
fascinating amusement.

To the poultryman already in the business, or to the man who is
planning to engage in the business for reasons equivalent to those
which would justify his entering other occupations of the
semi-technical class, such as dairying, fruit growing or the
manufacture of washing machines, I wish to say it is for you that
"The Dollar Hen" is primarily written.

This book does not assume you to be a graduate of a technical
school, but it does bring up discussions and use methods of
illustration that may be unfamiliar to many readers. That such
matter is introduced is because the subject requires it; and if it
is confusing to the student he will do better to master it than to
dodge it. Especially would I call your attention to the diagrams
used in illustrating various statistics. Such diagrams are
technically called "curves." They may at first seem mere crooked
lines, if so I suggest that you get a series of figures in which you
are interested, such as the daily egg yields of your own flock or
your monthly food bills, and "plot" a few curves of your own. After
you catch on you will be surprised at the greater ease with which
the true meaning of a series of figures can be recognized when this
graphic method is used.

I wish to call the farmer's attention to the fact that poultry
keeping as an adjunct to general farming, especially to general
farming in the Mississippi Valley, is quite a different proposition
from poultry production as a regular business. Poultry keeping as a
part of farm life and farm enterprise is a thing well worth while in
any section of the United States, whereas poultry keeping, a
separate occupation, requires special location and special
conditions to make it profitable. I would suggest the farmer first
read Chapter XVI, which is devoted to his special conditions. Later
he may read the remainder of the book, but should again consult the
part on farm poultry production before attempting to apply the more
complicated methods to his own needs.

Chapter XVI, while written primarily for the farmer, is, because of
the simplicity of its directions, the best general guide for the
beginner in poultry keeping wherever he may be.

To the reader in general, I want to say, that the table of contents,
a part of the book which most people never read, is in this volume
so placed and so arranged that it cannot well be avoided. Read it
before you begin the rest of the book, and use it then and
thereafter in guiding you toward the facts that you at the time
particularly want to know. Many people in starting to read a book
find something in the first chapter which does not interest them and
cast aside the work, often missing just the information they are
seeking. The conspicuous arrangement of the contents is for the
purpose of preventing such an occurrence in this case.



      A Big Business; Growing Bigger
      Less Ham and More Eggs
      Who Gets the Hen Money?


      Various Poultry Products
      The Duck Business
      Squabs Have Been Overdone
      Turkeys not Adapted to Commercial Growing
      Guinea Growing a New Venture
      Geese, the Fame of Watertown
      The Ill-omened Broiler Business
      South Shore Roasters
      Too Much Competition in Fancy Poultry
      Egg Farming the Most Certain and Profitable


      Established Poultry Communities
      Developing Poultry Communities
      Will Co-operation Work?
      Co-operative Egg Marketing in Denmark
      Corporation or Co-operation


      Some Poultry Geography
      Chicken Climate
      Suitable Soil
      Availability of Water
      A Few Statistics


      The Plan of Housing
      The Feeding System
      Water Systems
      Out-door Accommodations
      Equipment for Chick Rearing
      Twenty-five Acre Poultry Farms
      Five Acre Poultry Farms


      Fertility of Eggs
      The Wisdom of the Egyptians
      Principles of Incubation
      Moisture and Evaporation
      Ventilation--Carbon Dioxide
      Turning Eggs
      Cooling Eggs
      Searching for the "Open Sesame" of Incubation
      The Box Type of Incubator in Actual Use
      The Future of Incubation


      Conventional Food Chemistry
      How the Hen Unbalances Balanced Rations


      Don't Doctor Chickens
      The Causes of Poultry Diseases
      Chicken Cholera
      Chicken-pox, Gapes, Limber-neck
      Lice and Mites


      Crate Fattening


      Farm Grown Chickens
      The Special Poultry Plant
      Suggestions From Other Countries
      Cold Storage of Poultry
      Drawn or Undrawn Fowls
      Poultry Inspection


      Grading Eggs
      How Eggs are Spoiled
      Egg Size Table
      The Loss Due to Carelessness
      Requisites of Producing High Grade Eggs


      The Country Merchant
      The Huckster
      The Produce Buyer
      The City Distribution of Eggs
      Cold Storage of Eggs
      Preserving Eggs Out of Cold Storage
      Improved Methods of Marketing Farm-Grown Eggs
      The High Grade Egg Business
      Buying Eggs by Weight
      The Retailing of Eggs by the Producer
      The Price of Eggs
      N.Y. Mercantile Exchange, Official Quotations


      Breed Tests
      The Hen's Ancestors
      What Breed?


      Breeding as an Art
      Scientific Theories of Breeding
      Breeding for Egg Production


      The Stations Leading in Poultry Work
      The Story of the "Big Coon"
      Important Experimental Results at the Illinois Station
      Experimental Bias
      The Egg Breeding Work at the Maine Station


      Best Breeds for the Farm
      Keep Only Workers
      Hatching Chicks with Hens
      Incubators on the Farm
      Rearing Chicks
      Feeding Laying Hens
      Farm Chicken Houses




The chicken business is big. No one knows how big it is and no one
can find out. The reason it is hard to find out is because so many
people are engaged in it and because the chicken crop is sold, not
once a year, but a hundred times a year.

Statistics are guesses. True statistics are the sum of little
guesses, but often figures published as statistics are big guesses
by a guesser who is big enough to have his guess accepted.

A Big Business; Growing Bigger

The only real statistics for the poultry crop of the United States
are those of the Federal Census. At this writing these statistics
are nine years old and somewhat out of date. The value of poultry
and eggs in 1899, according to the census figures, was $291,000,000.
Is this too big or too little? I don't know. If the reader wishes to
know let him imagine the census enumerator asking a farmer the value
of the poultry and eggs which he has produced the previous year.
Would the farmer's guess be too big or too small?

From these census figures as a base, estimates have been made for
later years. The Secretary of Agriculture, or, speaking more
accurately, a clerk in the Statistical Bureau of the Department of
Agriculture, says the poultry and egg crop for 1907 was over

The best two sources of information known to the writer by which
this estimate may be checked are the receipts of the New York market
and the annual "Value of Poultry and Eggs Sold," as given by the
Kansas State Board of Agriculture.

[Illustration: Plate I. Page 14. Graph - Is There Money in Poultry?]

In plate I the top curve a-a gives the average spring price of
Western first eggs in the New York market. The curve b-b gives the
annual receipts of eggs at New York in millions of cases. Now, since
value equals quantity multiplied by price, and since the quantity
and values of poultry are closely correlated to those of eggs, the
product of these two figures is a fair means of showing the rate of
increase in the value of the poultry crop. Starting with the census
value of $291,000,000 for the year 1899, we thus find that by 1907
the amount is very close to $700,000,000. This is represented by the
lower line.

The value of the poultry and eggs sold in Kansas have increased as

    Year        Value

    1903      $ 6,498,856
    1904        7,551,871
    1905        8,541,153
    1906        9,085,896
    1907       10,300,082

The dotted line e-e represents the increase in the national poultry
and egg crop estimated from the Kansas figures. Evidently the
estimate given in Secretary Wilson's report was not excessive.

Now, I want to call the reader's attention to some relations about
which there can be no doubt and which are even more significant. The
straight line c-c in Plate 1 represents the rate of increase of
population in this country. The line b-b represents the rate of
increase in egg receipts at New York. As the country data backs up
the New York figures, the conclusion is inevitable that the
production of poultry and eggs is increasing much more rapidly than
is our population.

"Over-production," I hear the pessimist cry, but unfortunately for
Friend Pessimist, we have a gauge on the over-production idea that
lays all fears to rest. When the supply of any commodity increases
faster than the demand, we have over-production and falling prices.
Vice-versa, under-production is shown by a rising price. That prices
of poultry and eggs have risen and risen rapidly, has already been

"But prices of all products have risen," says one. Very true, but by
statistics with which I will not burden the reader, I find that
prices of poultry products have risen more rapidly than the average
rise in values of all commodities. This shows that poultry products
are really more in demand and more valuable, not apparently so.
Moreover, the rise in the price of poultry products has been much
more pronounced than the average rise in the price of all food
products, which proves the growing demand for poultry and eggs to be
a real growing demand, not a turning to poultry products because of
the high price of other foods, as is sometimes stated.

Less Ham and More Eggs.

Certainly we, as a nation, are rapidly becoming eaters of hens and
of hen fruit. Reasons are not hard to find. Poultry and eggs are the
most palatable, most wholesome, most convenient of foods. Our
demands for the products of the poultry yard grows because we are
learning to like them, and because our prosperity has grown and we
can afford them.

Another reason that the consumption of eggs is growing is because
the condition in which they reach the consumer is improving. The
writer may say some pretty hard things in this work about the
condition of poultry and eggs as they are now marketed, but any
old-timer in the business will tell you stories of things as they
used to be that will easily explain why our fathers ate more ham and
less eggs.

Yet another reason why the per capita consumption of hens as
measured in pounds or dollars increases, is that the hen herself has
increased in size; whereas John when he was Johnnie ate a two-ounce
drumstick, now Johnnie eats an analogous piece that weighs three
ounces. Perhaps, also, we have a growing respect for the law of
Moses, or may be vegetarians who think that eggs grow on egg plants
are becoming more numerous.

Our consumption of pork per capita has, in the last half century,
diminished by half, our consumption of beef has remained stationary,
but our consumption of poultry and eggs has doubled itself, we know
not how many times, for a half century ago the ancestor of the
industrious hen of this age serenely scratched up grandmother's
geraniums and was unmolested by the statisticians.

Who Gets the Hen Money?

Seven hundred millions of dollars is a lot of money. Who gets it?
There are no Rockefellers or Armours in the hen business. It is the
people's business. Why? Because the nature of the business is such
that it cannot be centralized. Land and intelligent labor, prompted
by the spirit of ownership, is necessary to succeed in the hen
business. Land the captains of industry have not monopolized, and
labor imbued with the spirit of ownership they cannot monopolize.
The chicken business is, in dollars, one of the biggest industries
in the country. In numbers of those engaged in it, the chicken
business is the biggest industry in the world--I bar none. Why is
this true? Primarily because the hen is a natural part of the
equipment of every farm and of many village homes as well. It is
these millions of small flocks that count up in dollars and men and
give such an immense aggregate.

More than ninety-eight per cent. of the poultry and eggs of the
country are produced on the general farm. The remaining one or two
per cent. are produced on farms or plants where chicken culture is
the cash crop or chief business of the farmer. It is this business,
relatively small, though actually a matter of millions, that is
commonly spoken of as the poultry business, and about which our
chief interest centers. A farmer can disregard all knowledge and all
progress and still keep chickens, but the man who has no other means
of a livelihood must produce chicken products efficiently, or fail
altogether--hence the greater interest in this portion of the

The poultry business as a business to occupy a man's time and earn
him a livelihood, is a thing of recent origin and was little heard
of before 1890. Since that time it has undergone a somewhat painful,
though steady growth. Many people have lost money in the business
and have given it up in disgust, but on a whole the business has
progressed wonderfully, and now shows features of development that
are clearly beyond the experimental stage and are undoubtedly here
to stay.

The suggestion has been made by those who have failed or have seen
others fail in the poultry business, that success was impossible
because of the destructive competition of the farmer, whose expense
of production is small. Herein lies a great truth and a great error.
The farmer's cost of production is small, much smaller than that on
most of the book-made poultry farms--but the inference that the
poultryman's cost of production cannot be lowered below that of the
farmer is a different statement.

The farm of our grandfather was a very diversified institution. It
contained in miniature a woolen mill, a packing house, a cheese
factory, perhaps a shoe factory and a blacksmith shop. One by one
these industries have been withdrawn from general farm-life, and
established as independent businesses. Likewise our dairy farms, our
fruit farms, and our market gardens have been segregated from the
general farm. This simply means that manufacturing cloth, or cheese,
or producing milk, or tomatoes can be done at less cost in separate
establishments than upon a general farm.

The general farm will always grow poultry for home consumption, and
will always have some surplus to sell. With the surplus, the
poultryman must compete. His only hope of successful competition is
production at lower cost. Can this be done? It is being done, and
the numbers of people who are doing it are increasing, but they
spend little money at poultry shows, or with the advertisers of
poultry papers, and hence are little heard of in the poultry world.

The people whose names and faces are in the poultry papers are
frequently there only while their money lasts. They write long
articles and show pictures of many houses and yards to prove that
there is money in the poultry business, but if one should keep their
names and put the question to them five years hence, a great many
could say, "Yes, there is money in the poultry business; mine is in

Such people and such plants do not get the cost of production down
below the farmer's level. Between these two classes of poultry
plants, the writer hopes in this work to show the distinction.



The chicken business is especially prone to failure from a disregard
of the common essential relation of cost and selling price necessary
to the success of any business. That this should be more true of the
poultry business than of any other undertakings is to be explained
by the facts that as a business, it is new, that many of those who
engage in it are inexperienced, but most particularly because
practically all the literature published on the subject has been
written by or written in the interest of those who had something to
sell to the poultryman. As a result the figures of production are
generally given higher than the facts warrant. The investor, be he
ever so shrewd a man, builds upon these promises and when he finds
his production lower, is caught with an excessive investment and a
complicated system on his hands, which make all profits impossible
and which cannot readily be adapted to the new conditions.

Estimates of poultry profits are quite common, but there are few
published figures showing the results that are actually obtained
under practical working conditions. In this volume I will try to
give the facts of what is being and can be actually accomplished.

Various Poultry Products.

In considering the poultry industry we must first get some idea of
the various articles produced for sale.

It is common knowledge that the large meat packer can undersell the
small packer because the by-products, such as bristles, which are
wasted by the local killer, are a source of income to the large
packer. Now, this does not infer that the small packer is shiftless
and neglects to save his bristles, but that on the scale on which he
operates it would cost him more to save the bristles than he could
realize on them.

So it is with poultry farming. For illustration: A visionary writer
in a leading poultry paper, not long ago, advised poultrymen to
store eggs. In reality this would be the height of folly, unless the
poultryman had his own retail store. In the first place profit on
cold storage eggs, when all expenses are paid, will not average a
half a cent a dozen; in the second place, the small lot would be
relatively troublesome and expensive to handle, and in the third
place, small lots of cold storage eggs are looked upon with
suspicion and do not find ready sale. So we see that cold storage
eggs are not a suitable product for the small poultryman to handle.

A second illustration of an ill-chosen combination might be taken in
the case of a duck farmer who attempts to produce broilers. The
principal difficulty of the duck business is that of getting
sufficient intelligent labor in the rush season. The chief expense
of investment is for incubators and brooder houses. If the duck
farmer now tries to add broilers, he will find that the labor comes
at the same time of the year, that the chief equipment required is
that which is already crowded by the duck business, and that of the
men who have succeeded moderately well in caring for ducks will fail
altogether with the young chicks, which do not thrive under the same
machine-like methods.

On the other hand, let us take the example of an egg farm man who
has resolved to combine his attention wholly to the production of
market eggs. He succeeds well in his work and is visited by the
poultry editors. His picture, the picture of his chickens and of his
chicken houses, are printed in the poultry papers. For a reasonable
sum invested in advertising and in exhibition at the shows, this man
could now double his income by going into the breeding stock
business. To refuse to spread out in this case would certainly be

The following classification of the sales products of the poultry
industry is given as a basis for farther consideration.


For food purposes:

    Hens, after laying has been finished.
    Cockerels, necessarily hatched in hatching pullets for layers.
        (Sold as squab broilers, regular broilers, springs,
         roasters or capons.)
    Both sexes as squab broilers, broilers or roasters.

For stock purposes:
    Eggs for hatching.
    Day-old chicks.
    Mature fowls.


For table--green or spring ducks.
    By-products, old ducks and duck feathers.

For breeding-stock.


   Food,    Feathers,    Breeders.


      Food,        Breeders.


      Squabs,    Breeding Stock.


     Broilers,      Mature Fowls.

I will now discuss these products more in detail. Poultry, other
than chickens, I do not care to discuss at length, because it is not
for the purpose of the book, and because the demand for other kinds
of poultry is limited and the chance for the growth of the business

The Duck Business.

The duck business is the most highly commercialized at the present
time of any branch of the poultry business. The duck is the oldest
domestic bird and was hatched by artificial incubation in China,
when our ancestors were gnawing raw bones in the caves of Europe.
The duck is the most domestic of birds and will thrive under more
machine-like methods and without that touch of nature and of the
owner's kindly interest so necessary to the welfare of the fowls of
the gallinaceous order. The green duck business is about twenty
years old and has become an established business in every sense of
the word. The largest plants now produce about one hundred thousand
ducks per annum. The profits at present are not large even for the
most successful plants, because the demand is limited and the
production has reached such a point that cost of production and
selling price bear a definite relation as in all established
businesses. The green duck business is not an easy one for the
novice because the margin between cost (chiefly food cost) and
selling price is low, and unless the new man can reduce the cost of
production or raise his selling price in some way, he will have no
advantage over the old and successful firms.

Squab Business Overdone.

The business of producing pigeon squabs resembles the duck business
in the sense that it has been reduced to a successful system. The
production of squabs has grown until the demand is satisfied and the
price has fallen to just that figure that will continue to bring in
a sufficient number of squabs from the plants which are already
established, or which continue to be established by those who do not
stop to investigate the relation between the cost of production and
the prevailing prices.

Turkeys Not a Commercial Success.

In the case of turkeys, we find exactly opposite conditions. The
price of turkeys has risen with the price of chickens and eggs,
until one would think that there would be great money in the
business, and there is, for the motherly farm wife who has the knack
of bringing the little turks through the danger of delicate
babyhood. But just as the duck is more domesticated than the
chicken, so the turkey, which yet closely resembles its wild
ancestor, is less domestic and has as yet failed to surrender to the
ways of commercial reasoning, the chief factor of which is
artificial brooding.

The presence of a disease called blackhead has done vast injury to
the turkey industry in the northeastern section of the country. In
the South the industry has been booming. Especially in Tennessee and
Texas, I found great local pride in the turkey crop. I certainly
would advise any farm wife, in sections where blackhead does not
prevail, to try her hand at turkey raising. As to her advisability
of continuance in the business, the number of turkeys at the end of
the season will be the best judge.

Guinea Growing a New Venture.

The guinea growing business is the newest of the poultry industries.
In fact, it may be said of guineas, as of our grandmother's
tomatoes, "Folks had them around without knowing they were of any
use." The new use for guineas is as a substitute for game. Guinea
broilers make quail-on-toast and older ones are good for grouse,
prairie chicken or pheasant. The retail price in the large cities
runs as high as $1.50 to $2.00 a pair. It will probably not pay to
raise them unless one is sure of receiving as much as 50 cents each.
As for the rearing of guineas, they may be considered on a parallel
case with turkeys, if anything they are even more difficult to raise
in large quantities. I would also advise this additional precaution:
Look up the market in the locality before attempting guinea rearing.

Geese--the Fame of Watertown.

As for the goose business, the writer must admit that he doesn't
know much about it. In fact, the most of my knowledge concerning
this business was acquired by a visit to Watertown, Wis., which is
the center of the noodled goose industry

The Watertown geese are fed by hand every two hours day and night.
They sell to the Hebrew trade at as much per pound as the goose
weighs, and have brought as high as $14.00 apiece. All of this is
interesting, but I hold that the reader who is willing to take
instruction will do better to be guided toward those branches of the
poultry industry for the products of which there is a great and
increasing demand. So we will leave the goose and guinea business to
the venturesome spirits and consider the various branches of the
chicken industry.

The Ill-omened Broiler Business.

The broiler business stands to-day as the ill-omened valley in the
poultry landscape. As a rule broiler production has not and probably
will not pay. I know of a few exceptions--about enough to prove the

Most poultry writers, when they make the statement that broilers do
not pay, insert the phrase "As an exclusive business" after the word
broilers. This is merely a ruse to take the rough edge off an
unpleasant statement, for it certainly hurts the poultry editor to
admit that a much exploited branch of the industry is a failure.
Nevertheless it is a failure and the more frankly we admit the fact,
the less good capital and good brains will be wasted in the attempt
to produce at a profit something which is, and probably always will
be, produced at a loss.

The reason the broiler is produced at a loss is that 95 per cent. of
the broilers produced are a by-product of egg, fancy and general
poultry production, and as such their selling price is not
determined by the cost of production, or the supply determined by
the demand. That the broiler business received the boom that it did,
is due to plain ignorance of the cost of production, or to the
appreciation that the ability to rear young chicks could find a more
profitable outlet than in broiler production. Let us take an
analogous case. Suppose a city man should discover the fact that
there was a demand for dried casein from skim milk. With pencil and
paper he could easily figure profits in the business. If this
dreamer would attempt to keep cows for the production of casein and
throw away his butter fat, we would have an analogous case to the
broiler raiser who does not keep his pullets for egg production.

The young cockerel, like skim milk, is a by-product and may pay over
the cost of feeding, or some other specific item, but that he does
not pay the whole cost, including wages for the manager is proven by
two facts: First, every large broiler plant yet started has either
failed flatly or shifted its main line to other things; second, egg
farmers would be only too glad to buy pullets at the price for which
they sell the cockerels--a confession that it costs more to produce
broilers than they will bring.

The conception of the broiler business when it was boomed twenty
years ago was to produce broilers in early spring, when other folks
had none. It was, like the early watermelon, or the early strawberry
business--to make its profits in extreme prices.

This idea received several severe blows from the hands of modern
progress. One is the development of poultry fattening and crate
feeding in this country. This has resulted in supplying the consumer
with choice chicken-flesh that can be produced more economically
than broilers. Formerly it was a case of eating old hen--rooster,
age unknown, or broilers--now we have capon, roaster, crate-fattened
chickens and green ducks, all rivals for the place formerly occupied
exclusively by the broiler.

Again, the improvement of shipping and dressing facilities, the
universal introduction of the refrigerator car and the introduction
into the central west of the American breeds, has flooded the
eastern market with a large amount of spring chickens--by-products
of the egg business on the farm--which are almost equal in quality
to the down-eastern product.

The most prominent reason of the lessened profit in broilers is the
development of the cold storage industry. Cold storage destroys the
element of season, and allows only that margin of profit that the
consumer is willing to pay for a fresh killed broiler from a Jersey
broiler plant, as compared with last summer's product from the Iowa
farms. From a summer copy of Farm Poultry, I quote the Boston

    Fresh killed Northern and Eastern:
        Fowls,   choice               15c
        Broilers, choice to fancy  23-25c
    Western, ice packed:
        Fowls,   choice               14c
        Broilers, choice           20-22c

    Western frozen:
           Fowls, choice.................   14c
           Broilers, choice..............18-20c
           Nearly fancy..................   26c
           Western choice........17-1/2-18-1/2c

To complete our comparison I turn to the previous winter and find
that the best storage eggs are quoted at 19c, when the best fresh
are selling at 35c. This was a poor storage season and a quotation
of 22c and 25c would perhaps be a fairer comparative figure. We find
the per cent, of premium on the local product to be:

    Fowls, local over fresh western........... 7 per cent.
    Fowls, local over frozen western.......... 7 per cent.
    Broilers, local over fresh western........14 per cent.
    Broilers, local over frozen western.......26 per cent.
    Eggs, local over fresh western............30 per cent.
    Eggs, local over storage western..........37 per cent.

I consider these general facts concerning the failure of broiler
production, and the logical explanations given, as far more
convincing than any figures I could give concerning the detailed
cost of production. Nor am I capable of giving as accurate figures
as I can in the case of poultry keeping for egg production, for I
have had neither the desire nor the opportunity to look them up. The
following suggestive analysis I submit for the purpose of pointing
out why the cost of production is too great to allow a profit. We
may consider the chick marketing as May, the weight as 1-1/4, and
the price as 35 cents a pound, or, putting it roundly a price of 50
cents a bird.

Now, May broilers mean February eggs. If the reader will refer to
the tables of hatchability and mortality he will see that for our
northern states this is one of the worst seasons for hatching. A
hatchability of 40 per cent, times a liveability of 50 per cent,
gives a net liveability of 20 per cent. Now, anyone with the ability
to produce high grade eggs at that time a year, could get about 40c
a dozen for them, which raises the egg cost per broiler to about 17
cents. The feed cost per broiler is small, usually estimated at 12
cents, and this makes a cost of 29 cents. Now, let us allow a cent
for expense of selling charges and forget all about investment, fuel
and incidentals, we have left a margin of 20 cents.

Before going farther let us look at the labor bill. Suppose it is a
one-man plant. Suppose the owner sets a value on his services of
$1,200 per annum. That is pretty good, but few men who set a lower
value on their services will have accumulated enough capital to go
into the business. At 20 cents each it will take 6,000 broilers to
make $1,200. That will take 30,000 eggs and at three settings will
require 40 240-egg incubators, which, of a good make, will cost
$1,260. To spread the hatching out over a longer period is to run
into cheap prices on the one hand, or a still impossible egg season
on the other. It will take upwards of a hundred brooders to house
the chicks.

There is no use of going farther till we have solved these
difficulties. First we have more work than one man can do; second,
we require a number of hatchable eggs that cannot be bought in
winter without a campaign of advertising and canvassing for them,
that would make them cost double our previous figure. To produce
them oneself would require a flock of 2,500 hens. When a man gets to
that point in the business he is out of the broiler business and an
egg farmer, and will do the same thing, hatch the chicks when eggs
are cheap and fertile, selling his surplus cockerels for 25 cents
each and permit the storage man to freeze them until the following
spring to compete with the broiler man's expensively produced goods.

The effort at early broiler production was a natural result of the
combination of the idea of artificial incubation with our
grandmother's pride in having the first setting hen. But in the
present age the man who attempts it is rowing against the current of
economical production, for the cheaply produced broiler can be
stored until the season of scarcity, with but slight loss in
quality. To produce broilers in the season of scarcity, necessitates
the consumption of a product (eggs) which cannot be so successfully
stored, with a lesser quantity of that same product in its season of
plenty. We will give the production of broilers no further attention
save as a by-product of egg production.

South Shore Roaster.

The production of South Shore soft roasters in a local section of
Massachusetts, offers a successful contrast with the broiler
business and is, so far as the writer knows, the only case in the
United States where pullets are profitably diverted from egg
production. The process of roaster production is essentially as

The incubators are set in the fall or early winter, and the chicks
reared in brooder houses. As soon as the tender age is past, the
chickens are put in simple colony houses where, with hopper fed
corn, beef scrap and rye on the range, they grow throughout the
winter and spring. They are sold from May 1st to July 1st and bring
such prices that the cockerels are caponized yet not sold as capons,
showing them to be the highest priced chicken flesh in the market
save small broilers. Now, the income of roasters is two to five
times as much per head as that of broilers. The added expense is
only a matter of feed, which bears about the same ratio to weight as
with broilers. The great advantage of the roaster business over that
of the broiler business comes in the following points:

1st: The initial expense of eggs, incubation and brooding are
distributed over a much larger final valuation.

2nd: The incubation period, while perhaps in as difficult a
season, can be distributed over a longer period of time.

With 8 pound roasters at 30 cents, we have an expense account about
as follows: cost of production to broiler stage, 30 cents as
previously given. An additional food cost of 10 cents per pound of
chicken flesh would still leave a margin of $1.40, so, for an income
of $1,200, only about 860 birds need be raised, a proposition not
beyond the capacity of one man to handle.

Allowing a spread of five hatching periods, the number of eggs
required at once would be one-twelfth that demanded by the broiler
farm. As it is, the roaster grower finds trouble in getting good
eggs and is obliged to pay 50 cents a dozen for them, but his want
is within the region of possibility.

The South Shore roaster district is an example of an industry built
up by specialization and co-operation. But in this sense I do not
mean co-operation in production, but that the product is handled by
a few dealers and has become well known so that the brand sells
readily at an advanced price. To a beginner in the South Shore
district, the numerous successes and failures around him cannot help
but be of great benefit. The South Shore roaster district of
Massachusetts is the best example of specialized community
production of poultry flesh that we have in the United States. It is
only rivaled by the districts in the south of England and in France.

In Chapter III the writer takes up fully the community production of
eggs. The reason I have gone into this matter in regard to eggs
rather than roasters, is because the egg production is much the
greater industry, and, whereas the soft roaster is at a premium only
in a few Boston shops, high grade eggs are universally recognized
and in demand. Many of the economies, especially concerning
incubation, would apply equally well in both communities. I expect
to see the time when chicken flesh shall be produced with these more
advanced methods in many "South Shore" communities.

Too Much Competition in Fancy Poultry.

The various types of chicken farming are classified by what is made
the leading sales product. This will depend wholly upon what is done
with the female chicks that are hatched. If they are sold as
broilers it is a broiler plant; if as roasters, it is a roaster
plant; if as stock, it is a fancy or breeding stock business, but if
kept for laying the proposition is an egg farm, and all other
products are by-products. These by-products are to be carefully
considered, and sold at the greatest possible price, but their
production is incidental to the production of the main crop.

Of the fancy poultry business as a main issue it must be said that
it is certainly a poor policy to start out to make a living doing
what hundreds of other people are only too glad to spend money in
doing. Just as a homeless girl in a great city is beaten out in the
struggle for existence by competition with girls who have good
homes, and are working for chocolate money, so the man starting out
as a poultry fancier is certainly working at great odds in
competition with the professional men, farmers and poultry raisers
whose income from fancy stock is meant to buy Christmas presents and
not to pay grocery bills.

To enter the fancy poultry business, one should take up poultry
breeding in a small way, while working at another occupation, or he
may take up commercial poultry production, learn to produce stock in
large quantities and at a low productive cost, after which any
breeding stock business he may secure will be added profit. The
fancier will find the cost of production as given for commercial
purposes very instructive, but if he operates in a small way he
should expect to find his productive costs increased unless he
chooses to count his own labor as of little or no value. That every
chicken fancier also has in a small way commercial products to sell,
goes without saying. These, indeed, together with his sales of
high-priced stock, may pull him through with a total profit, even
though his production cost is great, but every fancier should take a
pride in making the sales at commercial rates pay for their cost of

If the reader has received the impression from the present
discussion that fancy poultry breeding always proves unprofitable,
he certainly has failed to get the key-note of the situation. There
are numbers of fancy poultry breeders making incomes of several
thousand dollars per year, but these are old breeders and well-known

There is another type of poultry fancier who is more commercial in
his methods, but whose work lacks the personal enthusiasm and
artistic touch of the regular fancier. I refer to the band wagon
style of breeder who gets out a general catalog in which are
pictured acres of poultry yards with fences as straight as the
draughtsman's rule can make them. Such men do a big business. They
may carry a part or all of the breeding stock on a central poultry
plant and farm out the eggs, contracting to buy back the stock in
the fall, or the poultry farm may be a myth and the manager may
simply sell the product of the neighboring farmers who raise it
under contract.

The system is naturally disliked by the higher class fanciers, but
the writer must confess that any system which gets improved stock
distributed among the farmers is worthy of praise. These types of
poultry farms have been more largely carried on in the West than in
the East, owing to the fact that true fanciers are thicker in the
East. There is undoubtedly still plenty of room for band wagon
poultry plants in the West and especially in the South.

As adjuncts of this business may be mentioned the sale of a line of
poultry supplies and the handling of other pet stock, such as dogs
or Shetland ponies. In this case the advantage of such additions
depends upon the fact that the greatest cost is that of advertising,
and, if anything that will be associated in the buyer's mind with
the main article be added to the catalog, it will result in
additional sales at a low rate of advertising cost.

Egg Farming the Most Certain and Profitable.

We have now discussed all the branches of the poultry business save
that of egg production, and the result of our review indicates that
most of these fields are either of limited opportunities or that
they present obstacles in the very nature of the work that prevent
their being conducted on a large scale.

Egg production is undoubtedly the most promising and profitable
branch of the poultry industries. The chief reason that this is true
is to be found in the fact that the most difficult feature in
chicken growing is the rearing of young stock through the brooding
period. Now, as the eggs laid by a hen are worth several times the
value of her carcass, it stands to reason that once we succeed in
rearing pullets, egg farming must be the most profitable business to
engage in.

For each hen that passes through a laying period there is her own
carcass, and at least one cockerel, that are necessarily produced
and that must be marketed. Now, the pullet is worth more for egg
producing than can be realized for her as a broiler or roaster, and
her extra worth may be considered as counter-balancing the price at
which cockerels must be sold.

The egg crop represents about two-thirds of the value of all poultry
products, and the demand for the high grade goods has never been
satisfied. Egg farming cannot easily be overdone, whereas any other
type of poultry production must compete with the cockerels and hens
that are a by-product of egg farming.

Egg farming by no means relieves one from the difficulties of
incubation and growing young stock, but it does throw these
difficult parts of the business at the natural season of the year
and results in a distribution of work throughout a longer period of

In the remainder of the volume we will consider the poultryman as an
egg farmer. We will also, unless otherwise stated, assume that he is
a White Leghorn egg farmer, who is hatching by artificial
incubation. Such reference to the marketing of poultry flesh or to
other breeds will be made only in comparison of this type of the
business or in relation to the production or handling of farm-grown



The builder of air castles in Poultrydom invariably starts out with
a resumé of the specialization of the world's work and the wonderful
advances in the economy of production of the large corporate
organization, compared with the individual producer.

The lone blacksmith hammering out a horseshoe nail is contrasted
with the mills of the American Steel Company. The fond dreamer looks
upon the steel trust, the oil trust, the department store, the
packing house, the chain groceries, the theatrical trust, and the
colossal enterprises that dominate every field of industry save
agriculture. Here, then, lies the neglected opportunity for the
industrial dreamer to hop over the fence, awaken the sleeping
farmer, and fill his own purse with the wealth to be made by
applying modern business methods to agriculture.

The knowing smile--the farmer may be asleep and he may not be.
Suppose that he is, does the fond dreamer dream that he is the first
man from the industrial kingdom of great things to look with hungry
eyes at the rich field of agricultural opportunity, basking in last
century's sun? Alas, fond dreamer, your name is legion. Every farmer
who has sent a son to college has known you and the Hon. William
Jennings Bryan has met you, called you an agriculturist and defined
you as a man who makes his money in town and spends it in the

But the dreamer is right in his first premise--great economies in
production are the result of specialization and combination. Why not
then in agriculture? I'll tell you why. There is a touch of nature
in the living thing that calls for a closer interest on the part of
the laborer than the industrial system of the mine and factory can

Why is combined and specialized production more economical? It may
be because it gets more efficient work out of labor, it may be that
larger operations make feasible the employment of more efficient
methods and machinery. The cost of production may be lowered, by
either or both of these means, or it may be lowered by an increased
efficiency in machinery, even with a decreased efficiency in labor.

Combination and specialization so commonly cut down expenses because
of large operations and the use of better tools, that we may take
this saving for granted. When it comes to labor there is a different
story. The negro working with boss and gang, or the machine-tender
in the factory work as well or better for large than for small
concerns, but the labor of a poultry plant is different. It is made
up of a great many different operations well scattered in space and
time. For the most part it is simple labor, but it is essential that
it be performed with reasonable concern for the welfare of the

In other industries, as with men working at a bench, the presence of
a foreman keeps them busy and their work may be daily inspected. To
have foremen in poultry work would require as many foremen as
laborers, and even then they would be as useless, for when the last
round of the brooders is made at night a foreman standing three feet
away could not know whether the laborer who had placed his hand in
the brooder had found all well or all wrong.

It is useless to carry the argument farther. The labor bill is one
of the biggest items of expense in poultry production. With a system
where the efficiency of the labor decreases with the size of the
business, large industrial enterprises are impossible. Such savings
as will be made in buying supplies, selling, etc., will be wasted in
the reduced efficiency of labor.

The bulk of labor in poultry work must be self-reliant labor and the
only test for such efficiency is number of chicks reared and the
weight of the egg basket. Even this will not be a complete test
unless from the income be subtracted the feed bills.

A system of renting or working on shares that will gain the
advantages of centralization without losing the individual interest
of the laborer, will go a long way toward making the poultry
business one wherein large capital and large brains can find a place
to work. I expect to see in the future some such system evolved. In
fact we have to-day a profit-sharing plan between owner and foreman
on many of our best plants. To extend such to each laborer requires
more system and better superintendence, but it is feasible and must
come. But, better still is it for the worker to own the stock. Best
yet if he owns both stock and land, leaving to larger capital only
such phases of the business as involve great saving when done on a
wholesale basis.

Just as the manufacturer of farm machinery, the packing of meat and
the manufacture of butter have successfully been taken out of the
control of the individual farmer and placed under corporate or
co-operative organization, so the writer expects to see certain
portions of the process of poultry production removed from the hands
of the farmer and controlled by more specialized and expert labor.
Far from meaning the lessening of the earning power of the farmer,
every one of such steps means larger production and more profits.
The ideal of agricultural economics is to give the farmer the
smallest possible proportion of the work of agricultural production
in order that the most may be produced and the farmer's share along
with the others may be largest.

Established Poultry Communities.

In a previous chapter we spoke of the South Shore roaster district
of Massachusetts. Here is a community where, in lots of from a dozen
to four or five thousand, are annually produced seventy-five or one
hundred thousand market fowls of one particular type. While this
business was not built up by the efforts of a corporation or
individual who planned definitely the entire project, yet we find a
central influence at work in the person of the firm of Curtis Bros.,
who for years have bought the majority of South Shore roasters, and
who have done a great deal to advertise the product and encourage
their neighbors to a larger and more uniform production.

At Little Compton, R. I., is a very similar parallel of the South
Shore district in the shape of egg farms. Here we find within a
radius of two miles about one hundred thousand Rhode Island Red hens
owned in flocks of two thousand or less. The methods used throughout
the community are all alike and are simple in the extreme. There are
no incubators, no brooders, no poultry houses, no long houses, no
dropping boards to be scraped every morning, nothing in fact, but
board-walled, board-roofed, colony houses, scattered over the grass
fields and similar though smaller fields covered with coops for hens
and chicks. Feeding is equally simple; a mash of meat, vegetables
and ground grain mixed once a day and hauled around in a one-horse
cart and hoppers of whole corn exposed in the houses. The houses are
cleaned twice a year. Little Compton is, indeed, a community where
all the rules of the poultry books are regularly violated, and yet a
larger number of successful egg farms can be seen from the church
spire at Little Compton Corners than most poultry writers have ever
seen or read about. Strange it is, as Josh Billings puts it, that
"some folks know things that ain't so."

An illustration published in a recent issue of the World's Work
tells a remarkable story. A pile of egg shells as big as a straw
stack certainly indicates "something doing" in the chicken business,
and it is a very proud monument to Mr. Byce who, some twenty odd
years ago, established an incubator factory at the town of Petaluma.
Petaluma is in Sonoma County, California, forty miles north of San
Francisco. In the census year of 1899, Sonoma County produced more
eggs than any other county in the United States. To-day there are in
the Petaluma region close to one million hens.

Like the Little Compton district, Petaluma is a one-breed community,
White Leghorns being the breed used. The individual flocks range
larger than at Little Compton, chiefly because the milder climate,
smaller breed, and establishment of the central hatchery enables one
man to take care of more birds.

When I asked Mr. Byce for a list of the people in his neighborhood
keeping over one thousand hens, he replied by sending me a list of
twenty-two men who keep from 8,000 down to 2,500 each, and said that
to give those keeping from one to two thousand, would practically be
to take a census of the county. The methods of housing and feeding
used are simple and inexpensive like those at Little Compton.

The chief reason why Petaluma shows a more advanced development in
the poultry community than the eastern poultry growing localities,
is to be found in the climatic advantages which favor incubation
(see Chapter on Incubation) and the consequent development of the
central hatchery. Outside of this, the location is not especially
favorable. The temperature is milder in the winter than in the East,
but the Petaluma winter is one of continual rain which develops roup
to a greater extent than we have it in the East. The prices received
for high grade eggs in San Francisco is in the winter about equal to
the top prices in New York. In the spring and summer New York will
give more for fancy goods. The cost of corn on the Pacific Coast is
about 40 cents a hundred more than on the Atlantic Coast. Wheat,
however, is cheaper than in the East, but not cheap enough to
substitute for the more staple grain.

The eggs from the Petaluma region are at present marketed largely
through a co-operative marketing association.

Developing Poultry Communities.

I have shown why the large individual poultry farms with hired labor
have not proven profitable fields for the investment of capital.
Again, I have shown that in a few localities where the business was
incidentally started, communities of independent poultry farmers
have grown up which are very successful, and that there is no
apparent reason why similar communities elsewhere, if intelligently
located, could not do as well or better.

This looks like an excellent field for corporate enterprise.
Certainly there is no more reason why the poultry community cannot
be as successfully promoted as an irrigation project, or a cheese
factory, or a trucking community. In such a community there are many
functions that can be better performed by a capitalized body managed
by experts than by individual poultrymen acting alone.

These functions are:

First, the selection of a location and the purchase of the land in
large quantities.

Second, laying out this land into suitable individual holdings, with
regard to economy of water supply and the collection of the product.

Third, the partial or complete equipment of these farms at less
expense and in a more suitable manner than could or would be done by
the individual holders.

Fourth, the sale or rent of these places to poultrymen at a
reasonable profit on the investment, but at a rate which will still
be below the cost at which the individual could have acquired the
land. Fifth, the selection of the stock that would not only be
better adapted to the enterprise than that which would be acquired
by the individual farmer, but would possess the uniformity necessary
to the maintenance of a standard grade in the product.

Sixth, the centralized hatching of the chicks by which means chicks
can be more cheaply hatched and better hatched than by the imperfect
methods available to the small poultryman.

Seventh, the purchase of all outside supplies with the usual savings
involved in large purchases.

Eighth, a teaming system of delivering such supplies.

Ninth, a general protection against thieves and predatory animals by
an organized war on all "varments."

Tenth, maintenance of the best methods in feeding and care by the
employment of skilled advisers, or the operation of demonstration
farms under the direction of the central management.

Eleventh, the enforced daily gathering of all eggs and their
lodgment that same evening in a clean, dry cooler, with a
thermometer hovering around 29 degrees Fahrenheit.

Twelfth, the strict enforcement of penalties against the man who
attempts to sell bad eggs.

Thirteenth, the prompt dispatch of the product to its final market.

Fourteenth, the final sale of the eggs with opportunities for fancy
prices made possible by an absolutely guaranteed product in
quantities sufficient to permit of a regular supply and of
advertising the product.

Fifteenth, the conduction of breeding operations along any desired
line, with the opportunity of combining the principle of great
numbers for selection with the comparison of all progeny from
ancestry, a method that will bring results a hundred times more
quickly than the efforts of the small breeder.

Sixteenth, the advantage of the sale of breeding stock to be
acquired from the free publicity which is showered on all unique
industrial enterprises.

In these sixteen functions there is ample opportunity for capital,
backed by ability in organization, to reap an ample reward. Is it a
dream? In a sense yes, but a dream made possible by the observation
of the actual results achieved in similar lines, and of the present
tendency in the poultry producing world.

Why has not this thing been done before? Because no one knew enough
to do it. Why did not the wonderful trucking regions develop earlier
in the South, and why does it still take northern settlers, backed
by railroad advertising, to develop the wonderful modern industries
which enables every city dweller in the North to have strawberries
in February and fresh vegetables any day in the year?

Why did the California fruit trade develop? Did anyone suppose forty
years ago that the unsettled valley around Pasadena would ever
produce one thousand dollars per acre in one year? These orange
groves, too valuable for agricultural purposes to be used as town
sites, were precarious experiments until the trans-continental
refrigerator car and the California Fruit Growers' Exchange paved
the way and put each day in every eastern and northern city just the
quantity of oranges that the people could consume at a profitable

Mr. Harwood, in the World's Work for May, 1908, after describing the
"City of a Million Hens," raises the question, "If in Petaluma, why
not anywhere?" I would like to answer that question by saying that
while anywhere is a little broad, the reason the industry has not
developed elsewhere has been because of the diversion of interested
capital towards impractical large individual poultry plants, manned
by hired labor. Another reason has been the lack of the technical
knowledge necessary to construct and operate efficient hatcheries.

The poultryman has been a disciple of the poultry papers and poultry
fanciers of the day. The poultry papers and poultry literature has
generally been supported by poultry fanciers and manufacturers of
incubators, patent nests and portable houses. The good folks have
vied with one another in complicating the business. They have built
steam-piped houses, with padded walls and miniature railways with
which daily to haul away the droppings. A few famous fanciers
selling eggs at $10.00 per setting have made such business pay, but
alas for the luckless investor in what the visiting poultry editor
would style a "handsomely equipped modern poultry plant."

A few years ago a Government poultry expert paid a visit to
Petaluma. He came back and reported, "It is a great disappointment,
the methods are very crude." The case is most pathetic. Here was a
man employed by the people to teach them how to make poultry pay.
His carfare is paid across the continent that he might visit the
only community in the United States where at that time any
considerable number of people were making their living from poultry,
and because he did not find lightning rods on the poultry houses, he
came back with the look of Naamen who, when he was requested by
Elisha to bathe seven times in the river Jordan, replied, "It is
very crude."

Will Co-operation Work?

That magic thing, "Co-operation," while utterly lacking in the
Utopian qualities with which the word artist paints it, is a
decidedly bigger factor in American affairs than the average man

The chief difficulty with co-operation is that the manager, if not
incompetent, has an excellent opportunity to be a grafter. In Europe
co-operation in agricultural and mercantile enterprise is older and
better developed than in this country. Perhaps the Europeans are
less inclined to be grafters, but a more likely explanation is that
the members of such associations as these have learned how to
prevent and detect graft, just as our business men have learned to
avoid losses from the dishonesty of employes. That this is the true
explanation is substantiated by the fact that when co-operation once
becomes established in this country, it succeeds even better than in

When the creameries were started in the West several years ago,
there was much complaint of swindlers, fake stock companies, and
co-operative ventures in which the manager absconded with the butter
money. To-day more than half of the American creameries are
co-operative and the number is constantly increasing. They are
efficient and successful in every way, and to-day make the finest of
butter and pay the highest prices to the farmer for his cream. But
their way was first paved and the business developed by successful
private concerns.

Co-operation is entirely feasible and successful where the people
behind the movement have enough interest in the enterprise and good
enough business sense to run the proposition as efficiently as
similar private enterprises are run. The idea that co-operation must
always result in a big saving is a misconception. Employes will not
work any harder for an association than for a private employer,
sometimes not as hard. Certainly no employee will work as hard for an
association as he will for himself.

Why people should expect to buy out the grocery store and hire the
grocer to run it and save money for themselves, is a thing I could
never understand. But if there is some great waste that co-operation
will prevent, as where seven milk wagons drive every morning over
the same route, or where the market of perishable crops is glutted
one day and starved the next, centralization, corporate or
co-operate, will pay.

I know of no better way to impress the reader with American
co-operation in actual practice than to quote from a brief account
of the California Fruit Growers' Exchange.

The Exchange was founded upon the theory that every member is
entitled to furnish his pro rata of the fruit for shipment through
his association, and every association to its pro rata to the
various markets of the country. This theory reduced to practice
gives every grower his fair share, and the average price of all
markets throughout the season.

Another cardinal provision of the plan was that all fruit should be
marketed on a level basis of actual cost, with all books and
accounts open for inspection at the pleasure of the members. These
broad principles of full co-operation constitute the basis of the
Exchange movement.

The Exchange system is simple, but quite democratic. The local
association consists of a number of growers contiguously situated,
who unite themselves for the purpose of preparing their fruit for
market on a co-operative basis. They establish their own brands,
make such rules as they may agree upon for grading, packing and
pooling their fruit. Usually these associations own thoroughly
equipped packing houses.

All members are given a like privilege to pick and deliver fruit to
the packing house, where it is weighed in and properly receipted
for. Every grower's fruit is separated into different grades,
according to quality, and usually thereafter it goes into the common
pool, and in due course takes its percentage of the returns
according to grade.

Any given brand is the exclusive property of the Local Association
using it, and the fruit under this brand is always packed in the
same locality, and therefore of uniform quality. This is of great
advantage in marketing, as the trade soon learns that the pack is

There are more than eighty associations, covering every citrus fruit
district in California, and packing nearly two hundred reliable and
guaranteed brands of oranges and lemons.

The several local Exchanges designate one man each from their
membership as their representative, and he is elected a director of
the California Fruit Growers' Exchange. By this method the
policy-making and governing power of the organization remains in the
hands of the local Exchanges.

From top to bottom the organization is planned, dominated and in
general detail controlled absolutely by fruit growers, and for the
common good of all members. No corporation nor individual reaps from
it either dividends or private gain.

So far we have dealt almost exclusively with the organization of the
Exchange, its co-operative aspects, and general policy at home.
Equally important is its organization in the markets.

Seeking to free itself from the shifting influence of speculative
trading, by taking the business out of the hands of middlemen at
home, the Exchange found it quite as important to maintain the
control of its own affairs in the markets.

For this purpose the Exchange established a system of exclusive
agencies in all the principal cities of the country, employing as
agents active, capable young men of experience in the fruit
business. Most of these agents are salaried, and have no other
business of any kind to engage their attention, and none of the
Exchange representatives handle any other citrus fruits. These
agents sell to smaller cities contiguous to their headquarters, or
in the territory covered by their districts.

Over all these agencies are two general or traveling agents, with
authority to supervise and check up the various offices. These
general agents maintain in their offices at Chicago and Omaha, a
complete bureau of information, through which all agents receive
every day detailed information as to sales of Exchange fruit in
other markets the previous day. Possessing this data, the selling
agent cannot be taken advantage of as to prices. If any agent finds
his market sluggish, and is unable to sell at the average prices
prevailing elsewhere, he promptly advises the head office in Los
Angeles, and sufficient fruit is diverted from his market to relieve
it and restore prices to normal level.

Through these agencies of its own the Exchange is able to get and
transmit to its members the most trustworthy information regarding
market conditions, visible supplies, etc. This system affords a
maximum of good service at a minimum cost. The volume of the
business is so large that a most thorough equipment is maintained at
much less cost to growers than any other selling agency can offer.

The annual business of the California Fruit Growers' Exchange
amounts to over ten million dollars, and the Exchange handles over
half the citrus fruit output of the State. Yet there are people who
say co-operation in America will not work.

Co-operative Egg Marketing in Denmark.

I have discussed at length the work of the California Fruit Growers'
Exchange, as the best example in the United States of the
co-operative marketing of farm produce. We have thus far but little
co-operative work in the marketing of poultry products. Canada has a
few examples, but it is to European countries that we must go for a
full demonstration of the principle of co-operation when applied to
the products of the hen. In England and in Ireland co-operative
efforts in the growing, fattening, and marketing of poultry and eggs
are quite common. It is to Denmark, however, that we must go to find
the most wholesale example of this truly modern type of business

The Danes are co-operators in the fullest sense. They have
co-operative creameries and co-operative packing houses. The Danish
Egg Export Society is an organization, the plan and work of which is
very much like that of the California Fruit Growers' Exchange.

The local branch of the association buys the eggs of the farmer,
paying for them by weight. Collectors are hired to gather them at
frequent and regular intervals, and are paid In accordance with the
amount of their collections, but must stand the loss of breakage.
Each individual poultryman's eggs are kept separate until they reach
a centralizing station. There are a number of these central stations
at which the eggs are carefully crated and packed for shipment to

The individual farmer is fined or taxed for all bad eggs found in
his lot. This fine is deducted from his receipts and he has nothing
to do but to submit to it or get out of the association. The latter
he cannot afford to do because the association has its established
brands and can pay him more for his eggs than he could secure by
attempting to market them himself. As a result of this strict system
of making the producer responsible for weight and quality of the
eggs the Danish eggs have become the largest and finest in the

Although the writer firmly believes in the co-operative marketing of
farm produce, and considers that the success already secured in this
work is conclusive evidence of the practicability and desirability
of co-operation, it would not be fair to infer that co-operation has
entirely driven out private or corporate enterprise. Just as a
goodly per cent. of the citrus fruit of California is still handled
by private dealers, so in Denmark we find that nearly one-half of
the eggs sent to England are handled by private companies. Let it be
noted, however, that these companies maintain a system of buying on
merit which enforces high quality that is not to be found where
private buyers are without the spur of co-operative competition.
Before co-operation entered the orange regions of California, the
fruit was poorly packed and handled and the markets at times so
glutted, that shipments of fruit sometimes failed to pay the
freight, and this was actually charged back to the unfortunate
grower. Co-operation has done away with this waste. In like manner
the great loss from decomposed eggs and half hatched chicks is
unknown to the egg trade of Denmark.

Corporation or Co-operation?

The community of farmers producing a large quantity of a single kind
of product is the coming form of agricultural enterprise. Will this
community be promoted by corporation or by co-operation?

Arthur Brisbane says, "As individual control of the Government has
been superceded by collective control, so individual control of
industries will be followed by collective control. That is the
natural order."

Brisbane is right. The individual, or the corporation, which is an
individual using other men's money, foreruns co-operation, because
the individual knows exactly what he wants to do and the big group
of individuals does not know what they want or how to do it until
individuals have, by concrete successes, shown them.

When the creameries were started, co-operative creameries were
unsuccessful and could not compete with privately owned creameries.
The farmers have now become too wise to be "easy-marks" to the fake
creamery promoters or to trust their butter sales to a comparative
stranger and co-operation is a success.

Poultry communities cannot be made out of whole cloth by the
co-operative plan. Private corporations will be necessary to launch
these enterprises. When they have reached the stage of development
now to be seen in Little Compton and Petaluma they are ready for

I have emphasized the point that the private corporation is the
natural forerunner in this matter in order to discourage premature
or over-ambitious efforts at co-operation. Whenever a community of
poultrymen or, for that matter, a community of growers of any
perishable form of products, who are already successful in the
producing end, wish to take up co-operation and will see that men
are selected to manage it who will use the same precautions to guard
against incompetency or graft that they, as individuals, would use
in their own business, there is excellent chance of success.

Go slow. Do not expect to get rich quick by "cutting out the
middleman's enormous profits," for the middleman's profits are not
enormous, and if you see that your co-operation is not paying, give
it up and confess to yourselves that you do not know as much about
the business as your private competitors.



That poultry should be kept on every farm to supply the farmer's own
table does not permit of argument. When it comes to production for
market, I believe there are some sections where it costs more to
produce and market poultry and eggs than is received for the product
when sold. For illustration: On a farm which is twenty miles from
town and where grain cannot be profitably grown, the cost of teaming
grain from the railroad station and of sending the eggs to market as
frequently as is necessary to have a wholesome product, would
certainly eat up all possible profits.

The farmer thus located would find a more profitable use for his
time in some industry where the raw material is near at hand and the
product needs less frequent marketing.

Some Poultry Geography.

When we are discussing poultry on the general farm, the problem of
location is not to be taken into consideration, save to the extent
that there are a few localities where food cost is so high or
marketing facilities so poor as to make even the usual farm surplus

The map on page 45 shows the intensity of egg production and also
indicates the location of the more important localities where
poultry plants have succeeded. The map on page 47 shows the quality
of eggs coming from various sections, which indicates pretty closely
the general development of the poultry industry. These indications,
however, are of little value in locating a poultry plant, for they
refer to the poultry product on the general farm, and are a matter
of the number and general intelligence of farmers, rather that a
sign of the suitability of the locality for the poultry industry.

For purposes of discussion, I have divided the United States into
seven sections as shown by the dotted lines on the second map.

[Illustration: Plate II. Page 45. Map:
Intensity of egg production in the United States]

Section 1 is the North Woods and too cold and remote for
the poultry business.

Section 2 includes the great West, of which an adequate discussion
is out of the question. Of course, the great majority of this area
is too remote from markets for poultry production. The locations
around the big cities in this section are excellent for poultry
farming, as they are so far removed from the great farm region that
their bulk of imported eggs are of necessity somewhat stale.
California is good chicken country. The Puget Sound country is
rather too damp. In the interior western regions the chicken
business has not done well, chiefly because the atmosphere is too
dry for the methods of artificial incubation attempted.

Section 3 is the great granary of the world. It is also the home of
three-fourths of the country's poultry crop. It is a region of corn,
cattle and hogs. Such a country will produce poultry in a very
inexpensive manner. But it is not the region for special poultry
farms. In the northern portion of this tract, we find a heavy
housing expense and much winter labor necessary. It is a region of
high priced lands and labor, and low prices for poultry products.

Even the large cities in this region offer little in the way of
demand for high grade poultry products. This is because they are so
abundantly surrounded with farms that all produce is moderately
fresh and plentiful. There are no successful poultry farms in this
section west of the Mississippi. It is the natural location of
extensive rather than intensive branches of agriculture. The only
type of commercial poultry farming that could succeed in any portion
of this section would be a large community of producers who could
ship their products out regularly in carload lots. Such development
could only take place in the southern portion of this region, for
the housing expense is too great for the north. At best the distance
from market is a disadvantage, for the rate on eggs just about
equals the rate on the quantity of grain necessary to produce them.
The added time of shipment is something of a drawback, though in
refrigerator cars this is not serious. After the establishment of
poultry communities becomes more common, the Oklahoma and Texas
region will become available for this purpose, but they must be
established in full swing at the start, for a few isolated
poultrymen have no chance at all in this section, for they cannot
sell their product to advantage.

Section 4. This region, extending from the Ozarks to Eastern
Tennessee, is one of the very best poultry sections. The climate is
such that green food is available winter and summer, and the expense
of housing and winter labor is reasonable. This section is still in
the corn growing region. The question is almost always one of
railroad facilities to get the product out. All poultry farms in
this section must grow their own grain or buy it of their immediate
neighbors. It will not pay to ship grain into this region.

[Illustration: Plate III. Page 47. Map:
Intensity of egg production in the United States]

When near shipping facilities, individual poultry farms in Section 4
have a good chance of success, especially east of the Mississippi.
This is the most favorable region in the country for the
establishment of poultry communities that are to grow their own
grain. Such poultry farms will not be expected to confine their
attention as exclusively to the business as those in the section
where it is profitable to import the grain.

Section 5 is the non-grain growing region of the South. It at
present produces little poultry. The climate is all right for the
purpose, but the freight rates on grain from the West are high and
likewise the freight service and freight rates to the final market
are excessive. Under these conditions poultry farming will not pay
except in a few localities as in Florida, where there is a high
class local market due to the popular resorts. If grain could be
profitably grown in this section the same type of poultry farming
that prevails in Section 4 would be advisable. Now, grain can be
grown in the cotton belt of the South, and many Yankee farmers are
making good money doing it. But when grown it is liable to be worth
more to feed mules than to feed chickens.

Section 6 is the "Down East" section of dense population. The land
for the most part is rocky, wooded and hilly. The climate and nature
of the soil are against the economical production of poultry, but
the grain can be profitably fed, and as the markets are the best in
the country, commercial poultry farming has gained quite a foothold.
If a man is already located in this section and wishes to go into
the poultry business I would by all means say, "Go ahead," but I
would not advise an outsider looking for a location to come here,
for the next section has several advantages.

Section 7 is the best poultry farming district in the United States,
either for the individual poultry plant or for the community of
poultry growers. The reasons for this are:

First: The soil is of a sandy nature and excellent land for poultry
farming can be had at a low price.

Second: The climate is much more favorable than farther north or
farther inland.

Third: Grain rates from the West are very reasonable.

Fourth: The best market in the country--New York City--is within
easy shipping distance.

The type of poultry farming here to be recommended, like that of
Section 6, is one in which imported grain is fed. The fertility of
this grain, going back on the light soil, is used to grow the green
food required by the hens, and, in addition, may be used in a
rotation system for growing truck. It will not pay to grow any
quantity of grain. Section 7, because of its advantages over Section
6 in climate and the availability of large tracts of suitable land,
is a much better location for the poultry community. Over Section 4,
which is the second best region for this purpose, it has the
advantage of nearness to markets. The climatic advantage of Sections
4 and 7 are about on a par. The chief distinction is the matter of
growing grain or importing it. If you are to grow your grain, using
poultry as a means of marketing it, Section 4 is the best locality.
If you are to buy grain, Section 7 is the place.

The boundaries of Section 7 are not arbitrary and should be noted
carefully. The line runs from Mattawan, New Jersey, across to the
main line of the Pennsylvania and down this to Washington. To the
north and west of this, the soils are heavy clays which are wet,
cold, slushy and easily befouled. Likewise, the line on the south is
distinctly marked by the Norfolk and Western Railway and is a matter
of freight rates on grain. Norfolk gets a rate of sixteen and a half
cents from Chicago; a couple of hundred miles south, the rate is
about twice as much. Cheaper grain rates would of course extend this
belt on down the coast where the climate is even more favorable.

Chicken Climate.

Climate is a big figure in the cost of poultry production. Every day
that water is frozen in winter means increased labor and decreased
egg yield. Mild winters means cheap houses, cheap labor, cheap feed
(a large proportion of green food), an earlier chick season, which,
together with the mild weather and green feed, mean a large
proportion of the egg yield at the season when eggs are high in

The American poultry editor wastes a great deal of ink explaining
why the Australian egg records of 175 eggs per hen, cannot be so,
because in this country, the hens at the Maine station only averaged
125. The Maine Experiment Station lies buried in a snow drift for
about five months of the year. The Australian station has a winter
climate equal to that of New Orleans. The Australian records do not
go below thirty eggs per day per hundred hens at any time during the
year. Our New York and New England records run down anywhere from
one to ten eggs per day per hundred hens. The following table will
show the effect of the climate upon the distribution of the egg
yield throughout the year. The records at New York are from a large
number of hens of several different flocks and probably represent a
normal distribution of the egg yield for that section. The Kansas
and Arkansas lists are taken from the record of small flocks and are
not very reliable. The fourth column gives the Australian records
with the months transferred on account of being in the southern
hemisphere. The last column gives the railroad shipments from a
division of the N.C. & St. L. railroad in Western Tennessee:

    Column Headings:
    NY--Central New York per hen per day
    KS--Kansas Ex. Station per hen per day
    AR--Arkansas Ex. Station per hen per day
    AU--Australian Laying Contest per hen per day
    NH--Shipments from New Hampshire egg farm
    TN--Shipments from Western Tennessee

                NY     KS     AR     AU     NH      TN
    January    .21    .25    .32    .51     26     1509
    February   .26    .22    .30    .66     41     1520
    March      .43    .60    .62    .67     66     2407
    April      .56    .52    .38    .61     83     1775
    May        .59    .57    .44    .53     81     1650
    June       .50    .46    .42    .45     61     1131
    July       .44    .43    .34    .43     58      878
    August     .37    .32    .38    .41     54      422
    September  .26    .28    .29    .29     24      100
    October    .17    .13    .22    .31      3      541
    November   .08    .06    .18    .31      2      703
    December   .14    .25    .15    .40     11     1150

An equable climate the year round is the best for the chicken
business. The California coast is fairly equable in temperature, but
its winter rains and summer drouth are against it. The Atlantic
coast south of New York is fairly good, probably the best the
country affords. The most southern portions will be rather too hot
in summer, which will result in a small August and September egg
yield. Probably the region around Norfolk is, all considered, the
best poultry climate the country affords.

Suitable Soil.

Soil is important in poultry farming; in fact it is very important,
and many failures can be traced to soil mistakes. Rocky and
uncultivated lands must not be chosen. To locate on any soil which
will not utilize the droppings for the production of green food, is
to introduce a loss sufficient to turn success into failure.

The ideal soil for poultry is a soil too sandy to produce ordinary
farm crops successfully, and hence an inexpensive soil; but because
land too sandy to be used for heavy farming is best for poultry,
this does not mean that any cheap soil will do. A heavy wet clay
soil worth $150 an acre for dairying is worth nothing for poultry.
Pure sand is likewise worthless and nothing can be more pitiable
than to see poultry confined in yards of wind swept sand, without a
spear of anything green within half a mile.

The soils that are valuable for early truck are equally valuable for
poultry. Sand with a little loam, or very fine sand, if a few green
crops are turned under to provide humus, are ideal poultry soils.
The Norfolk fine Sand and Norfolk Sandy Loam of the U.S. soil
survey, are types of such soil.

These soils absorb the droppings readily and are never covered with
standing water. The winter snows do not stay on them. Crops will
keep greener on them in winter than on clay soils three hundred
miles farther south.

The disadvantage of such soils is that they lose their fertility by
leaching. The same principles that will cause the droppings to
disappear from the top of the ground will likewise cause them to be
washed down beyond the depths of plant roots. This loss must be
guarded against by not going to the extreme in selecting a light
soil and may be largely overcome by schemes of running the poultry
right among growing crops or by quick rotations.

Land sloping to the southward is commonly advised for the purpose of
getting the same advantages as are to be had in a sandy soil. In
practice the slope of the land cannot be given great prominence,
although, other things being equal, one should certainly not
disregard this point. In heavy lands it is necessary to raise the
floors and grade up around the houses. The quickly drained soil does
away with this expense.

Timber on the land is a disadvantage. Poultry farming in the woods
has not been made a success. It's the same proposition of the
droppings going to waste. I know a man who bought a timbered tract
because it was cheap and who scraped up the droppings to sell by the
barrel to his neighbor, who used them to fertilize his cabbage patch
and in turn sold the poultryman cabbages to feed his hens, at 5
cents a head. Of course, this man failed, as does practically every
man who attempts to scrape dropping boards and carry poultry manure
around in baskets, instead of using it where it falls.

There is little to be said in favor of uncleared land for the
poultry business, but there is something that can be said in favor
of the poultry business for uncleared land. A man who buys a
timbered land for trucking can get no income whatever the first
year, but the poultryman can begin his operations in the woods,
clearing the land while he is raising a crop of chickens on it. The
coops may be placed in the cleared streak and most of the droppings
utilized. In fact, the plan of a streak of timber alongside the
houses is not bad for a permanent arrangement--the birds certainly
enjoy the shade. But the shade of growing crops is the most
profitable kind for poultry.


The possibilities of working up a local trade of high grade eggs at
fancy prices varies greatly with the locality. Large cities and
wealthy people are essentials. Other than this the principal
distinctions are that regions where a general surplus of eggs are
produced offer little chance for a fancy trade. Where the great bulk
of eggs are imported fancy trade is more feasible. St. Louis is the
smallest western city that supports anything like a fancy trade in
eggs and there it is only on a small scale. Minneapolis, Omaha,
etc., would not pay 3 cents premium for the best eggs produced, but
cities of the same size east of the Appalachians and especially in
New England, will pay a good premium. The Far West or the mountain
districts will pay up better than the Mississippi Valley. The South
will pay a little better than the upper Mississippi Valley, but has
few cities of sufficient size to make such markets abundant. The
Southerner has little regard for quality in produce and the most
aristocratic people consume eggs regularly that the wife of a
Connecticut factory hand wouldn't have in the house. The egg farmer
who expects to sell locally had best not locate south of Washington
or west of Pittsburg, unless he goes to the Pacific Coast.

Where marketing is not done by wagon the subject of railroad
transportation is practically identical with the question of
marketing. It is the cost in freight service and freight rates that
count. The proposition of transportation, especially for the grain
buying poultry farm, catches us coming and going and both must be

A poultry farm in Section 7 will buy one hundred pounds of feed per
year per hen and market one-third of a case of eggs. On this basis
the grain rate from Chicago or St. Louis and the egg rate to New
York must be balanced against each other. Don't take these things
for granted. Look them up.

Jamesburg and Freehold, two New Jersey towns ten miles apart and
equi-distant and with equal freight rates from New York, might seem
to the uninitiated as equally well situated to poultry farming. We
will suppose two men bought forty-acre farms of equal quality and
equi-distant from the railroad stations at these two towns. Suppose,
further, they each kept five thousand hens. Jamesburg is on a
Philadelphia-New York line of the Pennsylvania and its Chicago grain
rate is the same as that of New York, namely: 19-1/2 cents per
hundred. Freehold is on a branch line; its rate is 24-1/2 cents. In
a year the difference amounts to $250. Figured at six per cent.
interest, the land at Jamesburg is worth just about one hundred
dollars an acre more than that at Freehold.

Lumber rates or local lumber prices should also be taken into
consideration. Whether one plans to ship his product out by express
or freight will, of course, be an important consideration in
deciding the location.

As a general thing, the individual poultry farmer will, for shipping
his product, use express east of Buffalo and north of Norfolk. The
poultry community could use freight in these same regions and get as
good or better service than by express.

The location in relation to the railroad station is equally
important to the freight rate. Besides heavy hauling frequent trips
will be necessary in marketing eggs. These on the larger farms will
be daily or at least semi-weekly. On the heavy hauling alone, at 25
cents per ton mile, distance from the railroad will figure up 1-1/4
cents per hen which, on the basis of the previous illustration,
would make a difference of twenty-five dollars per acre for every
mile of distance from the station. One of the most successful
poultry farms I know is right along the railroad and has an elevator
which handles the grain from the cars and later dumps it into the
feed wagons without its ever being touched by hand. The labor saving
in this counts up rapidly.

The poultry community can have its own elevator and the grain can be
sold to the farmer to be delivered directly into the hoppers in his
field with but a single loading into a wagon.

Availability of Water.

One more point to be considered in location is water.

The labor of watering poultry by carrying water in buckets is
tremendous and not to be considered on any up-to-date poultry plant.
Watering must be accomplished by some artificial piping system or
from spring-fed brooks. The more length of flowing streams on a
piece of land, provided the adjacent ground is dry, the more value
the property has for poultry. Two spring-fed brooks crossing a
forty-acre tract so as to give a half mile of running water, or a
full mile of houses, would water five thousand hens without labor.
This would mean an annual saving of at least one man's time as
against hand watering, or a matter of a thousand dollars or more in
the cost of installation of a watering system.

If running water cannot be had the next best thing is to get land
with water near the surface which may be tapped with sand points. If
one must go deep for water a large flow is essential so that one
power pump may easily supply sufficient water for the plant.

The land should lay in a gentle slope so that water may be run over
the entire surface by gravity. Hilly lands are a nuisance in poultry
keeping and raise the expense at every turn.

A Few Statistics.

The following table does not bear directly upon the poultry-man's
choice of a location, but is inserted here because of its general
interest in showing the poultry development of the country.

It will be noted that the egg production per hen is very low in the
Southern States. This may seem at variance with my previous
statements. The poor poultry keeping of the South is a fault of the
industrial conditions, not of the climate. Chickens on the Southern
farm simply live around the premises as do rats or English sparrows.
No grain is grown; there are no feed lots to run to, no measures are
taken to keep down vermin, and no protection is provided from wind
and rain. In the North chickens could not exist with such treatment.

The figures given showing the relation between the poultry and total
agricultural wealth is the best way that can be found to express
statistically the importance of poultry keeping in relation to the
general business of farming. These figures should not be confused
with the distribution of the actual volume of poultry products.
Iowa, the greatest poultry producing state, shows only a moderate
proportion of poultry to all farm wealth, but this is because more
agricultural wealth is produced in Iowa than in all the "Down East"

Table showing the development of the poultry industry in the various
states, according to the returns of the census of 1900:

                No. of     Percentage of   No. of    Farm value
                eggs per   farm wealth     eggs      of eggs per
                capita     earned by       per hen   dozen
States                     poultry

Alabama           124        4.9             48         9.7 cents
Arizona            80        4.5             60        19.9
Arkansas          235        6.8             58         9.1
California        197        5.4             74        15.8
Colorado          127        5.4             71        15.0
Connecticut       105       11.3             89        19.1
Delaware          231       14.7             68        13.7
Florida            96        8.2             46        13.1
Georgia           156        4.4             41        10.4
Idaho             213        5.0             67        16.2
Indiana           338       10.0             77        10.5
Iowa              536        7.4             64        10.1
Illinois          215        3.7             62        10.3
Kansas            597        8.2             73         9.9
Kentucky          198        8.3             62         9.8
Louisiana         111        4.0             40        10.0
Maine             233       11.0            100        15.3
Maryland          126       10.4             71        12.6
Massachusetts      56       11.7             96        19.9
Michigan          270        9.7             82        11.2
Minnesota         296        5.8             67        10.5
Mississippi       144        4.7             43         9.9
Missouri          291       11.6             68         9.8
Montana           148        4.3             67        21.0
Nebraska          463        6.1             66         9.9
Nevada             68        3.7             71        20.8
New Hampshire     238       11.5             96        17.3
New Jersey         76       12.0             72        16.2
New Mexico         45        2.7             65        18.7
New York          102        7.1             83        13.9
North Carolina    112        5.7             55        10.2
North Dakota      249        2.6             64        10.5
Ohio              265        9.6             77        11.2
Oklahoma          315        6.4             60         9.3
Oregon            224        6.2             72        15.1
Pennsylvania      112       10.8             75        13.5
Rhode Island       90       19.7             77        20.4
South Carolina     80        4.0             41        10.3
South Dakota      502        5.2             68        10.0
Tennessee         189        8.4             61         9.8
Texas             228        4.8             52         8.0
Utah              146        5.1             76        12.5
Vermont           219        7.5             94        15.3
Virginia          165        8.9             67        11.1
Washington        171        7.1             74        16.8
West Virginia     216       10.2             74        10.9
Wisconsin         268        7.1             68        10.5
Wyoming           121        2.4             79        17.4
Entire U.S.       205        7.4             65        11.1



As has already been emphasized, the way to get money out of the
chicken business is not to put so much in.

Land, however, well suited to the purpose, should not be begrudged,
for interest at six per cent, will afford a very considerable extra
investment in land well suited to the business if it in any way cuts
down the cost of operation.

The Plan of Housing.

The houses are the next consideration. On most poultry farms they
are the chief items of expense. I know of a poultry farm near New
York City where the house cost $12.00 per hen. The owner built this
farm with a view of making money. People also buy stock in Nevada
gold mines with a view of making money. I know another poultry farm
owned by a man named Tillinghast at Vernon, Connecticut, where the
houses cost thirty cents per hen. Mr. Tillinghast gets more eggs per
hen than the New York man. Incidentally, he is sending his son to
Yale, and he has no other visible means of support except his
chicken farm.

For the region of light soils and the localities which I have
recommended for poultry farming, the following style of poultry
house should be used:

No floors, single boarded walls, a roof of matched cypress lumber or
of cheap pine covered with tarred paper. This house is to have no
windows and no door. The roosts are in the back end; the front end
is open or partly open; feed hoppers and nests are in the front end.
The feed hoppers may be made in the walls, made loose to set in the
house, or made to shed water and placed outside the house. All
watering is to be done outside the houses; likewise any feeding
beyond that done in hoppers.

The exact style of the house I leave to the reader's own plan. Were
I recommending complex houses costing several dollars per hen, this
certainly would be leaving the reader in the dark woods. With houses
of the kind described it is hard to go far amiss. The simplest form
is a double pitched roof, the ridge-pole standing about seven feet
high, and the walls about four. The house is made eight by sixteen,
and one end--not the side--left open. For the house that man is to
enter, this form cannot be improved upon.

The only other points are to construct it on a couple of 4x4 runners
so that it can be dragged about by a team. Cypress, or other
decay-proof wood should be used for these mud-sills. The framing
should be light and as little of it used as is consistent with
firmness. If the whole house costs more than twenty-five dollars
there is something wrong in its planning.

This house should accommodate seventy-five or eighty hens.

For smaller operations, especially for horseless, or intensive
farming, a low, light house may be used, which the attendant never
enters. A portion of the roof lifts up to fill feed-hoppers, gather
eggs or spray. These small houses may be made light enough to be
moved short distances by a pry-pole, the team being required only
when they are moved to a new field.

Not one particle of poultry manure is to be removed from either
style of house. Instead, the houses are removed from the manure,
which is then scattered on the neighboring ground with a fork, or,
if desired to be used on a field in which poultry may not run, it
may be loaded upon a wagon together with some of the underlaying

There have been books and books written on poultry houses, but what
I have just given is sufficient poultry-house knowledge for the
Dollar Hen man. If he hasn't enough intelligence to put this into
practice, he has no business in the hen business. Additional
book-knowledge of hen-houses is useless; it may be harmful.

If you are sure that you are fool-proof, you may get Dr. Feather or
Reverend Earlobe's "Book of Poultry House Plans." It will be a good
text-book for the children's drawing lessons.

The Feeding System.

Oyster shells, beef scraps, corn, and one other kind of grain,
together with an abundance of pasturage or green feed, is the sum
and substance of feeding hens on the Dollar Hen Farm.

The dry feeds are placed in hoppers. They are built to protect the
feeds from the weather. The neck must be sufficiently large to
prevent clogging, and the hopper so protected by slats in front that
the hen cannot toss the feed out by a side jerk of her head. These
hoppers may be built any size desired. The grain compartments
should, of course, be made larger than the others. Weekly filling is
good, but where a team is not owned, it would be better to have the
hoppers larger so that feed purchased, say, once a month, could be
delivered directly into the hoppers.

Water Systems.

The best water system is a spring-fed brook.

The man proposing to establish an individual poultry plant, and who
after reading this book goes and buys a tract of land where an
artificial water system is necessary, would catch Mississippi
drift-wood on shares. But there are plenty of such people in the
world. A man once stood all day on London Bridge hawking gold
sovereigns at a shilling a-piece and did not make a sale.

Next to natural streams are the made streams. This is the logical
watering method of the community of poultry farmers. These
artificial streams are to be made by conducting the water of natural
streams back of the land to be watered, as in irrigation. It is the
problem of irrigation over again. Indeed, where trucking is combined
with poultry-growing, fowl watering should be combined with

It may be necessary to dam the stream to get head, sufficient supply
or both. In sandy soils, ditches leak, and board flumes must be
substituted. The larger ones are made of the boards at right angles
and tapered so that one end of one trough rests in the upper end of
the next lower section. The smaller, or lateral troughs may be made

The cost of the smaller sized flume is three cents a foot. Iron pipe
costs twelve cents a foot.

The greater the slope of the ground the smaller may be the troughs,
but on ground where the slopes are great, more expense will be
necessary in stilting the flumes to maintain the level, and the
harder it will be to find a large section that can be brought under
the ditch.

Fluming water for poultry is, like irrigation, a community project.
The greatest dominating people of history have their origin in arid
countries. It was co-operate or starve, and they learned
co-operation and conquered the earth. If a man interferes with the
flume, or takes more than his share of the water, put him out. We
are in the hen, not the hog business.

Community water systems, where water must be pumped and piped in
iron pipe, is of course a more expensive undertaking. It will only
pay where water is too deep for individuals to drive sand points on
their own property. There is certainly little reason to consider an
expensive method when there are abundant localities where simple
plans may be used.

On sand lands, with water near the surface, each farmer may drive
sand points and pump his water by hand. In this case running water
is not possible, but the pipes or flumes may be arranged so that
fresh pumping flushes all the drinking places and also leaves them
full of standing water. The simplest way to arrange this will be by
wooden surface troughs as used in the fluming scheme. The only
difference is that an occasional section is made deeper so that it
will retain water.

A more permanent arrangement may be made by using a line of
three-fourths inch pipe. At each watering place the pipe is brought
to the surface so that the water flows into a galvanized pan with
sloping sides. This pan has an overflow through a short section of
smaller tubing soldered to the side of the pan. The pipe line is
parallel with the fence line, the pans supply both fields. By this
arrangement the entire plant may be watered in a few minutes. The
overflow tubes are on one side. Using these tubes as a pivot the
pans may be swung out from under the fence with the foot and cleaned
with an old broom. Where the ground water is deep a wind mill and
storage tank would be desirable.

Outdoor Accommodations.

The hen house is a place for roosting, laying and a protection for
the feed. The hen is to live out doors.

On the most successful New England poultry farms, warm houses for
hens have been given up. Hens fare better out of doors in Virginia
than they do in New England, but make more profit out of doors
anywhere than they will shut up in houses. If your climate will not
permit your hen to live out doors get out of the climate or get out
of the hen business.

There is, however, a vast difference in the kind of out-of-doors.
The running stream with its fringe of trees, brush and rank growing
grass, forms daylight quarters for the hen par excellence. Rank
growing crops, fodder piled against the fences, a board fence on the
north side of the lot, or little sheds made by propping a platform
against a stake, will all help. A place out of the wind for the hens
to dust and sun and be sociable is what is wanted, and what must be
provided, preferably by Nature, if not by Nature then by the

The hens are to be kept as much as possible out of the houses, in
sheltered places among the crops or brush. They should not herd
together in a few places but should be separated in little clumps
well scattered over the land. These hiding places for the hens must,
of course, not be too secluded or eggs will be lost.

Equipment for Chick Rearing.

Just as the long houses for hens have been weighed and found
wanting, so larger brooder houses, with one exception, have never
been established on what may be called a successful basis. By
establishment on a successful basis, I mean established so that they
could be used by larger numbers of people in rearing market
chickens. There are plenty of large brooder houses in use, just as
there are plenty of yarded poultry plants, but many intelligent,
industrious people have tried both systems only to find that the
cost of production exceeds the selling price. This makes us prone to
believe that some of those who claim to be succeeding may differ
from the crowd in that they had more capital to begin with and hence
last longer.

The one exception I make to this is that of the South Shore Roaster
District of Massachusetts. Here steam-pipe brooder houses are used
quite extensively. The logical reason that pipe brooder houses have
found use in the winter chicken business and not in rearing pullets
is that of season and profits. When chicks are to be hatched in the
dead of winter the steam-heated brooder house is a necessity. In
this limited use it is all right, where the profits per chick are
great enough to stand the expense and losses.

For the rearing of the great bulk of spring chicks the methods that
have proven profitable are as follows:

First: Rearing with hens as practiced at Little Compton. For
suggestions on this see the chapter entitled "Poultry on the General

Second: Rearing with lamp brooder. Many large book-built poultry
plants have been equipped with steam, or, more properly, hot water
heated brooder houses, only to have a practical manager see that
they did not work, tear out the piping and fill the house with rows
of common lamp brooders. The advantage claimed for the lamp brooder
is that they can be regulated separately for each flock. As a matter
of fact, the same regulation for each flock of chicks could be
secured with a proper type of hot water heaters and one of the most
practical poultry farms in the country is now installing such a

A brooder system where hot air under the pressure of a blower or
centrifugal fan would seem ideal. So far the efforts made along
these lines have been clumsy and unnecessarily expensive. If the
continuous house is ever made practical, I believe it will be along
this line, but at present I advise sticking to the methods that are
known to be successful.

Individual lamp brooders in colony houses are perhaps the most
generally successful means of rearing chicks on northern poultry
farms. They are troublesome and somewhat expensive, but with
properly hatched chickens are more successful than hen rearing. In
buying such a brooder the chief points to be observed are: A good
lamp, a heating device giving off the heat from a central drum, and
an arrangement which facilitates easy cleaning. The brooder should
be large, having not less than nine square feet of floor space. The
work demanded of a brooder is not as exacting as with an incubator.
The heat and circulation of air may vary a little without harm, but
they must not fail altogether. The greatest trouble with brooders in
operation is the uncertainty of the lamp. The brooder-lamp should
have sufficient oil capacity and a large wick. Brooder-lamps are
often exposed to the wind, and, if cheaply constructed or poorly
enclosed, the result will be a chilled brood of chicks, or perhaps a

The chief thing sought in the internal arrangements of a brooder is
a provision to keep the chicks from piling up and smothering each
other as they crowd toward the source of heat. This can be
accomplished by having the warmest part of the brooder in the center
rather than at the side or corner. If the heat comes from above and
a considerable portion of the brooder be heated to the same
temperature, no crowding will take place.

The temperature given for running brooders vary with the machine and
the position of the thermometer. The one reliable guide for
temperature is the action of the chicks. If they are cold they will
crowd toward the source of heat; if too warm they will wander
uneasily about; but if the temperature is right, each chick will
sleep stretched out on the floor. The cold chicken does not sleep at
all, but puts in its time fighting its way toward the source of
heat. In an improperly constructed or improperly run brooder the
chicks go through a varying process of chilling, sweating and
struggling when they should be sleeping, and the result is puny
chicks that dwindle and die.

The arrangement of the brooder for the sleeping accommodations of
the chicks is important, but this is not the only thing to be
considered in a brooder. The brooder used in the early season, and
especially the outdoor brooder, must have ample space provided for
the daytime accommodation of the chick. In the colony house brooder
such space will, of course, be the floor of the house.

When operating on a large scale it will not pay to buy complete
brooders. The lamps and hovers can be purchased separately and
installed in colony houses which do both for brooders and later for
houses for growing young stock. The universal hover sold by the
Prairie State Incubator people is about as perfect a lamp hover as
can be made.

The cold brooder, or Philo box, as it has been popularly called, is
the chief item in a system of poultry keeping that has been widely
advertised. The principle of the Philo box is that of holding the
air warmed by the chick down close to them by a sagging piece of
cloth. The cloth checks most of the radiating heat, but is not so
tight as to smother the chick. This limits the space of air to be
warmed by the chicks to such a degree that the body warmth is used
to the greatest advantage. That chickens can be raised in these
fire-less brooders, is not in question, for that has been abundantly
proven, but most poultrymen believe that it will pay better,
especially in the North, to give the little fellows a few weeks'

Curtis Bros. at Ransomville, N.Y., who raise some twenty thousand
chicks per year, have adopted the following system: The chicks are
kept under hovers heated by hot water pipes for one week, or until
they learn to hover. Then they are put in Philo boxes for a week in
the same building but away from the pipes. The third week the Philo
boxes are placed in a large, unheated room. After that they go to a
large Philo box in a colony house.

To make a Philo house of the Curtis pattern, take a box 5 in. deep
and 18 in. to 24 in. square. Cut a hole in one side for a chick
door, run a strip of screen around the inside of the box to round
the corners. Now take a second similar box. Tack a piece of cloth
rather loosely across its open face. Bore a few augur holes in the
sides of either box. Invert box No. 2 upon box No. 1. This we will
call a Curtis box. It costs about fifteen cents and should
accommodate fifty to seventy-five chicks.

A universal hover in a colony coop or colony house, for which a
Curtis box is substituted, as early in the game as the weather
permits, is the method I advise for rearing young chicks. The lamp
problem we still have with us, but it is one that cannot be easily
solved. Large vessels or tanks of water which are regularly warmed
by injection of steam from a movable boiler, offers a possible way
out of the difficulty. On a plant large enough to keep one man
continually at this work, this plan might be an improvement over
filling lamps, but for the smaller plant it is lamps, or go south.

Rearing young chicks is the hardest part of the poultry business.
There is a lot of work about it that cannot be gotten rid of. Little
chicks must be kept comfortable and their water and feed for the
first few days must needs be given largely by hand. They are to be
early led to drink from the regular water vessels and eat from the
hoppers, but this takes time and patience.

The feeding of chicks I will discuss in the chapter on "Poultry on
the General Farm," and as the same methods apply in both cases, I
will refer the reader to that section.

After chicks get three or four weeks old their care is the simplest
part of the poultry farm work and consists chiefly of filling feed
hoppers and protecting them from vermin and thieves.

Board floor colony houses are used as a protection against rats and
this danger necessitates the protection of the opening by netting
and the closing of the doors at night.

Cockerels must be gotten out of the flocks and sold at an early age.
Those that are to be kept for sale or use as breeding birds should
be early separated from the pullets. Coops for growing chickens,
especially Leghorns, cannot be put among trees, as the birds will
learn to roost in the trees, causing no end of trouble to get them
broken of the habit.

All pullets save a few culls should be saved for laying. They are to
be kept two years. They should lay sixty-five to seventy per cent as
many eggs the second year as the first. They are sold the third
summer to make room for the growing stock.

Twenty-five Acre Poultry Farms.

This section will be devoted to a general discussion of the type of
poultry farms best suited to Section 4 and the southerly portions of
Section 7 as discussed in the previous chapter.

We will discuss this type of farm with this assumption: That they
are to be developed in large numbers by co-operative or corporate
effort. This does not infer that they cannot be developed by
individual effort, and nine-tenths of the operations will remain the
same in the latter case.

Suppose a large tract of land adjacent to railroad facilities has
been found. The land in the original survey should be divided into
long, relatively narrow strips, lying at right angles to the slope
of the land. The farmstead should occupy the highest end of the
strip. For a twenty-five acre or one-man poultry farm these strips
should be about forty rods in width. The object of this survey is to
permit the water being run by gravity to the entire farm.

The first thing is the farmstead, including such orchard and garden
as are desired. This stretches across the entire front end of the
place. The remainder of the strip is fenced in with chicken fence.
The farm is also divided into two narrow fields by a fence down the
center of the strip. This fence, at frequent intervals, has
removable panels.

The year's season we will begin late in the fall. All layers are in
field No. 1 pasturing on rape, top turnips or other fall crops. In
lot No. 2 is growing wheat or rye. As the green feed gets short in
the first lot the hens are let into lot No. 2. Sometime in March the
houses that have been brought up close to the gaps are drawn through
into the wheat field. The feed hoppers are also gradually moved and
the hens find themselves confined in lot No. 2 without any serious

Lot No. 1 is broken up as soon as weather permits and planted in
oats, corn, Kaffir corn and perhaps a few sunflowers. The oats form
a little strip near the coops and watering places and the Kaffir
corn is on the far side. As soon as corn planting is over the farmer
begins to receive his chickens from the hatchery. The brooders are
now placed in the corn field. The object of the corn is not green
food but for a shade and a grain crop.

The chicks are summered in the corn field and the hens in the wheat
or rye. Whether the latter will head up will depend upon the number
of the flock. It will be best to work the houses across to the far
side and let that portion near the middle fence head up. As the old
grain gets too tough for green food strips of ground should be
broken up and sown in oats. The grain that matures will not be cut,
but the hens will be allowed to thresh it out. The straw may be cut
with mower or scythe for use as nesting material.

Sometime in June or early in July a little rape vetch or cow-peas is
drilled in between the rows of corn as on the far side from the
chicken coops. During July or about the first of August, after all
cockerels have been sold, the gates are opened and the pullets are
allowed to associate with the hens. After this acquaintance ripens
into friendship the hen houses are worked back into the pullet lots.
Surplus hens are sold off or new houses inserted as the case may be
until there is room for the pullets in the houses. Each coop is
worked up alongside a house and after most of the pullets have taken
to the houses the coops are removed. The vacant lot is now broken up
and sown in a mixture of fall green crops.

The flock is kept in the corn field until the corn is ripe. The
Kaffir corn and sunflowers are knocked down where they stand and are
threshed by the hens. As soon as the corn crop is ripe the houses
are run back and the corn cut up or husked and the wheat planted in
the corn field.

The next year the lots are transposed, the young stock being grown
in the lot that had the hens the previous year.

If the ground is inclined to be at all damp when the fields are
broken up the plowing is done in narrow lands so as to form a
succession of ridges, on which are placed the coops or houses. The
directions of these ridges will be determined by the lay of the
land--the object being neither to dam up water or to encourage
washing. The location of the ridges are alternated by seasons, so
that the droppings from the houses are well distributed throughout
the soil.

This system with the particular crops found that do best in the
locality, give us an ideal method of poultry husbandry. We have kept
hens and young stock supplied with green food the year round; we
have utilized every particle of manure without one bit of labor. We
have a rotation of crops. We have the benefits to the ground of
several green crops turned under. We have raised one grain crop per
year on most of the ground. We have no labor in feeding and watering
except the keeping of the grain, beef and grit hoppers filled, and
the water system in order.

The number of fowls that may be kept per acre will be determined by
the richness of the soil. The chief object of the entire scheme is
to provide abundant green pasture at all times and to allow the
production of a reasonable amount of grain. With one hundred hens
per acre on the entire tract, and with houses containing eighty hens
each, it will be necessary to set the houses ninety-five feet apart.
This will give the flock a tract of 95 by 330 feet in which to

The above estimate with a little land allowed for house, garden,
orchard and a little cow and team pasture, will permit the keeping
of two thousand hens on a twenty-five acre farm. In regions where
grain is to be raised most farmers would want more land. They may
also wish to own a few extra cows, hogs, etc., or to alternate the
entire poultry operations with some crop that will, on such highly
fertilized land, give a good cash profit. Forty acres is a good size
for such uses.

The cost of land when purchased in large tracts in Virginia is very
small, but the cost of clearing is often much more than that of the
land. Twenty-five to fifty dollars an acre should secure such a
tract of land and put it in shape for poultry farming.

The cost of the farm home, etc., will, of course vary altogether
with the taste of the occupant. If they are constructed by a central
company, from five hundred to a thousand dollars should cover the

The cost of poultry buildings and equipment used on the farm will
depend largely on the efficiency of the labor of construction. If
constructed in large numbers by a central company, the cost would be
reduced, but the company would expect to make a profit on their

A plot laid out for two thousand hens will require in material: 250
rods of fence with 6-ft. netting which should cost about fifty cents
a rod. My estimate of this fence put up would be $150. If the
neighboring field contained no other poultry, a portion of this
fence might be done away with, although its protection against dogs
and strangers may be worth while. Of course, if poultry fields of
different owners lay adjoining, the fence must be used, but the cost
will be reduced one-half.

The next most expensive piece of equipment will be a line of about
eighty rods of 3/4 in. gas pipe and about fifty elbows and
twenty-five galvanized iron pans. The cost of installation will
depend largely on how deep it is necessary to go to get below the
frost line. One hundred and seventy-five dollars should cover cost
of material and by the use of a plow the line ought to be put in for
twenty-five dollars.

The source of water, and the cost of getting a head, will
necessarily vary with the location. The installation of a wind mill
and tank to hold supply for several days, or of a small gasoline
engine, would cost in the neighborhood of one hundred dollars, but
it is a luxury that may be dispensed with if the well is not too

The houses for the hens, of which there are twenty-five, are
constructed in accordance with some of the plans previously
discussed. The cost should be about twenty-five cents per hen.

At least twice as many brooders as colony coops will be needed as
there are hen houses, but of the lamps and hovers not over
twenty-five will be required, as the chicks soon outgrow the need of
this aid.

This makes a list of equipment required for the keeping of two
thousand layers and their replenishing:

    25 acres of farm land, at $50 per acre    $1250.00
    250 rods of fence                           150.00
    One farmstead                              1000.00
    One team, plow and farm implements          300.00
    One watering system                         300.00
    25 hen houses, at $20                       500.00
    50 colony coops, at $2.50                   150.00
    25 lamps and hovers, at $5                  125.00

[Transcriber's note: "50 colony coops, at $2.50" is $125.00, not
$150. The total should therefore be $3750 rather than $3775. This
was, presumably, a printing error, because the correct total is
used in the further calculations below.]

This is a good, liberal capitalization. The business can be started
with much less. Figured interest at 6 per cent. we have $225.00 per

The upkeep of the plant will be about 15 per cent. on the capital,
not counting land. This equals $375, which, added to interest, gives
an annual overhead expense of $600, which is our first item to be
set against gross receipts.

The cost of operation will involve cost of chicks at hatchery,
purchased feed, seed for ground, and feed for team.

The price of chicks at the Petaluma hatcheries is from six to eight
cents each. We expect to raise enough pullets to make up for the
accidental losses, and to renew bulk of the flock each year. The
number required will, of course, depend upon the loss. This loss
will be much less when the chicks are obtained from a modern
moisture controlled hatchery, than from the box type incubator. I
think a 33 per cent. loss is a liberal estimate, but as I am
treading on unproven ground, I will make that loss 40 per cent.,
which is on a par with old style methods. To replace 1,000 hens,
this will require 3,500 chicks at a cost of about two hundred and
fifty dollars.

Green pasturage throughout the year will materially cut down the
cost of feed. The corn consumed out of the hoppers will be about one
bushel per hen. The beef scrap will also be less than with yarded
fowls, perhaps twenty-five cents per hen. Now, of the corn we will
raise on the land, at least ten acres. This should yield us five
hundred bushels. This leaves fifteen hundred bushels of corn to be
purchased. At the present high rates, this will cost $1,000 which,
added to beef scrap cost, makes an outside feed cost of $1,500. The
seed cost of rye, rape, cow-peas, etc., will amount to about $50 per
annum. For expense of production we have:

    Interest and upkeep of plant    $600.00
    Chicks                           250.00
    Purchased corn                  1000.00
    Beef scrap and grit              500.00
    Seed                              50.00
    Team feed                        100.00

This figures out the cost of production at a little more than a
dollar per hen. The income from the place should be about as
follows: Eleven hundred cockerels sold as squab broilers at 40 cents
each, $440.00; four hundred and seventy-five old hens at 30 cents,

The receipts from egg yield are, of course, impossible of very
accurate calculation, for it is here that the personal element that
determines success or failure enters. The Arkansas per-hen-day
figures (see last chapter), multiplied by the average quotation for
extras in the New York market, will be as fair as any, and certainly
cannot be considered a high estimate, as it is only 113 eggs per hen
per year.

                             Price per doz   Income for
                  Eggs per   Extras          month from
                  hen day    in New York     2000 layers
    January       .32        $ .30           $494.00
    February      .30          .29            404.00
    March         .62          .22            700.00
    April         .38          .19            350.00
    May           .44          .19            429.00
    June          .42          .18            377.00
    July          .34          .21            367.00
    August        .38          .22            429.00
    September     .21          .25            262.00
    October       .22          .28            316.00
    November      .18          .33            267.00
    December      .15          .32            246.00
    Total                                  $4,641.00

The total income as figured will be $5,221. From this subtract the
cost of production, and we have still nearly $3,000, which is to be
combined item of wages and profit. We have entered no labor bill
because this is to be a one-man farm, and with the assistance of the
public hatchery and co-operative marketing association, which will
send a wagon right to a man's door to gather the eggs, it is
entirely feasible for one man to attend to two thousand hens. In the
rush spring season other members of the family will have to turn out
and help, or a man may be hired to attend the plowing and rougher

This is a good handsome income, and yet the above price of the man's
labor--it is only about one dollar per hen, which has always been
the estimated profit of successful poultry keeping. As a matter of
fact, this profit is seldom reached under the old system of poultry
keeping, not because the above gross income cannot be reached, but
because the expenses are greater. Under the present methods, with
the exception of the rearing of the young chicks, one man can easily
take care of three thousand hens. Indeed, practically the only work
in their care is cultivating the ground and hauling around and
dumping into hoppers, about two loads of feed per week.

But, young chicks must be reared, and this is more laborious. For
this reason I advise going into some other industry on a part of the
land, which will not require attention in the young chick season.
One of the best things for this purpose is the cultivation of cane
fruits as blackberries, raspberries and dewberries. The work of
caring for these can be made to fall wholly without the young chick
season. Peaches and grapes for a slower profit can be added, but
spraying and cultivation of these is more liable to take spring
labor. All these fruits have the advantage of doing well in the same
kind of soil recommended for chickens. Young chickens may be grown
around such berry crops and removed to permanent quarters before the
berries ripen. Strawberries would be a very poor crop because their
labor falls in the chick season.

Another plan, and perhaps a better one, is to have about three
fields, and rotate in such a manner that a marketable crop may be
always kept growing in the third field. Any crop may be selected,
the chief labor of which falls between July and the following March.
Late cabbage and potatoes, or celery, will do if the ground is
suitable for these crops. Kale and spinach are staple fall crops.
Fall lettuce could also be grown. If the market is glutted on such
crops, they can be fed out at home. Whenever a field is vacant, have
some crop growing on it, if only for purposes of green manuring.
Never let sandy ground lie fallow.

A modification of the above plans suited to heavier ground, is to
seed down the entire farm to grass. It is then divided into three
fields and provided with three sets of colony houses. Coops are
entirely dispensed with, and cheap indoor brooders are used in the
permanent houses. The pullets stay in these same houses in the same
field until the moulting season of the third year, or until they are
two and a half years old. One field will always be vacant during the
fall and winter season which time may be utilized for fresh seeding.

The difficulty of maintaining a sod will necessitate somewhat
heavier soil than by the previous plan. The houses should be moved
around occasionally, as the grass kills out in the locality. This
plan is a lazy man's way, taking the least labor of any method of
poultry keeping known. It is adapted to the cheaper ground in the
region farthest from market. On the Atlantic seaboard, the more
enterprising man will use the third field for rotation, and sell
some of the fertility of the western grain in the form of a truck

Five Acre Poultry Farms.

Can a living for a family be made from a five acre poultry farm?
Yes; by individual effort, where the marketing opportunities are
good; by corporate or co-operate effort, any place where the
fundamental conditions are right.

This type of poultry farm is well suited for development near our
large cities, where the cry of "back to the land" has filled with
new hope the discouraged dweller in flat and tenement. No greater
chance for humanitarian work, and at the same time no greater
business opportunity, is open to-day than that of the promotion of
colonies of small poultry and truck farms where the parent colony
not only sells the land, but helps the settler to establish himself
in the business and to successfully market the product. The natural
location for such projects is in the sandy soils of New Jersey,
Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

We have already discussed the twenty-five acre farm, representing
the largest probable unit for such an enterprise. We will now
discuss the five acre farm which represents the smallest probable

On the five-acre farm a considerable difference of methods will be
necessary. In the first place, it is to be a horseless farm. All
hauling and plowing must be attended to by the central company, or
the same results could be obtained by a team owned in common by a
small group, say of six farmers, each of whom is to use the team one
day of the week.

A single isolated farmer in a community of farms or market
gardeners, could hire a team by the day as he needed it. I do not
recommend this scheme, however, but would suggest that the single
individual get a larger plot of ground, at least ten acres, and a
team of his own. In the co-operative community the five-acre
teamless farm is entirely feasible.

The tract should be surveyed about twice as long as wide, which, for
five acres, makes it 20 by 40 rods, or 330 by 660 feet. Measure off
a strip one hundred feet back from the road. Fence the remainder of
the tract. Now run a partition fence down the center until we have
come to within twelve rods of the back side. Here run a cross fence.
This gives us three yards of about one and one-half acres each. The
gates are arranged so that one passes through the three yards in a
single trip.

Where the middle partition fence adjoins the front fence, a well is
driven. A water line is run down the partition fence to the rear

The plot around the house is set in permanent crops, such as
berries, fruit trees, asparagus, rhubarb, etc. Of the other three
yards, at least one is kept in growing marketable crops. Every inch
is cultivated, and crops of the leafy nature, as lettuce, cabbage,
kale and spinach, are chiefly grown, as they utilize the rich
nitrogenous poultry manure to the best advantage, and the waste
portions, or worthless crops, are utilized for the poultry. The
method of supplying the fowls with green food is entirely by
soiling. This means to grow the food in an adjoining lot and throw
it over the fence. The above mentioned crops are all good for the
purpose. Rape, which is not grown for human food, is also excellent.

Kale is one of the very best crops for soiling purposes. It is
planted in the fall and fed by pulling off the lower leaves during
the winter. In the spring the hardened stalks stand at a
considerable height and the field may be used for growing young
chicks, giving shade, and at the same time producing abundant green
feed, without any immediate labor, which means a great saving in the
busy season.

A set of panels or netting stretched on light frames is provided.
They are of sufficient number to set along the longest side of one
of the fields. A strip along the fence, four or five feet wide, can
be planted to sunflowers, corn, rape, kale, or other rank growing
crop and the panels leaned against the fence to protect the young
plants from the hens. In this way the fence rows can be kept
provided with the shade of growing crops, which relieves the
otherwise serious fault of this plan of poultry farming, in that the
hens would be required to live in absolutely barren and sunburned
lots, for we propose to keep five or six hundred hens on one and a
half acres of ground, and no green things could get a start without

Rotate the houses from field to field as often as the crops allow.
Never permit hens to run in one bare field for more than six months
at a time. Always keep every inch of ground not in use by the
chickens, luxuriant in something green. If you have a crop of
vegetables which are about matured, drill rape or crimson clover
between the rows; by the time the crop is harvested and the hens are
to be moved in, such crops will have made a good growth. The hens
will kill it out but it will be a "profitable killing."

By this system of intensive combination of trucking and poultry
farming, we have a combination which for small capital and small
lands cannot be beaten. The hens should yield better than a dollar
profit per head on this plan; the one and a half acres automatically
fertilized and intensely cultivated, growing two or three crops a
year, should easily double the income.

Twelve hundred dollars a year is a conservative estimate for the net
income from such a plant, and the original investment, exclusive of
residence, will not be over one thousand dollars.



The differences in the process of reproduction in birds and mammals
is frequently misunderstood. The laying of the bird's egg is not
analogous to the birth of young in mammals.

The female, whether bird or beast, forms a true egg which must be
fertilized by the male sperm cell before the offspring can develop.
In the mammal, if fertilization does not occur, the egg which is
inconspicuous, passes out of the body and is lost. If fertilized, it
passes into the womb where the young develops through the embryonic
stages, being supplied with nourishment and oxygen directly by the

In the bird, the egg, fertilized or unfertilized, passes out of the
body and, being of conspicuous size, is readily observed. The size
of the egg is due to the supply of food material which is comparable
with that supplied to the mammalian young during its stay in the
mother's womb.

The reptiles lay eggs that are left to develop outside of the body
of the mother, subject to the vicissitudes of the environment. The
young of the bird, being warm blooded, cannot develop without more
uniform temperature than weather conditions ordinarily supply. This
heat is supplied by the instinctive brooding habit of the mother

Fertility of Eggs

In a state of nature the number of eggs laid by wild fowl are only
as many as can be covered by the female. These are laid in the
spring of the year, and one copulation of the male bird is
sufficient to fertilize the entire clutch. Under domestication, the
hen lays quite indefinitely, and is served by the male at frequent
intervals. The fertilizing power of the male bird extends over a
period of about 15 days.

For most of my readers, it will be unnecessary to state that the
male has no influence upon the other offspring than those which he
actually fertilizes within this period. The belief in the influence
of the first male upon the later hatches by another male is simply a

The domestic chicken is decidedly polygamous. The common rule is one
male to 12 or 15 hens. I have had equally good results, however,
with one male to 20 hens. In the Little Compton and South Shore
districts, one male is used for thirty or even forty hens.

By infertile eggs is meant eggs in which the sperm cell has never
united with the ovum. Such eggs may occur in a flock from the
absence of the male, from his disinclination or physical inability
to serve the hens, from the weakness or lack of vitality in the
sperm cells, from his neglect of a particular hen, from
lifelessness, or lack of vitality in the ovule, or from chance
misses, by which some eggs fail to be reached by the sperm cells.

In practice, lack of sexual inclination in a vigorous looking
rooster is very rare indeed. The more likely explanation is that he
neglects some hens, or that the eggs are fertilized, but the germs
die before incubation begins, or in the early stages of that
process. The former trouble may be avoided by having a relay of
roosters and shutting each one up part of the time. The latter
difficulty will be diminished by setting the egg as fresh as
possible, meanwhile storing them in a cool place. The other factors
to be considered in getting fertile eggs, are so nearly synonymous
with the problems of health and vitality in laying stock generally,
that to discuss it here would be but a repetition of ideas.

In connection with the discussion of fertile eggs, I want to point
out the fact that the whole subject of fertility as distinct from
hatchability, is somewhat meaningless. The facts of the case are,
that whatever factors in the care of the stock will get a large
percentage fertile eggs, will also give hatchable eggs and vice
versa. This is to be explained by the fact that most of the
unfertile eggs tested out during incubation, are in reality dead
germs in which death has occurred before the chick became visible to
the naked eye. Such deaths should usually be ascribed to poor
parentage, but may be caused by wrong storage or incubation.
Likewise, it would not be just to credit all deaths after chicks
became visible to wrong incubation, although the most of the blame
probably belongs there.

Likewise, with brooder chicks, we must divide the credit of their
livability in an arbitrary fashion between parentage, incubation,
and care after hatching.

By the hatchability of eggs, we then mean the percentage of eggs set
that hatch chicks able to walk and eat. By the livability of chicks,
we mean the percentage of chicks hatched that live to the age of
four weeks, after which they are subject to no greater death rate
than adult chickens. By the livability of eggs, we mean the product
of these two factors, i.e.: the percentage of chicks at four weeks
of age based upon the total number of eggs set.

As before mentioned, the fertility of eggs bears fairly definite
relation to the hatchability, so likewise the hatchability bears a
relation to the livability of chicks. When poor hatches occur
because of weak germs, as because of faulty incubation, this same
injury to the chick's organism is carried over and causes a larger
death among the hatched chicks.

Moreover, the relation between the two is not the same with all
classes of hatches, but as hatches get poorer the mortality among
the chicks increases at an accelerating rate. The following table
gives a rough approximation of these ratios:

  Per cent. of    Per cent. of chick   Per cent. of egg
  Hatchability.   Livability.          Livability.
      100               100                  100
       90                95                   85
       80                88                   70
       70                84                   50
       60                72                   43
       50                55                   27
       40                40                   16
       30                24                    7
       20                10                    2
       10                 2                    1

These figures are based on incubator data. Eggs set under hens
usually give a hatchability of 50 per cent. to 65 per cent., and
livability of 70 per cent. to 80 per cent. The reason for the
greater livability is that the real hatchability of the eggs is 70
per cent. to 75 per cent., and is reduced by mechanical breakage.
The hatchability of eggs varies with the season. This variation is
commonly ascribed to nature, it being stated that springtime is the
natural breeding season, and therefore eggs are of greater

While there may be a little foundation for this idea, the chief
cause is to be found in the manner of artificial incubation, as will
be discussed in a later section of this chapter. The following table
is given as the seasonable hatchability for northern states. This is
based on May hatch of 50 per cent:

    January       38      July         40
    February      42      August       40
    March         47      September    42
    April         49      October      43
    May           50      November     40
    June          46      December     35

Most people have an exaggerated idea of the hen's success as a
hatcher. I have a number of records of hen hatching with large
numbers of eggs set, and they are all between 55 per cent. and 60
per cent. The reasons the hen does not hatch better are as follows:

First: Actual infertile eggs--usually, running about 10 per cent. in
the best season of the year.

Second: Mechanical breakage.

Third: Eggs accidentally getting chilled by rolled to one side of
the nests, or by the sick, lousy or crazy hens leaving the nests or
standing up on the eggs.

Fourth: Eggs getting damp from wet nests, dung or broken eggs; thus
causing bacterial infection and decay.

The last three causes are not present in artificial incubation. From
my observation they cause a loss of 15 per cent. of the eggs that
fail to hatch, when hens are managed in large numbers. This would
properly credit our hens with hatches running from 70 per cent. to
75 per cent., which, for reasons later explained, is not equal to
hatches under the best known conditions of artificial incubation.

The assumption that the hen is a perfect hatcher, even barring
accidents and the inherited imperfection of the egg, is not, I
think, in harmony with our general conception of nature. Not only
are eggs under the hens subject to unfavorable weather conditions,
but the hen, to satisfy her whims or hunger, frequently remains too
long away from the eggs, allowing them to become chilled.

For directions of how to manage setting hens, consult the Chapter on
"Poultry on the General Farm."

The Wisdom of the Egyptians.

Up to the present there have been just three types of artificial
incubation that have proven successful enough to warrant our
attention. These are:

First, the modern wooden-box-kerosene-lamp incubator which is seen
at its best development in the United States.

Second, the Egyptian incubator of ancient origin, which is a large
clay oven holding thousands of eggs and warmed by smouldering fires
of straw.

Third, the Chinese incubator, much on the principle of the Egyptian
hatchery, but run in the room of an ordinary house, heated with
charcoal braziers and used only for duck eggs.

I have no accurate information on the results of the Chinese method,
and as it is not used for hen eggs, we will confine our attention to
the first two processes only.

I do not care to go into detail in discussing makes of box
incubators, but I will mention briefly the chief points in the
development of our present machines.

The first difficulties were in getting lamps, regulators, etc., that
would give a uniform temperature. This now has been worked out to a
point where, with any good incubator and an experienced operator,
the temperature of the egg chamber is readily kept within the
desired range.

These are two principal types of box incubators now in use. In the
earliest of these, the eggs were heated by radiation from a tank of
hot water. These machines depended for ventilation or, what is much
more important, evaporation, upon chance air currents passing in and
out of augur holes in the ends or bottom of the machine.

The second, or more modern type, warms the eggs by a current of air
which passes around a lamp flue where, being made lighter by the
expansion due to heat, the air rises, creating a draft that forces
it into the egg chamber. There it is caused to spread by muslin or
felt diaphragms so that no perceptible current of air strikes the
eggs. This type is the most popular type of small incubator on the
market. Its advantage will be more readily seen after the discussion
of the principles of incubation.

Hazy tales of Egyptian incubators have gone the rounds of poultry
papers these many years. More recently some accurate accounts from
American travelers and European investigators have come to light,
and as a result, the average poultry editor is kept busy trying to
explain how such wonderful results can be obtained "in opposition to
the well-known laws of incubation."

The facts about Egyptian incubators are as follows: They have a
capacity of 50 to 100 thousand eggs, and are built as a single large
room, partly underground and made of clay reinforced with straw. The
walls are two or three feet thick. Inside, the main rooms are little
clay domes with two floors.

The hatching season begins the middle of January and lasts three
months. A couple of weeks before the hatching begins, the fireproof
house is filled with straw which is set afire, thoroughly warming
the hatchery. The ashes are then taken out and little fires built in
pots are set around the outside of the big room. The little clay
rooms with the double floors are now filled with eggs. That is, one
is filled at a time, the idea being to have fresh eggs entering and
chicks moving out in a regular order, so as not to cause radical
changes in the temperature of the hatchery.

No thermometer is used, but the operator has a very highly
cultivated sense of temperature, such as is possessed by a cheese
maker or dynamite dryer. About the twelfth day the eggs are moved to
the upper part of the little interior rooms where they are further
removed from the heated floor. The eggs are turned and tested out
much as in this country. They are never cooled and the room is full
of the fumes and smoke of burning straw. The ventilation provided is

This is about the whole story save for results. The incubator men
pay back three chicks for four eggs, and take their profits by
selling the extra chicks that are hatched above the 75 per cent.
This statement is in itself so astonishing and yet convincing, that
to add that the hatch runs between 85 per cent. and 90 per cent. of
all eggs set, and that the incubators of the Nile Delta hatch about
75,000,000 chicks a year seems almost superfluous. As for the
explanation of the results of the Egyptian incubators compared with
the American kerosene lamp type, I think it can best be brought
about by a consideration in detail of the scientific principles of

Principles of Incubation.

HEAT.--To keep animal life, once started, alive and growing, we
need: First, a suitable surrounding temperature. Second, a fairly
constant proportion of water in the body substance. Third, oxygen.
Fourth, food.

Now, a fertile egg is a living young animal and as such its wants
should be considered. We may at once dispose of the food problem of
the unhatched chick, by saying that the food is the contents of the
egg at the time of laying, and as far as incubation is concerned, is
beyond our control.

In consideration of external temperature in its relation to life, we
should note: (A) the optimum temperature; (B) the range of
temperature consistent with general good health; (C) the range at
which death occurs. Just to show the principle at stake, and without
looking up authorities, I will state these temperatures for a number
of animals. Of course you can dispute the accuracy of these figures,
but they will serve to illustrate our purpose:

                 External  External   External  Internal  Internal
                 Optimum   Healthful   Fatal    Optimum    Fatal
                  Point     Range      Range     Point     Range

    Man             70    0 to 100   50 to 140     98    90 to 106

    Dog             60   70 to 140   70 to 140    101    95 to 110

    Monkey          90   30 to 140   30 to 140    101    95 to 108

    Horse           80   20 to 120   20 to 120     99    95 to 105

    Fowl            80   20 to 140   20 to 140    107   100 to 115

    Newly hatched
    chick           90   70 to 100   40 to 120    108   100 to 115

    Fertile egg
    at start of
    incubation     103   32 to 110   31 to 125    103    31 to 125

    Egg incubated
    three days     103   98 to 105   80 to 118     103   95 to 118

    Egg incubated
    eighteen days  103   75 to 105   50 to 118     106   98 to 116

This table shows, among other things, that we are considering in the
chick not a new proposition to which the laws of general animal life
do not apply, but merely a young animal during the process of growth
to a point where its internal mechanism for heat control, has power
to maintain the body temperature through a greater range of external
temperature change.

In the cooling process that occurs after laying the living cells of
the egg become dormant, and like a hibernating animal, the actual
internal temperature can be subjected to a much greater range than
when the animal is active. After incubation begins and cell activity
returns, and especially after blood forms and circulation commences,
the temperature of the chick becomes subject to about the same
internal range as with other warm blooded animals.

In the case of fully formed animals, the internal temperature is
regulated by a double process. If the external temperature be
lowered, more food substance is combined with oxygen to keep up the
warmth of the body, while, if the external temperature be raised,
the body temperature is kept low by the cooling effects of
evaporation. This occurs in mammals chiefly by sweating. Birds do
not sweat, but the same effect is brought about by increased
breathing. Now, the chick gradually develops the heat producing
function during incubation, until towards the close of the period it
can take care of itself fairly well in case of lowered external
temperature. The power to cool the body by breathing is not,
however, granted to the unhatched chick, and for this reason the
incubating egg cannot stand excess of heat as well as lack of it.

The practical points to be remembered from the above are:

First: Before incubation begins, eggs may be subjected to any
temperature that will not physically or chemically injure the

Second: During the first few days of the hatch, eggs have no
appreciable power of heat formation and the external temperature for
any considerable period of time can safely vary only within the
range of temperature at which the physiological process may be
carried on.

Third: As the chick develops it needs less careful guarding against
cooling, and must still be guarded against over-heating.

Fourth: It should be remembered, however, that eggs are very poor
conductors of heat, and if the temperature change is not great
several hours of exposure are required to bring the egg to the new

Temperature is the most readily observed feature about natural
incubation and its control was consequently the first and chief
effort of the early incubator inventors.

A great deal of experimental work has been done to determine the
degree of temperature for eggs during incubation. The temperature of
the hen's blood is about 105 to 107 degrees F. The eggs are not
warmed quite to this temperature, the amount by which they fail to
reach the temperature of the hen's body depending, of course, upon
the surrounding temperature. 103 degrees F. is the temperature that
has been generally agreed upon by incubator manufacturers. Some of
these advise running 102 degrees the first week, 103 degrees the
second, 104 degrees the third. As a matter of fact it is very
difficult to determine the actual temperature of the egg in the box
incubator. This is because the source of heat is above the eggs and
the air temperature changes rapidly as the thermometer is raised or
lowered through the egg chamber. The advice to place the bulb of the
thermometer against the live egg is very good, but in practice quite
variable results will be found on different eggs and different parts
of the machine.

With incubators of the same make, and in all appearances identical,
quite marked variation in hatching capacity has been observed in
individual machines. Careful experimentation will usually show this
to be a matter of the way the thermometer is hung in relation to the
heating surfaces and to the eggs. Ovi-thermometers, which consists
of a thermometer enclosed in the celluloid imitation of an egg, are
now in the market and are perhaps as safe as anything that can be

As was indicated in the previous section greater care in temperature
of the egg is necessary in the first half of the hatch. The
temperature of 102 degrees F. as above given is, in the writer's
opinion, too low for this portion of the hatch. An actual
temperature of 104 degrees at the top of the eggs will, as has been
shown by careful experimental work, give better hatches than the
lower temperature.

Moisture and Evaporation.

The subject of the water content of the egg and its relation to
life, is the least understood of poultry problems.

The whole study of the water content of the egg during incubation
hangs on the amount of evaporation. Now, the rates of evaporation
from any moist object is determined by two factors: vapor pressure
and the rate of movement of the air past the object. As incubation
is always carried on at the same temperature, the evaporating power
of the air is directly proportioned to the difference in the vapor
pressure of water at that temperature, and the vapor pressure of the
air as it enters the machine. Thus, in order to know the evaporative
power of the air, we have only to determine the vapor pressure of
the air and to remember that the rate of evaporation is in
proportion to this pressure, i.e.: when the vapor pressure is high
the evaporation will be slow and the eggs remain too wet, and when
the vapor pressure is low the eggs will be excessively dried out.

The reader is probably more familiar with the term relative humidity
than the term vapor pressure, but as the actual significance of
relative humidity is changed at every change in outside temperature,
the use of this term for expressing the evaporating power of the air
has led to no end of confusion.

The influence of air currents on evaporation is to increase it
directly proportional with the rate of air movement. Thus, 10 cubic
feet of air per hour passing through an egg chamber would remove
twice as much moisture as would 5 cubic feet.

If the percentage of water in any living body be changed a
relatively small amount, serious disturbances of the physiological
processes and ultimately death will result. The mature animal can,
by drinking, take considerable excess of water without danger, for
the surplus will be speedily removed by perspiration and by the
secretion from the kidneys. But the percentage of water in the
actual tissues of the body can vary only within a narrow range of
not more than three or four per cent. The chick in the shell is not
provided with means of increasing its water content by drinking or
diminishing it by excretion, but the fresh egg is provided with more
moisture than the hatched chick will require, and the surplus is
gradually lost by evaporation. This places the water content of the
chick's body at the mercies of the evaporating power of the air that
surrounds the egg during incubation.

To assume that these risks of uncertain rates of evaporation is
desirable, is as absurd as to assume that the risks of rainfall are
desirable for plant life. As the plants of a certain climate have
become adapted to the amount of soil moisture which the climate is
likely to provide, so the egg has by natural selection been formed
with about as much excess of water as will be lost in an average
season under the natural conditions of incubation. Plant life
suffers in drought or flood, and likewise bird life suffers in
seasons of abnormal evaporative conditions. This view is
substantiated by the fact that the eggs of water fowl which are in
nature incubated in damper places, have a lower water content than
the eggs of land birds.

The per cent. of water contained in the contents of fresh eggs is
about 74 per cent., or about 65.5 per cent, based on the weight,
shell included. Unfortunately no investigations have been made
concerning the per cent. of water present in the newly hatched

Upon the subject of the loss of water for the whole period of
incubation, valuable data has been collected at the Utah, Oregon and
Ontario Experiment Stations.

In these tests we find that as a rule the evaporation of eggs under
hens is less than in incubators. With both hens and incubators, the
rate of evaporation is greatest at the Utah Station, which one would
naturally expect from the climate. The eggs under hens at the
Ontario Station averaged about 12 per cent. loss in weight, and
those at the Utah Station about 15 per cent. At both stations,
incubators without moisture ran several per cent. higher evaporation
than eggs under hens. The conclusions at all stations were that the
addition of moisture to incubators was a material aid to good
hatches of livable chicks.

At Ontario the average evaporation ran from as low as 7 per cent. At
Utah it reached as high as 24 per cent. Now as the entire loss of
weight is loss of water, the solid contents remaining the same, and
as the original per cent, of water contained in the egg (shell
included) is only 65.5, the chicks of the two lots with the same
amount of solid substance would contain water in the proportion of
58.5 to 41.5. Based on the weight of the chick, this would make a
difference of water content of over 25 per cent.

That human beings or other animals could not exist with such
differences in the chemical composition of the body, is at once
apparent. In fact I do not believe that the chick can live under
such remarkable circumstances. As I have picked the extreme cases in
the series given, it is possible that these extremes were
experimental errors, and as in the Utah data, no information is
given as what happened to the chicks, I have no proof that they did
live. But from the large number of hatches that were recorded below
9 per cent, and above 15 per cent., giving a variation of the actual
water content in the chick's body of about 10 per cent., it is
evident that chicks do hatch under remarkable physiological
difficulties. One explanation that suggests itself is, that as there
is considerable variation in evaporation of individual eggs due to
the amount of shell porosity, and the chicks that hatch in either
case may be the ones whose individual variations threw them nearer
the normal.

By a further study from the Ontario data of the relation of the
evaporation to the results in livable chicks, it can be readily
observed that all good hatches have evaporation centering around the
12 per cent. moisture loss, and that all lots with evaporations
above 15 per cent. hatch out extremely poor.

The general averages of the machines supplied with some form of
moisture was 35 per cent. of all eggs set, in chicks alive at four
weeks of age, while the machines ran dry gave only 20 per cent. of
live chicks at a similar period.

Now, I wish to call attention to a further point in connection with
evaporation. If the final measure of the loss of weight by
evaporation were the only criterion of correct conditions of
moisture in the chick's body, the hatches that show 12 per cent., or
whatever the correct amount of evaporation may be, should be
decidedly superior to those on either side. That they are better,
has already been shown. But they are far from what they should be.
An explanation is not hard to find. The correct content of moisture
is not the only essential to the chick's well being at the moments
of hatching, but during the whole period of incubation. Under our
present system of incubation, the chick is immediately subject to
the changing evaporation of American weather conditions. The data
for that fact, picked at random, will be of interest. The following
table gives the vapor pressure at Buffalo, N. Y., for twenty
consecutive days in April:

April 1..................170

Supposing a hatch to be started at the beginning of the above
period, by the end of the first week, with the excessive
evaporation, due to a low vapor pressure, the eggs would all be
several per cent. below the normal water content; the fact that the
next week was warm and rainy, and the vapor pressure rose until the
loss was entirely counterbalanced, would not repair the injury, even
though the eggs showed at the end of incubation exactly the correct
amount of shrinkage. A man might thirst in the desert for a week,
then, coming to a hole of water fall in and drown, but we would
hardly accept the report of a normal water content found at the
post-mortem examination as evidence that his death was not connected
with the moisture problem.

The change of evaporation, due to weather conditions, is, under
hens, less marked than in incubators. This is because there are no
drafts under the hen, and because the hen's moist body and the moist
earth, if she sets on the ground, are separate sources of moisture
which the changing humidity of the atmosphere does not affect. Among
about forty hens set at different times at the Utah Station and the
loss of moisture of which was determined at three equal periods of
six days each, the greatest irregularity I found was as follows: 1st
period, 5.81 per cent; 2d period, 3.86 per cent; 3d period, 6.15 per
cent. Compare this with a similar incubator record at the same
station in which the loss for the three periods was 5.63, 9.18 and

I think the reader is now in position to appreciate the almost
unsurmountable difficulties in the proper control of evaporation
with the common small incubator in our climate. It is little wonder
that one of our best incubator manufacturers, after studying the
proposition for some time, threw over the whole moisture
proposition, and put out a machine in which drafts of air were
slowed down by felt diaphragms and the use of moisture was strictly

The moisture problem to the small incubator operator presents itself
as follows: If left to the mercies of chance and the weather, the
too great or too little evaporation from his eggs will yield hatches
that will prove unprofitable. In order to regulate this evaporation,
he must know and be able to control both vapor pressure and the
currents of air that strike the eggs. Now he does not know the
amount of vapor pressure and has no way of finding it out. The
so-called humidity gauges on the market are practically worthless,
and even were the readings on relative humidity accurately
determined, they would be wholly confusing, for their effect of the
same relative humidity on the evaporation will vary widely with
variations of the out-of-door temperature.

If the operator knows or guesses that the humidity is too low, he
can increase it by adding water to the room, or the egg chamber, but
he cannot tell when he has too much, nor can he reduce the vapor
pressure of the air on rainy days when nature gives him too much
water. As to air currents he is little better off--he has no way to
tell accurately as to the behavior of air in the egg chamber and
changes in temperature of the heater or if the outside air will
throw these currents all off, since they depend upon the draft

Taking it all in all, the man with the small incubator had better
follow the manufacturer's directions and trust to luck.

The writer has long been of the conviction that a plan which would
keep the rate of evaporation within as narrow bounds as we now keep
the temperature, would not only solve the problem of artificial
incubation, but improve on nature and increase not only the numbers
but the vitality or livability of the chicks. With a view of
studying further the relations between the conditions of atmospheric
vapor pressure, and the success of artificial incubation, I have
investigated climatic reports and hatching records in the various
sections of the world.

The following are averages of the monthly vapor pressures at four
points in which we are interested:

              Buffalo,  St. Louis,  San Fran-  Cairo
    Month      N.Y.         Mo.       cisco.   Egypt
    January     87          98         311      279
    February    81          94         310      288
    March      138         224         337      287
    April      171         283         332      311
    May        301         423         317      328
    June       466         550         345      365
    July       546         599         374      413
    August     496         627         382      435
    September  429         506         389      372
    October    285         327         342      365
    November   271         225         285      321
    December   143         133         243      397

A study of the extent of daily variations is also of interest. As a
general thing they are less extreme in localities when the seasonal
variations are also less. In Cairo, however, which has a seasonal
variation greater than San Francisco, the daily variations during
the hatching season are much less than in California. This is due to
a constant wind from sea to land, and an absolute absence of
rainfall, conditions for which Egypt is noted.

Nearness to a coast does not mean uniform vapor pressure, for with
wind alternating from sea to land, it means just the opposite.

As will be readily seen the months in spring which give the best
hatches, occupy a medium place in the humidity scale. The fact that
both hens and machines succeed best in this period, is to me very
suggestive of the possibility that with an incubator absolutely
controlling evaporation, much of the seasonal variation in the
hatchability would disappear.

The uniform humidity of the California coast is shown in the above
table. This is not inconsistent with the excellent results obtained
at Petaluma.

The Egyptian hatcher in his long experience has learned just about
how much airholes and smudge fire are necessary to get results. With
these kept constant and the atmosphere constant, we have more nearly
perfect conditions of incubation than are to be found anywhere else
in the world, and I do not except the natural methods. The climatic
conditions of Egypt cannot be equaled in any other climate, but as
will be shown in the last section of this chapter, their effect can
be duplicated readily enough by modern science and engineering.

Mr. Edward Brown, who was sent over here by the English Government
to investigate our poultry industry, was greatly surprised at our
poor results in artificial incubation. Compared with our
acknowledged records of less than 50 per cent. hatches, he quotes
the results obtained in hatching 18,000 eggs at an English
experiment station as 62 per cent. I have not obtained any data of
English humidity, but it is undoubtedly more uniform than the
eastern United States.

Ventilation--Carbon Dioxide.

The last of the four life requisites we have to consider is that of
oxygen. The chick in the shell, like a fish, breathes oxygen which
is dissolved in a liquid. A special breathing organ is developed for
the chick during its embryonic stages and floats in the white and
absorbs the oxygen and gives off carbon dioxide. The amount of this
breathing that occurs in the chick is at first insignificant, but
increases with development. At no time, however, is it anywhere
equal to that of the hatched chicks, for the physiological function
to be maintained by the unhatched chicks requires little energy and
little oxidation.

Upon the subject of ventilation in general, a great misunderstanding
exists. Be it far from me to say anything that will cause either my
readers or his chickens to sleep less in the fresh air, yet for the
love of truth and for the simplification of the problem of
incubation, the real facts about ventilation must be given.

In breathing, oxygen is absorbed and carbon dioxide and water vapor
are given off. It is popularly held that abundance of fresh air is
necessary to supply the oxygen for breathing and that carbon dioxide
is a poison. Both are mistakes. The amount of oxygen normally in the
air is about 20 per cent. Of carbon dioxide there is normally three
hundredths of one per cent. During breathing these gasses are
exchanged in about equal volume. A doubling or tripling of carbon
dioxide was formerly thought to be "very dangerous." Now, if the
carbon dioxide were increased 100 times, we would have only three
per cent., and have seventeen per cent. of oxygen remaining. This
oxygen would still be of sufficient pressure to readily pass into
the blood. We might breathe a little faster to make up for the
lessened oxygen pressure. In fact such a condition of the air would
not be unlike the effects of higher altitudes.

Some investigations recently conducted at the U.S. Experiment
Station for human nutrition, have shown the utter misconception of
the old idea of ventilation. The respiratory calorimeter is an
air-tight compartment in which men are confined for a week or more
at a time while studies are being made concerning heat and energy
yielded by food products. It being inconvenient to analyze such an
immense volume of air as would be necessary to keep the room
freshened according to conventional ventilation standards,
experiments were made to see how vitiated the air could be made
without causing ill effects to the subject.

This led to a remarkable series of experiments in which it was
repeatedly demonstrated that a man could live and work for a week at
a time without experiencing any ill effects whatever in an
atmosphere of his own breath containing as high as 1.86 per cent. of
carbon dioxide, or, in other words, the air had its impurity
increased 62 times. This agrees with what every chemist and
physiologist has long known, and that is that carbon dioxide is not
poisonous, but is a harmless dilutant just as nitrogen. This does
not mean that a man or animal may not die of suffocation, but that
these are smothered, as they are drowned, by a real absence of
oxygen, not poisoned by a fraction of 1 per cent. of carbon dioxide.

In the same series of experiments, search was made for the
mysterious poisons of the breath which many who had learned of the
actual harmlessness of carbon dioxide alleged to be the cause of the
ill effects attributed to foul air. Without discussion, I will say
that the investigators failed to find such poisons, but concluded
that the sense of suffocation in an unventilated room is due not to
carbon dioxide or other "poisonous" respiratory products, but is
wholly due to warmth, water vapor, and the unpleasant odors given
off by the body.

The subject of ventilation has always been a bone of contention in
incubator discussions. With its little understood real importance,
as shown in the previous section, and the greatly exaggerated
popular notions of the importance of oxygen and imagined poisonous
qualities of carbon dioxide, the confusion in the subject should
cause little wonder.

A few years ago some one with an investigating mind decided to see
if incubators were properly ventilated, and proceeded to make carbon
dioxide determinations of the air under a hen and in an incubator.
The air under the hen was found to contain the most of the obnoxious
gas. Now, this information was disconcerting, for the hen had always
been considered the source of all incubator wisdom. Clearly the
perfection of the hen or the conception of pure air must be
sacrificed. Chemistry here came to the rescue, and said that carbon
dioxide mixed with water, formed an acid and acid would dissolve the
lime of an egg shell. Evidently the hen was sacrificing her own
health by breathing impure air in order to soften up the shells a
little so the chicks could get out. Since it could have been
demonstrated in a few hours in any laboratory, that carbon dioxide
in the quantities involved, has no perceptible effect upon egg
shells, it is with some apology that I mention that quite a deal of
good brains has been spent upon the subject by two experiment
stations. The data accumulated, of course, fails to prove the
theory, but it is interesting as further evidence of the
needlessness in the old fear of insufficient ventilation.

At the Ontario Station, the average amounts of carbon dioxide under
a large number of hens was .32 of one per cent., or about ten times
that of fresh air, or one-sixth of that which the man breathed so
happily in the respiratory calorimeter. With incubators, every
conceivable scheme was tried to change the amount of carbon dioxide.
In some, sour milk was placed which, in fermenting, gives off the
gas in question. Others were supplied with buttermilk, presumably to
familiarize the chickens with this article so they would recognize
it in the fattening rations. In other machines, lamp fumes were run
in, and to still others, pure carbon dioxide was supplied. The
percentage of the gas present varied in the machines from .06 to .58
of one per cent. The results, of course, vary as any run of hatches
would. The detailed discussion of the hatches and their relation to
the amount of carbon dioxide as given in Bulletin 160 of the Ontario
Station, would be unfortunately confusing to the novice, but would
make amusing reading for the old poultryman. Speaking of a
comparison of two hatches, the writer, on page 53 of the bulletin
says, "The increase in vitality of chicks from the combination of
the carbon dioxide and moisture over moisture only, amounting, as it
does, to 4.5 per cent. of the eggs set, seems directly due to the
higher carbon dioxide content." I cannot refrain from suggesting
that if my reader has two incubators, he might set up a Chinese
prayer machine in front of one and see if he cannot in like manner
demonstrate the efficacy of Heavenly supplications in the hatching
of chickens.

The practical bearing of the subject of ventilation in the small
incubator is almost wholly one of evaporation. The majority of such
machines are probably too much ventilated. In a large and properly
constructed hatchery, such as is discussed in the last section of
this chapter, the entire composition of the air, as well as its
movement, is entirely under control. Nothing has yet been brought to
light that indicates any particular attention need be given to the
composition of such air save in regard to its moisture content, but
as the control of this factor renders it necessary that the air be
in a closed circuit, and not open to all out-doors, it will be very
easy to subject the air to further changes such as the increasing
oxygen, if such can be demonstrated to be desirable.

Turning Eggs.

The subject of turning eggs is another source of rather meaningless
controversy. Of course, the hen moves her eggs around and in doing
so turns them. Doubtless the reader, were he setting on a pile of
door knobs as big as his head, would do the same thing. As proof
that eggs need turning, we are referred to the fact that yolks stick
to the shell if the eggs are not turned. I have candled thousands of
eggs and have yet to see a yolk stuck to the shell unless the egg
contained foreign organism or was several months old. However, I
have seen hundreds of blood rings stuck to the shell. Whether the
chick died because the blood rings stuck or whether the blood rings
stuck because the chicken died I know not, but I have a strong
presumption that the latter explanation is correct, for I see no
reason if the live blood ring was in the habit of sticking to the
shell, why this would not occur in a few hours as well as in a few

In the year 1901 I saw plenty of chicks hatched out in Kansas in egg
cases, kitchen cupboards and other places where regular turning was
entirely overlooked.

Mr. J.P. Collins, head of the Produce Department of Swift & Co.,
says that he was one time cruelly deserted in a Pullman smoker for
telling the same story. The statement is true, however, in spite of
Mr. Collins' unpleasant experience. Texas egg dealers frequently
find hatched chickens in cases of eggs.

Upon the subject of turning eggs the writer will admit that he is
doing what poultry writers as a class do on a great many occasions,
i.e.: expressing an opinion rather than giving the proven facts. In
incubation practice it is highly desirable to change the position of
eggs so that unevenness in temperature and evaporation will be
balanced. When doing this it is easier to turn the eggs than not to
turn them, and for this reason the writer has never gone to the
trouble of thoroughly investigating the matter. But it has been
abundantly proven that any particular pains in egg turning is a
waste of time.

Cooling Eggs.

The belief in the necessity of cooling eggs undoubtedly arose from
the effort to follow closely and blindly in the footsteps of the
hen. With this idea in mind the fact that the hen cooled her eggs
occasionally led us to discover a theory which proved such cooling
to be necessary. A more reasonable theory is that the hen cools the
eggs from necessity, not from choice. In some species of birds the
male relieves the female while the latter goes foraging.

But there is no need to argue the question. Eggs will hatch if
cooled according to custom, but that they will hatch as well or
better without the cooling is abundantly proven by the results in
Egyptian incubators where no cooling whatever is practiced.

Searching for the "Open Sesame" of Incubation.

The experiment station workers have, the last few years, gone a
hunting for the weak spot in artificial incubation. Some reference
to this work has already been made in the sections on moisture and
ventilation. Before leaving the subject I want to refer to two more
efforts to find this key to the mystery of incubation and in the one
case at least correct an erroneous impression that has been given

At the Ontario Station a patent disinfectant wash called "Zenoleum"
was incidentally used to deodorize incubators. Now, for some reason,
perhaps due to the belief that white diarrhoea was caused by a germ
in the egg, this idea of washing with Zenoleum was conceived to be a
possible solution of the incubator problem. In the numerous
experiments at that station in 1907 Zenoleum applied to the machine
in various ways was combined with various other incipient panaceas
and at the end of the season the results of the various combinations
were duly tabulated. The machine with buttermilk and Zenoleum headed
the list for livable chicks.

For reasons explained in the chapter on "Experiment Station Work,"
the idea of contrasting the results of one hatch with one sort with
the average results of many hatches of another sort is very poor
science. Feeling that the Station men would hardly be guilty of
expressing as they did in favor of such a method without better
reason, I very carefully went over the results and compared all
machines using Zenoleum with all machines without it. The results in
favor of Zenoleum were less marked but still perceptible. I was
somewhat puzzled, as I could see no rational explanation of the
relation between disinfecting incubator walls and the hatchability
of the chick in its germ-proof cage. Finally I hit upon the scheme
of arranging the hatches by dates and the explanation became at once
apparent. The hatching experiments had extended from March to July,
but the Zenoleum hatches were grouped in April and early in May,
when, as one would expect from weather conditions, all hatches were
running good. After allowing for this error Zenoleum appeared as
harmless and meaningless as would the Attar of Roses.

The second link after the missing link of incubation to which I wish
to call your attention also occurred at the Ontario Station. The
latter case, however, is happier in that no unwarranted conclusions
were drawn and that an interesting bit of scientific knowledge was
added to the world's store. The conception to be tested was an
offshoot from the carbon dioxide theory. You will remember at the
Utah Station the idea was that carbon dioxide was to dissolve the
shell so the chick could break out easier.

At the Guelph Station the conception was that the carbon dioxide
might dissolve the lime of the shell for the chick to use in "makin'
hisself." As an egg could not be analyzed fresh and then hatched, a
number were analyzed from the same hens and others from those hens
were then incubated with the various amounts of carbon dioxide,
buttermilk, Zenoleum, and other factors. The lime content of the
contents of the fresh egg averaged about .04 grams. At hatching time
the lime in the chick's body averaged about .20 grams and was always
several times as great as the maximum of the eggs.

Clearly calcium phosphate of the chick's bones is made by the
digestion of the calcium carbonate from the shell and its
combination with the phosphorus of the yolk. Certainly a remarkable
and hitherto unexplained fact. The amount of lime required is not
great enough, however, to materially weaken the shell, but, of
course, the process is vital to the chick as bones are quite
essential to his welfare, but it is an "inside affair" of which the
three-tenths of one per cent of carbon dioxide incidentally present
under the hen is entirely irrelevant.

A further observation made by the investigator is that the chicks
which obtained the lowest amount of lime were abnormally weak. As
long as we are powerless to aid the chick in digesting lime this
fact, like the other, belongs in the field of pure, rather than
applied science. I think that we are safe in saying that the
weakness caused the shortage of lime rather than vice versa; if the
writer remembers runts in other animals are usually a little short
of bone material.

The chemist of the station is to be given special credit for not
jumping at conclusions. In the summary of this work he states:
"There is apparently no connection between the amount of lime
absorbed by the chick and the amount of carbon dioxide present
during incubation."

The Box Type of Incubator In Actual Use.

Although the fact is not so advertised and frequently not recognized
even by the makers, the success of existing incubators is directly
proportional to the extent with which they control evaporation. In
order to show this I have only to call attention briefly to two or
three of the most successful types of incubators on the market.

Let me first repeat that evaporation increases with increased air
currents and with decreased vapor pressure. Now, the vapor pressure
undergoes all manner of changes with the passing of storm centers
and the changes of prevailing winds. But there is a general tendency
for vapor pressure to increase with increase in outside temperature.
Now, the movement of air in all common incubators depends upon the
draft principle and the greater the difference in machine
temperature and outside temperature the greater will be this draft.
Thus, we have two factors combining to cause variation in the rate
of evaporation. The tendency for the rate of airflow to vary is
diminished when a cellar is used for an incubator room, but the
cellar does not materially remedy the climatic variation in vapor

The general tendency of incubators as ordinarily constructed, is to
dry out the eggs too rapidly. With a view of counteracting this,
water is placed in pans in the egg room. A surface of water exposed
to quiet air does not evaporate as fast as one might think, as is
easily shown by the fact that air above rivers, lakes and even seas
is frequently far from the saturation point. The result of the
moisture pan with a given current of air is that the vapor pressure
is increased a definite amount, but by no means is it regulated or
made uniform. Inasmuch as too much shrinking is the most prevalent
fault in box incubators, the use of moisture is on the whole
beneficial, but in hot, murky weather, with less circulation and
higher outside vapor pressure, the moisture is overdone and the
operator condemns the system.

The subject not being clearly understood and no means being
available for vapor pressure determinations, the system results in
confusion and disputes. When the felt diaphragm machine was brought
into the market it was advertised as a no-moisture machine. The
result of the diaphragm is that of choking off air movement and
consequently reducing evaporation. This gives exactly the same
results as the use of moisture, but the machine is easier to operate
and seemed to do away with the vexatious moisture problem which,
together perhaps, with some fancied resemblance of felt diaphragms
to hen feathers, has resulted in the widespread use of this type of

The latest effort along the lines of reducing evaporation is the
sand tray machine that followed in the wake of the Ontario
investigation. This device simply gives a greater evaporating
surface to the water and hence a greater addition to the vapor
pressure. The results in practice I had given me by a man who last
year hatched sixty-five thousand chicks and as many more ducklings.

He said: "The sand tray early in the season gave the best hatches
and most vigorous chicks we had, but later on things got too wet and
the chickens drowned." No nicer demonstration of science in practice
could be desired.

In the present-day incubator of either type we are wholly at the
mercy of sudden climatic changes of vapor pressure. For the slower
changes from season to season some control by greater and less
amounts of supplied moisture, or by ventilator slides is available,
but little understood and seldom practiced.

It will certainly be of interest to my readers to know the actual
hatches obtained with the prevailing type of box incubator. By
actual hatches we mean the per cent. of live chicks taken out of the
machine to the per cent. of eggs put in. The ordinary published
hatches, based on one per cent. of fertile hatches, are a delusion
and a snare. When eggs are tested out many dead germs come out with
them and the separation of microscopic dead germs from the infertile
egg is, of course, impossible. Such padded and show hatching records
do not interest us.

Where incubators are run on top of the ground I have found the
results to be poor and to improve, the bigger and deeper and damper
and warmer and less ventilated the cellar is made. The reason for
this is plain. In such a cellar the vapor pressure of the air is not
only greater but is less influenced by the shifting vapor pressure
of the outside air. In a good cellar the operator, though his
knowledge of the factors with which he deals is grievously
deficient, learns, through long and costly experience, about what
addition of moisture or about what rate of ventilation will give him
the best results. In the room more subject to outside influences,
the conditions are so constantly changing that uniformity of
practice never gives uniform results, and hence the operator is
without guidance, either intelligent or blind, and the results are
wholly a product of chance.

As proof of my contention I may give results of a series of full
season hatches for 1908, each involving several thousand eggs.

First, a state experiment station, the name of which I do not care
to publish. Incubators kept in a cement basement which has flues in
which fires were built to secure "ample ventilation." This caused a
strong draft of cold, dry air, making the worst possible condition
for incubation. The hatch for the season averaged 25 per cent. and
was explained by lack of vitality in the stock.

Second, Ontario Agricultural College. A room above ground, moisture
used in most machines and various other efforts being made to
improve the hatches by a staff of half a dozen scientists. Results:
Hatch 48 per cent.--incubator manufacturers call the experimenters
names and say they are ignorant and prejudiced.

Third, Cornell University: dry ventilated basement representing
typical conditions of common incubator practice of the country.
Results: Hatch 52 per cent., results when given out commonly based
on fertile eggs and every one generally pleased.

Fourth: One of the most successful poultrymen in New York State, who
has, without knowing why, hit upon the plan of using a no-moisture
type of incubator in a basement which is heated with steam pipes,
which maintains temperature at 70 degrees and has a cement floor
which is kept covered with water. Results: Hatch 59 per cent.

Fifth: As a fifth in such a series I might mention again the
Egyptian machine with the uniform vapor pressure of the climate and
the three chicks exchanged for four eggs.

While an official in the United States Department of Agriculture, I
gathered data from original records of private plants covering the
incubation of several hundred thousand eggs. Such information was
furnished me in confidence as a public official and as a private
citizen I have no right to publish that which would mean financial
profit or loss to those concerned.

Of records where there were ten thousand or more eggs involved, the
lowest I found was 44 per cent. and the highest, that mentioned as
the fourth case above, or 59 per cent. The great majority of these
records hung very closely around the 50 per cent. mark.

The following is a fair sample of such data. It is the record
of hatching hen eggs for the first six months of 1908, at one
of the largest poultry plants in America:

                Eggs      Chicks      Per Cent.
    Month        Set      Hatched      Hatched

    January    4,213       1,585        37 2-3
    February   6,275       2,339        33 3-4
    March     17,990       6,993        38 1-3
    April     18,819      10,265        54 1-2
    May       24,458      14,438        59
    June      13,100       6,614        55
              ------      ------        ------
    Total     84,855      42,234        50 p.c.

The Future Method of Incubation.

The idea of the mammoth incubator which would hatch eggs by the
hundred thousand and a minimum of expense is the dream of the
American incubator inventor. We have long had available such methods
of insulation and regulating the supply of heat as would point to
the practicability of such a dream.

The past efforts in this direction have fallen down for the
following simple reason: All eggs were placed in a single big room
with a view of the man's entering the room to take care of them.
Contact with cold walls, the opening of doors, the hatching of
chicks or introduction of fresh eggs set up air currents, the hot
air rising and the cold air settling until great differences in
temperature would be found in the room. No systematic regulation of
evaporation was contemplated, as the principles at stake or the
means of such regulation were unknown.

The attempt just referred to was made several years ago by one of
the most successful of incubator manufacturers and because of his
failure other inventors were inclined to steer clear of the
proposition. Meanwhile the need of such an incubator has grown
enormously. At the time that above effort was made no duck ranch
existed whose annual production ran over thirty or forty thousand
ducklings, whereas we now have several in the one hundred thousand

Much more remarkable has been the growth of the day-old chick
business. The discovery that newly hatched chicks could be
successfully shipped hundreds of miles with less loss than shipping
eggs for hatching, has resulted in a few years' time in the growth
of hatcheries of considerable size where chicks are hatched by means
of common incubators. Still another opportunity for the use of large
hatcheries has been by the growth of poultry communities. There are
other communities besides those mentioned in this book which would
amply support public hatcheries. If half the poultry growers of
Lancaster County, Pa., were to be prevailed upon to patronize a
public hatchery, the county would support between fifteen and twenty
100,000 egg incubators. Any of the numerous trolley centers in
Indiana, Ohio and Southern Michigan would likewise be profitable
locations for the establishment of public hatcheries.

The demand for the incubator of large capacity has, within the last
year or so, brought two or three "mammoth" incubators into the
market. The devices I now refer to consist of a row of box
incubators which, instead of being heated by single lamps, are
heated by continuous hot water pipes. This scheme effects a
considerable saving in fuel cost and labor, but the bulkiness of
construction and the woeful lack of evaporation control are still to
be dealt with.

The writer now wishes briefly to describe the plan of construction
and operation of a new type of hatchery, the success of which has
recently been made feasible by inventions and technical knowledge
hitherto unavailable. The plan of the hatchery is on that of a cold
storage plant as far as insulation and general construction go. The
eggs are kept in bulk in special cases which are turned as a whole
and may rest on either of four sides. At hatching time the eggs are
spread out in trays in a special hatching room, which is only large
enough to accommodate chicks to the amount of one-sixth of the
incubator capacity, for twice a week deliverings, or one-third if
weekly deliveries are desired.

There are no pipes or other sources of heat in the egg chambers. All
temperature regulation is by means of air heated (or cooled as the
case may be) outside of the egg rooms and forced into the egg rooms
by a motor driven cone fan, maintaining a steady current of air, the
rate of movement of which may be varied at will. The air movement
maintained will always be sufficiently brisk, however, to prevent an
unevenness of temperature in different parts of the room.

So simple is this that the reader will doubtless wonder why it was
not developed earlier. The reason is that air subject to the
climatic influences will, with any forced draft sufficient to
equalize temperature, result in a fatal rate of evaporation.
Sprinkling the air has not generally been thought practical because
of the notion that air must not be used in the egg chamber but once,
which involved quite a waste of heat necessary in warming a large
bulk of air and evaporating sufficient water. Moreover, no means
has, in the past, been available for making a sufficiently accurate
measurement of the evaporating power of the air.

The hair hygrometers commonly sold to incubator operators are known
by scientists to be absolutely unreliable. The range between the wet
and dry bulb thermometers was found in the Ontario experiments to
give readings with and without fanning that varied 15 to 20 per
cent. in relative humidity which, at the temperature of an egg
chamber, would amount to a variation of three to four hundred of
vapor pressure units, which, with the forced draught plan, would
ruin a hatch of eggs in a few hours. The sling psychrometer as used
by the U.S. Weather Bureau should, in the hands of an expert, give
results making possible measurements accurate to two or three per
cent. of relative humidity or forty to sixty units of vapor
pressure. In contrast with these blundering instruments we now have
available an instrument with which the writer has frequently
determined vapor pressure accurately to within a range of two or
three vapor pressure units and the instrument is capable of being
constructed for even finer work.

As it is only by means of air with the moisture content absolutely
controlled that the use of a large room becomes possible, we can now
see why this type of hatching remained so long undeveloped. By means
of such vapor pressure control the large egg chamber is not only
feasible but the rate of evaporation at once becomes subject to the
control of the operator and we achieve a perfection in artificial
incubation hitherto unattained.

The means by which the air moisture is regulated is similar to that
used in up-to-date cold storage plants where the air is made moist
by sprinkling and dried with deliquescent salts. The regulation of
vapor pressure, like that of temperature, may be by electrically
moved dampers which switch a greater or less proportion of the
incoming current to the sprinkler or dryer as the case may be. The
ordinary incubator thermostat gives the necessary impulse for the
control of the temperature dampers, while the instrument above
referred to is used for the vapor pressure control.

As the entire air circuit is closed, the chemical composition of the
air may also be regulated at will. This results in a reduction of
the quantity of heat required to a minimum; in fact, with the
incubator in full swing, the air will, at times, need cooling rather
than warming.

The question of the cost of incubation by this method, or of profit
of such a hatchery operated for the public is almost wholly one of
the size of operations. Where sufficient eggs may be obtained and
sufficient demand exists for the chicks to make it profitable to
operate, the additional cost of hatching extra chicks will be
insignificant compared with the present system.

The Egyptian poultryman gives four eggs for three chicks, but the
American poultryman would be willing to give four eggs for one
chick, as is shown by the fact that he sells eggs for from 1 to 3
cents apiece and buys day-old chicks for ten to fifteen cents. A
plant with a seasonable capacity of 100,000 eggs has a basis to work
upon something as follows:

With a fifty per cent. hatch and chicks at 10 cents each there would
be a gross income of $5,000 annually. From this we must subtract for
eggs at 2 cents each, $2,000. Salary for operator $1,000, wages for
helper $300. Fuel, supplies and repairs $500. Cost of delivery and
sales of chicks $200. This leaves a residue of $1,000, which would
pay a 20 per cent. interest on the necessary investment of $5,000.
Personally, I think this is about the minimum unit of hatching that
would prove worth while as independent institutions.

Any increase in the percentage of the hatch would, of course, reduce
the unit of size necessary for profitable operation. Upon a single
poultry plant as a duck farm the cost of operation would be
materially reduced, as the operator himself would take the place of
the intelligent manager and the cost of gathering eggs and the
delivery of the product would be eliminated.

The most profitable method of hatchery operation undoubtedly will be
upon a plan analogous to what, in creamery operation, is called
centralization. The success of this scheme depends upon the fact
that transportation and agencies at country stores are relatively
less important items of expense than plant construction and high
salaries for skilled labor. A hatchery with a million capacity can
be built and run at not more than twice the cost of one
hundred-thousand plant and better men can be kept in charge of it. A
portion of the saving will of course be expended in maintaining a
system of buying eggs and selling chicks.

The material advantage of operating a hatchery in connection with a
high-class egg handling and poultry packing establishment, or as one
feature of a poultry community, is at once apparent, for the system
of collecting the market produce will be utilized for gathering eggs
and distributing chicks, each business helping the other.

The public hatchery also gives an excellent opportunity for the
introduction of good stock among farmers who would be too shiftless
to acquire it by ordinary methods.



The old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing is
nowhere better illustrated than in the scientific phases of poultry
feeding. The attempted application of the common theoretical feeding
standards to poultry has caused not only a great waste of time but
has also resulted in expenditures for high-priced feeds when cheaper
feeds would have given as good or better results.

The so-called science of food chemistry is really a rough
approximation of things about which the actual facts are unknown.
Such knowledge bears the same relation to accurate science as the
maps of America drawn by the early explorers do to a modern atlas.
Like these early efforts of geography the present science of food
chemistry is all right if we realize its incompleteness. In
practice, the poultryman, after a general glance at the "map," will
find a more reliable guide in simpler things.

I am writing this book for the poultryman, not the professor, and
because I state that the particular kind of science wherein the
professor has taken the most pains to teach the poultryman is
comparatively useless, I fear it may arouse a mistrust of the value
of science as a whole. I know of no way to prevent this except to
point out the distinction between scientific facts and guesses
couched in scientific language.

When a scientist states that a hen cannot lay egg shells containing
calcium without having calcium in her food, that is a fact, and it
works out in practice, for calcium is an element, and the hen cannot
create elementary substances. When the same scientist, finding that
an egg contains protein, says that wheat is a better egg food than
corn because it has the largest amount of protein, that is a guess
and does not work in practice because protein is not a definite
substance, but the name of a group of substances of which the
scientist does not know the composition, and which may or may not be
of equal use to the hen in the formation of eggs.

All substances of which the world is made are composed of elements
which cannot be changed. When these elements are combined they form
definite substances with definite proportions entirely independent
of the original elements. The pure diamond is carbon. Gasoline is
carbon and hydrogen. Several hundred other things are also carbon
and hydrogen. Sugar is carbon combined with hydrogen and oxygen.
These three elements make several thousand different substances,
including fats, alcohol and formaldehyde. Hydrocyanic acid is carbon
combined with hydrogen and nitrogen, and is the most deadly poison

The failure of food science is partly because we do not know the
composition of many of the substances of food and partly because
these substances are changed in the animal body in a manner which we
do not understand and cannot control.

Conventional Food Chemistry

The conventional analysis of feeding stuff divides the food
substances in water, carbohydrates, fat, protein and ash. The amount
of water in the body is all-important, but, with the exception of
eggs during incubation, I confess I prefer to rely upon the
chicken's judgment as to the amount required.

The carbohydrate group contains starch, sugar, cellulose and a
number of other things. Carbohydrates constitute two-thirds to
three-fourths of all common rations and nine-tenths of that amount
is starch. The proposition of how much carbohydrates the hen eats is
chiefly determined by the quantity of grain she consumes.

Of fats there are many kinds of which the composition is definitely
known. The amount of fats the hen eats is unimportant because she
makes starch into fat. The protein or nitrogen containing substances
of the diet is the group of food substances over which most of the
theories are expounded. The hen can make egg fat from corn starch or
cabbage leaves because they contain the same elements. She cannot
make egg white from starch or fat because the element of nitrogen
which is in the egg white is lacking in the starch and fats.

The substances that have nitrogen in them are called protein. They
are very complex and difficult to analyze. In digestion these
proteins are all torn to pieces and built up into other kinds of
protein. Just as in tearing down an old house, only a portion of the
material can be used in a new house, so it is with protein and
laboratory analysis cannot tell us how much of the old house can be
utilized in building the new one.

In practice the whole subject simmers down to the proposition of
finding out by direct experiment whether the hen will do the work
best on this or that food, irregardless of its nitrogen content as
determined in the laboratory.

The results of many experiments and much experience has shown that
lean meat protein will make egg protein and chicken flesh protein
and that vegetable protein pound for pound is not its equal. I know
of no results that have proven that the high priced vegetable foods
such as linseed meal, gluten feed, etc., have proven a more valuable
chicken food than the cheapest grains.

With cows and pigeons this is not the case, but the hen is not a
vegetarian by nature and high priced vegetable protein doesn't seem
to be in her line. Of the three standard grains there is some
indication of the value of the proteids for chickens and of the
following ranks, 1st oats, 2d corn, 3d wheat.

The false conceptions of the value of wheat proteids has been
specially the cause of much waste of money. Digestive trials and
direct experiments both show that, as chicken foods, wheat is worth
less, pound for pound, than corn and yet, though much higher in
price, it is still used not only as a variety grain, but by many
poultrymen as the chief article of diet. Wheat contains only 3 per
cent. more proteid than corn. The man who substitutes wheat at one
and one-half cents a pound for corn worth one cent a pound pays 17
cents a pound for his added protein. In beef scrap he could get the
protein for 5 cents a pound and have a very superior article

Milk as a source of protein ranks between the vegetable proteids and
those of meat. It is preferably fed clabbered. The dried casein
recently put on the market is a valuable food but is not worth as
much as meat food and will not be extensively utilized until the
demand for meat scrap forces up the price to a point where the
casein can be sold more cheaply. Meat scrap, to be relished by the
chickens, must not be a fine meal, but should consist of particles
the size of wheat kernels or larger. The fine scrap gives the
manufacturer a chance to utilize dried blood and tankage which is
cheaper in quality and price than particles of real meat.

The last and least understood of the groups of food substances is
mineral substance or ash. Now, the chemist determines mineral
substance by burning the food and analyzing the residue. In the
intense heat numerous chemical changes take place and the substances
that come out of the furnace are entirely different from those
contained in the fresh food.

The lay reader will probably ask why the chemist does not analyze
the substances of the fresh material. The answer is that he doesn't
know how. Progress is made every year but the whole subject is yet
too much clouded in obscurity to be of any practical application. At
present the feeding of mineral substance, like the feeding of
protein, can best be learned by experimenting directly with the
foods rather than by attempting to go by their chemical composition.

In practice it is found that green feed supplies something which
grain lacks, presumably mineral salts. Moreover we know that such
food fed fresh is superior to the same substance dried. This may be
because of chemical changes that occur in curing or simply because
of greater palatability.

The other chief source of mineral matter is meat preparations with
or without ground bone. Recent experiments at Rhode Island have
attempted to show the relative value of the mineral constituents of
meat by adding bone ash to vegetable proteids, as linseed and gluten
meal. The results clearly indicate that mineral matter of animal
origin greatly improves the value of the vegetable diet, but that
the latter is still sadly deficient. Of course the burning process
used in preparing the bone ash may have destroyed some of the
valuable qualities of the mineral salts. Practically, we do not care
whether the value of animal meal be due to protein, mineral salts or

In time the world will become so thickly populated that we cannot
afford to rear cattle and condemn a portion of the carcass to go
through another life cycle before human consumption. By that time
the necessary food salts will doubtless be known and we will be able
to medicate our corn and alfalfa and do away with the beef scrap.
The poultrymen will do well, however, not to count on the chemistry
of the future, for the chemist that makes the "tissue salts" for the
hen may manufacture human food with Niagara power and fresh eggs
will come in tin cans.

How the Hen Unbalances Balanced Rations.

Let the poultryman who figures the nutritious ratio of chicken feed
try this simple experiment. Place before a half dozen newly hatched
chicks a feed of one of the commercial chick feeds. When they have
had their fill, sacrifice these innocents on the altar of science
and open their crops. He will find that one chick has eaten almost
exclusively of millet seed, another has preferred cracked corn,
another has filled up heavily on bits of beef scrap and mica crystal
grit, while a fourth fancied oats and granulated bone. In short the
chick has, in three minutes, unbalanced the balanced ration that it
took a week to figure out. This experiment can be varied by placing
hens in individual coops and setting before each weighed portions of
every food in the poultryman supply man's catalogue.

There is only one kind of feeding that will balance rations and that
is to feed exclusively on wet mash. This is successfully done in the
duck business, but the duck is a Chinese animal and his ways are not
the ways of the more fastidious hen.

In dairy work the individual preferences of the cows are given
attention and their whimsy catered to by the herdsman. I know of
nothing that makes a man more feel his kinship to the beast than to
hear a good dairyman talk of the personalities and preferences of
his feminine co-operators.

With commercial chicken work, humanly guided individual feedings is
out of the question, though, if used, it might hasten the coming of
the two-egg-per-day hen. Individual feeding with the hen as sole
judge as to what she shall eat, which means each food in separate
hoppers and free range, is the best system of chicken feeding yet

The duty of the poultryman is to supply the food, giving enough
variety to permit of the hens having a fair selection. In practice
this means that every hen must have access to water, grit
(preferably oyster shell), one kind of grain, one kind of meat, and
one kind of green food. In practice it will pay to add granulated
bone for growing stock. One or two extra grains for variety and as
many green foods as conveniences will permit to increase
palatability--hence increase the amount of food consumed, for a
heavy food consumption is necessary for egg production.

As corn is the cheapest food known, let it be the bread at the
boarding house and other grains the rotating series of hash, beans
and bacon. The grain hopper may have two divisions. The corn never
changes but the other should have a change of grain occasionally.
The extent of the use made of the various grains will be determined
by their price per pound.

The proportions of food of the various classes that will be consumed
is about as follows:

Of 100 lbs. of dry matter: 8 to 12 lbs. meat; 66 to 75 lbs. grain;
15 to 25 lbs. green food.

The profits of the business will be increased by supplying the green
food in such tempting forms as to increase the amount consumed and
cut down the use of grains.

The methods we have been describing in which various dry unground
grains, beef scrap and oyster shell, each in a separate compartment,
are exposed before the hen at all times, together with the abundant
use of green food, either as pasture or a soiling crop, is the
method of feeding assumed throughout this book.

The hopper feeding of so-called dry mash or ground grain mixture has
been quite a fad in the last few years. The tendency of the hens to
waste such food has occasioned considerable trouble. They are
picking it over for their favorite foods and trying to avoid
disagreeable foods. This difficulty is relieved when the food be
separated into its various components and the hen offered each
separately. As a matter of fact, there is no occasion for feeding
ground feed except in fattening rations and here the wet mash is

The use of the products of wheat milling has been the chief excuse
for such practices, but unless these get considerably lower in price
per pound than corn they may be left off the bill-of-fare to
advantage. The great use made of these products in poultry feeding
was chiefly a result of the attempted application of the balanced
ration idea, but as has already been shown the efforts to raise the
protein ratio with grain foods is generally false economy.

The old-fashioned wet mash which the writer does not recommend
because of the labor involved, is, nevertheless, a fairly profitable
method of poultry feeding. It is used in the Little Compton district
of Rhode Island and was also used in the famous Australian egg
laying contests elsewhere described. Personally I would prefer
feeding ground grain wet, especially wheat bran and middlings, to
feeding it dry.

The scattering of grain in litter so generally recommended in
poultry literature is all right and proper, but is rather out of
place in commercial poultry farming. It is used on the large poultry
plants with the yards and long houses, but is not used on colony
farms or in any of the poultry growing communities. I should
recommend littered houses for Section 6 and the northern half of
Section 3 (see Chapter IV), but with warmer soils and climate where
the snow does not lie on the ground it would add a labor expense
that would very seriously handicap the business.

The systems of poultry feeding that are commonly advertised are
based either on some patent nostrum or a recommendation of green
food in novel form, such as sprouted oats. The joke about poultry
feed at 10 cents a bushel, absurd though it may seem, has caught
lots of dollars. To take a bushel of oats worth 50 cents, add water,
let them sprout and have five bushels costing 10 cents, is certainly
a wonderful achievement in wealth getting. The only reason a man
couldn't run a soup kitchen on the same principle is that he can't
do a soup business by mail. Sprouted oats are a good green food,
however, though somewhat laborious to prepare. I should certainly
recommend them if for any reason the regular green food supply
should run out.

The points already mentioned are about all the practical suggestions
that the science of animal nutrition has to offer the poultryman.
The discussion of feeding from its technical viewpoint is
sufficiently covered in the chapter on "Farm Poultry" and the
discussion of the management and economics of various types of
poultry production.



For the study of the classification and description of the numerous
ailments by which individual fowls pass to their untimely end, I
recommend any of the numerous books written upon the subject. Some
of these works are more accurate than others, but that I consider
immaterial. The study of these diseases is good for the poultryman,
it gives his mind exercise. When a boy in high school I studied
Latin for the same purpose.

Don't Doctor Chickens.

For the cure of all poultry diseases when they have passed a point
when the fowl does not eat or for other reasons recovery is
improbable, I recommend a blow on the head--the hatchet spills the
blood which is unwise.

The usual formula of "burn or bury deeply" is somewhat troublesome,
unless you have a furnace running. A covered pit is more convenient
if far enough removed from the house that the odor is not
prohibitive. A post with a tally card may be planted near by. This
part of the poultry farm may be marked "Exhibit A," and shown first
to the visitor during the busy season. If he is one of those
prospective pleasure and profit poultrymen who propose to disregard
all facts of biology and economics of production, you may save
yourself the trouble of showing him the rest of the plant.
Unfortunately, this scheme is not open to the poultryman who has
breeding stock for sale.

I have frequently had the question put to me in the smoker of a
Pullman car, "Do not epidemic diseases make the poultry business
precarious?" Such questions came from farm-raised men, but not from
poultry farmers. Poultrymen should figure a certain loss of birds
just as insurance companies figure on the human death rate, but to
all practical intents and purposes the epidemic disease has been
banished from the poultry farms and seldom if ever enters the
records in answer to the question, "Why do poultry farms fail?"

Some of my readers may take exception to me either in regard to roup
or white diarrhoea. Roup is a disease of the wrong system and
careless management. White diarrhoea, so-called, is a matter of
wrong incubation.

The high mortality of young chicks, though not an epidemic disease,
shares with excessive cost of production, very much of the
responsibility for poultry farm failures. At the present writing the
poultry editors of the country are having much discussion over the
conclusion of Dr. Morse of the Bureau of Animal Industry to the
effect that white diarrhoea is caused by an intestinal parasite
similar to the germ that causes human dysentery. Dr. Morse's
opportunities for investigation have been somewhat limited and as
the intestines of any animal are always swarming with various
organisms, it will take very conclusive evidence to prove that the
doctor is right. Practically the naming of the germs that attend the
funeral is not particularly important for the reason that it has
been thoroughly demonstrated that with good parentage, good
incubation and good brooder conditions, white diarrhoea is unknown.

The Causes of Poultry Diseases.

Poultry ailments are assignable to one of the three following
causes, or a combination of these: First, hereditary or inborn
weakness; second, unfavorable conditions of food, surroundings,
etc.; third, bacteria or animal parasites.

A great many chickens die while yet within the shell, or during the
growing process, there being no assignable reason save that of
inherited weakness. To this class of troubles the only remedy is to
breed from better stock. It is as much the trait of some birds to
produce infertile eggs or chicks of low vitality as it is for others
to produce vigorous offspring.

The second class of ailments needs no discussion save that accorded
it under the general discussions of the method of conducting the

The third class of ailments includes the contagious diseases. It is
now believed that most common diseases are caused by microscopic
germs known as bacteria. These germs in some manner gain entrance to
the body of an animal, and, growing within the tissues, give off
poisonous substances known as toxins, which produce the symptoms of
the disease. The ability to withstand disease germs varies with the
particular animal and the kind of disease. As a general rule it may
be stated that disease germs cannot live in the body of a perfectly
vigorous and healthy animal. It is only when the vitality is at a
low ebb, owing to unfavorable conditions or inherited weakness, that
disease germs enter the body and produce disease.

The bacteria which cause disease, like other living organisms, may
be killed by poisoning. Such poisons are known as disinfectants. If
it were possible to kill the bacteria within the animal, the curing
of disease would be a simple matter, but unfortunately the common
chemical poisons that kill germs kill the animal also. The only
thing that can be relied upon to kill disease germs within the
animal, is a counter-poison developed by the animal itself and known
as anti-toxin. Such anti-toxins can be produced artificially and are
used to combat certain diseases, as diphtheria and small-pox in
human beings and blackleg in cattle. Such methods of combating
poultry diseases have not been developed, and due to the small value
of an individual fowl would probably not be commercially useful even
if successful from a scientific standpoint. The only available
method of fighting contagious diseases of poultry is to destroy the
disease germs before they enter the fowls and to remove the causes
which make the fowl susceptible to the disease.

Contagious diseases of poultry may be grouped into two general
classes: First, those highly contagious; second, those contracted
only by fowls that are in a weakened condition. To the first class
belong the severe epidemics, of which chicken-cholera is the most


The European fowl-cholera has only been rarely identified in this
country. Other diseases similar in symptoms and effect are confused
with this. As the treatment should be similar the identification of
the diseases is not essential.

Yellow or greenish-colored droppings, listless attitude, refusal of
food and great thirst are the more readily observed symptoms. The
disease runs a rapid course, death resulting in about three days.
The death rate is very high. The disease is spread by droppings and
dead birds, and through feed and water. To stamp out the disease
kill or burn or bury all sick chickens, and disinfect the premises
frequently and thoroughly. A spray made of one-half gallon carbolic
acid, one-half gallon of phenol and twenty gallons of water may be
used. Corrosive sublimate, 1 part in 5000 parts of water, should be
used as drinking water. This is not to cure sick birds, but to
prevent the disease from spreading by means of the drinking vessels.
Food should be given in troughs arranged so that the chickens cannot
infect the food with the feet. All this work must be done
thoroughly, and even then considerable loss can be expected before
the disease is stamped out. If cholera has a good start in a flock
of chickens it will often be better to dispose of the entire flock
than to combat the disease. Fortunately cholera epidemics are rare
and in many localities have never been known.


This disease is a representative of that class of diseases which,
while being caused by bacteria, can be considered more of a disease
of conditions than of contagion. Roup may be caused by a number of
different bacteria which are commonly found in the air and soil.
When chickens catch cold these germs find lodgment in the nasal
passages and roup ensues. The first symptoms of roup are those of an
ordinary cold, but as the disease progresses a cheesy secretion
appears in the head and throat. A wheezing or rattling sound is
often produced by the breathing. The face and eyes swell, and in
severe cases the chicken becomes blind. The most certain way of
identifying roup is a characteristic sickening odor. The disease may
last a week or a year. Birds occasionally recover, but are generally
useless after having had roup.

Sick birds should be removed and destroyed, but the time usually
spent in doctoring sick birds and disinfecting houses can in this
case be better employed in finding and remedying the cause of the
disease. Such causes may be looked for as dampness, exposure to cold
winds, or to a sudden change in temperature as is experienced by
chickens roosting in a tight house. Fall and winter are the seasons
of roup, while it is poorly housed and poorly fed flocks that most
commonly suffer from this disease. Flocks that have become
thoroughly roupy should be disposed of and more vigorous birds
secured. The open front house has proved to be the most practical
scheme for the reduction of this disease.

Chicken-Pox, Gapes, Limber Neck.

Chicken-pox or sore-head is a disease peculiar to the South. It
attacks growing chickens late in the summer. Southern poultrymen who
give reasonable attention to their stock, find that, while this
disease is a source of some annoyance, the losses are not severe and
that it may be readily controlled. In the first place, the animal
epidemic of pox can be practically avoided by bringing the chicks
out early in the season. If the disease does develop in the flock,
the birds are taken from the coops at night and their heads dipped
in a proper strength of one of the coal tar disinfectants. Such
treatment once a week has generally been effective. This disease is
an exception to the general rule that disinfectants which kill germs
also kill the chicken. The explanation is that chicken-pox is an
external disease.

Gapes is given in every poultry book as one of the prominent poultry
diseases, but are not common in the Northern and Western States.
Gapes are caused by a parasitic worm in the windpipe. Growing chicks
are affected. The remedy is to move the chicks to fresh ground and
cultivate the old.

Limber neck is not a disease, but is the result of the fowl's eating
maggots from dead carcasses. It can be prevented by not allowing
dead carcasses to remain where the chickens will find them. No
practical cure is known.

Lice and Mites.

The parasites referred to as chicken-lice include many different
species, but in habit they may be classed as body-lice and
roost-mites. The first, or true bird-lice, live on the body of the
chicken and eat the feathers and skin. The roost-mite is similar to
a spider and differs in habits from the body-louse in that it sucks
the blood of the chicken and does not remain on the body of the fowl
except at night.

Body-lice are to be found upon almost all chickens, as well as on
many other kinds of birds. Their presence in small numbers on
matured fowls is not a serious matter. When body-lice are abundant
on sitting hens they go from the hen to the newly hatched chickens,
and may cause the death of the chicks. The successful methods of
destroying body-lice are three in number: First, dust or earth
wallows in which the active hens will get rid of lice. Such dust
baths should be especially provided for yarded chickens and during
the winter. Dry earth can be stored for this purpose. Sitting hens
should have access to dust baths. Second: The second method by which
body-lice may be destroyed is the use of insect powder. The
pyrethrum powder is considered the best for this purpose, but is
expensive and difficult to procure in the pure state. Tobacco dust
is also used. Insect powder is applied by holding the hen by the
feet and working the dust thoroughly into the feathers, especially
the fluff. The use of insect powder should be confined to sitting
hens and fancy stock, as the cost and labor of applying is too great
for use upon the common chicken. The third method is suitable for
young chickens, and consists of applying some oil and grease on the
head and under the wings. Do not grease the chick all over. With
vigorous chickens and correct management the natural dust bath is
all that is needed to combat the lice.

The roost-mite is probably the cause of more loss to farm poultry
raisers than any other pest or disease. The great difficulty in
destroying mites on many farms is that chickens are allowed to roost
in too many places. If the chicken-house proper is the only building
infected with mites the difficulty of destroying them is not great.
Plainness in the interior furnishings of the chicken-house is also a
great advantage when it comes to fighting mites. The mites in the
daytime are to be found lodged in the cracks near the roosting-place
of the chickens.

Mites can be killed with various liquids, the best in point of
cheapness is boiling water. Give the chicken-house a thorough
cleaning and scald by throwing dippers of hot water in all places
where the mites can find lodgment. Hot water destroys the eggs as
well as the mites. Whitewash is a good remedy, as it buries both
mites and eggs beneath a coating of lime from which they cannot
emerge. Pure kerosene or a solution of carbolic acid in kerosene, at
the rate of a pint of acid to a gallon of oil, is an effective
lice-paint. Another substance much used for destroying insects or
similar pests is carbon bisulphide. This is a liquid which
evaporates readily, the vapor destroying the insects or mites.
Carbon bisulphide or other fumigating agents are not effective in
the average chicken-house because the house cannot be tightly
closed. The liquid lice-killers on the market are very effective.
They are usually composed of the remedies just mentioned, or of
something of similar properties.



The poultry flesh which is used for food may be grouped into three

First: Poultry carcasses grown especially for market.

Second: Poultry carcasses consisting of hens and young male birds
that are sold from the general farms where the pullets are kept for
egg production.

Third: The cockerels and old hens sold as a by-product from egg

The third class hardly needs our consideration in the present
chapter. This stock, usually Leghorns, like Jersey veal, is to be
disposed of at whatever price the market offers.

The cockerel will, if growing nicely, be fairly plump and the hens,
if on hopper rations of corn and beef scrap, will be about as fat as
they can be profitably made, and to waste further effort upon them
would not pay. Leghorn cockerels and hens are a wholesome enough
meat, but will never command fancy prices nor warrant extra pains.

In class two we find the great mass of the poultry flesh of the
country. This stock consisting chiefly, as it does, of Plymouth
Rocks and Wyandottes, is well worth some extra pains toward
increasing its quantity and quality.

Within the last ten or fifteen years several changes have been
brought about in the general methods of handling farm poultry.
Formerly it was thought desirable to market all stock not kept as
layers while in the broiler stage of from 1-1/2 to 2 pounds. Since
the introduction of the custom of holding fall broilers over in cold
storage, the price has fallen until it is now more profitable to
market the surplus cockerels from the farm at three or four months
of age. At this period the flesh has cost less per pound to produce
than at either an earlier or later stage. For such purposes only the
well fleshed type of American breeds has been found desirable. The
Leghorns and similar breeds are too small and become staggy too

Contrary to a common belief and to the custom in the poultry books
of classifying the Asiatics as meat breeds, the Brahmas and Cochins
are among the very poorest fowls that can be used for farm
production of poultry meat. At the age spoken of these breeds are
lanky and unsightly and not wanted by poultry packers.

Consecutively with and perhaps responsible for change of sentiment
that demands that broilers be allowed to grow into four pound
chickens, we find the development of the crate fattening industry.


The introduction of crate-fattening into the Central West occurred
about 1900. The credit of this introduction belongs to the large
meat packing firms. At the present time the business is not confined
to the meat packers, but is shared by independent plants throughout
the country.

The plants of the West range from a few hundred to as high as 20,000
capacity. They are constructed for convenience and a saving of
labor, and in this respect are decidedly in advance of the European
establishments where fattening has been long practiced.

The room used for fattening is well built and sanitary. A good
system of ventilation is essential, as murky, damp air breeds colds
and roup. The coops are built back to back, and two or more coops in
height. Each coop is high and wide enough to comfortably accommodate
the chickens, and long enough to contain from five to twelve
chickens. The chickens stand on slats, beneath which are
dropping-boards that may be drawn out for cleaning. The
dropping-boards and feeding-troughs are often made of metal. Strict
cleanliness is enforced. No droppings or feed are allowed to
accumulate and decompose.

As is a general rule in meat production, young animals give much
better returns for food consumed than do mature individuals. With
the young chicken the weight is added as flesh, while the hen has a
tendency, which increases with age, to turn the same food into
useless fat. For this reason the general practice is to fatten only
the best of the young chickens. The head feeder at a large and
successful poultry plant gave the following information on the
selection of birds for the fattening-crates:

"The younger the stock the more profitable the gain. All specimens
showing the slightest indication of disease are discarded. The
Plymouth Rock is the favorite breed, and the Wyandotte is second.
Leghorns are comparatively fat when received, and, while they do
well under feed and 'yellow up' nicely, they do not gain as much as
the American breeds. Black chickens are not fed at all. Brahmas and
Cochins are not considered good feeders at the age when they are
commonly sold. Chickens in fair flesh at the start make better gains
than those that are extremely lean or very fat. But, contrary to
what the amateur might assume, the moderately fat chicken will
continue to make fair gains, while the very lean chicken seldom
returns a profit."

The idea has been somewhat prevalent that there is some guarded
secret about the rations used in crate-fattening. This is a mistaken
notion. The rations used contain no new or wonderful constituent,
and although individual feeders may have their own formulas, the
general composition of the feed is common knowledge. The feed most
commonly used consists of finely ground grain, mixed to a batter
with buttermilk or sour skim-milk. The favorite grain for the
purpose is oats finely ground and the hulls removed. Oats may be
used as the sole grain, and is the only grain recommended as
suitable to be fed alone. Corn is used, but not by itself. Shorts,
ground barley or ground buckwheat are sometimes used. Beans, peas,
linseed and gluten meals may be used in small quantities. When milk
products are obtainable they are a great aid to successful
fattening. Tallow is often used in small quantities toward the
finish of the feeding period. The assumption is that it causes the
deposit of fat-globules throughout the muscular tissues, thus adding
to the quality of the meat. The following simple rations show that
there is nothing complex about the crate-fed chicken's bill of fare:

No. 1.--Ground oats, 2 parts; ground barley, 1 part; ground corn, 1
part; mixed with skim-milk.

No. 2.--Ground corn, 4 parts; ground peas, 1 part; ground oats, 1
part; meat-meal, 1 part; mixed with water.

A ration used by some fatters with great success is composed of
simply oatmeal and buttermilk.

The feed is given as a soft batter and is left in the troughs for
about thirty minutes, when the residue is removed. Chickens are
generally fed three times per day. Water may or may not be given,
according to the weather and the amount of liquid used in the food.

The chicken that has been crate-fattened has practically the same
amount of skeleton and offal as the unfattened specimen, but carries
one or two pounds more of edible meat upon its carcass. Not only is
the weight of the chicken and amount of edible meat increased, but
the quality of the meat is greatly improved, consisting of juicy,
tender flesh. For this reason the crate-feeding process is often
spoken of as fleshing rather than as fattening.

The enforced idleness causes the muscular tissue to become tender
and filled with stored nutriment. The fatness of a young chicken,
crate-fed on buttermilk and oatmeal, is a radically different thing
from the fatness of an old hen that has been ranging around the

The crate-fattening industry while deserving credit for great
improvement in the quality of chicken flesh in the regions where it
has been introduced, cannot on the whole be considered a great
success. It is commonly reported that some of the firms instrumental
in its introduction lost money on the deal. The crate-fattening
plant has come to stay in the communities where careful methods of
poultry raising are practiced, and where the stock is of the best,
but when a plant is located in a newly settled region where the
poultry stock is small and feed scarce, the venture is pretty apt to
prove a fiasco.

While poultryman at the Kansas Experiment Station, the writer made a
large number of individual weighings of fowls in the crates of one
of the large fattening plants of the state.

These weighings pointed out very clearly why the expected profits
had not been realized. The birds selected for weighing were all
fine, uniform looking Barred Rock Cockerels. At the end of the first
week they were found to still appear much the same, but when handled
a difference was easily noticed. By the end of the second week a few
birds had died and many others were in a bad way. The individual
changes of weight ran from 2-1/2 pounds gain to 3/4 pound loss, and
many of the lighter birds were of very poor appearance. It is simply
a matter of forced feeding being a process that makes trouble with
the health of the chicken if all is not just right.

It is probable that in the future more fattening will be done on the
farm, or by the farmer operating in a small way among his neighbors.
The reason for this is that the saving of labor in the large plant
is hardly as great as the added loss from the shrinkage of the birds
due to the excitement of shipping and crowding, and the introduction
of disease by the mingling of chickens from so many different

The Canadians especially have encouraged fattening on the farm. The
following is a hand-bill gotten out by an enterprising Canadian
dealer for distribution among the farmers of his locality:


To fatten birds for the export trade, it is necessary
to have proper coops to put them in. These should be
two feet long, twenty inches high and twenty inches
deep, the top, bottom and front made of slats. This
size will hold four birds, but the cheapest plan is to
build the coops ten feet long and divide them into five

What to feed.

Oats chopped fine, the coarse hulls sifted out, two
parts; ground buckwheat, one part; mix with skim-milk
to a good soft batter, and feed three times a day.
Or, black barley and oats, two parts oats to one part
barley. Give clean drinking water twice a day, grit
twice a week, and charcoal once a week. During the
first week the birds are in the coops they should be
fed sparingly--only about one-half of what they will
eat. After that gradually increase the amount until
you find out just how much they will eat up clean
each time. Never leave any food in the troughs, as
it will sour and cause trouble. Mix the food always
one feed ahead. Birds fed in this way will be ready
for the export trade in from four to five weeks.
Chickens make the best gain put in the coop weighing
three to four pounds.

We Supply the Coops.

We have on hand a number of coops for fattening
chicks, which we will loan to any person, "free of
charge", who will sign an agreement to bring all
chicks fattened in them to us. Every farmer should
have at least one of these coops, as this is the only
way to fatten chicks properly. In this way you can
get the highest market price. We can handle any
quantity of chicks properly fatted.
                                  ARMSTRONG BROS.

The farmer who does not think it worth while to construct
fattening-crates for his own crop of chickens, may get very fair
results by simply enclosing the chickens in some vacant shed. To
these may feed a ration of two-thirds corn meal and one-third
shorts, or some of the more complicated rations used at the
fattening plants may be fed.

In the East, poultry fattening on the general farm is not dissimilar
from the practices in the Central West, but we find a larger use of
cramming machines, caponizing, and the growing of chickens for meat
as an industry independent of keeping hens for egg production.

The cramming machine is a device by means of which food in a
semi-liquid state is pumped into the bird's crop, through a tube
inserted in the mouth. This means of feeding is much more used in
Europe than in this country. It requires good stock and careful
workmen. The method will probably slowly gain ground in this
country. The feed used in cramming is similar to that used in
ordinary crate feeding, except that it is mixed as a thin batter.


Caponizing is the castration of male chickens. Capons hold the same
place in the poultry market as do steers in the beef market.

Caponizing is practiced to quite an extent in France, and to a less
degree in England and the United States.

Much the larger part of the industry is confined to that portion of
the United States east of Philadelphia, though increasing numbers of
capons are being raised in the North Central States. During the
winter months capon is regularly quoted in the markets of the larger
eastern cities. Massachusetts and New Jersey are the great centers
for the growing of capons, while Boston, New York, and Philadelphia
are the great markets. In many eastern markets the prices paid for
dressed capons range from 20 to 30 cents a pound. The highest prices
usually prevail from January to May, and the larger the birds the
more they bring a pound.

The purpose of caponizing is not, as is sometimes stated, to
increase the size of the chicken, but to improve the quality of the
meat. The capon fattens more readily and economically than other
birds. As they do not interfere with or worry one another, large
flocks may be kept together.

The breeds suitable for caponizing are the Asiatics and Americans.
Brahmas will produce, with proper care and sufficient time, the
largest and finest capons. On the ordinary farm, where capons would
be allowed to run loose, Plymouth Rocks would prove more profitable.
Plymouth Rocks, Brahmas, Langshans, Wyandottes, Indian Games, may
all be used for capons. Leghorns are not to be considered for this

Capons should be operated upon when they are about ten weeks or
three months old and weigh about two pounds.

The operation of caponizing is performed by cutting in between the
last two ribs. Both testicles may be removed from one side or both
sides may be opened. The cockerel should be starved for twenty-four
hours in order to empty the intestines. Asiatics are more difficult
to operate on than Americans, the testicles being larger and less
firm. There is always some danger of causing death by tearing blood
vessels, but the per cent. of loss with an experienced operator is
very small. Loss by inflammation is still more rare. The testicle of
a bird is not as highly developed as in a mammal, and if the organ
is broken and a small fragment remains attached it will produce
birds known as slips. Some growers advise looking over the capons
and puncturing the wind puffs that gather beneath the skin. This,
however, is not necessary.

A good set of tools is indispensable and can be purchased for from
$2 to $3. As a complete set of instructions is furnished with each
set it is unnecessary to go into details here. The beginner should,
however, operate on several dead cockerels before attempting to
operate on a live one.

After caponizing the bird should be given plenty of soft feed and
water. The capon begins to eat almost immediately after the
operation is performed, and no one would suppose that a radical
change had taken place in his nature.

The feeding of capons differs little from the feeding of other
growing chickens. Corn, wheat, barley and Kaffir-corn would be
suitable grain, while beef-scrap would be necessary to produce the
best growth.

About three weeks before marketing place the capons in small yards
and feed them three or four times a day, giving plenty of corn and
other feed, or fatten them in one of the ways indicated in the
section on fattening poultry. Corn meal and ground oats, equal parts
by weight, moistened with water or milk, make a good mash for
fattening capons.

In dressing capons leave the head and hackle feathers, the feathers
on the wings to the second joint, the tail feathers, including those
a little way up the back, and the feathers on the legs halfway up to
the thigh. These feathers serve to distinguish capons from other
fowls in the market. Do not cut the head off, for this is also a
distinguishing feature of the capon, on account of the undeveloped
comb and wattles.

The price received for capons is greater than any other kind of
poultry meat except early broilers. There may be trouble in some
localities in getting dealers to recognize capons as such and pay an
advanced price.

On several farms in Massachusetts, 500 to 1,000 capons are raised
annually, and on one farm 5,000 cockerels are held for caponizing.
The industry is growing rapidly year by year and the supply does not
equal the demand.

It is to be expected that the amount of caponizing done in the West
will gradually increase. Those wishing to try the growing of capons
will do well to secure an experienced operator. Good men at this
work receive five cents per bird. Poor operators are dear at any
price, as they produce a large number of worthless slips.



In the marketing of poultry carcasses as in other phases of the
industry, we really have two systems to discuss. The one is used for
the marketing of the product of the farm of the Central West, and
the other the product of the poultryman or eastern farmer, who is
near a large market and who will be repaid for taking special pains
in preparing his poultry for market.

Farm-Grown Chickens.

At the present time almost the entire poultry crop of the Central
West is sold from the farm as live poultry. This farm stock is
purchased by produce buyers or general merchants and shipped to the
nearest county seat or other important town, where there are usually
one or more poultry-killing establishments. These establishments may
vary from a simple shed, where the chickens are picked and packed in
barrels, to the more modern poultry-packing establishment, with its
accommodations for fattening, dressing, packing, freezing, and

The poultry-buying stations may be branches of the larger packing
establishments, branch houses of large produce firms, or small firms
operating independently and selling in the open market.

The chickens as purchased are grouped into the following classes:
Springs, hens, old roosters and (at certain seasons) young roosters
or staggy cockerels. Early in the season small springs are quoted as
broilers, while capons form a separate item where such are grown.

Chickens are starved before killing, for the purpose of emptying the
crop, and, to some degree, the intestines. If this is not done the
carcass presents an unsightly appearance and spoils more readily in

The method of picking is not always the same, even in the same
plant. Scalding is frequently used for local trade, in the summer
season, or with cheap-grade stuff. The greater portion of the stock
is picked dry. The pickers are generally paid so much per bird. In
some plants men do the roughing while girls are employed as pinners.
Pickers work either with the chickens suspended by a cord or
fastened upon a bench adopted to this purpose. The killing is done
by bleeding and sticking. The last thrust reaches the brain and
paralyzes the bird. The manner of making these cuts must be learned
by practical instruction. The feathers are saved, and amount to a
considerable item. White feathers are worth more than others. The
head and feet are left on the chicken and the entrails are not

The bird, after being chilled in ice-water or in the cooling room,
is ready for grading and packing. This, from the producer's
standpoint, is the most interesting stage in the process, for it is
here that the quality of the stock is to be observed. The grading is
made on three considerations: (1) The general division of cocks,
springs, hens and capons is kept separate from the killing-room; (2)
the grading for quality; (3) the assortment according to size.

The grading for quality depends on the general shape of the chicken,
the plumpness or covering of meat, the neatness of picking, the
color of skin and legs, and the appearance of the feet and head,
which latter points indicate the age and condition of health. The
culls consist of deformed and scrawny chickens. The seconds are poor
in flesh, or they may be, in the case of hens, unsightly from
overfatness. They are packed in barrels and go to the cheapest
trade. Those carcasses slightly bruised or torn in dressing also go
in this class. Although a preference is generally stated for
yellow-skinned poultry, the white-skinned birds, if equal in other
points, are not underranked in this score. The skin color that is
decidedly objectionable is the purplish tinge, which is a sign of
diseased stock. Black pin-feathers and dark-colored legs are a
source of objection. Especially is this true with young birds which
show the pin-feathers. Feathered legs are slightly more
objectionable than smooth legs. Small combs and the absence of spurs
give better appearance to the carcass.

The following is the nomenclature and corresponding weights of the
farm marketed chickens. In each class there will be seconds and
culls. The seconds of each group are kept separate, but not graded
so strictly or perhaps not graded at all for size. The culls are
packed in barrels and all kinds of chickens from fryers to old
roosters here sojourn together until they reach their final
destination, as potted chicken or chicken soup.

Broilers--Packed in two weights. 1st: Less than two pounds; 2d:
between 2 and 2-1/2 pounds.

Chickens--Packed in three weights. 1st: between 2-1/2 and 3 pounds;
2d: between 3 and 3-1/2 pounds; 3d: between 3-1/2 and 4 pounds.

Roasters--Packed in two weights. 1st: between 4 and 5 pounds; 2d:
above 5 pounds.

Stag Roosters--Cockerels, showing spurs and hard blue meat, packed
in two weights. 1st: under 4 pounds; 2d: above 4 pounds.

Fowls, are hens. They are packed in three sizes. 1st: under 3-1/4
pounds; 2d: between 3-1/4 and 4-1/2 pounds; 3d: over 4-1/2 pounds.

Old Roosters--Packed in barrels. One grade only.

After packing, chickens may be shipped to market immediately, or
they may be frozen and stored in the local plant. Shipments of any
importance are made in refrigerator cars.

The poultry that is shipped to the final market alive is gradually
diminishing in quantity, as poultry killing plants are built up
throughout the country. The live poultry shipments are chiefly made
in the Live Poultry Transportation Cars. The following figures give
the number of such cars that moved out of the States named in a
recent year:

    Iowa            645     Tennessee        169
    Missouri        630     Michigan         165
    Illinois        624     S. Dakota        103
    Kentucky        472     Oklahoma         101
    Nebraska        395     Indiana          100
    Kansas          370     Wisconsin         93
    Minnesota       174     Texas             91
    Ohio            173     Arkansas          47

The most of this live poultry goes to New York and other eastern
cities and is consumed largely by the Hebrew trade.

The Special Poultry Plant.

The special egg farmer of the East should sell his poultry alive to
the regular dealer. The exception to this advice may be taken in the
case of squab broilers for which some local dealers will not pay as
fancy a price as may be obtained by dressing and shipping to the
hotel trade.

The grower of roasters and capons will probably want to market his
own product. As to whether it will pay him to do so will depend upon
whether his dealer will pay what the quality of the goods really
demands. The dealer can afford to do this all right, if he will
hustle around and find an outlet for the particular grade of goods,
for he is in position to kill and dress the fowls more economically
than the producer.

I have never been able to study out why the average writer upon
agricultural subjects is always advising the farmer to attempt to do
difficult work for which special firms already exist. In the case of
fattening just referred to, there is reason why the farmer may be
able to do the work more successfully than the special
establishment, but why any one should urge the farmer to turn the
woodshed into a temporary poultry packing establishment I can hardly
see. If the farmer has nothing to do he had better get a job at the
poultry killing house where they have ice water and barrels in which
to put the feathers.

I do not think it worth while in this book for me to attempt to
describe in detail the various methods of killing and packing
poultry for the various retail markets. The grower who contemplates
killing his own stuff had better spend a day visiting the produce
houses and market stalls and inquire which methods are locally in

Suggestions from Other Countries.

In European countries generally, and especially in France and
England, great pains is taken in the production of market poultry.
Each farmer and each neighborhood become known in the market for the
quality of their poultry, and the prices they receive vary
accordingly. In these countries more poultry is fattened and dressed
by the growers than in the United States where we have greater
specialization of labor.

In countries that have an export trade different systems have
originated. In Denmark and Ireland co-operative societies are
organized to handle perishable farm products. These, however, deal
more with eggs than with poultry. In portions of England the
fattening is done by private fatteners. The country being thickly
settled, the chickens are collected directly from the farms by
wagons making regular trips. This allows the rejection of the poor
and immature specimens, whereas a premium may be paid on better

The greatest fault of poultry buying as conducted in this country is
the evil of a uniform price. After chickens are dressed the
difference of quality is readily discerned, and the price varies
from fancy quotations to almost nothing for culls. The packer pays a
given rate per pound for live hens or for spring chickens. The price
is paid alike for the best poultry received or for the scrawniest
chickens that can be coaxed to stand up and be weighed. The prices
paid is the average worth of all chickens purchased at that market.
All farmers who market an article better than the average are unjust
losers, while those who sell inferior stock receive unearned
profits. The producer of good stock receives pay for the extra
quantity of his chickens, but for the extra quality no recognition
whatever is given. To the deserving producer, if quality was
recognized, it would result in a greatly increased stimulation of
the production of good poultry. Any packer, if questioned, will
state that he would be willing to grade chickens and pay for them
according to quality, but that he does not do so because his
competitor would pay a uniform price and drive him out of business.
The man who receives an increased price would say little of it,
while the man who sells poor chickens, if he failed to receive the
full amount to which he is accustomed, would think himself unjustly
treated and use his influence against the dealer. A recognition of
quality in buying is for the interest of both the farmer and the
poultry dealer, and a mutual effort on the part of those interested
to put in practice this reform would result in a great improvement
of the poultry industry.

Cold Storage of Poultry.

The growth of the cold storage of poultry has been phenomenal.
Poultry is packed in thin boxes that will readily lose their heat
and these are stacked in a freezer with a temperature near the zero
point. The temperature used for holding poultry are anywhere from 0
degree up to 20 degrees. Poultry is held for periods of one to six
weeks at temperature above the freezing point.

Frozen poultry will keep almost indefinitely save for the drying
out, which is due to the fact that evaporation will proceed slowly
even from a frozen body. The time frozen poultry is stored varies
from a few weeks to eight or ten months.

The usual rule is that any crop is highest in price when it first
comes on the market and cheapest just after the point of its
greatest production. Thus, broilers are high in May and cheap in
September. In such cases the goods are carried from the season of
plenty to the following season of scarcity. This period is always
less than a year. The idea circulated by wild writers, that cold
storage poultry was kept several years is an economic impossibility.
The interest on the investment alone would make the holding of
storage goods into the second season of plenty, quite unprofitable,
but when the costs of storage, insurance and shrinkage are to be
paid, storing poultry for more than one season becomes absurd. The
fowl that has been once frozen cannot be made to look "fresh killed"
again. For that reason packers like to get a monopoly on a
particular market so that the two classes of goods will not have to
compete side by side. The quality of the frozen fowl when served is
very fair, practically as good as and some say better than the fresh

Cold storage poultry is best thawed out by being placed over night
in a tank of water. Poultry prejudice prevents the practice of
retailing the goods frozen, though this method would be highly

Drawn or Undrawn Fowls.

Within the last two or three years there has been a great hue and
cry about the marketing of poultry without drawing the entrails.

The objection to the custom rests upon the general prejudice to
allowing the entrails of animals to remain in the carcass. If a
little thought is given the subject, however, it is seen that human
prejudice is very inconsistent in such matters. We draw beef and
mutton carcasses, to be sure, but fish and game are stored undrawn,
and as for oysters and lobsters we not only store them undrawn but
we eat them so.

The facts about the undrawn poultry proposition are as follows: The
intestines of the fowl at death contain numerous species of
bacteria, whereas the flesh is quite free from germs. If the carcass
is not drawn, but immediately frozen hard, the bacteria remain
inactive and no essential change occurs. If the carcass is stored
without freezing, or remains for even a short time at a high
temperature, the bacteria will begin to grow through the intestinal
walls and contaminate the flesh.

Now, if the fowl is drawn, the unprotected flesh is exposed to
bacterial contamination, which results in decomposition more rapidly
than through the intestinal walls. The opening of the carcass also
allows a greater drying out and shrinkage.

If poultry carcasses were split wide open as with beef or mutton,
drawing might not prove as satisfactory as the present method, but
since this is not desirable, and since ordinary laborers will break
the intestines and spill their contents over the flesh, and
otherwise mutilate the fowl, all those who have had actual
experience in the matter agree that drawing poultry is unpractical
and undesirable.

As far as danger of disease or ptomaine poison is concerned, chances
between the two methods seem to offer little choice.

The Bureau of Chemistry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has
conducted a series of experiments along the line of poultry storage.
So far as the results have been published, nothing very striking has
been learned. From what has been published, the writer is of the
opinion that the somewhat mysterious changes that were observed in
the cold storage poultry were mostly a matter of drying out of the

Poultry Inspection.

The enthusiastic members of the medical profession, and others whose
knowledge of practical affairs is somewhat limited, occasionally
come forth with the idea of an inspection of poultry carcasses
similar to the Federal inspection of the heavier meats.

The reasons that are supposed to warrant the Federal meat inspection
are precaution against disease and the idea of enforcing a
cleanliness in the handling of food behind the consumer's back,
which he would insist upon were he the preparer of his own food

No doubt there is well established evidence that some diseases, such
as the dread trichinosis, are acquired by the consumption of
diseased meat. As far as it is at present known there are no
diseases acquired from the consumption of diseased poultry flesh,
but, as we do not know as much about the bacteria that infests
poultry as we do of that of larger animals, there is no positive
proof that such transmission of disease could not occur. Thorough
cooking kills all disease germs, and poultry is seldom, if ever,
eaten without such preparation.

The idea of protecting people from uncleanly methods of handling
their foods, concerning which they cannot themselves know, is
somewhat of a sentimental proposition. In practice it amounts to
nothing, save as the popular conception of this protection increases
the demand for the product which is marked "U.S. Inspected and

It may be interesting to some of the reformers of 1906 to know that
the meat inspection bill then forced upon Congress by a clamoring
public was desired by the packers themselves. Because Congress would
not listen to the packers, and the Department of Agriculture, the
Chief Executive very kindly indulged in a little conversation with a
few reporters, the results of which gave Congress the needed

It cost the Government three million dollars to tell the people that
their meats are packed in a cleanly manner. If the people want this,
it is all well and good. The tax it places upon the price of meat is
less than half of one per cent.

A similar inspection of the killing and packing of poultry would
involve a very much higher rate of taxation, because of the fact
that poultry products are packed in small establishments scattered
throughout the entire country.

One reason that the meat packers wanted the United States
Inspection, is because it puts out of business the little fellow to
whom the Government cannot afford to grant inspection. A few of the
very largest poultry packers would like to see poultry inspection
for the same reason, but with the business so thoroughly scattered
as to render Government inspection so expensive as to be quite
impracticable, any such bill would certainly be killed in a
congressional committee.

Any practical means to bring about the cleanly handling, and to
prevent the consumption of diseased poultry, should certainly be
encouraged. This can be done by the education of the consumer.
Poultry carcasses should be marketed with head and feet attached and
the entrails undrawn. By this precaution the consumer may tell
whether the fowl he is buying is male or female, young or old,
healthy or diseased. All cold storage poultry should be frozen and
should be sold to the consumer in a frozen condition.

I am not in favor of the detailed regulation of business by law, but
I do believe that the legal enforcement of these last precautions
would be a good thing.



[Footnote *: Much of the matter in this and the following chapter is
taken from the writer's report of the egg trade of the United
States, published as Circular 140 of the Bureau of Annual Industry
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the present volume,
however, I have inserted some additional matters which policy
forbade that I discuss in a Federal document.]

Because of the readiness with which eggs spoil, the term "fresh" has
become synonymous with the idea of desirable quality in eggs. As a
matter of fact the actual age of an egg is quite subordinate to
other factors which affect the quality.

An egg forty-eight hours old that has lain in a wheat shock during a
warm July rain, would probably be swarming with bacteria and be
absolutely unfit for food. Another egg stored eight months in a
first-class cold storage room would be perfectly wholesome.

Grading Eggs.

Eggs are among the most difficult of food products to grade, because
each egg must be considered separately and because the actual
substance of the egg cannot be examined without destroying the egg.
From external appearance, eggs can be selected for size, color,
cleanliness of shell and freedom from cracks. This is the common
method of grading in early spring when the eggs are uniformly of
good quality.

Later in the season the egg candle is used. In the technical sense
any kind of a light may be used as an egg candle. A sixteen candle
power electric lamp is the most desirable. The light is enclosed in
a dark box, and the eggs are held against openings about the size of
a half dollar. The candler holds the egg large end upward, and gives
it a quick turn in order to view all sides, and to cause the
contents to whirl within the shell. To the expert this process
reveals the actual condition of the egg to an extent that the novice
can hardly realize. The art of egg candling cannot be readily taught
by worded description. One who wishes to learn egg candling had best
go to an adept in the art, or he may begin unaided and by breaking
many eggs learn the essential points.

Eggs when laid vary considerably in size, but otherwise are a very
uniform product. The purpose of the egg in nature requires that this
be the case, because the contents of the egg must be so proportioned
as to form the chick without surplus or waste, and this demands a
very constant chemical composition.

For food purposes all fresh eggs are practically equal. The tint of
the yolk varies a little, being a brighter yellow when green food
has been supplied the hens. Occasionally, when hens eat unusual
quantities of green food, the yolk show a greenish brown tint, and
appear dark to the candler. Such eggs are called grass eggs; they
are perfectly wholesome.

An opinion exists among egg men that the white of the spring egg is
of finer quality and will stand up better than summer eggs. This is
true enough of commercial eggs, but the difference is chiefly, if
not entirely, due to external factors that act upon the egg after it
is laid.

There are some other peculiarities that may exist in eggs at the
time of laying, such as a blood clot enclosed with the contents of
the egg, a broken yolk or perhaps bacterial contamination. "Tape
worms," so-called by egg candlers, are detached portions of the
membrane lining of the egg. "Liver spots" or "meat spots" are
detached folds from the walls of the oviduct. Such abnormalities are
rare and not worth worrying about.

The shells of eggs vary in shape, color and firmness. These
variations are more a matter of breed and individual idiosyncrasy
than of care or feed.

The strength of egg shells is important because of the loss from
breakage. The distinction between weak and firm shelled eggs is not
one, however, which can be readily remedied. Nothing more can be
advised in this regard than to feed a ration containing plenty of
mineral matter and to discard hens that lay noticeably weak shelled
or irregularly shaped eggs.

Preference in the color of eggs shells is a hobby, and one well
worth catering to. As is commonly stated, Boston and surrounding
towns want brown eggs, while New York and San Francisco demand white
eggs. These trade fancies take their origin in the circumstances of
there being large henneries in the respective localities producing
the particular class of eggs. If the eggs from such farms are the
best in the market and were uniformly of a particular shade, that
mark of distinction, like the trade name on a popular article, would
naturally become a selling point. Only the select trade consider the
color in buying.

Eggs of all Mediterranean breeds are white. Those of Asiatics are
brown. Those of the American breeds are usually brown, but not of so
uniform a tint.

The size of eggs is chiefly controlled by the breed or by selection
of layers of large eggs. In a number of experiments published by
various experiment stations, slight differences in the sizes of the
eggs have been noted with varying rations and environment, but this
cannot be attributed to anything more specific than the general
development and vigor of the fowls. Pullets, at the beginning of the
laying period, lay an egg decidedly smaller than those produced at a
later stage in life.

The egg size table below gives the size of representative
classes of eggs. These figures must not be applied too rigidly, as
the eggs of all breeds and all localities vary. They are given as
approximate averages of the eggs one might reasonably expect to find
in the class mentioned.

                                EGG SIZE TABLE.

  GEOGRAPHICAL          BREED                     Net Wt.   Weight  Relative
  CLASSIFICATION        CLASSIFICATIONS           Per 30    Ounces  Values
                                                  Dozen     Per     Per
                                                  Case      Dozen   Dozen

  Southern Iowa's       Purebred flocks of        45 lbs.   24      25c.
  "Two ounce eggs"      American varieties of
                        "egg farm Leghorns."

  Poorest flocks of     Games and                 36 lbs.   19 1-5  20c.
  Southern Dunghills    Hamburgs.

  Average Tennessee     Poorest strains           40 lbs.   21 1-3  22 1-3c.
  or Texas eggs.        of Leghorns.

  Average for the       The mixed barnyard        43 lbs.   23      23 9-10c.
  United States as      fowl of the western
  represented by        farm, largely of
  Kansas,               Plymouth Rock origin.
  Minnesota and
  Southern Illinois.

  Average size of eggs  American Brahmas          48 lbs.   25 3-5  26 2-3c.
  produced in Denmark.  and Minorcas.

  Selected brands of    Equaled by several        54 lbs.   28 4-5  30c.
  Danish eggs.          pens of Leghorns in
                        the Australian laying

How Eggs Are Spoiled.

Dirty eggs are grouped roughly in three classes: (A) Plain dirties,
those to which soil or dung adheres; (B) stained eggs, those caused
by contact with damp straw or other material which discolors the
shell (plain dirties when washed usually show this appearance); (C)
smeared eggs, those covered with the contents of broken eggs.

For the first two classes of dirty eggs the producer is to blame.
The third class originates all along the route from the nest to
consumer. The percentage of dirty eggs varies with the season and
weather conditions, being noticeably increased during rainy weather.
In grading, about five per cent. of farm grown eggs are thrown out
as dirties. These dirties are sold at a loss of at least twenty per

The common trade name for cracked eggs is checks. Blind checks are
those in which the break in the shell is not readily observable.
They are detected with the aid of the candle, or by sounding, which
consists of clicking the eggs together. Dents are checks in which
the egg shell is pushed in without rupturing the membrane. Leakers
have lost part of the contents and are not only an entire loss
themselves, but produce smeared eggs.

The loss from breakage varies considerably with the amount of
handling in the process of marketing. A western produce house,
collecting from grocers by local freight will record from four to
seven per cent. of checks. With properly handled eggs the loss
through breakage should not run over one or two per cent.

Eggs in which the chick has begun to develop are spoken of as
"heated" eggs. Infertile eggs cannot heat because the germ has not
been fertilized and can make no growth. That such infertile eggs
cannot spoil is, however, a mistaken notion, for they are subjected
to all the other factors by which

eggs may be spoiled. The sale of eggs tested out of the incubators
has been encouraged by the dissemination of the knowledge that
infertile eggs are not changed by incubation. Eggs thrown out of an
incubator will be shrunken and weakened, and some of them may
contain dead germs and the remains of chicks that have died after
starting to develop. Such eggs may be sold for what they are, but
should never be mixed with other eggs or sold as fresh. When
carefully candled they should be worth ten or twelve cents a dozen.

Fertile eggs, at the time of laying, cannot be told from infertile
eggs, as the germ of the chick is microscopic in size. If the egg is
immediately cooled and held at a temperature below 70 degrees, the
germ will not develop. At a temperature of 103 degrees, the
development of the chick proceeds most rapidly. At this temperature
the development is about as follows:

Twelve hours incubation: When broken in a saucer, the germ spot,
visible upon all eggs, seems somewhat enlarged. Looked at with a
candle such an egg cannot be distinguished from a fresh egg.

Twenty-four hours: The germ spot mottled and about the size of a
dime. This egg, if not too dark shelled, can readily be detected
with the candle, the germ spot causing the yolk to appear
considerably darker than the yolk of a fresh egg. Such an egg is
called a heavy egg or a floater.

Forty-eight hours: By this time the opaque white membrane, which
surrounds the germ, has spread well over the top of the yolk, and
the egg is quite dark or heavy before the light. Blood appears at
about this period, but is difficult of detection by the candler,
unless the germ dies and the blood ring sticks to the membrane of
the egg.

Three days: The blood ring is the prominent feature and is as large
as a nickel. The yolk behind the membrane has become watery.

Four days: The body of the chick becomes readily visible, and
prominent radiating blood vessels are seen. The yolk is half covered
with a water containing membrane.

These stages develop as given, occurring at a temperature of 103
degrees. As the temperature is lowered the rate of chick development
is retarded, but at any temperature above 70, this development will
proceed far enough to cause serious injury to the quality of the

For commercial use eggs may be grouped in regard to heating as

(1) No heat shown. Cannot be told at the candle from fresh eggs.

(2) Light floats. First grade that can be separated by candling,
corresponding to about twenty-four hours of incubation. These are
not objectionable to the average housewife.

(3) Heavy floats. This group has no distinction from the former,
except an exaggeration of the same feature. These eggs are
objectionable to the fastidious housewife, because of the appearing
of the white and scummy looking allantois on the yolk.

(4) Blood rings. Eggs in which blood has developed, extending to the
period when the chick becomes visible. (5) Chicks visible to the

The loss due to heated eggs is enormous; probably greater than that
caused by any other source of loss to the egg trade. The loss varies
with the season of the year, and the climate. In New England heat
loss is to be considered as in the same class as loss from dirties
and checks. In Texas the egg business from the 15th of June until
cool weather in the fall is practically dead. People stop eating
eggs at home and shipping out of the State nets the producer such
small returns by the time the loss is allowed that, at the prices
offered, it hardly pays the farmer to gather the eggs. In the season
of 1901 hatched chickens were commonly found in cases of market
eggs, throughout the trans-Mississippi region, and eggs did well to
net the shippers three cents per dozen.

Damage to eggs by heating and consequent financial loss is
inexcusable. In the first place, market eggs have no business being
fertilized, but whether they are or not they should be kept in a
place sufficiently cool to prevent all germ growth.

The egg shell is porous so that the developing chick may obtain air.
This exposes the moist contents of the egg to the drying influence
of the atmosphere. Evaporation from eggs takes place constantly. It
is increased by warm temperatures, dry air and currents of air
striking the egg.

When the egg is formed within the hen the contents fill the shell
completely. As the egg cools the contents shrink, and the two layers
of membrane separate in the large end of the egg, causing the
appearance of the bubble or air cell. Evaporation of water from the
egg further shrinks the contents and increases the size of the air
cell. The size of the air cell is commonly taken as a guide to the
age of the egg. But when we consider that with the same relative
humidity on a hot July day, evaporation would take place about ten
times as fast as on a frosty November morning, and that differences
in humidity and air currents equally great occur between localities,
we see that the age of an egg, judged by this method, means simply
the extent of evaporation, and proves nothing at all about the
actual age.

Even as a measure of evaporation, the size of the air cell may be
deceptive, for when an egg with an air cell of considerable size is
roughly handled, the air cell breaks down the side of the egg, and
gives the air cell the appearance of being larger than it really is.
Still rougher handling of shrunken eggs may cause the rupture of the
inner membrane, allowing the air to escape into the contents of the
egg. This causes a so-called watery or frothy egg. The quality is in
no wise injured by the mechanical mishap, but eggs so ruptured are
usually discriminated against by candlers.

In this connection it might be well to speak further of the subject
of "white strength," by which is meant the stiffness or viscosity of
the egg white. The white of an egg is a limpid, clear liquid, but in
the egg of good quality that portion immediately surrounding the
yolk appears to be in a semi-solid mass. The cause of this
appearance is the presence of an invisible network of fibrous
material. By age and mechanical disturbance this network is
gradually broken down and the liquid white separates out. Such a
weak and watery white is usually associated with shrunken eggs.
These eggs will not stand up well or whip into a firm froth and are
thrown in lower grades.

The weakness of the yolk membranes also increases with age, and is
objectionable because the breakage of the yolk is unsightly and
spoils the egg for poaching.

The shrunken egg is most abundant in the fall, when the rising
prices tempt the farmer and grocery man to hold the eggs. This
holding is so prevalent, in fact, that from August to December full
fresh eggs are the exception rather than the rule.

While we have called attention to evaporation as the most pronounced
fault of fall eggs, losses from other causes are greatly increased
by the holding process.

If the eggs are held in a warm place, heat and shrinkage will case
the greatest damage; if held in a cellar, rot, mold, and bad odors
will cause the chief loss.

The loss due to shrunken eggs is not understood nor appreciated by
those outside the trade. Such ignorance is due to the fact that the
shrunken is not so repulsive as the rotten or heated egg. But the
inferiority of the shrunken egg is so well appreciated by the
consumer that high class dealers find it impossible to use them
without ruining their trade. The result is that shrunken eggs are
constantly being sent into the cheaper channels, with the result
that all lower grades of eggs are more depreciated in the fall of
the year than at any other time.

In the classes of spoiled eggs, of which we have thus far spoken,
the proverbial rotten egg has not been considered. The term "rot" in
the egg trade is used to apply to any egg absolutely unfit for food
purposes. But I prefer to confine the term "rotten egg" to the egg
which contains a growth of bacteria.

The normal egg when laid is germ free. But the egg shell is not germ
proof. The pores in the egg shell proper are large enough to admit
all forms of bacteria, but the membrane inside the shell is germ
proof as long as it remains dry. When this membrane becomes moist so
that bacteria may grow in it, these germs of decay quickly grow
through it and contaminate the contents of the egg.

Heat favors the growth of bacteria in eggs and sufficient cold
prevents it, but as bacteria cannot enter without moisture on the
surface of the egg we can consider dampness as the cause of rotten
eggs. Moisture on the shell may come from an external wetting, from
the "sweating" of eggs coming out of cold storage, or by the
prevention of evaporation to such an extent that the external
moisture of the egg thoroughly soaks the membrane. The latter
happens in damp cellars, and when eggs are covered with some
impervious material.

Rotten eggs may be of different kinds, according to the species of
germ that causes the decomposition. The specific kinds of egg
rotting bacteria have not been worked out, but the following three
groups of bacterially infected eggs are readily distinguishable in
the practical work of egg candling.

(1) Black rots. It is probable that many different species of
bacteria cause this form of rotten eggs. The prominent feature is
the formation of hydrogen sulphide gas, which blackens the contents
of the egg, gives the characteristic rotten egg smell and sometimes
causes the equally well known explosion.

(2) Sour eggs or white rots. These eggs have a characteristic sour
smell. The contents become watery, the yolk and the whites mix and
the whole egg is offensive to both eye and nose.

(3) The spot rot. In this the bacterial growth has not contaminated
the whole egg, but has remained near the point of entrance. Such
eggs are readily picked out with the candle, and when broken open
show lumpy adhesions on the inside of the shell. These lumps are of
various colors and appearances. It is probable that these spots are
caused as much by mold as by bacteria, but for practical purposes
the distinction is immaterial.

In practice it is impossible to separate rotten from heated eggs for
the reason that in the typical nest of spoiled eggs found around the
farm, both causes have been at work. Dead chicks will not
necessarily cause the eggs to decay, but many such eggs do become
contaminated by bacteria before they reach the candler, and hence,
as a physician would say, show complications.

The loss of eggs that are actually rotten is not as great as one
might imagine. Perhaps one or two per cent. of the country's egg
crop actually rot, but the expenses of the candling necessitated,
and the lowering of value of eggs that contain even a few rotten
specimens are severe losses.

Moldy or musty eggs are caused by accidentally wet cases or damp
cellars and ice houses. The moldy egg is most frequently a spot rot.
In the musty egg proper the meat is free from foreign organisms, but
has been tainted by the odor of mold growth upon the shell or
packing materials.

The absorption of odors is the most baffling of all causes of bad
eggs. Here the candler, so expert in other points, is usually
helpless. Eggs, by storage in old musty cellars, or in rooms, with
lemons, onions and cheese, may become so badly flavored as to be
seriously objected to by a fancy trade, and yet there is no means of
detecting the trouble without destroying the egg. Such eggs occur
most frequently among the held stock of the fall season.

The Loss Due to Carelessness.

The egg crop of the country, more than ninety-five per cent, of
which originates on the general farm, is subject to immense waste
due to ignorant and careless handling. The great mass of eggs for
sale in our large cities possess to a greater or less degree the
faults we have discussed.

Some idea of the loss due to the present shiftless method of
handling eggs, may be obtained by a comparison of the actual average
prices received for all eggs sold in New York City, and the
wholesale prices quoted by a prominent New York firm dealing in high
grade goods. The contrasted price for the year 1907 are as follows:

    Prices at which total goods      Wholesale prices for strictly
              moved.                         fresh eggs.

    January                25.8     January                     42.
    February               24.5     February                    40.
    March                  19.3     March                       32.
    April                  16.9     April                       30.
    May                    16.6     May                         31.
    June                   15.5     June                        32.
    July                   15.6     July                        35.
    August                 17.7     August                      38.
    September              20.7     September                   40.
    October                21.4     October                     42.
    November               26.0     November                    45.
    December               27.7     December                    48.

The total values figured by multiplying these prices by the
New York receipts, are as follows:

    Amount actually received                  $23,832,000
    Values at quotations for strictly fresh    44,730,000

No one would contend it is possible to bring the entire egg crop of
the country up to the latter value, but the fact that there is a
definite market for eggs of first class quality at almost double the
figures for which the egg crop as a whole is actually sold, is a
point very significant to the ambitious producer of high grade eggs.

Requisites of the Production of High Grade Eggs.

(a) Hens that produce a goodly number of eggs, and at the same time
an egg that is moderately large (average two ounces each). Plymouth
Rocks, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, Orpingtons, Leghorns, Minorcas
are the varieties which will do this.

(b) Good housing, regular feeding and watering, and above all clean,
dry nests.

(c) Daily gathering of eggs, when the temperature is above 80
degrees, gathering twice a day.

(d) The confining of all broody hens as soon as discovered.

(e) The rejection as doubtful of all eggs found in a nest which was
not visited the previous day. (Such eggs should be used at home
where each may be broken separately).

(f) The placing as soon as gathered of all summer eggs in the
coolest spot available.

(g) The prevention at all times of moisture in any form coming in
contact with the egg's shell.

(h) The selling of young cockerels before they begin to annoy the
hens. Also the selling or confining of old male birds from the time
hatching is over until cool weather in fall.

(i) The using of cracked and dirty, as well as small eggs, at home.
Such eggs if consumed when fresh are perfectly wholesome, but when
marketed are discriminated against and are likely to become an
entire loss.

(j) Keeping eggs away from musty cellars or bad odors.

(k) Keeping the egg as cool and dry as possible while en route to

(l) The marketing of all eggs at least once per week and oftener,
when facilities permit.

(m) The use of strong, clean cases or cartons and good fillers.



The methods by which the larger number of American eggs pass from
the producer to consumer is as follows:

The eggs are gathered by the farmer with varying regularity and are
brought perhaps on the average of once a week, to the local village

This merchant receives weekly quotations from a number of
surrounding egg dealers and at intervals of from two days to two
weeks, ships to such a dealer, by local freight. The dealer buys the
eggs case count, that is, he pays for them by the case regardless of
quality. He then repacks the eggs in new cases and, with the
exception of a period in the early spring, candles them.

This dealer, in turn, receives quotations from city egg houses and
sells to them by wire. He usually ships in carload lots. The city
receiver may also be a jobber who sells to grocers, or he may sell
the car outright to a jobbing house. The jobber re-candles the eggs,
sorting them into a number of grades, which are sold to various
classes of trade. The last link in the chain is the housewife, who
by 'phone or personal call, asks for "a dozen nice fresh eggs."

This most frequently repeated story of the American egg applies
particularly in the case of eggs produced west of the Mississippi
and marketed in the very large cities of the East.

We will now discuss the various steps of the egg trade, pointing out
the reason for the existence of the present methods and their
influence upon quality and consequent value.

The Country Merchant.

The country merchant is the logical business link between the farmer
and the outside world and usually continues to act as the farmers'
buyer and seller until the commodity dealt in becomes of such
importance as to demand more specialized form of marketing. Eggs
being a perishable crop continuously produced, must be marketed at
frequent intervals, and the trips to the general store, necessary to
supply the household needs, offers the only convenient opportunity
for such marketing.

The merchant buys eggs because by doing so he can control his
selling trade.

The farmer trades where he sells his eggs, because it is convenient
to do both errands at one place, and also because he wishes to avoid
affronting the merchant by breaking the established custom of
trading out the amount.

For these reasons the merchant knows that to buy eggs means to sell
goods, and he therefore bids for eggs. His competitors across the
street, and in other towns, also bid for eggs. The effect to the
merchant of lowering the price of his goods or raising the price of
eggs is financially the same. In either case it is the matter of
cutting the prices under the spur of competition. Now, the articles
on which the merchant make his chief profits from the farmers' trade
are dry goods and notions. Such articles are not standardized, but
vary in a manner quite impossible of estimation by the
unsophisticated. On the other hand, eggs are quoted by the dozen,
and all that run may read.

Suppose, for illustration, two merchants in the same town are each
doing a business with a twenty per cent. profit, and are buying eggs
at ten cents and selling for eleven, the cent advance being
sufficient to pay for their labor, incidental loss, and a small
profit. Now one merchant concludes to play for more trade. If he
marks his goods down he would gain some trade, but many people would
fear his goods were cheap. But if he puts up a placard, "Eleven
Cents Paid For Eggs," the farmers will throng his store and never
question the quality of his goods. This move having been successful,
his rival across the street quietly stocks up with a cheaper line of
dry goods, and some fine morning puts out a card, "Twelve Cents For
Eggs." The farm wagons this week will be hitched on the other side
of the street.

The rate of business at ten per cent, being insufficient to maintain
two men in the town, a mutual understanding is gradually brought
about by which the prices of goods sold are worked back to the basis
of twenty per cent, gross profit, but the false price of eggs will
serve to draw the trade from neighboring towns and is therefore

As a matter of fact the price paid to farmers for eggs by the
general stores of the Mississippi Valley is frequently one to two
cents above the price at which the storekeeper sells the product.
Allowing the cost of handling, we have a condition prevailing in
which the merchant is handling eggs at from five to ten per cent.
loss, and it stands to reason that he is making up the loss by
adding that per cent. to his profits on his goods. Some of the
effects of this system are:

1--The inflated prices of merchandise is an injustice to the
townspeople and to farmers not selling produce, in fact it amounts
to a taxation of these people for the benefit of the egg producers.
2--The inflated prices of merchant's wares work to his disadvantage
in competition with mail order or out-of-town trade. 3--The farmer
who exchanges eggs for dry goods is not being paid more for his
eggs, save as the tax on the townspeople contributes a little to
that end, but is in the main merely swapping more dollars. 4--The
use of eggs as a drawing card for trade works in favor of inferior
produce, and the loss to the farmer through the lowering of prices
thus caused, is much greater than his gain through the forced
contributions of his neighbors.

The Huckster.

The huckster or peddling wagon which gathers eggs and other produce
directly from the farm, prevail east and south of a line drawn from
Galveston to Chicago through Texarkana, Ark., Springfield, Mo., and
St. Louis. North and west of this line the huckster is almost

The huckster wagons may be of the following types:

1--An extension of the local grocery store, trading merchandise for
eggs. 2--An independent traveling peddler. 3--A cash dealer who buys
his load, and hauls it to the nearest city where he peddles the
produce from house to house or sells it to city grocers. 4--A
representative of the local produce buyer. 5--A fifth style of egg
wagon does not visit the farm at all, but is a system of rural
freight service run by a produce buyer for the purpose of collecting
the eggs from country stores.

As far as the quality of product and advantage to the farmer is
concerned, the fourth style of huckster is preferable. This style
exists chiefly in Indiana and Michigan, and the better settled
regions of Kentucky and Tennessee. The writer found hucksters in
southern Michigan working on a profit of one-half a cent per dozen,
while in the mountains of Tennessee he found a huckster paying ten
cents for eggs that were worth eighteen cents in Chattanooga, and
twenty-three cents in New York.

The huckster scheme of gathering eggs would seemingly be a means of
obtaining good eggs because of the advantage of regularity of
collection, but in reality it does not always work out that way.
While it must be admitted that in the isolated regions of the Middle
and Southern States the presence of the huckster is the only factor
that makes egg selling possible, it is also true that the peddling
huckster of those regions usually disregards the first principles of
handling perishable products. He makes a week's trip in sun and rain
with his load of produce, with the result that the quality of his
summer eggs is about as low as can be found.

In the more densely populated region with a twice or thrice a week,
or even daily service, the huckster egg becomes the finest farm
grown egg in the market.

The second step in the usual scheme of egg marketing is the sale of
eggs collected by the small storekeeper to the produce man or

The Produce Buyer.

Throughout the Mississippi Valley there are wholesale produce houses
at all important railroad junctions. A typical house will ship the
produce of one to three counties. These houses, once a week or
oftener, send out postal card quotations. These quotations read so
much per case, and are usually case count, with a reservation,
however, of the privilege to reject or charge loss on goods that are
utterly bad. Each grocery receives quotations from one to a dozen
such houses, and perhaps also from commission firms in the nearest
city. The highest of these quotations gets the shipment.

The buyer repacks the eggs and usually candles them, the strictness
of the grading depending upon the intended destination. The loss in
candling is generally kept account of, but is seldom charged back to
the shipper. The egg man wants volume of business, and if he
antagonizes a shipper by charging up his loss, the usual result will
be the loss of trade. So the buyer estimates his probable loss and
lowers his price enough to cover it.

By loss off, or "rots out," is meant the subtraction of the bad eggs
from the number to be paid for. Buying on a candled or graded basis,
usually not only means rots cut, but that a variation of the price
is made for two or more grades of merchantable eggs.

Much discussion prevails among the western egg buyers as to whether
eggs should be bought loss off or case count. Loss off buying seems
to be more desirable and just, but in practice is fraught with

If the loss off buyer feels he is losing business, he may instruct
his candler to grade more closely, which means he will pay less.
Whether done with honest or dishonest intention, the buyer thus sets
the price to be paid after he has the goods in his own hands, and
this is an obviously difficult commercial system.

Where the buyer in one case changes the grading basis to protect
himself, there are probably ten cases where the eggs really deserve
the loss charged; but the tenth chance gives the seller an
opportunity to nurse his loss with the belief that he has been
robbed by the buyer. Such an uncertain feeling is disagreeable, and
the results are that where one or two competing egg dealers buys
loss off, and the other case count, the case count man will get most
of the business.

The case count method being the path of least resistance, the loss
off system can only succeed where there is some factor that
overcomes the disinclination of a shipper to let the other man set
the price. This factor may be: 1st--An exceptional reputation of a
particular firm for honesty and fair dealing. 2d--Exceptional
opportunities for selling fancy goods, enabling the loss off buyer
to pay much higher rates for good stuff. 3d--A condition that
prevails in the South in the summer, where the losses are so heavy
that the dealers will not take the risk involved in case count
buying. 4th--Some sort of a monopoly.

A monopoly for enforcing the loss off system of buying has been
brought about in some sections of the West by agreement among egg
dealers. In such cases the usual experience has been that some one
would get anxious for more business, and begin quoting case count,
the result being that he would get the business of the disgruntled
shippers in his section. When one buyer begins quoting case count,
the remainder rapidly follow suit and case count buying is quickly

The City Distribution of Eggs.

In name, city egg dealers are usually commission houses, but in
practice the majority of large lots of eggs are now bought by
telegraph and the prices definitely known before shipment.

In the larger cities eggs are dealt in by a produce board of trade.
Such exchanges frequently have rules of grading and an official
inspector. This gives stability to egg dealing and largely solves
the problem of uncertainty as to quality, so annoying to the country
buyer. In the city even, where official grading is not resorted to,
personal inspection of the lot by the buyer is practical, and one
may know what he is getting.

In many cases, especially in smaller cities, the receiver is the
jobber and sells to the grocers. In larger cities the receiver sells
to a firm who makes a business of selling them to groceries,
restaurants, etc.

The jobber grades the eggs as the trade demands. In a western city
this may mean two grades--good and bad; in New York, it may mean
seven or eight grades, and the finer of these ones being packed in
sealed cartons, perhaps each egg stamped with the dealer's brand.

The city retailer of eggs include grocers, dairies, butcher shops,
soda fountains, hotels, restaurants and bakeries. The soda fountain
trade and the first-class hotel are among the high bidder for
strictly first-class eggs. Many such institutions in eastern cities
are supplied directly from large poultry farms. The figures at which
such eggs are purchased are frequently at a given premium above the
market quotation, or a year round contract price for a given number
of eggs per week. This premium over common farm eggs may range from
one or two cents in western cities, to five to twenty cents in New
York and Boston. An advance of ten cents over the quotation for
extras or a year round contract price of thirty-five cents per
dozen, might be considered typical of such arrangements in New York

Some of the larger chain grocers in New York City are in the market
for strictly fresh eggs and have even installed buying departments
in charge of expert egg men.

The great bulk of eggs move through the channels of the small
restaurant, bakery and grocery. In the small cities of the Central
West the grocer handles eggs at a margin of one to three cents. In
the South and farther West the margin is two to seven cents, the
retail price always being in the even nickel. In the large eastern
city there exists the custom unknown in the West of having two or
more grades of eggs for sale in the same store. All eggs offered for
sale are claimed by the salesman to be "strictly fresh" or the
"best," and yet these eggs may vary if it be April from fifteen
cents to forty cents, or if in December from thirty cents to
seventy-five cents per dozen. The New York grocers' profit is from
two to five cents on cheap eggs, but runs higher on high grade eggs,
frequently reach twenty cents a dozen and sometimes going as high as
forty cents for very fancy stock.

City retailing is by far the most expensive item in the marketing of
eggs. As an illustration of the profits of the various handlers of
eggs might be as follows:

        Paid the farmer in Iowa      $.15
        Profit of country store       .00
        Gross profit of shipper       .00-3/4
        Freight to New York           .01-1/2
        Gross profit of receiver      .00-1/2
        Gross profit of jobber        .01-1/2
        Loss from candling            .01-1/2
        Gross profit of retailer      .04-1/2
        Cost to consumer              $.25

The cheapest grade of eggs sold are taken by bakeries and for
cooking purposes at restaurants. When cooked with other food an egg
may have its flavor so covered up that a very repulsive specimen may
be used. Measures have been frequently taken by city boards of
health to stop the sale of spot rots and other low grade eggs. The
great difficulty with such regulations is that they are difficult of
enforcement because no line of demarcation can be drawn as in the
case of adulterated or preserved products.

That embryo chicks and bacterially contaminated eggs are consumed by
the million cannot be doubted, but the individual examination of
each egg sold would be the only way in which the food inspectors can
prevent their use. The egg from the well-kept flock whose subsequent
handling has been conducted with intelligence and dispatch is the
only egg whose "purity" is assured with or without law. The
encouragement of such production and such handling is the proper
sphere of governmental regulations in regard to this product.

Cold Storage of Eggs.

The supply of eggs ranges from month to month, the heavy season of
production centering about April and the lightest run being in
November. The cold storage men begin storing eggs in March or April
and continue to store heavily until June, after which time the
quality deteriorates and does not keep well in storage. This storage
stock begins to move out in September and should be cleaned up by
December. Great loss may result if storage eggs are held too long.

The effect of the storage business is to even up the prices for the
year. The reduction of the exceedingly high winter prices is
unfortunate for those who are skilled enough to produce many eggs at
that season of the year, but on a whole the storage business adds to
the wealth-producing powers of the hen, for it serves to increase
the annual consumption of eggs and prevents eggs from becoming a
drug on the market during the season of heavy production.

March and April eggs are, in spite of a long period of storage, the
best quality of storage stock. This is accounted for by the fact
that owing to cooler weather and rising price eggs leave the farm in
the best condition at this season of the year.

Because eggs are spoiled by hard freezing, they must be kept at a
higher temperature than meat and butter. Temperatures of from 29
degrees to 30 degrees F. are used in cold storage of eggs. At such
temperatures the eggs, if kept in moist air, become moldy or musty.
To prevent this mustiness the air in a first class storage room is
kept moderately dry. This shrinks the eggs, though much more slowly
than would occur without storage.

The growth of bacteria in cold storage is practically prevented, but
if bacteria are in the eggs when stored they will lie dormant and
begin activity when the eggs are warmed up.

Of the cold storage egg as a whole we can say it is a wholesome food
product, though somewhat inferior in flavor and strength of white to
a fresh egg. The cold storage egg can be very nearly duplicated in
appearance and quality by allowing eggs to stand for a week or two
in a dry room. Cold storage eggs, when in case lots, can be told by
the candler because of the uniform shrinkage, the presence of mold
on cracked eggs and perhaps the occasional presence of certain kinds
of spot rots peculiar to storage stock, but the absolute detection
of a single cold storage egg, so far as the writer knows, is

It may be further said that with the present prevailing custom of
holding eggs without storage facilities for the fall rise of price,
eggs placed in cold storage in April are frequently superior to the
current fall and early winter receipts. Cold storage eggs are
generally sold wholesale as cold storage goods, but are retailed as
"eggs." The fall eggs offered to the consumer cover every imaginable
variation in quality and the poorest ones sold may be a cold storage
product, or they may not be.

The Bureau of Chemistry of the United States Department of
Agriculture has recently announced the finding of certain crystals
in the yolks of cold storage eggs that are not present in the fresh
stock. This finding of a laboratory method of detecting cold storage
stock was at first taken to be a great discovery. Further
investigation, however, indicates that the crystal mentioned forms
as the egg ages and that the rate of formation varies with the
individual eggs and probably also with the temperature, so that
while crystals may indicate an aged egg, the discovery only means
that the microscopist in the laboratory can now do in a half hour
what any egg candler in his booth can do in ten seconds.

At the present writing (February, 1909) there has been much talk of
laws against the sale of cold storage eggs as fresh. The Federal
Pure Food Commission, under the general law against misbranding,
have made one such prosecution. Many States have agitated such laws
but little or nothing has been done. I find that the idea of such a
law is quite popular, especially with poultrymen. Contrary to
popular opinion, the cold storage men and larger egg dealers are not
opposed to the law. The people that are hit are the small dealers
and especially the city grocers. These fellows buy the eggs at
wholesale storage prices and sell them at retail prices for fresh,
thus making excessive profits but cutting down the amount of the
sales. This lessens the demand for storage stock and lowers the
wholesale price. This is the reason the wholesaler and warehouse man
are in favor of the law.

We may all grant that the opportunity given the small dealers to
grab quick gains and in so doing hurt the trade ought to be
abolished. But how are we to do it? "Have State and Federal branding
of the cases as they go into or come out of storage," says one--an
excellent plan, to be sure by which the grocers could buy one case
of fresh, eggs and a back room full of storage goods and do Elijah's
flour barrel trick to perfection.

Clearly government inspection and stamping of each egg is the only
method that would be effective and the consideration of what this
means turns the whole matter into a joke. The official inspection
now maintained by the boards of trade of the larger cities may be
extended and the producers, dealers and consuming public may be
educated to appreciate quality in eggs, as they have been in dairy
products. City and State laws may also be made which will taboo the
sale of spot eggs or eggs that will float on water. Meanwhile, a
great opportunity is open for the man who has high grade eggs for
sale, whether he be producer or tradesman.

Many eggs that would not do for ordinary storage are preserved by
direct freezing. These eggs are broken and carefully sorted and
placed in large cans and then frozen. Such a product is disposed of
to bakers, confectioners and others desiring eggs in large
quantities. Another method of preserving eggs is by evaporation.
Evaporated or dried egg is, weight considered, about the most
nourishing food product known. The chief value of such an article
lies in provisioning inaccessible regions. There is no reason,
however, why this product should not become a common article of diet
during the season of high prices of eggs. Dried eggs can be eaten as
custards, omelets, or similar dishes.

Preserving Eggs Out of Cold Storage.

Occasional articles have been printed in agricultural papers calling
attention to the fact that the cold storage men were reaping vast
profits which rightfully belonged to the farmer. Such writers advise
the farmer to send his own eggs to the storage house or to preserve
them by other means.

As a matter of fact the business of storing eggs has not of late
years been particularly profitable, there being severe losses during
several seasons; Even were the profit of egg storing many times
greater than they are the above advice would still be unwise, for
the storing, removing and selling of a small quantity of eggs would
eat up all possible profit.

The only reliable methods of preserving eggs outside of cold storage
are as follows:

Liming: Make a saturated solution of lime, to which salt may be
added, let it settle, dip off the clear liquid, put the eggs in
while fresh, keep them submerged in the liquid and keep the liquid
as cold as the available location will permit.

Water glass: This is exactly the same as liming except that the
solution used is made by mixing ten per cent. of liquid water glass
or sodium silicate with water.

Liming eggs was formerly more popular than it is to-day. There are
still two large liming plants in this country and several in Canada.
In Europe both lime and water glass are used on a more extensive

All limed or water glassed eggs can be told at a glance by an
experienced candler. They pop open when boiled. When properly
preserved they are as well or better flavored than storage stock,
but the farmer or poultryman will make frequent mistakes and thus
throw lots of positively bad eggs on the market. These eggs must be
sold at a low price themselves, and by their presence cast suspicion
on all eggs, thus tending to suppress the price paid to the
producers. The farmers' efforts to preserve eggs has in this way
acted as a boomerang, and have in the long run caused more loss than
gain to the producers.

For the poultryman with his own special outlet for high grade goods,
the use of pickling or cold storage is generally not to be
considered for fear of hurting his trade. Any scheme that would help
to overcome the difficulty of getting sufficient fresh eggs to
supply such customers in the season of scarcity would be of great
advantage. The proposition of pickling a limited number of eggs and
selling them for "cooking" purposes, explaining just what they are,
ought to offer something of a solution, although, to the writer's
knowledge, it has not been done.

Improved Methods of Marketing Farm-Grown Eggs.

The loss to the farmers of this country from the careless handling
of eggs is something enormous. No great or sudden change in this
state of affairs can be brought about, but a few points on how this
loss may be averted will not be out of order.

Numerous efforts have recently been made in western states to
prevent the sale of bad eggs by law. Minnesota began this work by
arresting several farmers and dealers. The parties invariably
pleaded guilty. A number of other States followed the example of
Minnesota in challenging the sale of rotten eggs, but few
prosecutions were made.

Such laws mean well enough, but the only efficient means of
enforcing them would be to have food inspectors who are trained as
practical candlers.

The present usefulness of the laws is in calling the attention of
the farmer to the mistake that he may be carelessly committing, and
in placing over him a fear of possible disgrace in case of arrest
and prosecution.

The weakness of the law is the difficulty of its enforcement because
of the number of violations, and the difficulty of drawing distinct
lines in regard to which eggs are to be considered unlawful.

Education of the farmer as to the situation is, of course, the
surest means of preventing the loss, but the education of ten
millions of farmers is easier to suggest than to execute. The most
effective plan of education would be the introduction of a method of
buying eggs similar to the one in vogue in Denmark, in which every
producer is paid strictly in accordance with the quality of his

With our complicated system involving five to six dealers between
the producer and the consumer, such a system is well nigh
impossible. With the introduction of co-operative buying or the
community system of production, paying for quality becomes entirely

For enterprising farming communities, the following plans offer a
cure for the evil of general store buying that take good and bad
alike and causes the worthy farmer to suffer for the carelessness
and dishonesty of his neighbor.

First: The encouragement of the cash buying of produce, and, if
possible, the candling of all eggs with proper deduction for loss.

Second: The buying of eggs by co-operative creameries. The greatest
difficulty in this has been the opposition of the merchants, who
through numerous ways available in a small town, may retaliate and
injure the creamery patronage to an extent greater than the newly
installed egg business will repay.

Third: The agreement of the merchants to turn all egg buying over to
a single produce buyer. This has been successfully done in a few
instances, but there are not many towns in which those interested
will stick to such an agreement. The worst fault with this plan is
that the moment the egg buyer is given a monopoly he is tempted to
lower the farmer's prices for the purpose of increasing his own

Fourth: A modification of the above scheme is the case in which the
produce buyer is on a salary and in the employment of the merchants.
This scheme has been successfully carried into effect in some
Nebraska towns. It may be the ultimate solution of the egg buying in
the West. It eliminates the temptation of the buyer to use his
privilege of monopoly to fatten his own pocket-book. The weakness of
the plan is that a salaried man's efficiency in the close bargaining
necessary to sell the goods is inferior to that of the man trading
for himself. Other difficulties are: Getting a group of merchants
who will live up to such an agreement; the farmers object to driving
to two places; the competition of other towns; the merchants'
realization that, the farmer with cash in his pocket or a check good
at all stores, is not as certain a trader as one standing, egg
basket on arm, before the counter; and last, and most convincing,
the merchant's further realization that any fine Saturday morning,
with eggs selling at fifteen cents at the produce house, he may
stick out a card "Sixteen Cents Paid for Eggs" and make more money
in one day than his competitors did all week.

Fifth: Co-operative egg buying by the farmers themselves. This has
been discussed in a previous chapter. It is all right in localities
where the business is big enough to warrant it and the farmers are
intelligent and enthusiastic to back it up and stick to it.

The High Grade Egg Business.

There are many excellent opportunities for men of moderate capital
and ability in the high grade egg trade. The produce business on its
present line, either at the country end or at the city end, is as
open as any well-known form of business enterprise can be. The
chances of success for a man new to the trade will be better,
however, if he can find a niche in the business where he may crowd
in and establish himself before the old firms realize what is up.
The proposition of buying high grade eggs from producers and selling
direct to consumers is a proposition of this kind.

The little game of existence is chiefly one of apeing our betters
and strutting before the lesser members of the flock. The large
cities are full of people in search of some way to display their
superior wealth, taste and exclusiveness. If an ingenious dealer
takes a dozen eggs from common candled stock, places them in a blue
lined box and labels them "Exquisite Ovarian Deposital," he can sell
quite a few of them at a long price, but the game has its limits.
Now, let this man secure a truly high grade article from reliable
producers, teach his customers the points that actually distinguish
his eggs from common stock, and he can get not only the sucker trade
above referred to but a more satisfactory and permanent trade from
that class of people who are willing to pay for genuine superiority
but whose ears have not quite grown through their hats.

An express messenger running out of St. Louis became interested in
the egg trade. He arranged with a few country friends to ship him
their eggs. These he candled in his house cellar and began selling
them to a limited trade in the wealthy section of the city. At first
he delivered the eggs himself. This was in the World's Fair year of
1904. In 1908 he did a $100,000 worth of business and his type of
business shows a much better percentage of profit than that of the
ordinary type of dealer.

In Chicago, one of the large dairy companies established an egg
department and placed a young man in charge of it. The eggs in this
case are not bought of farmers but are secured from country produce
buyers whom the Chicago company have encouraged to educate their
farmers to bring in a high grade of goods. These people buy their
eggs in Tennessee in the winter and in Minnesota in the summer, thus
getting the best eggs the year round. They sell by wagon on regular
routes. The business is growing nicely and pays good profits.

Other similar concerns are operating in Chicago and other large
cities. They are not numerous, however, and there is room for more.
The reason the business has not been overdone is chiefly because of
the difficulty of getting sufficiently really high grade eggs in the
season of scarcity. Southern winter eggs are destined to relieve
this situation more and more.

Another great difficulty with a plan that attempts to buy eggs
directly from the producer is that premium offered on the goods
tempts the farmer to go out and buy up eggs from his neighbors. This
brings disastrous results in the quality of the goods and the farmer
must be dropped from the list. In order to make a success, a system
of buying directly from producers must be based upon a grading
scheme that will pay for the actual quality of the eggs. No fear
then need be exercised as to whether the farmer sells his own eggs
or those of his neighbor.

The following extract from Farmer's Bulletin 128 of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture has been used as advertising "dope" in the
sale of high grade eggs:

"Under certain conditions eggs may be the cause of illness by
communicating some bacterial disease or some parasite. It is
possible for an egg to become infected with micro-organisms, either
before it is laid or after. The shell is porous, and offers no
greater resistance to micro-organisms which cause disease than it
does to those which cause the egg to spoil or rot. When the infected
egg is eaten raw the microorganisms, if present, are communicated to
man and may cause disease. If an egg remains in a dirty nest,
defiled with the micro-organisms which cause typhoid fever, carried
there on the hen's feet or feathers, it is not strange if some of
these bacteria occasionally penetrate the shell and the egg thus
becomes a possible source of infection. Perhaps one of the most
common troubles due to bacterial infection of eggs is the more or
less serious illness sometimes caused by eating those which are
'stale.' This often resembles ptomaine poisoning, which is caused,
not by micro-organisms themselves, but by the poisonous products
which they elaborate from materials on which they grow.

"In view of this possibility, it is best to keep eggs as clean as
possible and thus endeavor to prevent infection. Clean
poultry-houses, poultry-runs and nests are important, and eggs
should always be stored and marketed under sanitary conditions. The
subject of handling food in a cleanly manner is given entirely too
little attention."

The reprint upon the succeeding pages will give some idea of the
advertising literature used in selling high grade eggs. This is a
copy of a hand-bill inserted in the egg boxes of a prominent Chicago

        *       *       *       *       *

                MOORE'S BREAKFAST EGGS

are guaranteed to be perfect in quality when you receive them
and to remain so until all eaten up. If for any reason they
are not satisfactory return the Eggs to your dealer and get
your money back.


                    WE URGE YOU

to assist us in our endeavor to furnish you at all times with
the finest Eggs by being careful to

                   KEEP THEM DRY

A damp "filler" will in 24 hours make the finest fresh Eggs
taste like old Cold Storage Eggs.

The flavor of an Egg cannot be detected even by the powerful
electric lights used to inspect every Egg in this package,
so it might be possible for a "strong" Egg to get by our inspectors,
but in the past the cause of nearly every complaint
has been traced to the consumer's ice box or pantry window


Eggs are 25c-40c per doz. retail only when fine Eggs are
scarce. Ordinarily we can get a sufficient supply from the
farmers bringing milk daily to the creameries where we make
Delicia Pure Cream Butter, but in times of scarcity we often
have to go as far as Oklahoma, Arkansas or Tennessee to find
the best Eggs. These are not equal to our creamery Eggs but
are the freshest and best to be had and are vastly superior to
the old Cold Storage Eggs that flood the market at such times.

    Be Sure This Seal is Unbroken When You Get the Eggs

                 W. S. MOORE & CO.,

        Chicago Office--131 South Water Street.

Buying Eggs By Weight.

Whenever an improved method of buying is installed, eggs should be
bought of the producer by weight. As far as selling to the consumer
is concerned, the present scheme is more feasible; this scheme is to
grade according to the size and other qualities, and sell by the
dozen, the price per dozen varying according to the grade.

Buying by weight simplifies the problem of grading. It will, in
addition, only be necessary to have a fine of so much for eggs that
are wrong in quality. For rotten or heated eggs should be deducted
an amount considerably in excess of their value, for their presence
is a source of danger to the reputation of the brand. Shrunken eggs
are hard to classify. In order that this may be done fairly and
uniformly the specific gravity or brine test should be used. All
eggs that float in a given salt brine of, say, 1.05 specific gravity
should be fined. Two or more grades can be made in this fashion if

The Retailing of Eggs by the Producer.

In poultry papers the poultryman has been commonly advised to get
near a large city and retail his own eggs at a fancy price. This
sounds all right on paper but in practice it works out differently.
A man cannot be in two places or do two things at the same time. The
poultryman's time is valuable on his plant, and the question is
whether he can handle city sales as well as a man who made it his
business. If the poultryman tries to retail his own goods he will be
working on too small a scale to advertise his goods or to make
deliveries economically. The man making a specialty of the city end
can sell ten to a hundred times as much produce as one poultryman
can produce.

With a group of poultry farmers working co-operatively, or a large
corporation having contracts with producers, the producing and
selling end can be brought under the same management advantageously.
The isolated poultryman, unless he find a market at his very door,
will do better to permit at least one middleman to slip in between
himself and the consumer. But there is no reason why he should not
know this middleman personally and insist upon a method of buying
that will pay him upon the merits of his goods.

Consigning eggs or any other produce to commission men, without a
definite understanding, will always be, as it always has been, a
source of dissatisfaction and loss. There is a great opportunity
here for the man who can organize a system that shall do away with
commission houses, other intermediate steps, and form the single
step from producer to consumer. Some people say that farmers cannot
be dealt with in this manner. Such people would probably have said
as much about general merchandising before the days of the mail
order houses.

It is all a matter of efficient organization. A system of business
fitted to deal in carload lots will, of course, fail when dealing
with half cases. It is more difficult to deal in little things than
in big ones because the margin is closer, but it can and will be

The Price of Eggs.

We will consider the price of all eggs from the quotation of Western
firsts in the New York market. The reason for this is evident. Every
egg raised east of Colorado is in line for shipment to New York. If
other towns get eggs they must pay sufficiently to keep them from
going to New York.

In pricing eggs we have first to consider the price of Western
firsts in New York and secondly the quality relation of the
particular grade to Western firsts and the consequent relation in

The price of eggs varies with the price of other commodities as the
periods of prosperity and adversity follow one another through the

As is well known, all prices in the '90's passed through a period of
depression. For eggs this reached a base in 1897. Since then there
has been a gradual climb till this realized a high point in 1904,
remained high till 1907. In the spring of 1908 egg prices dropped
again, but the fall prices of 1908 were exceptionally high. As this
work goes to press (May, 1909) eggs are going into storage at the
highest May price on record.

The prices of eggs also vary independently of other commodities
because of a gradual changing relation between production and
consumption. As stated in the first chapter the prices of poultry
products have shown a general rise when compared with other
articles. This has been most marked since 1900. As for the future we
cannot prophesy save to say that there is nothing in sight to lead
us to believe that we will not go still higher in egg prices.

A third variation in the price of eggs is the one caused by the
seasonal relation of production and consumption. This change is from
year to year fairly constant. Its normal may be seen in the
scientifically smoothed curve in plate IV. This curve is based upon
the New York prices for the last eighteen years.

In addition to these broader influences there are disturbing
tendencies that cause the market to fluctuate back and forth across
the line where the more general influences would place it.

Of those general factors, weather is the most important. Storms,
rain and cold in the egg producing region decrease the lay, lower
supplies and raise the price. This is due both to the fact that
laying is cut down and that the country roads become impassable and
the farmers do not bring the eggs to town. As long as there are
storage eggs in the warehouses weather conditions are not so
effective, but when these are gone, which is usually about the first
of the year, the egg market becomes highly sensitive to all weather
changes. Suppose late in February storms and snows force up the
price of eggs. This is followed by a warm spell which starts the
March lay. The roads, meanwhile, are in a quagmire from melting
snows. When they do dry up eggs come to town by the wagon loads. A
drop of ten cents or more may occur on such occasions within a day
or two's time. This is known as the spring drop and for one to get
caught with eggs on hand means heavy losses.

When once eggs have suffered this drop to the spring level or the
storage price for the season, the prices for April, May and June
will remain fairly steady. About the last week in June the summer
climb begins. This goes on very steadily with local variation of
about the same as those of the spring months. The storage eggs begin
to come out in August and at first sell about the same as fresh. As
the season advances the fresh product continues to rise in price.
The storage egg price will remain fairly uniform. By November the season
of high prices is reached. If storage eggs are still plentiful and the
weather is mild sudden variations in price may occur. These are caused
by a fear that the storage eggs will not all be consumed before spring.
If an oversupply of eggs have been stored a warm spell in winter will
make a heavy drop in the market, but if storage eggs are scarce the
sudden variations will be up-shots due to cold waves. From November
until spring egg prices are a creature of the weather maps and sudden
jumps from 5 to 10 cents may occur at any time.

[Illustration: Plate IV. Page 159. Graphs of egg prices and volume
of egg sales as they vary throughout the year.]

The price curve of 1908, which is represented by the dotted line in
plate IV will illustrate these general principles. In the lower
portion of plate IV is given the curves for the New York receipts.
The heavy line represents the smoothed or normal curve, deduced from
eighteen years' statistics and calculated for the year 1908. The
dotted line shows the actual receipts of 1908. A comparison week by
week of the receipts and price will show the detailed workings of
the law of supply and demand.

Aside from the weather there are other factors that perceptibly
affect the receipts and price of eggs. A high price of meat will
increase farm and village consumption of eggs and cut down the
receipts that reach the city. Abundance of fruit in the city market
will cut down the demand for eggs. A cold, wet spring will increase
the mortality of chicks and cause a decreased egg yield the
following season, due to a scarcity of pullets. Scarcity and high
price of feed will cut down the egg yield. High price of hens is
said by some to cut down the egg yield, but I think this is
doubtful, as the impulse to sell off the hens is counteracted by the
desire to "keep 'em and raise more."

The following are the quotations taken from the New York
Price-Current for November 14, 1908:

State, Pennsylvania and nearby fresh eggs continue in very small
supply and of more or less irregular quality, a good many being
mixed with held eggs--sometimes with pickled stock. The few new laid
lots received direct from henneries command extreme
prices--sometimes working out in a small way above any figures that
could fairly be quoted as a wholesale value. We quote: Selected
white, fancy, 48@50c.; do., fair to choice, 35@46c.; do., lower
grades, 26@32c.; brown and mixed, fancy, 38@40c.; do., fair to
choice, 30@36c; do., lower grades, 25@28c.

           N.Y. Mercantile Exchange Official Quotations.

    Fresh gathered, extras, per dozen                        @37
    Fresh gathered, firsts                            32     @33
    Fresh gathered, seconds                           29     @31
    Fresh gathered, thirds                            25     @28
    Dirties, No. 1                                    21     @22
    Dirties, No. 2                                    18     @20
    Dirties, inferior                                 12     @17
    Checks, fresh gathered, fair to prime             18     @20
    Checks, inferior                                  12     @16
    Refrigerator, firsts, charges paid for season     24     @24-1/2
    Refrigerator, firsts, on dock                     23     @23-1/2
    Refrigerator, seconds, charges paid for season    22-1/2 @23-1/2
    Refrigerator, seconds, on dock                    21-1/2 @22-1/2
    Refrigerator, thirds                              20     @21
    Limed, firsts                                     22-1/2 @23
    Limed, seconds                                    21     @22

The writer was in the New York market at the time and saw many cases
of White Leghorn eggs sell wholesale at as high as 55 cents. These
were commonly retailed at 5 cents each. There were a good many
brands retailing at 65 cents and one of the largest high class
groceries was selling for 70 cents. This is practically double the
official quotations and three times that of cold storage stock.

The above prices represent a fair sample of the fall prices of 1908.
It should be noted that the 1908 fall prices were relatively
somewhat better than the rest of the season.

The time of high prices is also the time of the greatest variation
in the price of the different grades. In the springtime all eggs are
fairly fresh and good, and the fanciest eggs bring wholesale only
two or three cents above quotations. There are a few retailers who
hold the spring prices to their customers up above the general
market. One New York firm that does a large high class egg business
never lets their price at any season go below 40 cents. This, of
course, means big profits and sales only to those who, when they are
satisfied, never bother about price.

In the fall any man who has fresh eggs can sell them at very near
the highest price, but in the spring only a small per cent. can go
at fancy prices and the great majority of even the high grade eggs
must go at very ordinary prices. In the summer months there is not
so much demand in the cities, as the wealthy are not there to buy.
The coast and mountain resorts are then good markets for fancy



I do not place much dependence on the results of breed tests.
Indeed, I consider the almost universal use of the Barred Rock in
the most productive farm poultry regions in the United States, and
the equal predominance of S.C. White Leghorns on the egg farms of
New York and California, as far more conclusive than any possible
breed tests.

Breed Tests.

In Australia there has been conducted a series of breed tests so
remarkable and extensive that the writer considers them well worth
quoting. The Hawkesbury Agricultural College tests extend over a
period of five years, the pens entered were of six birds each, and
the time one year. The results were as follows:

            No. of Pens    Yield of     Average Yield
            Competing     Highest Pen    of All Pens

    1903 ...    70           218            163
    1904 ...   100           204            152
    1905 ...   100           235            162
    1906 ...   100           247            177
    1907 ...    60           245            173

The winners and losers for five years were as follows:

            Winning Pen        Losing Pen

    1903  Silver Wyandotte   Silver Wyandotte
    1904  Silver Wyandotte   Partridge Wyandotte
    1905  S.C.W. Leghorns    S.C.W. Leghorns
    1906  Black Langshans    Golden Wyandotte
    1907  S.C.W. Leghorns    S.C.B. Leghorns

As a matter of fact, the winning pen means little for breed
comparison. This is shown by the winning and losing pens frequently
being of the same breed.

The average for hens of one breed for the whole five years is more
enlightening. For the three most popular Australian breeds, these
grand averages are:

                                       Average      Av. Wt. Eggs.
                           No. Hens    Egg Yield    Oz. Per Doz.

    S.C.W. Leghorns   ...  564         175.5         26.4

    Black Orpingtons  ...  522         166.6         26.1

    Silver Wyandottes ...  474         161.1         24.9

These figures are undoubtedly the most trustworthy breed comparisons
that have ever been obtained. When we go into the other breeds,
however, with smaller numbers entered, the results show chance
variation and become untrustworthy, for illustration: R.C. Brown
Leghorns, with 42 birds entered, have an average of 176.4. This does
not signify that the R.C. Browns are better than the S.S. Whites,
for if the Whites were divided by chance into a dozen lots of
similar size, some would undoubtedly have surpassed the R.C. Browns.
As further proof, take the case of the R.C.W. Leghorns with 36 birds
entered and an egg yield of 166.9. Both breeds are probably a little
poorer layers than S.C. Whites, but luck was with the R.C. Browns
and against the R.C. Whites. For a discussion of this principle of
the worth of averages from different sized flocks see Chapter XV.

All Leghorns in the tests with 846 birds entered, averaged 170.3
eggs each. All of the general purpose breeds (Rocks, Wyandottes,
Reds and Orpingtons), with 1416 birds entered, averaged 160.2. The
comparison between the Leghorns and the general purpose fowls as
classes is undoubtedly a fair one. A study of the relations between
the leading breeds in these groups and the general average of these
groups is worth while. It bears out the writer's statement that the
best fowls of a group or breed are to be found in the popular
variety of that breed. The Australian poultryman, wanting utility
only, would do wise to choose out of the three great Australian
breeds here mentioned. The S.C.W. Leghorn is the only one of the
three breeds to which the advice would apply in America. Barred
Rocks and perhaps White Wyandottes, would here represent the other

There is one more point in the Australian records worthy of especial
mention. The winning pen in 1906 were Black Langshans and, what
seems still more remarkable, were daughters of birds purchased from
the original home of Langshans in North China. Other pens of
Langshans in the test failed to make remarkable records, but this
pen of Chinese stock, with a record of 246 5-6* eggs per hen for the
first year and 414 1-2* eggs per hen for two years, is the world's
record layers beyond all quibble. This record is held by a breed and
a region in which we would not expect to find great layers.

This holding of the record by a breed hitherto not considered a
laying type, would be comparable to a tenderfoot bagging the pots in
an Arizona gambling den. If the latter incident should occur and be
heralded in the papers it would be no proof that it would pay
another Eastern youth to rush out to Arizona. It is probable that
the man who, on the strength of this single record, stocks an egg
farm with imported Chinese Langshans, will fare as the second

The year following the Langshan winning, the first eleven winning
pens were all S.C.W. Leghorns. This is also remarkable--much more
remarkable in fact than the Langshans record. It is like a royal
flush in a poker game. Standing alone, this would be very suggestive
evidence of the eminence of the breed. Standing as it does, with the
combined evidence of years and numbers, it gives the S.C.W. Leghorn
hen the same reputation in Australia as she has in America and
Denmark--that of being the greatest egg machine ever created.

Isolated evidence is misleading. Accumulated evidence is convincing.
The difference between the scientist and the enthusiast is that the
former knows the difference between these two classes of evidence.

The Hen's Ancestors.

To one who is unfamiliar with the different types of chickens found
in a poultry showroom, it seems incredible that these varieties
should have descended from one parent source. It was, however, held
by Darwin that all domestic chickens were sprung from a single
species of Indian jungle fowl. Other scientists have since disputed
Darwin's conclusion, but it does not seem to the writer that the
origin of domestic fowls from more than one wild variety makes the
changes that have taken place under domestication any less

The buff, white and dominique colors, unheard of in wild species,
frizzles with their feathers all awry, the Polish with their
deformed skulls and the sooty fowls whose skin and bones are black,
are some of the remarkable characters that have sprung up and been
preserved under domestication. The varieties of domestic fowl form
one of the most profound exhibits of man's control over the laws of
inheritance. What makes these wonders all the more inexplicable is
that these profound changes were accomplished in an age when a
scientific study of breeding was a thing unheard of.

The wild chicken whom Darwin credits as the parent of the modern
gallinaceous menagerie, is smaller than modern fowls and is colored
in a manner similar to the Black-breasted Game. The habits of this
bird are like those of the quail and prairie-chicken, both of which
belong to the same zoological family.

From its natural home in India the chicken spread east and west.
Chinese poultry culture is ancient. In China, as well as in India,
the chief care seems to have been to breed very large fowls, and
from these countries all the large, heavily feathered and feather
legged chickens of the modern world have come.

Poultry is also known to have been bred in the early Babylonian and
Egyptian periods. Here, however, the progress was in a different
line from that of China. Artificial incubation was early developed,
and the selection was for birds that produced eggs continually,
rather than for those that laid fewer eggs and brooded in the
natural manner.

The Egyptian type of chicken spread to the countries bordering on
the Mediterranean, and from Southern Europe our non-sitting breeds
of fowls have been imported. Throughout the countries of Northern
Europe minor differences were developed. The French chickens were
selected for the quality of the meat, while in Poland the peculiar
top-knotted breed is supposed to have been formed.

The English Dorking is one of the oldest of European breeds and is
possessed of five toes. Five-toed fowls were reported in Rome and
exist to-day in Turkey and Japan. The Dorkings may be descended
directly from the Roman fowls, or various strains of five-toed fowls
may have arisen independently from the preservation of sports.

The chief point to be noted in all European poultry is that it
differs from Asiatic poultry in being smaller, lighter feathered,
quicker maturing, of greater egg-producing capacity, less disposed
to become broody, and more active than the Asiatic fowl.

The early American hens were of European origin, but of no fixed
breeds. About 1840 Italian chickens began to be imported. These,
with stock from Spain, have been bred for fixed types of form and
color, and constitute our Mediterranean or non-sitting breeds of the
present day. Soon after the importation of Italian chickens a chance
importation was made from Southeastern Asia. These Asiatic chickens
were quite different from anything yet seen, and further
importations followed.

Poultry-breeding soon became the fashion. The first poultry show was
held in Boston in the early '50's. The Asiatic fowls imported were
gray or yellowish-red in color, and were variously known as the
Brahmapootras, Cochin-Chinas and Shanghais. With the rapid
development of poultry-breeding there came a desire to produce new
varieties. Every conceivable form of cross-breeding was resorted to.
The great majority of breeds and varieties as they exist to-day are
the results of crosses followed by a few years of selection for the
desired form and color. Many of our common breeds still give us
occasional individuals that resemble some of the types from which
the breed was formed. The exact history of the formation of the
American or mixed breeds is in dispute, but it is certain that they
have been formed from a complex mixing of blood from both European
and Asiatic sources.

The English have recently furnished the world with a very popular
breed which was originated by the same methods. I refer to the

The ever growing multiplicity of varieties of chicken is in reality
only casually related to the business of the poultryman whose object
is the production of human food.

Breeding as an art or vocation, is a source of endless pleasure to
man, and as such, is as worthy of encouragement as is painting,
music, or the collection of the bones of prehistoric animals.
Breeding as an art has produced many forms of chickens that are
entirely worthless as food producers, but this same group of poultry
breeders, tempered to be sure by the demands of commercialism, have
produced other breeds that are certainly superior for the various
commercial purposes to the unselected fowls of the old-fashioned

The mongrel chicken is a production of chance. Its ancestry
represents everything available in the barn-yard of the
neighborhood, and its offspring will be equally varied. In the pure
breeds there has been a rigid selection practiced that gives uniform
appearance. The size and shape requirements of the standard,
although not based on the market demands, come much nearer producing
an ideal carcass than does chance breeding. Ability to mature for
the fall shows is a decidedly practical quality that the fancier
breeds into his chickens. Moreover, poultry-breeders, while still
keeping standard points in mind, have also made improvements in the
lay and meat-producing qualities of their chickens. Considering
these facts it is an erroneous idea to think that mongrel chickens
offer any advantage over pure bred stock.

In the broader sense we may regard as pure-bred those animals that
reproduce their shape, color, habits, or other distinctive qualities
with uniformity. In order that we may get offspring like the parent
and like each other we must have animals whose ancestors for many
generations back have been of one type. The more generations of such
uniformity, the more certain it will be that the young will possess
similar quality.

One strain of chickens may be selected for uniform color of
feathers, another for a certain size and shape, another for laying
large eggs of a certain color, and yet another strain for being
producers of many eggs. Each of these strains might be well-bred in
these particular traits, but would be mongrels when the other
considerations were taken into account.

This explains to us why the family or strains is frequently more
important than the breed. In fact, the whole series of breed
classification is arbitrary. This is especially true of the American
or mixed breeds. Humorously turned fanciers at the poultry show
frequently have much sport trying to get other fanciers to tell
White or Buff Rocks from Wyandottes, when the heads are hidden. From
the dressed carcasses with feet and head removed, the finest set of
poultry judges in the world would be hopelessly lost in a collection
of Rocks, Wyandottes, Reds and Orpingtons and, I dare say, one could
run in a few Langshans and Minorcas if it were not for their black
pin feathers.

What Breed.

The writer has great admiration for breeding as an art. He would
rather be the originator of a breed of green chickens with six toes,
than to have been the author of "Afraid to Go Home in the Dark." But
I do want the novice who reads this book to be spared some of the
mental throes usually indulged in over the selection of a breed.

So-called meat breeds, that is, the big feather legged Asiatics save
on a few capon and roaster plants in New England, are really
useless. They have given size to American chickens as a class, and
in that have served a useful purpose, but standing alone they cannot
compete with lighter, quick growing breeds.

For commercial consideration there are really but two types: The egg
breeds of Mediterranean origin and the general purpose breeds or
growers, including the Rocks, Wyandottes and Rhode Island Reds. The
difference between the layers on the one hand and the growers on the
other, is quite important. Which should be used depends on the
location and plan of operations, as has already been discussed.

The choice of variety within the group is a matter of taste and
chance of sales of fancy stock. This one principle can, however, be
laid down: The more popular the breed, the more choice there will be
in selecting strains and individuals. Pea Comb Plymouth Rocks and
Duckwing Leghorns should not be considered because of their rarity.
Of the growers, their popularity and claims are close enough to make
the particular choice unimportant. For commercial consideration, the
writer would as soon invest his money in a flock of Barred Rock,
White Wyandottes or Rhode Island Reds. Among layers the S. C. White
has achieved such a lead that the majority of good laying strains
are in this breed and to choose any other would be to place a
handicap on oneself. For a description of breeds, the reader should
secure an Illustrated American Standard of Perfection, or some of
the books published by poultry fanciers and judges. To take up the
matter here would merely be using my space for imparting knowledge
which can be better secured elsewhere.

The relative popularity of breeds at the poultry shows is nicely
shown by the following list. This data was compiled by adding the
numbers of each breed exhibited at 124 different poultry shows in
the season of 1907. A detailed report of the total entries of each
breed is as follows: Plymouth Rocks, 14,514; Wyandottes, 12,320;
Leghorns, 8,740; Rhode Island Reds, 5,812; Orpingtons, 2,857;
Langshans, 2,153; Minorcas, 1,709; Cochin Bantams, 1,590; Games,
1,277; Brahmas, 1,181; Cochins, 1,010; Hamburgs, 758; Game Bantams,
637; Polish, 618; Houdans, 538; Indians, 538; Anconas, 464; Sebright
Bantams, 423; Andalusians, 117; Japanese Bantams, 115; Dorkings,
105; Brahma Bantams, 104; Buckeyes, 95; Silkies, 85; Spanish, 83;
Redcaps, 71; Sumatras, 41; Polish Bantams, 37; Sultans, 18; Malays,
12; Frizzles, 7; Le Fleche, 7; Dominiques, 5; Booted Bantams, 4;
Malay Bantams, 3; Crevecoeure, 3.



Science has been defined as the "know how" and art as the "do how."
The man who works by art depends upon an unconscious judgment which
is inborn or is acquired by long practice. The man who works by
science may also have this artistic taste, but he tests its dicta by
comparison with known facts and principles. The scientist not only
looks before he leaps, but measures the distance and knows exactly
where he is going to land.

Breeding has for centuries been an art, but the science of breeding
is so new as to seem a mass of contradictions to all except those
familiar with the maze of mathematics and biology by which the
barn-yard facts must find their ultimate explanation. The science of
breeding may in the future bring about that which would now seem
miraculous, but it is the ancient art of breeding that is and will
for years continue to be the means by which the poultry fancier will
achieve his results.

In a volume the chief aim of which is to place the poultry industry,
which is now conducted as an art, in the realm of technical science,
it might seem proper to devote considerable space to the subject of
breeding, That I shall not do so, is for the reason that while
theoretically I recognize the important part that breeding plays in
all animal production, for the practical proposition of producing
poultry products at the lowest possible cost, a knowledge of the
technical science of breeding is unessential and may, by diverting
the poultryman's time to unprofitable efforts, prove an actual

For the show room breeder the new science of breeding is too
undeveloped to be of immediate service, or I had better say, the
show room requisites are too complicated for theoretical breeding to
promise results. For the commercial poultryman, I shall review what
has been accomplished and state briefly the theories upon which
contemplated work is based.

The objects striven after in poultry breeding are: 1st: To create
new varieties which shall have improved practical points or shall
attract attention as curiosities. 2d: To approach the ideals
accepted by fanciers for established breeds, and hence win in
competition. 3d: To change some particular feature or habit as, to
increase egg production or reduce the size of bantams. 4th: To
improve several points at once as, eggs and size in general purpose
fowls. This classification is really unnecessary, as the most
specialized breeding involves consideration of many points.

Breeding as an Art.

The method by which breeds and varieties of the show room specimens
have been developed is essentially as follows: The wonderfully
different varieties of fowl from every quarter of the earth are
brought together. Crossing is then resorted to, with the result that
birds of all forms and colors are produced. The breeder then selects
specimens that most nearly conform to the type or ideal in his mind.

Suppose a man wished to produce Barred Leghorns, with a fifth toe.
He would secure Barred Rocks, White Leghorns and White or Gray
Dorkings. Then he would cross in every conceivable fashion.

Perhaps he might have trouble getting the white color to disappear.
In that case Buff Leghorns which are a newer breed might be tried
and found more pliable material. By such methods the breeder would in
three or four generations of crossing get a crude type of what he
desired. Henceforth it would be a matter of patience and
selection. Five to twenty years is the time usually taken to produce
new breeds of fancy poultry that will breed true to type. In this
style of breeding the principles at stake are simple. The first is
to secure the variations wanted; second, to breed from the most
desirable of these specimens.

The same methods of selection that establish a breed are used to
maintain it, or to establish strains. In ordinary breeding there are
two other principles that are sometimes called into play. One is
prepotency, the other is inbreeding. By prepotent we mean having
unusual power to transmit characters to offspring. Suppose a breeder
has five yards headed by five cock birds. The male in yard two he
does not consider quite as fine as the bird in yard one, but in the
fall he finds the offspring of bird from two much better than the
offspring from yard one. The breeder should keep the prepotent sire
and his offspring rather than the more perfect male, who fails to
stamp his traits upon his get.

Normally a child has two parents, four grandparents, and eight
great-grandparents. Now, when cousins marry, the great-grandparents
of the offspring are reduced to six. The mating of brother and
sister cuts the grandparents to two, and the great-grandparents to
four. Mating of parent and offspring makes a parent and grandparent
identical and likewise eliminates ancestry. Inbreeding means the
reduction of the number of branches in the ancestral tree, and this
means the reduction of the number of chances to get variation, be
they good or bad.

Inbreeding simply intensifies whatever is there. It does not
necessarily destroy the vitality, but if close inbreeding is
practiced long enough, sooner or later some little existing weakness
or peculiarity would become intensified and may prove fatal to the
strain. For illustration, suppose we began inbreeding brother and
sister with a view of keeping it up indefinitely. Now, in the
original blood, a tendency for the predominance of one sex over the
other undoubtedly exists and would be intensified until there would
come a generation all of one sex, which, of course, terminates our

Inbreeding has always been tabooed by the people generally.
Meanwhile the clever stock breeders have combined inbreeding with
selection and have won the show prizes and sold the people "new
blood" at fancy prices.

Unintelligent inbreeding as practiced on many a farm, results in run
down stock, not so much from inbreeding as from lack of selection.
Out-crossing or mixing in of new blood is better than hit-or-miss
inbreeding. Intelligent inbreeding is better still.

Scientific Theories of Breeding.

The main tenet of Darwin's theory of racial inheritance or
evolution, was that changes in animal life, wild or domestic, were
brought about by the addition of very slight, perhaps imperceptible,
variations. He argued that the giraffe with the longest neck could
browse on higher leaves in time of drought and hence left offspring
with slightly longer necks than the previous generation.

Upon this theory the ordinary breeding by selection is based. In
case of breeding for show room, the breeder's eye, or the judge's
score card, is the tape with which to measure the length of the
giraffe's neck. This principle can be applied equally well, even
better, to characteristics where accurate measurement may be used.

The last forty years of scientific progress has established firmly
the general theories of Darwin, but they have also resulted in our
questioning his idea that all great changes are due to the sum of
small variations. Many instances have been suggested in which the
theory of gradual changes could not explain the facts.

The theory of mutation, of which Hugo de Vries, of Holland, is the
chief expounder, does not antagonize Darwin, but simply gives more
weight in the process of evolution to the factor of sudden changes
commonly called sports. Let us illustrate: In the giraffe of our
former forest, one might appear whose neck was not longer because of
slightly longer vertebrae, but who possessed an extra vertebrae.
This would be a mutation. In other words, a mutation is a marked
variation that may be inherited. We now believe that polled cattle,
five-toed Dorkings, top-knotted Houdans, frizzles and black skinned
chickens arose through mutations.

Burbank's Methods--The wonderful Burbank with his thornless cactus,
his stoneless plum, and his white blackberry, is simply a searcher
after mutations. His success is not because he uses any secret
methods, but because of the size of his operations. He produces his
specimens by the millions, and in these millions looks, and often
looks in vain for the lonely sport that is to father a new race.
Burbank has, with plants, many advantages of which the animal
breeder is deprived. He can produce his specimens in greater number,
he can more easily find out the desirable character, and in many
plants he has not the uncertain element of double parentage to
contend with, while with others he is still more fortunate, as he
can produce them by seed, stimulate variation until the desired
mutation is found and can then reproduce the desired variation with
certainty by the use of cuttings. This latter is not true
inheritance with its inevitable variation, but the indefinite
prolongation of the life of one individual. In this sense there is
only one seedless orange tree in the world.

The Centgenitor System--Prof. Hays in breeding wheat at Minnesota,
first used in this country a system of breeding which is essentially
as follows: A large variety of individual seeds are selected. These
are planted separately and the amount and character of the yield
observed. The offspring of one seed is kept separate for several
generations, or until the character of the tribe is thoroughly
established. The advantage of this plan of breeding is in that the
selection is not made by comparing individuals, but by comparing the
offspring of individuals. Thus, we necessarily select the only trait
really worth while; that is prepotency or the ability to beget
desirable qualities.

The application of this centgenitor system necessitates inbreeding;
it also necessitates large operations. Of the former, breeders have
generally been afraid; of the latter they have lacked opportunity.
But the centgenitor system, combined with Burbank's principle of
large opportunity of selection, is, in the writer's belief, the
method by which the 200-egg hen will be ultimately established in

Much of the recent stimulus to the study of the Science of Breeding
was occasioned by the discovery of Mendel's Law. Briefly, the law
states that when two pure traits or characters are crossed, one
dominates in the first generation of offspring--the other remaining
hidden or recessive. Of the second generation, one-half the
individuals are still mixed, bearing the dominant characteristic
externally and the other hidden; one-fourth are pure dominants and
one-fourth are pure recessives. In future generations the mixed or
hybrid individuals again give birth to mixed and pure types
apportioned as before, thus continuing until all offspring become
ultimately pure. For illustration: If rose and single comb chickens
are crossed, rose combs are dominant. The first generation will all
have rose combs. The second generation will have one-fourth single
combs that will breed true, one-fourth rose combs that will breed
rose combs only, and one-half that again will give all three types.

Mendel's Law works all right in cases where pure unit
characteristics are to be found. For the great practical problems in
inheritance, Mendel's law is utterly hopeless. The trouble is that
the chief things with which we are concerned are not unit
characteristics but are combinations of countless characteristics
which cannot be seen or known, hence cannot be picked out. Thus the
tendency to revert to pure types is foiled by the constant
recrossing of these types.

Mendel's law is a scientific curiosity like the aeroplane. It may
some day be more than a curiosity, but both have tremendous odds to
overcome before they supplant our present methods.

Prof. C.B. Davenport, of the Carnegie Institute, is working on
experimental poultry breeding in its purely scientific sense. His
conclusions have been much criticised by poultry fanciers. The truth
of the matter is that the fancier fails to appreciate the spirit of
pure science. The scientist, enthused to find his white fowl
re-occur after a generation of black ones, is wholly undisturbed by
the fact that the white ones, if exhibited, might be taken for a
Silver Spangled Hamburg.

Mendel's law as yet offers little to the fancier and less to the
commercial poultryman. Its study is all right in its place, but its
place is not on the poultry plant whose profits are to buy the baby
a new dress.

Breeding for Egg Production.

Attempts to improve the egg-producing qualities of the hen date from
the domestication of the hen, but it has only been within the last
few years that rapid progress has been possible in this work. The
inability to determine the good layers has been the difficulty.

The great majority of people make no selection of hens from which to
hatch their stock. The eggs of the whole flock are kept together and
when eggs are desired for hatching they are selected from a general
basket. It has been assumed, and is shown by trap-nest records, that
eggs thus selected in the spring of the year are from the poorer,
rather than from the better layers. This is because hens that have
not been laying during the winter will lay very heavily during the
spring season. Many breeders have attempted to pick out the good
layers by the appearance of the hens. Before the advent of the
trap-nest the "egg type" of hen was believed to be a positive
indication of a good layer. The "egg type" hen had slender neck,
small head, long, deep body of a wedge shape. Various "systems"
founded on these or other "signs" have been sold for fancy prices to
people who were easily separated from their money. Trap-nest records
show such systems to be on a par with the lunar guidance in
agricultural operations.

I might remark here that the determination of sex by the shape of
the egg or similar methods, is in a like category. Science finds no
proof of such theories.

A few methods of selecting the layers have been suggested which,
while far from absolute, are of some significance and are well worth
noting. The hen that sits upon the roost while other hens are out
foraging, is probably a drone. The excessively fat or the
excessively lean hens are not likely to be layers. It would
naturally be supposed that the active laying hen would be the last
one to go to roost at night. At the Kansas Experiment Station, the
writer made observations upon the order in which the hens went to
roost, and the above assumption was found in the majority of cases
to be correct.

A still better scheme of selecting layers is the practice of picking
out the thrifty, quickly maturing pullets when they first begin to
lay in the fall season. At the Maine Experiment Station, such a
selection gave a flock of layers which averaged about one hundred
and eighty eggs, when the remainder of the flock yielded only one
hundred and forty.

Trap-nests devised to catch the hen that lays the egg are numerous
in the market. A trap-nest to be successful, must not only catch the
hen that lays, but must prevent the entrance of the other hens.

The more trap-nests that are provided, the less often they will
require attention, but the more often the nests are attended the
better for the comfort of the hens.

The use of trap-nests is expensive and cannot be recommended for the
poultryman who must make every hour of time put on his chickens
yield him an immediate income. Fanciers and Experiment Stations can
well afford to use trap-nests and must, indeed, use them both for
breeding for egg production, and also for determining the hen that
laid the egg when full pedigrees are desired in other breeding work.

A scheme that has sometimes been used in the place of trap-nests, is
a system of small compartments, in each of which one hen is kept.
Such a scheme does not seem feasible on a large scale, but for
breeders wishing to keep the records of a small number of hens, it
is all right. Because of its cost, this system is wholly out of the
question, except for a man following breeding as a hobby and who
cannot devote himself during the day to the care of trap-nests.

Having determined the best layers, it remains to breed from these
and from their descendants. The tests of pullets hatched from hens
are better signs of the hen's value as a breeder than is her own
record. It has been surmised that a hen which lays heavily will not
lay eggs containing vigorous germs. So far as the writer's
experience has gone, the laying of infertile eggs is a family or
individual trait not particularly related to the number of eggs

When we have bred from the best layers and have raised our average
egg yielder to a higher level, the question arises as to whether the
strain will permanently maintain the high yield or drop back to the
former rate of production. Theory says that it will not drop back.
As a matter of fact it will not do so, for the heavier production
will be more trying on the hen's constitution, and naturally
selection will gradually cause the egg record to dwindle. Hence the
necessity of continued selection or the infusion of new blood from
other selected strains.

Whatever may be the change desired in a strain of chickens,
specimens showing the trait to be selected should be used as
breeders. Those characteristics readily visible to the eye have long
been the subjects of the breeder's efforts. But traits not directly
visible can likewise be changed by breeding. The number of eggs,
size and color of eggs, rapid growth, ready fattening powers,
quality of meat and general characteristics, are all matters of
inheritance, and if proper means are taken to select the desirable
individuals all such characteristics can be changed at the will of
the breeder.

It is a fact, however, often overlooked, that the more traits for
which one selects, the slower will be progress. For illustration: If
in breeding for egg production, one-half the good layers are
discarded for lack of fancy points, the progress will be just half
as rapid.

A discussion of the work in breeding for egg production at the Maine
Experiment Station is taken up in the next chapter.



Our entire scheme of agricultural education and experimentation is
new. The poultry work at experiment stations is very new. Ten years
will about cover everything worthy of a permanent record in the
poultry experiment station files.

Stations Leading in Poultry Work.

Among the earliest stations to begin poultry work in this country
were Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine. Rhode
Island conducted the first school of poultry culture. The two
stations of New York State were also early in the work, and Cornell
now has the leading school of poultry culture in this country.

West Virginia has always maintained a considerable poultry plant.
Outside of the states east of the Appalachians, the first poultry
work to be heard of was that of Prof. Dryden at the Experiment
Station of Utah. Prof. Dryden's work was of a demonstrative nature.
His early bulletins were forceful and well illustrated, and did much
to call attention to poultry work.

In all this early work the great Mississippi Valley, where
four-fifths of the nation's poultry is produced, entirely ignored
the hen. The writer began his work with poultry at the Kansas
Station in 1902, but his chickens were housed in a discarded hog
house, and no funds being available, little was accomplished. In the
last three or four years these experiment stations are rapidly
falling into line and a number of poultry bulletins have recently
been issued from these younger schools.

A few of the early landmarks in experiment station work was as

The Utah Station clearly found that hens laid about 65 per cent. as
many eggs in the second as in the first year, and that to keep hens
for egg production beyond the second year, was unprofitable.

Massachusetts proved that corn was a better food for layers than
wheat, and that the prejudice against it was founded on a misapplied

The New York Station at Geneva demonstrated that poultry generally,
and ducks in particular, are not vegetarians, and must have meat to
thrive and that vegetable protein will not make good the deficiency.

The Maine Station was chiefly instrumental in introducing
trap-nests, curtain front houses and dry feeding. The breeding work
at Maine will be discussed at length in the last section of this

The United States Department of Agriculture did not take up poultry
work until 1906. The publications issued by the department before
that time were written by outsiders and printed by the Government.

The following is the list of the addresses of the experiment
stations who have taken a leading interest in poultry work. It is
not worth while giving a list of poultry bulletins, as many of them
are out of print and can only be consulted in a library.

    Rhode Is.--Kingston.
    New York--Ithaca.
    New York--Geneva.
    Maryland--College Park.
    West. Va.--Morgantown.
    U.S. Gov.--Washington, D.C.
    Ontario--Guelph (Canada).

Many foreign governments have us out-distanced in the encouragement
of the poultry industry. Our Canadian neighbors have done much more
practical work in getting out among the farmers and improving the
stock and methods along commercial lines. As a result the Canadians
have built up a nice British trade with which we have thus far not
been able to compete. The work by the Ontario Station on the subject
of incubation is discussed in the Chapter on Incubation.

Australia, like Canada, has given much practical assistance in
marketing the poultry products, the government maintaining packing
stations, where the poultry is packed for export. The Australian
laying contests are quoted in the present volume. They outclass
anything else in the world along that line.

In England, Ireland and especially in Denmark, the government, or
societies encouraged by the Government, have done a great deal to
develop the poultry industry. Depots for marketing and grading are
maintained and the stock of the farmers is improved by fowls from
the government breeding farms.

The Story of the "Big Coon."

With apologies to Joel Chandler Harris, I will tell a little story.

Uncle Remus was telling the little boy about the "big coon." It
seems that the "big coon" had been seen on numerous occasions, but
all efforts at his capture had failed. One night they saw the "big
coon" up in the 'simmon tree, in the middle of the ten-acre lot. All
hands and the dogs were summoned. To be sure of bagging the game,
the tree was cut down. The dogs rushed in but there was no coon.

"But, Uncle Remus," said the little boy, "I thought you said you saw
the big coon in the tree."

"Laws, chile," replied Uncle Remus, "doesn't youse know dat it am
mighty easy for folks to see something dat ain't dar, when dey are
lookin' fer it?"

When scientific experimenters entered the poultry field about
fifteen years ago, they found it swarming with old ladies' notions.
For everything a reason was given, but these reasons were derived
from the kind of dreams where that which pleases the human mind is
seized upon and search is made to find ideas to back it, not because
it is true, but because it "listens good" to the dreamer. The first
duty of the scientist was to banish these will-o'-the-wisp ideas
that lead to no practical results.

For illustration Round eggs were supposed to hatch pullets and long
ones cockerels. Eggs will not hatch if it thunders. Shipped eggs
must be allowed to rest before hatching, the drug store was the
universal source of relief when the chickens became sick, and red
pepper and patent foods were the egg foods par excellence. These
things, thanks to the scientist, are no longer believed or regarded
by well read poultrymen, and instead his attention has been turned
to matters having a more happy relation to his bank account.

In clearing away the useless popular notions, the scientists
themselves have not been free from their influence, especially when
they seemed to agree with accepted scientific theory. Many, indeed,
are the 'coons in poultry science that have been seen because they
were being looked for.

As a partial explanation it should be said that men available for
scientific poultry work are very scarce. Poultry keepers schooled in
the University of the Poultry Yard have no conception of scientific
methods, and would explain experimental results by a theory that
would fail to fit elsewhere. The available scientists on the other
hand are seldom poultrymen.

Among the first men to take up animal husbandry work of all kinds,
were the veterinarians. For years the only poultry publications put
out by the U.S. Government were by veterinarians. These dust covered
volumes with their five color plates of the fifty-seven varieties of
tapeworms, still rest on the shelves of public libraries, a monument
to the time when the practical poultryman knew only things that
weren't so, and the scientific poultryman knew only things that were

The first general law that all experimenters should know and the
ignorance of which has caused and still causes the waste of the
major portion of experimental brains and money, we will call the
"Law of Chance." Let the reader who is not familiar with such things
take two pennies and toss them upon the table. They are both heads
up. He tosses them again, one comes heads, the other tails. The
third time repeats the second. The fourth both come tails. The law
of chance says this is correct. Heads should appear 25 per cent.,
tails 25 per cent., and mixed 50 per cent. of the time. Now let the
reader try this in a lot of twelve tosses. Does it prove the law?
Try it again. Are all lots alike? Now pitch a hundred times, then
pitch pennies all day. By night the law will be so near proven that
the experimenter will be willing to concede its validity.

Now suppose the lots of twelve tosses, each were lots of twelve
hens, one Plymouth Rocks, the other Wyandottes, or one fed corn and
the other wheat. The law of chance clearly proves that the larger
number of unites, the nearer the theoretical truths will be the
experimental results. Note, however, that small lots may by chance
be as near the truth as large lots.

In practice two grave errors are made: First, conclusions are drawn
from small lots compared with each other; second, conclusions are
drawn from large lots compared with small lots. In the first case
both may be off; in the latter case the small one may be off.
Examples of the first error are to be found in the scores of
contradicting breed and feed tests, that were published in the early
days of poultry research. The second error is exemplified in the
Ontario experiments in incubation, to which reference has already
been made.

Here is a further example of this error. From the fifth egg laying
competition at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College in Australia, I
copy the following:

    No. of Hens.      Variety.             Ave. Egg Yield.

      6               Cuckoo Leghorn               190.16
     30               S.C. Brown Leghorn           177.00
    138               S.C. White Leghorn           174.93
     12               R.C. Brown Leghorn           173.50
     12               R.C. White Leghorn           172.66
     18               Buff Leghorn                 160.55
      6               Black Leghorn                138.33

The ranking of Cuckoo Leghorns as first is a chance happening due to
the small number; likewise the Black Leghorns had a streak of bad
luck and received lowest place. To one not familiar with such work,
the real significance of the table is that the S.C.W. Leghorns did
the best work. A totaling of all other varieties gives 84 fowls with
an average egg production of 170.5, which bears out the conclusion.
As these birds were all kept in pens of six, we would expect to find
the highest single pen to be White Leghorns, because, when compared
with all other Leghorns, they have both the highest average and the
greatest number. This accords with the fact that as the highest
single pen is found to be White Leghorns with an egg yield of 239

The above illustrates another important phase of the laws of chance,
which says that not only is the average likely to be nearer the
theoretical average sought when the number is increased, but that
the individual extremes will be more removed.

Important Experimental Results at the Illinois Station.

From an Illinois Experiment Station report, the following is quoted:

"The stock used was Barred Plymouth Rock pullets. These pullets were
a very uniform Barred Rock stock that had been bred as an individual
strain for many years. They were practically the same age, and
except for the factors mentioned were treated as uniformly as

    First Year's Results.

    No. Hens.      Diet.        Ave. Egg Yield.

        10      Nitrogenous Diet        132.9
        10      Carbonaceous Diet       128.4
        10      Wet Wash                155.8
        10      Dry Wash                111.4

"The results of the first test are somewhat surprising for it is
generally believed that the nitrogenous diet is best for laying
hens. The difference indicated in the first year's results was so
light that it was decided to repeat the experiment the second year.

"As the wet wash is clearly proven to be superior, these hens were
used the second year to compare meat meal with fresh cut bone.

    Second Year's Result.

    No. Hens.      Diet.        Ave. Egg Yield.

        10      Nitrogenous             142.2
        10      Carbonaceous            134.5

        10      Meat Meal               102.2
        10      Green Cut Bone          128.9

"The results of the second year clearly indicate the great
superiority of green cut bone as compared with the dry unpalatable
meat meal. The comparison of a highly nitrogenous ration with that
of a ration consisting largely of corn, while showing the advantages
of the nitrogenous rations, does not show the contrast expected.

"Some visiting poultrymen expressed the opinion that corn is a
better poultry food than commonly supposed. Considering this fact
and the great fundamental importance of the question at issue, it
was decided to repeat the experiment a third year, and feed a large
number of birds on each ration.

    No. Hens.      Diet.      Ave. Egg Yield.

        100      Nitrogenous          126.9
        100      Carbonaceous         127.2"

I will leave the last without comment, for the whole thing is a
hoax. The Illinois Experiment Station has never owned a chicken.
These "Illinois" experiments were planned and executed in a few
minutes of the writer's spare time. The basis of the experiments was
a pack of cards containing the individual records of the Maine
Experiment Station hens, shuffling the cards and averaging the
desired number of records as they come in the pack, made the
distinction between the various diets.

Experimental Bias.

Pet ideas consciously or unconsciously mold practice. A bias toward
an idea may show itself in the planning and conducting of an
experiment, or it may come out in the later interpretation.

An illustration of the first kind is found in the early work of the
West Virginia Station (Bulletin 60). With the preconceived notion
that hens should have a nitrogenous diet an experiment was planned
and conducted as follows:

One lot of hens was fed corn, potatoes, oats and corn meal. A
contrasted lot reveled in corn, potatoes, hominy feed, oat meal,
corn meal and fresh cut bone. The results were in favor of the
latter ration by a doubled egg yield.

To any experienced poultryman the reason is evident. The variety of
the diet and the meat food are what made the showing.

About the same time the Massachusetts Station planned a similar
experiment. The bias was the same, but it took a fairer form. The
hens were both given a decent variety of food and some form of meat.
The bulk of the grain was corn in the carbonaceous, and wheat in the
nitrogenous ration. The results were in favor of the corn. This
astonished the experimenter. He tried it again and again tests came
out in favor of corn. At last the old theory was revoked, and the
fallacy of wheat being essential to egg production was exploded. If
by an irony of fate in the shuffling of the hens, the wheat pen had
the first time showed an advantage, the experimenter might have been
satisfied and the waste of feeding high priced feed when a better
and a cheaper is at hand, might have gone on indefinitely.

Of bias in the interpretation of results all publications are more
or less saturated. A reading of the Chapter on Incubation will
illustrate this. A common error of this kind is the omission of
facts necessary to fully explain results. Items of costs are
invariably omitted or minimized. Food cost alone is usually
mentioned in figuring experimenting station poultry profits, which
statement will undoubtedly cause a sad smile to creep over the face
of many a "has-been" poultryman.

The writer remembers an incident from his college days which
illustrates the point in hand. Let it first be remarked that this
was on the new lands of the trans-Missouri Country, where manure had
no more commercial value than soil, and is freely given to those
who will haul it away.

The professor at the blackboard had been figuring up handsome
profits on a type of dairying towards which he wits very partial.
The figures showed a goodly profit, but the biggest expense
item--that of labor--was omitted. One of the students held up his
hand and inquired after the labor bill.

"Oh," said the smiling professor, "The manure will pay for the

When the class adjourned, the student remarked: "They say figures
won't lie, but a liar will figure."

The third way in which experiments are made worthless is by the
introduction of factors other than the one being tested. This may be
done by chance, and the conductor not realize the presence of the
other factor, or the varying factors may be introduced intentionally
under the belief that they are negligible. Of the first case an
instance may be cited of the placing of two flocks in a house, one
end of which is damper than the other, the accidental introduction
into one flock of a contagious disease, or one flock being thrown
off feed by an excessive feed of greens, etc., etc. These factors
that influence pens of birds greatly add to the error of the law of
chance. In fact it amounts to the same thing on a larger scale. For
this reason not only are many individuals, but many flocks, many
locations, and many years needed to prove the superiority of the
contrasted methods.

The criticisms in the following section will amply illustrate the
case of foreign factors being unwisely introduced into an

The Egg Breeding Work at the Maine Station.

As is well known the Maine Station was for years considered by all
poultrymen to be doing a great and beneficial work in breeding for
increased egg production. Up until the fall of 1907, the poultrymen
of the country were of the opinion that this work was in every way
successful, and a large number of private breeders had taken up the
use of trap-nests in an effort to build up the egg production of
their fowls.

When early in 1908 Bulletin 157 of the Maine Experiment Station was
published, it showed by averages as given in the table on page 202
that the egg yield at the station was for the entire period on the
decline. In Bulletin 157, the statement was made that "arithmetical
mistakes" and "faulty statistical methods" accounted for the
discrepancies between the former publications and the criticised
data. The further explanation that "the experiment was a success as
an experiment," etc., only appeared to the public mind as a graceful
way of explaining what was, to the practical man, an utter failure
of the entire work.

The unfortunate death of Professor Gowell, together with the fact
that he had equipped a private poultry farm with station stock,
added to the confusion, and the result of the bulletin was the
precipitation of a general "pow-wow" in which the poultry editors
were about equally divided between those who were casting
insinuations upon the personnel of the station, and those who
decried the whole effort toward improving the egg yield.

After going over the publications of Professor Gowell, visiting the
station and meeting the present force, I came to the following
conclusions regarding the matter:

Professor Gowell's work is open to severe criticism. Errors have
been made in conducting the work at Maine which have made it
possible for a mathematical biologist to take the data and seemingly
prove that selection, as practiced by Professor Gowell, actually
resulted in lowering inherent egg capacity of the strain of Plymouth
Rock hens under experimentation. Had Professor Gowell's successor
been a practical poultryman, it is my candid opinion that the public
would have been given a radically different explanation of the

Professor Gowell is the author of the following statement: "The
small chicken grower is earnestly urged to use an incubator for
hatching." This opinion is not in accord with that of the majority
of breeders and the more progressive experiment station workers. The
opinion has been expressed by Professor Graham and others, that the
particular results at the Maine Station may have been due to the
decrease of vitality caused by continued artificial hatching. This
view may be wholly without foundation. Nevertheless, as the common
type of incubator is under heavy criticism, and it is pretty well
proven that chicks so hatched have not the vitality of naturally
hatched chicks, surely a series of breeding experiments would carry
more weight if the replenishing of the flock had been accomplished
by natural means.

For the first few years of the breeding work the house used was the
old-fashioned double walled and warmed pattern. The last few years
of this work were conducted in curtain front houses. That the cool
house is an improvement over the warm house is generally conceded,
but there are many poultrymen who are still of the opinion that the
warm house will give a larger egg yield, though at a greater expense
and less profit.

In the early years of the work the method of feeding was also a
time-honored one, and included a warm mash. About the middle of the
experimental period Professor Gowell brought out the system of
feeding dry mash from hoppers. This custom became a great fad and
Professor Gowell and Director Woods have preached it far and wide.
Perhaps it is an improvement, but it is to-day much more popular
with novices than with established egg farms. Many old line
poultrymen have tried dry mash only to go back to wet mash, by which
method the hens can be induced to eat more which is conducive to
high egg yields. Whether these changes in housing and feeding have
been improvements as claimed by those who introduced them, or
whether their popularity may be explained in part at least by the
psychology of fads, is a point in question, but certainly the
marring of a breeding experiment by introducing radical changes in
the factors of production is at best unfortunate.

A much more serious criticism than any of the foregoing is to be
found in a change of the size of flocks and amount of floor space
per fowl. I have gone over carefully the published records of
Professor Gowell, and the review of Dr. Pearl, and the following
table represents, as near as I can determine, these factors for the
series of years. In the year 1903 I find no clear statement as to
the manner in which the birds were housed, and I may be in error in
this case. Otherwise the table gives the facts.

     Year  Hens in Flock  Per Hen      Egg Yield
     1900  20             8. sq. ft.   136.36
     1901  20             8. sq. ft.   143.44
     1902  20             8. sq. ft.   155.58
     1903  20             8. sq. ft.   135.42
     1904  50             4.4 sq. ft.  117.90
     1905  50             4.4 sq. ft.  134.07
     1906  50             4.4 sq. ft.  140.14
     1907  50             4.4 sq. ft.  113.24

Certainly this oversight is a serious one, and one especially
remarkable considering the fact that the comparison of different
size flocks formed a prominent part of the Maine Station work during
the last three years of the breeding test. The results of the work
at the Maine Station on testing flock size, conducted without
relation to the breeding work, gave the following results:

    No. of Hens     Sq. ft. per Hen    Egg Yield
    150                  3.2            111.68
    100                  4.8            123.21
     50                  4.8            129.69

No comparisons of 50 and 20 bird flocks in the same year are
available, but by extending the comparisons of the 50, 100 and 150
flocks into the 20 flock size, we can get some idea of the error
that has been here introduced. The result of the Australian egg
laying contest in which the flocks were composed of six hens, shows
a yield of about one and one-half times as heavy as the Maine
records, which certainly seems to substantiate the ideas here
brought out.

It is a well established fact in poultry circles that many men who
succeed with a few hundred hens, fail when the number is increased
to as many thousands. When the breeding experiments under discussion
were started, Professor Gowell had under his supervision about three
hundred hens. When the work was closed the experiment station plant
had been increased to four or five times its capacity, and Professor
Gowell had a large private poultry plant of his own in addition.

It is interesting to note in this connection that the last four
years of the records are explained by Professor Gowell as being low,
due to various "accidents" (?) It is unreasonable to suppose the
true explanation of these "accidents" would be found in connection
with the increased responsibility and size of the plant.

The breeding stock sent out by Professor Gowell has given general
satisfaction, and was found by Professor Graham of the Ontario
Station, as well as by a number of private individuals, to be of
superior laying quality to that of the average Barred Rock.

Clearly there is only one way to prove whether Professor Gowell's
work has been a wasted effort, and that is for flocks of his strain
to be tested at other experiment stations against birds of
miscellaneous origin.

That much has been lost to the poultrymen of the country by the
recent upheaval at the Maine Station, I believe to be the case, but
that does not mean that the men now in charge will not in the future
be of great value to the poultry interests. They are, however, in
the class of pure scientists rather than applied scientists, but if
let alone they will dig out something sooner or later which they or
others can apply to the benefit of the industry.

Upon the whole, I think that the present case of the trap-nest
method of increasing egg production stands very much as it is has
always stood, being a commendable thing for small breeders who could
afford the time, but not practical in a large way, except at
experiment stations. On a large commercial scale the system of
selecting sires by the collective work of his first year's offspring
would probably get the quickest results.

The best use of the funds of the people in the promotion of
agricultural industries is in the permanent endorsement on the one
hand of a few high grade research stations where the deeper theories
may be worked out, and on the other the teaching of such good
principles and practices as are already known.

The greatest opportunity for Government effort lies in the
development demonstration farm work in poultry Just as it is doing
with the corn and cotton in the South.



This chapter will be devoted to specific directions for the
profitable keeping of chickens on the typical American farm. By
typical American farm I mean the farm west of Ohio, north of
Tennessee and east of Colorado. Farms outside this section present
different problems. In the region mentioned about three-quarters of
the American poultry and egg crop is produced, and in this section
poultry keeping is more profitable when conducted as a part of
general farm operations than as an exclusive business.

There is no reason why a farmer should not be a poultry fancier if
he desires, but in that case his special interest in his chickens
would throw him out of the class we are at present considering.
Likewise, I do not doubt that in many instances where the farmer or
members of his family took special interest in poultry work, it
would be profitable to increase the size of operations beyond those
herein advised, using incubators and keeping Leghorns. Of these
exceptions the farmer himself must judge. The rules I lay down are
for those farmers who wish to keep chickens for profit, but do not
care to devote any larger share of their time and study to them than
they do to the cows, hogs, orchard or garden.

The advice herein given in this chapter will differ from much of the
advice given to farmers by poultry writers. The average poultry
editor is afraid to give specific advice concerning breeds,
incubators, etc., because he fears to offend his advertisers. The
reader, left to judge for himself, is liable to pick out some fancy
impractical variety or method.

Best Breeds for the Farm.

Keep only one variety of chickens. Do not bother with other
varieties of poultry unless it is turkeys. Whether it will pay to
raise turkeys will depend upon your success with the little turks,
and on the freedom of the community from the disease called

The kind of chicken you should keep should be picked from the three
following breeds: Barred Plymouth Rock, White Wyandotte, Rhode
Island Reds. If you go outside of these three breeds be sure you
have a very good reason for doing so.

Then get a start with a new breed, buy at least four sittings of
eggs in a single season, paying not over $2.00 per sitting. Keep all
the pullets and a half dozen of the best cockerels. The next spring
pen these pullets up with the best cockerels, and use none but eggs
from this pen for hatching. That fall sell all of the young
cockerels and all the old scrub hens. The second spring the two old
roosters from the original purchased eggs are used with the general
flock. From this time on the entire flock is pure bred and should
remain so.

Each year when the chicks are about six or eight weeks old pick out
the largest, most vigorous male chick from each brood. Mark these by
clipping the web of the foot or putting on leg bands. From those so
marked the breeding cockerels for the next season are later
selected. When you pick the good cockerels pick out all runty
looking pullets and cut off the last joint of the hind toe. These
runts are later to be eaten or sold. The more surplus chicks raised,
the more strictly can the selection be made.

This system of picking the best cockerel from each brood and
discarding the poorest pullets is the most practical method known of
building up a vigorous, quick growing and early laying strain.

When we allow the entire flock of many different ages to grow up
before the selection is made it is impossible to select

Every third or fourth year an extra cock bird may be purchased
provided you are sure you are getting a specimen from a better flock
than your own. Swapping roosters or eggs every year is poor policy.
If your neighbor has better stock than you, get his blood pure and
sell off your own, but do not keep a barnyard full of scrubs who can
trace their ancestry to every flock in the neighborhood.

Keep Only Workers.

On many farms few eggs are gathered from October to January. This is
a season when eggs bring the best prices. To secure eggs at this
season, the first requisite is that the pullets be hatched between
the first of March and the middle of May, or, in the case of
Leghorns, between the first of April and the first of June. Pullets
hatched later than these dates are a source of expense during the
fall and early winter. On the other hand, it is an unnecessary waste
of effort to hatch pullets before the dates mentioned, because, if
hatched too early, they will molt in the fall and stop laying the
same as old hens.

Pullets must be well fed and cared for if expected to develop in the
time allowed. As they begin to show signs of maturity they should be
gotten into permanent quarters. If allowed to begin laying while
roosting in coops or in trees they will be liable to quit when
changed to new quarters. If possible the coops should be gradually
moved toward the hen-house and the pullets gotten into quarters
without excitement or confinement. The poultry-house should have an
ample circulation of fresh air. Young stock that have been roosting
in open coops are liable to catch cold if confined in tight houses.

A common mistake is to allow a large troop of young roosters to
overrun the premises in the early fall. Not only is money lost in
the decrease in price that can be obtained for these cockerels, but
the pullets are greatly annoyed, to the detriment of the egg yield.

Any chicken that is not paying for its food in growth or in egg
production is a source of loss. As soon as the hatching season is
over old roosters should be sent to market. Through June and August
egg production is not very profitable, and a thorough culling of the
hens should be made. Market all hens two years or more of age. Send
with these all the yearling hens that appear fat and lazy. By the
time the young pullets are ready to be moved into quarters--the
latter part of August--these hens should be reduced to about
one-half the original number. Some time during September a final
culling of the old stock should be made. Those that have not yet
begun to molt should be sold, as they will not be laying again
before the warm days of the following February. This system of
culling will leave the best portion of the yearling hens, which,
together with the early-hatched pullets, will make a profitable
flock of layers.

Hatching Chicks With Hens.

The eggs for hatching should be stored in a cool, dry location at a
temperature between forty and seventy degrees Fahrenheit. A good
rule is not to set eggs over two weeks old.

The two chief losses with sitting-hens are due to lice and
interference of other hens. The practice of setting hens in the
chicken-house makes both these difficulties more troublesome. Almost
all farms will have some outbuilding situated apart from the regular
chicken-house that can be used for sitting-hens. The most convenient
arrangement will be to use boxes, and have these open at the top.
They may be placed in rows and a plank somewhat narrower than the
boxes used as a cover. The nests should be made by throwing a shovel
of earth into the box and then shaping a nest of clean straw. Make
the nest roomy enough so that as the hen steps into the nest the
eggs will spread apart readily and not be broken. When a hen shows
signs of broodiness remove her to the sitting-room. This should be
done in the evening, so that the hen becomes accustomed to her
position by daylight. Place the hen upon the nest-eggs and confine
her to the nest. If all is well the next evening give her a full
setting of eggs.

A practical method to arrange for sitting-hens is to build the nests
out of doors, allowing each hen a little yard, so that she may have
liberty to leave her nest as she chooses. These nests may be built
by using twelve-inch boards set on edge, so as to form a series of
small runways about one by six feet. In one end are built the nests,
which are covered by a broad board, while the remainder of the
arrangement is covered with lath or netting. The food, grit and
water should be placed at the opposite end of the runway. Care
should be taken to locate these nests on well-drained ground.
Arrangements should be made to close the front of the nest during
hatching so that the chicks will not drop out. A contrivance of this
kind furnishes a very convenient method of handling sitting-hens,
and if no separate building is available would be the best method to

Incubators on the Farm.

My candid advice to the farmer who is in doubt as whether to buy
an incubator or not, is to let it alone. If the farmer reads the
chapter on artificial incubation, he will see that he is dealing
with a very complex problem, and one in which his chances of success
are not very great.

In order to learn the facts concerning incubators on the farms the
writer made a special investigation on the subject while poultryman
at the Kansas Experiment Station. Replies received from 111 Kansas
farmers, report 21 as having tried incubators. Of these, 6 reported
the incubators as being an improvement over hatching with hens; 10
reported the incubator as being successful, but not better than
hens, while the remaining 5 declared the incubator to be a failure.
The results of this inquiry, and of personal visits to farms, led
the writer to believe that about one-tenth of the farmers of Kansas
had tried incubators, and that about as many failed as succeeded
with artificial hatching.

The argument for the incubator on the farm is certainly not one of
better hatching, but there is an argument, and a good one for the
farm incubator. The argument is this: Hens will not set early enough
and in sufficient quantities to get out as large a number of chicks
as the farmer may desire. Now, each hen will not hatch over 10
chicks, but is capable of caring for at least 30. Here the incubator
comes into good use, for the farmer can set a half dozen hens along
with the incubator, and give all the chicks to the hens. This is the
method I recommend where an incubator is to be used. The development
of the public hatchery would supply these other 20 chicks more
economically and more certainly than the farm incubator, but until
that institution becomes established the more ambitious farm poultry
raisers are justified in trying an incubator.

The best known incubators in the market are the Cyphers, the Model
and the Prairie State. Cheaper machines are liable to do poor work.
The following points may help the farmer in deciding whether or not
to buy an incubator and in picking out a good machine.

The person to run the incubator is the first condition of its
success. A good incubator requires attention twice a day. One person
should give this attention, and must give it regularly and
carefully. The farmer's wife or some younger member of the family
can often give more time and interest to this work than can the
farmer. The likelihood of a person's success with artificial
hatchers can best be determined by himself.

The best location for an incubator is a moderately damp cellar. The
next choice would be a room in the house away from the fire or from
windows. Drafts of air blowing on the machine are especially to be
avoided. Not only do they affect the temperature directly, but cause
the lamp to burn irregularly, and this may result in fire.

The objects in view in building an incubator are: (1) To keep the
eggs at a proper temperature (103 degrees on a level with the top of
the eggs). (2) To cause the evaporation of moisture from the eggs at
a normal rate. (3) To prevent the eggs from resting too long in one

The case of the incubator should be built double, or triple-walled,
to withstand variation in the outside temperature. The doors should
fit neatly and be made of double glass. The lamp should be made of
the best material, and the wick of sufficient width that the
temperature may be maintained with a low blaze. The most
satisfactory place for the lamp is at the end of the machine,
outside the case.

Regulators composed of two metals, such as aluminum and steel, are
best. Wafers filled with ether or similar liquid are more sensitive
but weaker in action. Hard-rubber bars are frequently used.

The most practical system of controlling evaporation is a system of
forced ventilation, in which the air is heated around the lamp-flue
and passes through the egg-chamber at a rate determined by
ventilators in the bottom of the machine. With the outside air cold
and dry only slight current is required, but as the outer air
becomes warmer or damper more circulation is needed.

Turning the egg is not the work that many imagine it to be. It is
not necessary that the egg be turned with absolute precision and
regularity. An elaborate device for this work is useless. The trays
will need frequently to be removed and turned around or shifted, and
the eggs can be turned at this time by lifting out a few on one side
of the tray and rolling the others over.

Two other points to be considered in the incubator are: A suitable
nursery or place for the newly hatched chick, and a good

Rearing Chicks.

If it is very early in the spring, and the ground is damp, it is
best to put the hen and her brood in some building. During the most
of the season the best thing is an outdoor coop. The first
consideration in making a chicken-coop is to see that it is
rain-proof and rat-tight. The next thing to look for is that the
coop is not air-tight. Let the front be of rat-tight netting or
heavy screen. The same general plan may be used for small coops for
hens, or for larger coops to be used as colony-houses for growing
chickens. The essentials are: A movable floor raided on cleats, a
sliding front covered with rat-tight netting, and a hood over the
front to keep the rain from beating in. If used late in the fall or
early in the spring a piece of cloth should be tacked on the sliding

The chicken-coops should not be bunched up, but scattered out over
as much ground as is convenient. Neither should they remain long in
one spot, but should be shifted a few feet each day. At first water
should be provided at each coop, but as the chickens grow older they
may be required to come to a few central water pans.

As before suggested, rearing chicks with hens is the only suitable
method for general farm practice. The brooder on the farm is an
expensive nuisance.

For brooder raised chicks it is necessary to provide means for the
little chick to exercise. But in the season when the great majority
of farm chicks are raised they may be placed out of doors from the
start and the trouble will now be to keep them from getting too much
exercise, i.e.: to keep the hens from chasing around with them
especially in the wet grass. This is properly prevented by keeping
the brood coops in plowed ground, and keeping the hens confined by a
slatted door, until the chicks are strong enough to follow her

The chick should not be fed until 48 to 72 hours old. It may then be
started on the same kind of food as is to form its diet in after
life. The hard boiled egg and bread and milk diets are wholly
unnecessary and are only a waste of time.

I recommend the same system of chick feeding for the general farm as
is used on commercial plants, and I especially insist that it will
pay the farmer to provide meat food of some sort for his growing
chicks. The amount eaten will not be large, nor need the farmer fear
that supplying the chicks with meat food will prevent their
consuming all the bugs and worms that come their way.

Besides comfortable quarters, the chick to thrive, must have:
Exercise, water, grit, a variety of grain food, green or succulent
food, and meat food.

Water should be provided in shallow dishes. This can best be
arranged by having a dish with an inverted can or bottle which
allows only a little water to stand in the drinking basin.

Chicks running at large on gravelly ground need no provision for
grit. Chicks on board floors or clay soils must be provided with
either coarse sand or chick grit, such as is sold for the purpose.

Grain is the principal, and, too often, the only food of the chick.
The common farm way of feeding grain to young chickens is to mix
corn-meal and water and feed in a trough or on the ground. There is
no particular advantage in this way of feeding, and there are
several disadvantages. The feed is all in a bunch, and the weaker
chicks are crowded out, while if wet feed is thrown on the ground or
in a dirty trough the chicks must swallow the adhering filth, and if
any food is left over it quickly sours and becomes a menace to
health. Some people mix dough with sour milk and soda and bake this
into a bread. The better way is to feed all of the grain in a
natural dry condition.

There are foods in the market known as chick foods. The commercial
foods contain various grains and seeds, together with meat and grit.
Their use renders chick feeding quite a simple matter, it being
necessary to supply in addition only water and green foods. For
those who wish to prepare their own chick foods the following
suggestions are given:

Oatmeal is probably the best grain food for chicks. Oats cannot be
suitably prepared, however, in a common feed-mill. The hulled oats
are what is wanted. They can be purchased as the common rolled oats,
or sometimes as cut or pin-head oatmeal. The latter form would be
preferred, but either of these is an excellent chick feed. Oats in
these forms are expensive and should be purchased in bulk, not in
packages. If too expensive, oats should be used only for a few days,
when they may be replaced by cheaper grains. Cracked corn is the
best and cheapest chick food. Flaxseed could be used in small
quantities. Kaffir-corn, wheat, cow-peas--in fact any wholesome
grain--may be used, the more variety the better. Farmers possessing
feed-mills have no excuse for feeding chicks exclusively on one kind
of grain. If there is no way of grinding corn on the farm, oatmeal,
millet seed and corn chop can be purchased. At about one week of age
whole Kaffir-corn, and, a little later whole wheat, can be used to
replace the more expensive feeds.

Green or bulky food of some kind is necessary to the healthy growth
of young chickens. Chickens fed in litter from clover or alfalfa
will pick up many bits of leaves. This answers the purpose fairly
well, but it is advisable to feed some leafy vegetable, as kale or
lettuce. The chicks should be gotten on some growing green crop as
soon as possible.

Chickens are not by nature vegetarians. They require some meat to
thrive. It has been proven in several experiments that young
chickens with an allowance of meat foods make much better growth
than chickens with a vegetable diet, even when the chemical
constituents and the variety of the two rations are practically the

Very few farmers feed any meat whatever. They rely on insects to
supply the deficiency. This would be all right if the insects were
plentiful and lasted throughout the year, but as conditions are it
will pay the farmer to supplement this source of food with the
commercial meat foods.

Fresh bone, cut by bone-cutters, is an excellent source of the meat
and mineral matter needed by growing chicks. If one is handy to a
butcher shop that will agree to furnish fresh bones at little or no
cost, it will pay to get a bone-mill, but the cost of the mill and
labor of grinding are considerable items, and unless the supply of
bones is reliable and convenient this source of meat foods is not to
be depended upon.

The best way to feed beef-scrap is to keep a supply in the hopper so
the chickens may help themselves. In case meat food is given,
bone-meal, fed in small quantities, will form a valuable addition to
their ration. Infertile eggs from incubators, as well as by-products
of the dairy, can be used to help out in the animal-food portion of
the ration. Chickens may be given all the milk they will drink. It
is generally recommended that this be given clabbered.

Feeding Laying Hens.

The food requirements of a laying hen are very like those of a
growing chicken. One addition to the list is, however, required for
egg production, which is lime, of which the shell of the egg is
formed. In the summer-time hens on the range will find sufficient
lime to supply their needs. In the winter-time they should be
supplied with more lime than the food contains. Crushed oyster shell
answers the purpose admirably.

A supply of green food is one of the requisites of successful winter
feeding. Every farmer should see that a patch of rye, crimson
clover, or some other winter green crop is grown near his
chicken-house. Vegetables and refuse from the kitchen help out in
this matter, but seldom furnish a sufficient supply. Vegetables may
be grown for this purpose. Mangels and sugar-beets are excellent.
Cabbage, potatoes and turnips answer the purpose fairly well.
Mangels are fed by splitting in halves and sticking to nails driven
in the wall.

Clover and alfalfa are excellent chicken feeds and should be used in
regions where winter crops will not keep green. The leaves that
shatter off in the mow are the choicest portion for chicken feeding,
and may be fed by scalding with hot water and mixing in a mash. Hens
will eat good green alfalfa if fed dry in a box.

The feeding of sprouted oats should be practiced when no other green
food is available. Oats may be prepared for this purpose by
thoroughly soaking in warm water and being kept in a warm, damp
place for a few days. Feed when the sprouts are a couple of inches

Almost all grains are suitable foods for hens. Corn, on account of
its cheapness and general distribution, is the best. The general
prejudice against corn feeding should be directed rather against
feeding one grain alone without the other forms of food. If hens are
supplied with green foods, with mineral matter, some form of meat
food, and are forced to take sufficient amount of exercise, the
danger from overfatness, due to the feeding of a reasonable amount
of corn, need not be feared.

As has already been emphasized, the variety of food given is more
essential than the kind. Do not feed one grain all the time. The
more variety fed the better. Corn and Kaffir-corn, being cheap
grains, will form the major portion of the ration, but, even if much
higher in price, it will pay to add a portion of such grain as
wheat, barley, oats or buckwheat.


The advice commonly given in poultry papers would require one to
exercise nearly as much pains in the cleaning of a chicken house as
in the cleaning of a kitchen. Such advice may be suitable for the
city poultry fanciers, but it is out of place when given to the
farmer. Poultry raising, the same as other farm work, must pay for
the labor put into it, and this will not be the case if attempt is
made to follow all the suggestions of the theoretical poultry

The ease with which the premises may be kept reasonably free from
litter and filth is largely a matter of convenient arrangement. The
handiest plan from this view-point is the colony system. In this the
houses are moved to new locations when the ground becomes soiled. If
the chicken-house is a stationary structure it should be built away
from other buildings, scrap-piles, fence corners, etc., so that the
ground can be frequently freshened by plowing and sowing in oats,
rye or rape. The ground should be well sloped, so that the water
draining from the surface may wash away much of the filth that on
level ground would accumulate.

Cleanliness indoors can be simplified by proper arrangement. First,
the house must be dry. Poultry droppings, when dry, are not a source
of danger if kept out of the feed. They should be removed often
enough to prevent foul odors. Drinking vessels should be rinsed out
when refilled and not allowed to accumulate a coat of slime. If a
mash is fed, feed-boards should be scraped off and dried in the sun.
Sunshine is a cheap and efficient disinfectant.

The advice on the control of lice and the method of handling sick
chickens that has been given in the main section of the book, will
apply as well on the farm as on the commercial poultry plant.
Certainly the farmer's time is too valuable to fool with the details
of poultry therapeutics.

Farm Chicken Houses.

The following notes on poultry houses apply to Iowa and Nebraska,
where the winters are severe, and similar climates. Farther south
and east the farmer should use the same style of houses as
recommended for egg farms. A chicken house just high enough for a
man to walk erectly and a floor space of about 3 square feet per hen
is advisable. This requires a house 12 by 24 for 100 hens, or 10 by
16 for 50.

Lands sloping to south or southeast, and that which dries quickly
after a rain, will prove the most suitable for chickens. A gumbo
patch should not be selected as a location for poultry. Hogs and
hens should not occupy the same quarters, in fact, should be some
distance apart, especially if heavy breeds of chickens are kept.
Hens should be removed from the garden, but may be near an orchard.
Chicken-houses should be separated from tool-houses, stables, and
other outbuildings.

Grading for chicken-houses is not commonly practiced, but this is
the easiest means of preventing dampness in the house and is
necessary in heavy soils. The ground-level may be raised with a plow
and scraper, or the foundation of the house may be built and filled
with dirt.

A stone foundation is best, but where stone is expensive may be
replaced by cedar, hemlock or Osage orange posts, deeply set in the
ground. Small houses can be built on runners as described for colony
houses for an egg farm.

Floors are commonly constructed of earth, boards or cement. Cement
floors are perfectly sanitary and easy to keep clean. The objections
to their common use is the first cost of good cement floors. Cheaply
constructed floors will not last. Board floors are very common and
are preferred by many poultrymen, but if close to the ground they
harbor rats, while if open underneath they make the house cold.
Covering wet ground by a board floor does not remedy the fault of
dampness nearly so effectually as would a similar expenditure spent
in raising the floor and surrounding ground by grading. All things
considered, the dirt floor is the most suitable. This should be made
by filling in above the outside ground-level. The drainage will be
facilitated if the first layer of this floor be of cinders, small
rocks or other coarse material. Above this layer should be placed a
layer of clay, wet and packed hard, so the hens cannot scratch it
up, or a different plan may be used and the floor constructed of a
sandy or loamy soil of which the top layer can be renewed each year.

The walls of a chicken-house must first of all be wind-tight. This
may be attained in several ways. Upright boards with cracks battened
is the cheapest method. Various kinds of lap-siding give similar
results. The single-board wall may be greatly improved by lining
with building-paper. This should be put on between the studding and
siding. Lath should also be used to prevent the paper bagging out
from the wall. The double-board wall is the best where a warm house
is desired.

It should be made by siding up outside the studding with cheap
lumber. On this is placed a layer of roofing paper and over it the
ordinary siding. The windows of a chicken-house should furnish
sufficient light that the hens may find grain in the litter on
cloudy days. Too much glass in a poultry house makes the house cold
at night, and it is a needless expenditure.

The subject of roofing farm buildings may be summarized in this
advice: Use patent roofing if you know of a variety that will last;
if not, use shingles. Shingle roofs require a steeper pitch than do
roofs of prepared roofing. A shingle roof can be made much warmer by
using tightly laid sheathing covered with building-paper. Especial
care should be taken that the joints at the eaves of the house are
tightly fitted.

The object of ventilating a chicken-house is to supply a reasonable
amount of fresh air, and, equally important, to keep the house dry.
Ventilation should not be by cracks or open cupolas. Direct drafts
of air are injurious, and ventilation by such means is always the
greatest when the least needed.

Schemes of ventilation by a system of pipes are expensive and
unnecessary. The latest, best and cheapest plan for providing
ventilation is the curtain front house for the north, and the open
front house for the more southerly sections. The curtain front house
is giving way to the open front with a somewhat smaller opening in
sections, as far north as Connecticut.

Make all roosts on the same level. The ladder arrangement is a
nuisance and offers no advantage. Arrange the roosts so that they
may be readily removed for cleaning. Do not fill the chicken-house
full of roosts. Put in only enough to accommodate the hens, and let
these be on one side of the house. The floor under the roosts should
be separated from the feeding floor by a board set on edge.

For laying flocks the nests must be clean, secluded and plentiful.
Boxes under the roost-platform will answer, but a better plan is to
have the nest upon a shelf along a side wall so arranged as to allow
the hen to enter from the rear side. Nests should be constructed so
that all parts are accessible to a white-wash brush. The less
contrivances in a chicken-house, the better.

The farmer can get along very well without any chicken-yard at all.
It will, however, prove a very convenient arrangement if a small
yard is attached to the chicken-house. The house should be arranged
to open either into the yard or out into the range. This yard may be
used for fattening chickens or confining cockerels, or perhaps to
enclose the flock during the ripening of a favorite tomato or berry


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Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.