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Title: Our Domestic Birds
Author: Robinson, John H.
Language: English
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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.

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=The Athenæum Press=


Ten years ago aviculture had hardly been thought of as a school subject.
To-day it is taught in thousands of schools, and in some states
instruction in poultry culture is required by law. This rapid change in
sentiment and situation has resulted from a combination of causes. When
agricultural colleges established poultry departments, it was found that
a large part of those applying for admission to them had neither the
practical knowledge of poultry nor the general education that they
needed to do work of college grade. About this time also the interest in
nature study began to take a more practical turn, and attention was
directed to the superiority of domesticated to wild animals and plants
as material for school studies of the phenomena of physical life. Added
to these special causes was a general cause more potent than either:
great numbers of people had reached the stage of experience in various
lines of aviculture where they realized keenly that a little sound
instruction in the subject in youth would have been of great value to
them later in life, saving them from costly mistakes. To these people it
seemed both natural and necessary that the schools should teach poultry
and pigeon culture.

Developing as the result of such a combination of causes, the demand for
an elementary textbook on poultry came with equal force from country
schools, where poultry might be kept on the school grounds as well as by
every pupil at home, from city schools, in which all instruction must be
by book, and from all types of schools and conditions of life between.
Had there been only the extreme classes of schools to consider, the
natural way to supply the demand would be with a special book for each
distinct type of school. The idea of one book for all schools, from
which each might use what seemed to suit its requirements, was dismissed
as impractical while so large a proportion of teachers were but slightly
acquainted with the subject. It is believed that the plan of making an
elementary reading course for general use, and a secondary book of a
more technical character for use where practice courses are given, is
the best solution of the problem under existing conditions.

In this first book the object is to tell in plain language the things
that every one ought to know about poultry, pigeons, and cage birds; to
teach fundamental facts in such a way that they will be fixed in the
mind; to excite interest in the subject where none existed; and to
direct enthusiasm along right lines. While the demand has been almost
wholly for a poultry book, pigeons and cage birds are included, because
they are of more interest than some kinds of poultry and better adapted
than any other kind to the conditions of city life.

In regard to the time that should be given to this course, one period a
week for forty weeks is better than a period a day for forty days,
because the average person, young or old, retains a great deal more of
what is read or heard about a diversified subject if the ground is
covered by easy stages with comparatively long intervals between.
References for collateral readings and suggestions for original
investigations are omitted, because, in the author's opinion, what work
of this kind it is desirable for a high-school pupil to do should be
done by those taking practice work in the advanced course.

                                        JOHN H. ROBINSON



CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

I. BIRDS AND THEIR RELATIONS TO MAN                                  1

    Definition of a bird; Place of birds in the animal kingdom;
    Flight of birds; Voices of birds; Social relations of
    birds--Place of birds in domestication--Uses of birds in
    domestication--Place of wild birds in civilization--Classes
    of domestic birds


    Feathers--Structure of feathers--Arrangement of the
    feathers--Decorative feather forms--Color in
    feathers--Growth and molting of feathers--Flight--Mechanism
    of the wing--Scratching--Swimming--Foods and mode of
    digestion--Peculiarities of birds' eggs--Development of the
    egg--Rate and amount of egg
    production--Incubation--Development of the embryo in a
    bird's egg


    Definition of species--Origin of species--Natural
    varieties--Varieties in domestication--Classification of
    domestic varieties of birds--Systematic mixtures of breeds
    and varieties--Pure-bred, thoroughbred, and standard-bred

IV. FOWLS                                                           31

    Description--Origin of the fowl--Appearance of the original
    wild species--Distribution of fowls in ancient
    times--Development of principal races of fowls--How fowls
    were kept in old times--Modern conditions and
    methods--Native fowls in America--Old European races of
    fowls--Italian fowls--English races of fowls--German and
    Dutch races--French races--Spanish races--Asiatic races of
    fowls--Chinese races--Japanese races--The "hen-fever"
    period--How the American breeds arose--The modern Barred
    Plymouth Rock--Other varieties of the Plymouth Rock--The
    Wyandottes--The Rhode Island Red--The American idea in
    England; the Orpington--Present distribution of improved
    races--Deformed and dwarf races--Silky fowls--Frizzled
    fowls--Rumpless fowls--Bantams--Origin of Bantams--Varieties
    of bantams

V. MANAGEMENT OF FOWLS                                              72

    Small flocks on town lots: Numbers in flocks--Houses and
    yards--Feeding--Growing chickens. Small flocks on ordinary
    farms: Numbers in flocks--Single houses for farm
    flocks--Feeding--Reproducing the flock--The hatching
    season--Broody hens--Setting the hens--Care of sitting
    hens--Attention at hatching time--Coops for broods--Feeding
    young chickens--Management of growing chicks. Large stocks
    on general farms: The colony system--Numbers of hens
    kept--Feeding, care, and results--How the chickens are
    grown--Adaptability of the colony system. Intensive poultry
    farms: Reasons for concentration--Concentration not
    profitable--Common type of intensive poultry farm. Broiler
    growing: The "broiler craze"--Present condition of broiler
    growing. Roaster growing: Description of a good
    roaster--General and special supplies--Large roaster plants.
    Intensive egg farming--Poultry fanciers' farms

VI. DUCKS                                                          124

    Description; Origin--The common duck--Improved
    races--Ornamental ducks--Place of ducks in domestication

VII. MANAGEMENT OF DUCKS                                           137

    Small flocks on town lots: Numbers--Houses and
    yards--Feeding--Laying habits. Growing ducklings. Small
    flocks on farms: General conditions--Feeding. Market duck
    farms: History--Description--Duck fanciers' methods

VIII. GEESE                                                        157

    Description--Origin--Common geese--Improved
    races--Ornamental varieties--The Canada Goose, or American
    Wild Goose--Place of geese in domestication

IX. MANAGEMENT OF GEESE                                            168

    Small farm flocks: Size of flock--Houses and
    yards--Feeding--Laying season and habits--Hatching and
    rearing goslings--Large flocks of geese on
    farms--Goose-fattening farms--Growing thoroughbred geese for
    exhibition--Growing a few geese on a town lot--Growing wild
    geese in captivity

X. TURKEYS                                                         179

    Description--Origin--Common turkeys--Improved
    varieties--Bronze Turkeys--Influence of the Bronze Turkey on
    other varieties--Other varieties of the turkey--Place of the
    turkey in domestication

XI. MANAGEMENT OF TURKEYS                                          190

    Size of flocks--Shelters and yards--Feeding--Breeding season
    and laying habits--Hatching and rearing

XII. GUINEAS                                                       201

    Description--Origin--Varieties--Place in
    domestication--Management of domestic guineas

XIII. PEAFOWLS                                                     206

    Description--Origin--Place in domestication--Management

XIV. PHEASANTS                                                     211

    Description--Origin--History in America--Species and
    varieties--Place in domestication--Management of pheasants
    in confinement

XV. SWANS                                                          222

    Description--Origin and history in domestication--Place in

XVI. OSTRICHES                                                     230

    Description--Origin and history in domestication--Place in

XVII. PIGEONS                                                      239

    Description--Origin--Distribution in ancient times--Improved
    varieties--The Carrier Pigeon--The Antwerp Homer--Tumbler
    and Tippler Pigeons--The Fantail Pigeon--Pouter
    Pigeons--Other important types--History in
    domestication--Place in domestication

XVIII. MANAGEMENT OF PIGEONS                                       255

    Size of flock--Quarters for pigeons--Ventilation and
    cleanliness--Handling pigeons--Mating pigeons--Feeding--How
    pigeons rear their young

XIX. CANARIES                                                      269

    Description--Origin--Improvement in domestication--Place in
    domestication--Management of canaries: Cages--Position of
    the Cage--Feeding--Care--Breeding

XX. DISTRIBUTION OF MARKET PRODUCTS                                275

    Producers, consumers, and middlemen--How the middleman
    enters local trade--Additional middlemen--How the demand for
    poultry products stimulates production--Losses in
    distribution--Cold storage of poultry products--Methods of
    selling at retail--Volume of products

XXI. EXHIBITIONS AND THE FANCY TRADE                               291

    Conditions in the fancy trade--Exhibitions--Rudiments of
    judging--Disqualifications--Methods of judging--Exhibition
    quality and value--Why good breeders have much low-priced
    stock--Fancy and utility types in the same variety

XXII. OCCUPATIONS RELATED TO AVICULTURE                            304

    Judging fancy poultry and
    pigeons--Journalism--Art--Invention--Education and
    investigation--Manufacturing and commerce--Legislation and

INDEX                                                              311




=Definition of a bird.= A bird is a feathered animal. The covering of
feathers is the only character common to all birds and not possessed by
any other creature. The other characters--the bill, the wings,
egg-laying, etc.--by which we usually distinguish birds from animals of
other kinds are not exclusive bird characters. Turtles have beaks, and
there is one species of mammal (the ornithorhynchus) which has a bill
like that of a duck. Many insects and one species of mammal (the bat)
fly. Insects, fishes, and reptiles lay eggs, and there are several rare
species of mammals that lay eggs and incubate them. On the other hand,
some birds are deficient in one or more of the typical bird characters.
The ostrich cannot fly. The penguin can neither fly nor run, and cannot
even walk well. The cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of other birds,
leaving to them the hatching and rearing of its young. These exceptional
cases are very interesting because they show that animals now quite
different in structure and habits had a common origin, but in no case is
there such a combination of characters that any doubt arises whether the
creature is a bird or a mammal. The characters which typically belong to
birds attain their highest development in them, and in most cases this
is due to peculiar adaptabilities of the feathers.

The Anglo-Saxons' name for a bird was _fugol_ (the flying animal). The
young feathered creature they called _bridd_ (the thing brooded). This
name was also sometimes given to young mammals, but it applied
especially to the young of feathered creatures which were more dependent
upon the parent for warmth than others. Our English words "fowl" and
"bird" come from these Anglo-Saxon terms. At first "fowl" was applied to
large birds and "bird" to small ones, but gradually the use of the name
"fowl" was limited to the common domestic fowl, and "bird" became the
generic name for all feathered creatures.

=Place of birds in the animal kingdom.= Zoölogists rank mammals higher
than birds because man is a mammal and his general superiority to other
creatures determines the rank of the class to which he belongs. Yet,
while placing birds below mammals in a simple classification of animals,
naturalists point out that birds are the most distinct class in the
animal kingdom. If we compare birds and the lower mammals, and compare
the relations of each class to man, we see at once that nothing else
could take the place of birds either in nature or in civilization. Among
birds are found the highest developments of animal locomotion and of the
natural voice, capacity for language far beyond that of other creatures
(except man), and family and community relations resembling those of the
human race. Hitherto in the history of the world mammals have been more
useful to man than birds, but birds have given him some of his best
ideas, and with the advance of civilization the lower mammals become
less necessary and birds more necessary to him.

=Flight of birds.= It has been said that "on the earth and on the sea
man has attained to powers of locomotion with which, in strength,
endurance, and velocity, no animal movement can compare. But the air is
an element on which he cannot travel, an ocean which he cannot navigate.
The birds of heaven are still his envy, and on the paths they tread he
cannot follow."

Since that was written practical flying machines have been invented, but
in these, as in boats and ships, man has merely devised a machine which
under his control can do laboriously and at great risk what the bird
does naturally and easily. To birds man is indebted for his first
lessons in navigating the water as well as for his ideas about airships.

=Voices of birds.= With few exceptions the different kinds of animals
have natural languages through which individuals of the same species can
to some extent hold communication with each other, and which are partly
intelligible to other creatures. In all mammals except man, and in most
birds, the range of expression is very limited and the sound of the
voice is disagreeable; but a great many species of birds have very
pleasing notes, many have very beautiful natural songs, and some readily
learn the songs of other species. Man learned melody from the song
birds. There are also many species of birds that can imitate a great
variety of sounds, and even learn to speak words and short sentences.
Birds that learn to talk often show intelligence in their use of words.
This is the more remarkable because the intelligence of birds is not of
a high order, but is distinctly inferior to that of the common
domesticated mammals.

=Social relations of birds.= In aërial birds (except the cuckoos) the
male and female pair, build a nest, and both take part in the incubation
of the eggs and the feeding of the young. Usually a pair once mated
remain mated for life and are very devoted to each other. In wild land
birds the pairing habit is not of advantage to a species, but still the
tendency to single matings is very strong. When land and water birds are
domesticated man tries to break them of this habit because the males
produce no eggs and he prefers to eat them while they are young and
their flesh is tender. But, as will appear in detail when the different
species of birds of this class are described, he does not always succeed
in doing this. Even the domestic fowl and duck, in which pairing has
been prevented for centuries, often show a strong tendency to pair; and
the females with broods of young usually separate from the flock until
the little ones no longer need their care. With this separate family
life there is still in most species of birds concerted action by
communities in migrations, in forming colonies, in attacks on other
creatures, and in defense from enemies. From the earliest times of which
we have knowledge the devotion of birds to their mates and to their
young has afforded the most common and most beautiful illustration of
family life in nature.

=Place of birds in domestication.= The place of birds among domestic
animals corresponds to that of garden vegetables, small fruits, and
flowers among cultivated plants. The great staple agricultural
crops--corn, wheat, oats, barley, hay, apples, oranges, horses, cattle,
sheep, hogs, etc.--are produced mostly by men who make farming and
stock-growing their business. But, while large quantities of garden
vegetables, small fruits, flowers, poultry, pigeons, etc. are grown by
people who specialize in them, the greater part of the supply in all
lands comes from small gardens and small flocks on ordinary farms and in
the back yards of town homes.

=Uses of birds in domestication.= With the exception of the cage birds
and the ostrich, all our domestic birds are valuable for their flesh;
but, as some kinds can be produced more easily and cheaply than others,
people growing birds for the table give most attention to those that can
be grown most profitably, and the others are grown principally by those
who prize them for rarity, beauty, or some peculiar quality.

The eggs of all birds are edible, but birds differ greatly in the number
of eggs that they lay and in the disposition to lay them in places
provided for the purpose. So, nearly all who keep birds for their eggs
keep fowls, which are the most prolific and most docile, and hens' eggs
are the staple eggs in the markets.

The feathers of birds are used for pillows and beds, for feather
dusters, and in various ways for ornament. Except in the case of the
ostrich, however, the value of the feathers of domesticated birds is so
small that no one grows birds primarily for their feathers. On the
other hand, those who keep birds for pleasure find their greatest
enjoyment in breeding them with colors and markings difficult to
produce. Choice specimens of fancy-bred birds bring prices many times
greater than the value of their flesh and eggs for food and of their
feathers for use or ornament. Fancy feathers have no more value than
others except on the living birds.

While those who keep birds for pleasure nowadays give most attention to
breeding fancy stock for exhibition, several kinds of pigeons are kept
to entertain by their flying performances; and--outside of the limited
class of those who breed them especially for exhibition--canaries are
valued according to ability to sing. The brutal sport of cockfighting
was a popular pastime with our ancestors until prohibited by law, and is
still prevalent in many lands. In early times birds of prey were
captured when very young and carefully trained to hunt for their
masters. Under the feudal system there were regulations prescribing the
kinds of birds which different classes of men might use in this way: the
eagle and vulture were for emperors only; the gyrfalcon for kings; the
lesser falcons for nobles; the harrier for esquires; the merlin for
ladies; the goshawk for yeomen; the kestrel for servants; the sparrow
hawk for priests.

Much of the value of various kinds of poultry comes from their ability
to destroy insects which damage vegetation, and to maintain themselves
on these and on foods not available for the larger domestic mammals. The
services of poultry in this respect being limited to those insects that
can be secured from the ground, and to areas on which the birds can live
safely and do no damage to crops, we are dependent upon wild aërial
birds to keep insect life in check on trees and high bushes and on land
not occupied by poultry.

=Place of wild birds in civilization.= As no insect-eating aërial birds
have been domesticated, the preservation of wild birds that destroy
insects is of as much importance to man as the production of domestic
birds. Indeed, the wild birds are much more valuable to us in the wild
state than they would be if domesticated.

In nature species prey upon each other--the lowest forms of life upon
inorganic and decayed matter, the higher forms upon the lower, the
larger creatures upon the smaller, the savage upon the defenseless.
Fertile lands not only produce luxuriant vegetation but teem with insect
life, which, if not kept in check, would soon destroy that vegetation.
In tropical and semitropical regions there are mammals, some of them
quite large, which feed upon insects. In temperate regions where insects
are not to be obtained during the winter, there would be no adequate
check upon their increase and the consequent destruction of vegetation
if it were not for the vast numbers of insect-eating migratory birds
which come to these regions for the summer. Necessary as these birds are
to vegetation on uncultivated lands, they are more necessary in
cultivated fields, orchards, and gardens where the crops are more
attractive to insects than the mixed vegetation on wild lands. As insect
destroyers the domestic birds that are kept on cultivated lands only
fill the place of the nonmigratory wild birds that have been driven away
or exterminated. So it is to the interest of every one to protect
insect-eating wild birds, for although these birds may do some damage to
crops, their service usually more than pays for it.

=Classes of domestic birds.= There are three classes of domestic
birds--poultry, pigeons, and cage birds. The poultry class comprises
land and water birds and contains nine kinds--fowls, ducks, geese,
turkeys, guineas, peafowls, pheasants, swans, and ostriches. The pigeon
class has but one kind, the pigeon, which is the only aërial bird
domesticated for economic purposes. The cage-bird class has as its most
important representative the canary. The other birds of this class have
never been popular in America.

The question of increasing the number of species of birds in
domestication interests many people. There is a general impression among
those not familiar with the commercial aspect of aviculture that many
more species might be domesticated. While it is true that many birds
capable of domestication have not been domesticated, there are few of
these that would serve any purpose not better served by some species
already domesticated. It will be shown as the different kinds and
varieties of domestic birds are discussed that the most useful kinds are
always the most popular, and that many others are kept principally as
ornaments. The number of ornamental creatures that can be kept in
domestication is limited, for as a rule animals, like people, must earn
their living.



=Feathers.= The feathers of a bird are the most highly developed form of
protective covering in animals, serving other important functions in
addition to the primary one. Compared with the hair of a mammal or the
scale of a fish or of a reptile, a typical soft feather from the body of
a bird is a very complex structure, partaking of the characters of both
scales and hair. The fact that birds have scales and hair as well as
feathers shows their relation to these other forms of animal covering.
This is best observed on a fowl. The legs of a fowl are normally smooth,
with scales on the front of the shank and on the upper surfaces of the
toes. In feather-legged fowls the feathers appear first along the outer
sides of the shanks and toes. As the number of feathers is increased
they grow longer and more feathers appear, until in the most heavily
feathered specimens the soft skin is covered and the scales are almost

The face of a fowl is normally almost bare, the skin being a bright red
like the comb and wattles; but at a distance of a few feet we can
usually see some very small, fine feathers on it, and if we examine
closely we see in addition still finer growths--hairs. Among the body
feathers of a fowl, too, are quite long hairs. These are most easily
observed after a bird is plucked. They do not come out with the
feathers, and are removed by singeing.

=Structure of feathers.= The smallest feather that to the naked eye
appears as something more complex than a hair, looks like a little bunch
of fuzzy filaments. This is called down.

In the next higher form of feather a small round quill appears with
filaments protruding from it like the hairs in an artist's brush. Such
a feather is called a stub feather, or simply a stub. The best place to
find these is on the outside of the shank of a fowl with scantily
feathered legs.

The first form of the complete feather is best observed either on the
head of a fowl or at the hock joint. The feathers in these places are
very small, yet complete. The round quill is lengthened into a shaft.
Extending from each side of this shaft is a single row of filaments,
called barbs, the edges of which, interlocked with little hooks, form
the web of the feather. On other parts of the body of the bird the
feathers are larger, but the general structure is always the same. The
size and special structure of the feather are always adjusted to suit
the part on which it grows or the service which it has to perform.

As the first function of the feathers is to keep the bird dry and warm,
the body feathers are all soft as compared with the large stiff feathers
of the wings and tail; yet as we look at the feathers on different parts
of the body of a bird we notice differences in their structure, and also
notice that the structure of a feather is not always the same throughout
its length. On the exposed parts of the feathers of the neck, back,
wings, and breast the web is perfect and the feathers overlap so closely
that they present a smooth surface. Under the surface, especially next
the skin, the barbs are not smoothly joined, but are fluffy. Thus the
same feathers which present a hard, smooth surface to the weather
provide a soft, warm garment next the skin. Under the wings and on the
underside of the body the feathers are quite fluffy throughout their
whole length.

=Arrangement of the feathers.= As you look at a living bird the feathers
appear to grow on all parts of the body. When the feathers are removed
from the bird you see that while the skin is nearly all rough, with the
little elevations where the feathers were removed, there are quite large
areas where the skin is perfectly smooth, showing that no feathers grew
there. These places are bare because feathers on them would interfere
with the movements of the bird. The feathers on adjacent parts give the
smooth areas sufficient protection.

=Decorative feather forms.= The natural decorative forms of plumage are
found mostly in male birds and consist of extraordinary developments of
the plumage of the neck and back, where the male birds of some species
always have feathers differing in form from the feathers on the same
parts of the female. When a feather appendage not common to a species is
developed on some varieties, as the crest and beard on fowls and the
ruff on pigeons, both sexes have it. The most interesting feather
decorations will be described particularly in the chapters on the
species on which they occur.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Brown Leghorn chick (one day old)]

=Color in feathers.= While colors in the plumage are distributed very
differently in different species of birds, often making combinations
peculiar to a species, there is in all the same wonderful formation of
patterns, that depends for its effect in a section upon some overlapping
feathers being marked alike and others having a different marking; and
for the effect in a single feather, upon adjacent barbs being now alike,
now different, in the distribution of the pigment in them. The best
common example of a pattern covering a series of feathers is found on
the wing of a Mallard Duck or of a Rouen Duck. Interesting examples of
the formation of patterns on a single feather may be found in the
plumage of barred, laced, and penciled fowls, and also in the lacings on
the body feathers of the females of the varieties of ducks mentioned.
Perhaps the most interesting illustrations of this kind, however, are to
be seen on the plain feathers of the guinea and the gorgeous tail of the

The pigment which colors the plumage may be found in soluble form in
the quills of immature colored feathers. It is not conspicuous unless it
is quite dark. In black fowls it is often so abundant that a part
remains in the skin when the feathers are removed. After the pigment is
deposited in the web of the feather the color is fast. Water does not
affect it, but it fades a little with age and exposure. New plumage
usually contains a great deal of oil, a condition which is most
conspicuous in white birds, to whose plumage the oil gives a creamy
tint. In colored birds the presence of a large amount of oil in feathers
is desirable because it gives greater brilliance to the plumage.

[Illustration: Fig. 2. White Leghorn chicks (ten days old)]

=Growth and molting of feathers.= The first covering of a young bird is
down. The young of birds which nest on the ground have the down covering
when hatched; others acquire it in a few days. In small land birds which
feather quickly, as Leghorn and Hamburg chicks, the largest wing
feathers may have started to grow before the chick leaves the egg. In
most kinds of poultry, however, the young show no signs of feathers for
some days. The down is gradually replaced by small feathers, and these
by larger feathers as the bird grows. As feathers in all stages of
growth are found on the young bird at the same time, it is not known
whether all feathers are molted the same number of times. In cases where
some feathers were marked and watched, or where the colors changed with
the changing feathers, it appeared that after the down three sets of
feathers were grown in succession, the third and last making the adult
plumage of the bird. This coat remains until the following summer or
fall, when it is molted and replaced by a new one.

=Flight.= The habit of flying is objectionable in domestic birds because
it makes them more difficult to control. It has no direct use except in
pigeons kept for flying. There is, however, a very important connection
between development for flying and the value of birds for the table. The
muscles of the wings furnish the greater part of the edible meat of most
birds. The most desirable birds for food purposes are those which have
the wing muscles well developed, yet not quite strong enough to enable
them to fly easily. In such birds the breast meat remains comparatively
soft through life, while in birds that fly well it becomes hard in a
very short time. That is why the breast meat of the pigeon is relatively
tougher in an old bird than the breast meat of a fowl or turkey.

The balance between capacity for flight and neglect to use it, which is
desired in birds grown for the table, is secured by giving them
opportunity to exercise their wings moderately but not for progressive
practice in flying, which would soon enable them to fly easily over the
fences used to confine them. To regulate such exercise the perches for
birds that roost are made low, or in an ascending series in which each
perch after the first is reached from the one below it, while fences are
made so much higher than the distance the bird is accustomed to fly that
the failures of its first efforts to go over them discourage it. Ducks
and geese, which do not roost, flap their wings a great deal, and if
they have room often exercise them by half running and half flying along
the ground.

=Mechanism of the wing.= In its structure and in the muscular power that
moves it, the wing of a bird is a wonderful piece of mechanism. A bird
in flying strikes the air with its wings so rapidly that the movements
cannot be accurately counted. The heron, which is a slow-flying bird,
makes from one hundred twenty to one hundred fifty downward strokes of
its wings a minute. As each downward stroke must be preceded by an
upward stroke, this means that the wings make from two hundred forty to
three hundred separate movements a minute. In such swift-flying birds as
the pigeon the movements of the wings can be distinguished but cannot be
counted. The fastest movements of the wings are not made by the swiftest
fliers. In order to fly at all some land birds with comparatively small
wings have to move them so fast that the movements make a blur and a
whirring noise. The partridge is an illustration of a bird of this

If the supporting surface of the wing of a bird were made of skin, like
the web of the foot of a swimming bird, it would be necessary to fold
the wing for each upward stroke. It is here that the structure of
feathers adapts itself to the rapid action required for movement in the
air. The wing is not one surface but a series of narrow surfaces lapping
in such a manner that they unite to form one broad surface when the
downward stroke is made, and with the upward stroke are separated so
that the air passes between them. Greater power in the downward stroke
and less resistance in the upward stroke are also secured by the
curvature of the wing. The under side is concave, the upper side convex.
Thus in the downward stroke the wing gathers the air under it and so
increases the pressure, while in the upward stroke it scatters the air
and reduces the pressure.

If the wing were equally rigid throughout, the movement of the bird
would be mostly upward. The bird in flying moves forward because the
front of the wing is rigid and the tips of the feathers, which are
directed backward, are flexible. So the air compressed by the wing in
the downward stroke escapes backward, and in doing so propels the bird
forward. The principle is the same that is applied in the screw
propeller of a boat or an airship, except that the wing vibrates while
the propeller revolves.

The most important function of the tail in flight is to balance the
bird. It is of some assistance in steering, but a bird steers its course
mostly by manipulation of the wings.

=Scratching.= With the exception of the aquatic birds and the ostrich,
all the species of poultry belong to the group called by naturalists
_Rasores_ or _Scratchers_. Birds of this class have legs of moderate
length and very strong, with toes terminating in a stout claw. Normally
they have three toes upon which the foot rests when they are standing on
a flat surface, and a fourth toe, like a thumb, which assists the other
toes to grasp a perch. Some individual birds and some races of birds
have the fourth or hind toe double. The leg of a bird is so constructed
that when it is bent as the bird sits on a narrow support the toes
contract and grasp the support and hold it without any effort on the
part of the bird. Thus the bird is as secure in its position on a limb
when asleep as if wide awake and looking out for itself.

In proportion to their ability to scratch, birds are able to find seeds
and insects concealed among dead or living vegetation on the surface of
the ground, and also to dig below the surface. Scratching capacity is
most highly developed in the fowl. Compared to it the other land birds
are very feeble scratchers, and do little damage by scratching if free
to roam about. For ages the scratching propensity of fowls was regarded
as a vice in them, but since people began to give special attention to
poultry they have learned that fowls are much more contented and thrifty
in confinement if their food is given them in a litter of leaves, straw,
or shavings, in which they must scratch for it, and have also found that
to some extent fowls may be used to cultivate crops while destroying
insects and weeds among them.

=Swimming.= Capacity for swimming has an economic value in domestic
birds because it adapts those possessing it to places which land birds
rarely frequent. It will be shown when the different kinds of aquatic
birds are described that each has its special place and use in

The swimming faculty in these birds is of further interest because of
its relation to the development of the body plumage. If a land bird is
placed in the water, the feathers are quickly saturated, the water
penetrating to the skin. A duck or other swimming bird will remain in
the water for hours without the water penetrating the feathers. This is
commonly supposed to be due to the presence of a large amount of oil in
the feathers, but the difference in the oiliness of the feathers of
fowls and of ducks is not great enough to account for the difference in
resistance to the penetration of water. The peculiar quality of the
plumage of swimming birds is its density. If you take up a fowl and
examine the plumage you will find that it is easy to part the feathers
so that the skin can be seen. It may be done with the fingers, or even
by blowing gently among the feathers with the mouth. Now try to separate
the feathers of a duck so that the skin will be visible. You find it
much harder, because the feathers are so thick and soft and at the same
time so elastic. The familiar phrase "like water from a duck's back" is
not especially appropriate. The feathers on the back of most birds are a
very effective protection against rain. The feathers all over a duck are
such poor conductors of water that it is hard to remove them by
scalding. The structure of the plumage of swimming birds adds to their
buoyancy in the water. They do not have to exert themselves to remain on
the surface, but float like cork.

=Foods and mode of digestion.= All kinds of poultry and most of our
common wild birds are omnivorous eaters, but the proportion of different
foods usually taken is not the same in different kinds of birds. Some
eat mostly grains, some mostly animal foods. Some can subsist entirely
on grass if they can get it in a tender state; others eat very little
grass. The scratching birds like a diet of about equal parts of grain,
leaves, and insects. Pigeons and canaries live almost entirely on grains
and seeds, but like a little green stuff occasionally.

Domestic birds which produce many eggs require special supplies of food
containing lime to make the shells. Until within a few years it was
universally believed--and it is still commonly supposed--that birds
needed grit to take the place of the teeth nature did not give them, and
assist in the grinding of the food in the gizzard. Many close observers
now reject this idea because they find that birds supplied with
digestible mineral foods do not eat those that are not digestible. A
bird does not need teeth to grind its food, because it is softened in
the crop and the gastric juice acts upon it before the grinding process

=Peculiarities of birds' eggs.= The only animal foodstuff produced in a
natural package, easily preserved and handled, is the egg. In the
vegetable world we have a great many such things--fruits, seeds, roots,
nuts, with coverings of various textures to protect the contents from
the air. In all of these the material stored up is either for the
nourishment of the seeds in the first stages of growth as plants, or for
the nourishment of a new or special growth. An egg is the seed of an
animal. All animals produce eggs, but in mammals the new life
originating from the egg goes through the embryonic stages within the
body of the parent, while in insects, fishes, reptiles, and birds the
egg is laid by the creature producing it before the embryo begins to

In mammals the embryo grows as a part of the body of the parent, the
substances which build it up coming from the parent form as they are
needed. In birds a tiny germ--the true egg--is put, with all the
material needed for its development as an embryo, in a sealed package,
which may be taken thousands of miles away from the parent, and, after
lying dormant for weeks, may begin to grow as soon as the proper
conditions of temperature are applied. The food value of the germ of an
egg is inappreciable. We use the egg to get the material stored up in it
for the young bird which would come from the germ.

=Development of the egg.= The method of the formation of an egg is very
interesting. It is the same in all birds, but is most conveniently
studied in fowls. If a laying hen is killed and the body is opened so
that the internal organs can all be seen, one of the most conspicuous of
these is a large, convoluted duct having its outlet at the vent. In this
duct, which is called the oviduct, are eggs in various stages of
formation. At its upper extremity, attached to the backbone, is a bunch
of globular yellow substances which are at once identified as yolks of
eggs in all sizes. The organ to which these are attached is the ovary.
The smallest yolks are so small that they cannot be seen without a
powerful microscope. These yolks are not germs, but as they grow the
germ forms on one side of each yolk, where it appears as a small white

When a yolk is full-grown it drops into the funnel-shaped mouth of the
oviduct. Here it is inclosed in a membranous covering, called the
chalazæ, and receives a coating of thick albumen. The function of the
chalazæ is to keep the yolk suspended in the center of the egg. It does
not merely inclose the yolk, but, twisted into cords, extends from
either end and is attached to the outer membrane at the end of the egg.

After leaving the funnel the egg passes into a narrow part of the
oviduct, called the isthmus, where it receives the membranous coverings
which are found just inside the shell. From the isthmus it goes into the
lowest part of the oviduct--the uterus. Here the shell is formed, and at
the same time a thin albumen enters through the pores of the shell and
the shell membranes and dilutes the thick albumen first deposited. After
this process is completed the egg may be retained in the oviduct for
some time. It is, however, usually laid within a few hours.

=Rate and amount of egg production.= In the wild state a bird, if not
molested after it begins laying, produces a number of eggs varying in
different kinds, according to the number of young that can be cared for,
and then incubates them. If its first eggs are removed or destroyed,
the bird lays more, usually changing the location of its nest. In
domestication the eggs of most kinds of birds are removed from the nests
daily as laid, and the birds lay many more eggs before they stop to
incubate than they do in the wild state.

It is, and has been for ages, the common opinion that the wild birds and
poultry, when first domesticated, were capable of laying only a small
number of eggs each season, and that laying capacity has been enormously
increased in domestication; but the oldest reports that we have of the
amount of egg production indicate that the laying capacity of fowls was
as great centuries ago as it is at the present time. Recent observations
on wild birds in captivity show that even birds which pair and usually
lay only a few eggs each season have a laying capacity at least equal to
the ordinary production of hens. Quails in captivity have been known to
lay about one hundred eggs in a season, and an English sparrow from
which the eggs were taken as laid produced over sixty.

The constitutional capacity to produce ovules is now known to be far
greater than the power of any bird to supply the material for the
nourishment of germs through the embryonic stage. The principal factors
in large egg production are abundance of food and great capacity for
digesting and assimilating it.

=Incubation.= A bird before beginning to lay makes a nest. Some birds
build very elaborate and curious nests; others merely put together a few
sticks, or hollow out a little place on the ground. In birds that pair,
the male and female work together to build the nest. Even in polygamous
domestic birds like the fowl and the duck, a male will often make a nest
for the females of his family and coax them to it as a cock pigeon does
his mate.

If the birds are left to themselves and the eggs are not molested, an
aërial bird will usually lay a number of eggs equal to the number of
young the parents can feed as long as they require this attention, while
a terrestrial or aquatic bird will usually lay as many eggs as she can
cover. The desired number of eggs having been laid, the process of
incubation by the parents begins.

The incubation of their eggs by birds is one of the most remarkable
things in nature. We say that "instinct" leads birds to build their
nests and to keep their eggs warm for a period varying from two weeks
for small birds, to six weeks for the ostrich; but "instinct" is only a
term to describe the apparently intelligent actions of the lower
animals, which we say have not intelligence enough to know the reasons
for the things that they do.

[Illustration: Fig. 3. Sitting hen]

The mother of a young mammal knows that it came from herself, and she
can see that it is like her and others of her kind. It at once seeks her
care and responds to her attentions. The egg which a bird lays is as
lifeless--to all appearances--as the stones which it often so closely
resembles. Only after many days or weeks of tiresomely close attention
does it produce a creature which can respond to the care lavished upon
it. The birds incubating eggs not only give them the most unremitting
attention, but those that fill their nests with eggs before beginning to
incubate methodically turn the eggs and change their position in the
nest, this being necessary because otherwise the eggs at the center of
the nest would get too much heat and those at the outside would not get
enough. A bird appears to know that if she begins to sit before she has
finished laying, some of the eggs would be spoiled or would hatch before
the others; and, as noted above, aërial birds seem to know better than
to hatch more young than they can rear. But no bird seems to have any
idea of the time required to hatch its eggs, or to notice the lapse of
time, or to care whether the eggs upon which it sits are of its own
kind or of some other kind, or to know whether the young when hatched
are like or unlike itself. If eggs fail to hatch, domestic birds will,
as a rule, remain on the nest until the eggs are taken away or until
sheer exhaustion compels them to abandon the hopeless task. In
domestication, however, those birds which continue laying most freely
when their eggs are removed as laid, tend to lose the habit of
incubation. Turkeys and geese will often begin to incubate after having
laid about the number of eggs that they could cover. Many fowls will do
the same, but most fowls lay for several months before attempting to
incubate, and in many races not more than two or three per cent of the
hens ever incubate.

[Illustration: Fig. 4. Fresh egg[1]]

[Illustration: Fig. 5. Infertile egg (after twenty-four hours'

[Illustration: Fig. 6. Fertile egg (after twenty-four hours'

[Illustration: Fig. 7. Embryo (after seventy-two hours' incubation)]

[Illustration: Fig. 8. Embryo (after seven days' incubation)]

[1] Photographs (Figs. 4-8) from Bureau of Animal Industry, United
States Department of Agriculture.

[Illustration: Fig. 9. Chick ready to break shell]

=Development of the embryo in a bird's egg.= The condition required to
produce a live bird from a fertile egg is the continuous application of
a temperature of about 102 or 103 degrees Fahrenheit from the time the
heat is first applied until the embryo is fully developed and ready to
emerge from the shell. In nature the heat is applied by contact with the
bodies of the parent birds. Development of life will start in an egg at
about 10 degrees below the temperature required to maintain it, but at
this temperature the germ soon dies. The temperature in incubation may
occasionally go higher than 103 degrees or may be as low as 70 degrees
for a short time without injury to the germ. Some germs will stand
greater extremes of temperature than others, just as some living
creatures will.

The first stages of the development of life in the egg of a bird may be
observed by holding the eggs before a strong light in a darkened room.
White-shelled eggs are the best for this purpose. In about thirty-six
hours from the beginning of incubation it will be found that the germ
has turned red, and little red veins radiate from it somewhat like the
legs of a spider. For several days the egg is quite translucent and the
yolk shows plainly. As the germ grows, the contents of the egg become
clouded and dense, and the air space at the large end of the egg is
clearly defined, the density being greatest near it. From the time that
the egg becomes dense, observations of development must be made by
breaking one or more eggs daily or every few days, according to the
number available for observation.

[Illustration: Fig. 10. Egg before exclusion and partially excluded

[Illustration: Fig. 11. Light Brahma (day old)]

The embryo grows until it fills the egg. The mere application of heat to
the egg has gradually transformed that little germ and the yellow and
white of egg into bones, flesh, skin (and, in some cases, down), and all
the organs of a living creature. When the embryo has filled the shell,
it lies curled up, usually with the head at the large end of the egg and
the beak almost touching the shell, at about one third of the distance
from the large to the small end of the egg. At the point of the beak of
the young bird on the curved tip of the upper mandible is a small horny
scale. Without this scale it would be hard for the embryo to break the
shell because it cannot, as it lies, strike it a direct blow with the
point of its beak. This scale is a remarkable character. Its only use is
to help the bird out of the shell. A few days after exclusion it

If you take a hen's egg about the eighteenth or the nineteenth day of
incubation and hold it closely in your hand, you may be able to feel the
chick move. If your hand is a little bit cold, the chick is much more
likely to squirm in the egg and may utter a peep. If, with the egg in a
warm hand, you hold it to your ear, you will about this time hear an
occasional tap, tap, caused by the chicken striking its beak against the
shell. The tapping is kept up more or less steadily until the shell
cracks where the point of the beak strikes it and a little piece is
broken out. The chick usually rests awhile now,--perhaps for some
hours,--then resumes the attack on the shell. It turns in the shell,
breaking out little pieces as it turns, until there is a crack nearly
all the way around, when, by pushing with its head and feet, it forces
the shell apart and sprawls out of it.

The process is the same for all birds, except that those that take
longest to develop in the shell take a longer rest after first breaking
it. The young of aërial birds, which are naked when hatched, are ugly
little things. Young poultry, too, are almost repulsive with their
sprawling forms and the wet down plastered to the skin, but in a few
hours they grow strong, the down dries and becomes fluffy, the bright
little eyes seem to take in everything, and they are the most attractive
of all baby animals.



The three general classes of domestic birds include few species but many
varieties, and, outside of the distinct varieties, an indefinite number
of individual types. Where varieties are as numerous as in the fowl,
which has about three hundred, and the pigeon, which has a much greater
number, the differences between them are often very slight. Sometimes
the form of a single small character is the only distinguishing feature.
But, if this is a fixed character, the variety is distinct. Where there
are so many varieties it is hard to make short, appropriate descriptive
names for all, if considered simply as varieties. For such diversity
there must be a more extended classification. Such a classification,
growing gradually with the increase in the number of varieties, will not
be consistent throughout. Hence to understand clearly the relations of
the artificial divisions of species in domestication we must know what a
species is and how these divisions arise.

=Definition of species.= Species are the natural divisions of living
things. Each plant and animal species retains its distinctive character
through long ages because the individuals composing it can produce
perfect offspring only (if asexual) of themselves, or (if bisexual) with
others of their species.

The self-isolation of species is well illustrated when similar plants
grow together, as grasses in the same field and practically on the same
spot; yet year after year all the old kinds are found and no new ones
such as might come from a mixture of two kinds, if they would mix. In
the higher animals, where the parent forms are of different sexes, they
choose mates of their own kind, and so each species remains distinct;
but if in a species there are many different types, such as we find in
domestic fowls, the members of the species, when free to do so, mate as
readily with types quite different from their own as with individuals
exactly like them, and produce offspring of intermediate types with all
the essential characters of the species. In domestication individuals of
distinct yet similar species are sometimes mated and produce offspring
called hybrids, but these are sterile. The mule, which is a hybrid
between the ass and the mare, is the most familiar animal of this kind.
Hybrid, or mule, cage birds are produced by crossing the canary with
several allied species. Among other domestic birds hybrids are almost

=Origin of species.= Until near the close of the last century it was
commonly believed that each species had been created in perfect form and
that species were unchangeable; but long before that time some keen
students of the natural sciences and close observers of the changes that
take place in plants and animals in domestication had discovered that
species were not perfectly stable and were changing slowly. Geologists
established the fact that the earth, instead of being only a few
thousand years old, had existed for countless centuries. Among fossil
remains of creatures unlike any now known they had found also other
forms which appeared to be prototypes of existing species. The idea that
the forms of life now on the earth had come from earlier and somewhat
different forms had occurred to several scientists more than a hundred
years ago, but it was not until about 1860 that a satisfactory
explanation of progressive development of forms of life was given to the
world. This mode of creation is called evolution.

The theory of evolution is that partly through their own inherent
tendency to vary and partly through the influence of external things
which affect them, all organisms change slowly; that things of the same
kind, separated and living under different conditions, may in time so
change that they become separate species; and that this process may be
repeated indefinitely, the number of species constantly increasing and
becoming more diversified and more highly developed.

Such a theory would not be entitled to serious consideration unless it
was known that the earth was millions of years old, because we know that
races of fowls separated for over three thousand years (and perhaps
twice as long) and developed into quite different varieties will breed
together as readily as those of the same variety. But when it is certain
that the earth is so old that there has been ample time for changes in
living forms that would require periods of time beyond our
comprehension, some of the relations of varieties and species of birds
have an important bearing on the theory of evolution.

As in the case of fowls just noted, we find that domestic ducks of the
same species, after a separation of several thousand years, breed freely
together. But our domestic ducks are not, like the fowls, all of the
same species, and if individuals of different species are paired they
produce only a few weak hybrids. Our domestic geese are probably
descended from two wild varieties, but races that were not brought
together for thousands of years after they were domesticated are
perfectly fertile together, while when mated with the American Wild
Goose, which is not domesticated but will breed in captivity, they
produce only hybrids. The general resemblance between geese and ducks is
very striking, yet they will not breed together at all.

A comparison of these facts indicates that while three thousand, or even
five or six thousand, years of separation may not be enough to break
down the natural affinity of varieties of the same species, separation
and difference of development will eventually make of varieties distinct
species, a union of which will produce only hybrids, while a longer
separation and further increase of differences makes the break between
the species absolute and they will not breed together at all.

=Natural varieties.= A species having developed as a variety of an
earlier species will continue to develop as one variety or as several
varieties, according to conditions. If a part of a species becomes so
separated from the rest that intercourse ceases, each division of the
species may become a well-defined variety.

=Varieties in domestication.= How a species when domesticated breaks up
into varieties is well illustrated by the case of the fowl. The original
wild species has long disappeared, but there is good reason to suppose
that in size and color it was something between a Brown Pit Game and a
Brown Leghorn. The birds were smaller than most fowls seen in this
country to-day. The prevailing color was a dull brown, because that
color best conceals a small land bird from its enemies. Fowls that were
domesticated and given good care and an abundance of food would usually
grow larger than the wild stock. Thus if any person, or the people
generally in any community, systematically gave their fowls good care, a
variety of unusual size would be developed.

Different colors would also appear in the flocks of fowls, because the
birds of unusual colors would be protected and preserved, instead of
being destroyed as they usually are in the wild state. Other
peculiarities, too, such as large combs, crests, and feathered legs,
would be developed in some lands and neglected in others. This is how it
happened that after thousands of years in domestication the races of
fowls in different parts of the world were quite different in size and
form, but alike in being of many colors.

From a species in this condition modern poultry breeders have made
hundreds of distinct varieties. The easiest method of making a variety
in domestication is to select specimens for breeding as near the desired
type as possible, and to breed only from a few individuals in each
generation which come nearest to the ideal type. In this way a variety
that breeds quite true to the type may be established in from three or
four to eight or ten years, according to the number of characters to be
established as distinctive of the variety. Varieties are also made by
crossing unlike individuals. This process is longer than the other, and
sometimes requires a series of crosses to produce specimens
approximating the ideal sought. After such specimens have been obtained
the method is the same as in the first case. A variety is commonly
considered to be well established when the greater part of the specimens
produced are easily identified as of that variety. But no domestic
variety is ever established in the sense that a species is. All are
artificial, produced by compulsory separation and preserved only as long
as it is continued.

=Classification of domestic varieties of birds.= Domestic varieties of
all kinds of live stock were at first mostly shape-varieties; that is,
the individuals of a variety were alike in shape but of various colors.
This is the case still with some varieties. These shape-varieties are
mostly the common types of certain countries or districts. Thus the
Leghorn fowl is the common fowl of Italy, and the Houdan is a type
common in a small district in France. Such shape-varieties are called
_breeds_. When other types were made by crossing such breeds they also
were called breeds.

When people first began to be interested in the improvement of live
stock, the popular idea of a breed was that it was a domestic species,
and there are still many people who hold this view. This popular
misconception of the nature of a breed is responsible for much of the
inconsistency and confusion in the ordinary classifications of domestic
varieties. To it also is due the use of the term "variety" to apply
especially to color-varieties, which are the principal divisions of

In the classification of domestic birds a _variety_ is properly a
color-variety of a breed. Thus in the Plymouth Rock breed there are six
color-varieties--barred, white, buff, partridge, silver-penciled, and
ermine (called Columbian); and in Fantail Pigeons there are six
color-varieties--white, blue, black, red, yellow, and silver. Birds of
the same breed (shape) and the same variety (color) may differ in some
other character, as the form of the comb or the presence or absence of
feathers in certain places. In accordance with such differences
varieties are divided into _subvarieties_. Thus, in Leghorn Fowls the
brown, white, and buff varieties have single-combed and rose-combed

In any breed, variety, or subvariety certain families are sometimes
distinguished for general or special excellence of form or color. Such a
family is called a _strain_.

=Systematic mixtures of breeds and varieties.= Although so many distinct
varieties have been developed from common domestic stocks, the improved
races do not always displace the mongrels. When the old mongrels
disappear their place is often taken by a new mongrel stock produced by
mixtures of the distinct breeds with each other and with the old mongrel
race. The greater part of such stock is so mixed that its relation to
any established breed could not be determined or expressed, but
systematic mixtures are sometimes made, and to describe these the
following terms are used: _Crossbred_--having parents of different,
distinct breeds, varieties, or subvarieties. A Leghorn male mated with a
Cochin female produces offspring each of which is in blood one half
Leghorn and one half Cochin. _Grade_--having more than half of the blood
of a breed.

If the offspring of a cross such as is described in the preceding
paragraph are mated with birds of one of the parent breeds, the
offspring of this mating will have three fourths of the blood of that
breed. If these in turn are mated to birds of the same pure breed, the
offspring will have seven eighths of the blood of that breed. Animals
bred in this way are called _grades_ until the process has been carried
so far that they are practically pure-bred. Mongrel stock is often
graded up in this way. As a rule stock that is seven eighths pure is not
distinguishable from average pure stock of the same breed.

=Pure-bred, thoroughbred, and standard-bred.= A _pure-bred_ animal is,
strictly speaking, one having the blood only of the variety to which it
belongs. From what has been said of the making of breeds and varieties
it is plain that absolute purity of blood is not a universal attribute
of well-bred domestic birds. A _thoroughbred_ animal is one that is
thoroughly bred for some purpose or to some type. A _standard-bred_
animal is one that is bred especially to conform to requirements agreed
upon by breeders and exhibitors.

A great deal of misapprehension and confusion in the use of these terms
has been caused by the attitude of those who maintain that the term
"thoroughbred," having been used as a name for highly bred running
horses, cannot properly apply to any other kind of live stock, and that
"pure-bred" should apply to all thoroughly bred races. The noun
"Thoroughbred" is the name of a breed of horses. The adjective
"thoroughbred" is common property. Writers on aviculture who wish to be
accurate prefer it in many instances to "pure-bred" because absolute
purity of blood is rare and is not of the importance in breeding that
novices usually suppose. Not only are many new varieties made by
crossing, but in long-established breeds outcrosses are regularly made
to restore or intensify characters.

To illustrate the use of the three terms in application to a single
breed: A stock of Light Brahmas might be kept pure for half a century,
yet at the end of that period might have changed its type entirely. It
might be so deteriorated that it was worth less than common mongrels;
yet it is pure-bred stock. Another stock of the same variety might be
bred for table qualities, egg-production, and the same principal
color-characteristics of the variety, but without attention to the fine
points of fancy breeding. Such a stock is thoroughbred but not



[Illustration: Fig. 12. Pet fowls--White Wyandottes and Game Bantams.
(Photograph from Dr. J. C. Paige, Amherst, Massachusetts)]

The most useful of all birds is the common fowl, seen on almost every
farm and in the back yards of many city and village homes. The fowl
takes to the conditions of domestic life better than any other land
bird. It is more cleanly in its habits, more productive, more
intelligent, and more interesting than the duck, which ranks next in
usefulness. Fowls supply nearly all the eggs and the greater part of the
poultry meat that we use. Their feathers are of less value than those of
ducks, geese, and turkeys. In the days when feather beds were common
they were made usually of the body feathers of fowls. Now the feathers
of fowls are used mostly for the cheaper grades of pillows and cushions,
and in the making of feather boas and like articles. The wing and tail
feathers have been much used for decorating ladies' hats, and since the
use of small wild birds in millinery decorations has been prohibited,
the hackle feathers of cocks are quite extensively used in trimming

[Illustration: Fig. 13. Single-combed Rhode Island Red male[2]]

[Illustration: Fig. 14. Rose-combed Rhode Island Red female[2]]

[2] Photograph from Lester Tompkins, Concord, Massachusetts.

=Description.= Ordinary fowls are rather small land birds. The males at
maturity weigh from four to five pounds each, and the females about a
pound less. They are plump, rugged, and very active. If treated well
they are bold, and with a little attention can easily be made very tame.
If neglected and abused, they become shy and wild. The most striking
peculiarities of the fowl are the fleshy comb and wattles which ornament
the head, and the full tail which is usually carried well up and spread
perpendicularly. The head appendages vary much in size and form. They
are sometimes very small, but never entirely wanting. The carriage of
the tail also varies, but except in a few breeds bred especially for low
tails it is noticeably high as compared with that of other poultry.
Fowls are readily distinguished from other birds by the voice. The male
crows, the female cackles. These are their most common calls, but there
are other notes--some common to both sexes, some peculiar to one--which
are the same in all races of fowls. An abrupt, harsh croak warns the
flock that one of their number has discerned a hawk or noticed something
suspicious in the air. A slowly repeated cluck keeps the young brood
advised of the location of their mother. If she finds a choice morsel of
food, a rapid clicking sound calls them about her. When she settles down
to brood them she calls them with a peculiar crooning note. The male
also cackles when alarmed, and when he finds food calls his mates in the
same way that the female calls her young under the same circumstances.
Other poultry and sometimes even cats and dogs learn this call and
respond to it. If the food discovered is something that a stronger
animal wants, the bird making the call may lose it because of his
eagerness to share the treasure with the members of his family.

In adult fowls the male and female are readily distinguished by
differences in appearance as well as by the voice. The comb and wattles
of the male are larger, and after he has completed his growth are always
of the same size and a bright red in color. In the female the comb is
much smaller than that of a male of the same family, and both size and
color vary periodically, the comb and wattles being larger and the whole
head brighter in color when the female is laying. The tail of the male
is also much larger than that of the female and has long plumelike
coverts. The feathers of his back and neck are long, narrow, and
flowing, and in many varieties are much brighter in color than the
corresponding feathers on the female. The male has a short, sharp spur
on the inside of each leg, a little above the hind toe. Occasionally a
female has spurs, but they are usually very small. With so many
differences between male and female the sex of an adult fowl is apparent
at a glance. In the young of breeds which have large combs the males
begin to grow combs when quite small, and so the sex may be known when
they are only a few weeks old. In other breeds the sex may not be
distinguished with certainty until the birds are several months old, or,
in some cases, until they are nearly full-grown.

[Illustration: Fig. 15. White Polish male (crowing) and female.
(Photograph from Leontine Lincoln Jr., Fall River, Massachusetts)]

The adult male fowl is called a _cock_, and also, in popular phrase, a
_rooster_. The adult female fowl is called a _hen_. The word "hen" is
the feminine form of _hana_, the Anglo-Saxon name for the cock. It is
likely that the name "cock," which it is plain was taken from the first
syllable of the crow of the bird, was gradually substituted for _hana_
because it is shorter. _Hana_ means "the singer." A young fowl is called
a _chicken_ until the sex can be distinguished. After that poultry
fanciers call the young male a _cockerel_ and the young female a
_pullet_. The word "pullet" is also used by others, but the popular
names for a cockerel are _crower_ and _young rooster_. The word
"cockerel," as is seen at a glance, is the diminutive of "cock." The
word "pullet," sometimes spelled _poulet_, is a diminutive from the
French _poule_, "a hen."

=Origin of the fowl.= Of the origin of the fowl we have no direct
knowledge. It was fully domesticated long before the beginnings of
history. There is no true wild race of fowls known. For a long time it
was commonly held that the _Gallus Bankiva_, found in the jungles of
India, was the ancestor of all the races of the domestic fowl, but this
view was not accepted by some of the most careful investigators, and the
most recent inquiries into the subject indicate that the so-called
_Gallus Bankiva_ is not a native wild species but a feral race, that is,
a race developed in the wild from individuals escaped from

=Appearance of the original wild species.= The likeness of the fowls
shown in ancient drawings to the ordinary unimproved stock in many parts
of the world to-day shows that--except as by special breeding men have
developed distinct races--fowls have not changed since the most remote
times of which records exist. From the constancy of this type through
this long period it is reasonably inferred that no marked change in the
size and shape of the fowl had occurred in domestication in prehistoric
times, and therefore that the original wild fowl very closely resembled
fowls which may be seen wherever the influence of improved races has not
changed the ordinary type. The particular point in which the wild
species differed from a flock of ordinary domestic fowls was color.
Domestic fowls, unless carefully bred for one color type, are usually of
many colors. In the wild species, as a rule, only one color would be
found, and that would be brown, which is the prevailing color among
small land birds.

=Distribution of fowls in ancient times.= From drawings and
descriptions on ancient tablets and from figures on old coins it appears
that the fowl was familiar to the Babylonians seven thousand years ago,
and that it was introduced into Egypt about 4600 B.C. Chinese tradition
gives 1400 B.C. as the approximate date of the introduction of poultry
into China from the West. At the time of the founding of Rome the fowl
was well known throughout Northern Africa, and in the Mediterranean
countries of Europe as far west as Italy and Sicily. It was also known
in Japan at this time. Whether it was known in India is uncertain; if
not, it was brought there soon after. It is supposed that immediately
following their conquests in Central and Western Europe the Romans
introduced their poultry into those regions. Thus, at about the
beginning of the Christian Era, the fowl was known to all the civilized
peoples of the Old World and had been introduced to the less civilized
races of Europe.

[Illustration: Fig. 16. Light Brahma cockerel]

=Development of principal races of fowls.= There is no evidence that any
of the ancient civilized peoples made any effort to improve the fowl,
nor have any improved races been produced in the lands where those
civilizations flourished. Outside of this area many different types were
gradually developed to suit the needs or the tastes of people in
different countries and localities. Thus in the course of centuries were
produced from the same original wild stock fowls as unlike as the
massive Brahma, with feathered legs and feet, and the diminutive Game
Bantam; the Leghorn, with its large comb, and the Polish, with only the
rudiments of a comb and in its place a great ball of feathers; the
Spanish, with monstrous development of the skin of the face, and the
Silky, with dark skin and hairlike plumage. Except in a few limited
districts these special types did not displace the ordinary type for
many centuries. Until modern times they were hardly known outside of the
districts or the countries where they originated. Of the details of
their origin nothing is known. They were not of the highly specialized
and finished types such as are bred by fanciers now. Their distinctive
features had been established, but in comparatively crude form. The
refining and perfecting of all these types has been the work of fanciers
in Holland, Belgium, England, and America in modern times. These
fanciers have also developed new races of more serviceable types.

[Illustration: Fig. 17. Light Brahma hen]

[Illustration: Fig. 18. Red Pile Game Bantam cock]

[Illustration: Fig. 19. Red Pile Game Bantam hen]

=How fowls were kept in old times.= Less than a century ago it was
quite a common practice among the cottagers of England and Scotland to
keep their fowls in their cottages at night. Sometimes a loft, to which
the birds had access by a ladder outside, was fitted up for them.
Sometimes perches for the fowls were put in the living room of the
cottage. Such practices seem to us wrong from a sanitary standpoint, but
it is only within very recent times that people have given careful
attention to sanitation, and in old times, when petty thieving was more
common than it is now, there was a decided advantage in having such
small domestic animals as poultry and pigs where they could not be
disturbed without the owner's knowing it. The practice of keeping fowls
in the owner's dwelling seems to have been confined to the poorer
people, who had no large domestic animals for which they must provide
suitable outbuildings. On large farms special houses were sometimes
provided for poultry, but they were probably oftener housed with other
animals, for few people thought it worth while to give them special

[Illustration: Fig. 20. White-Faced Black Spanish cockerel. (Photograph
from R. A. Rowan, Los Angeles, California)]

Throughout all times and in all lands the common domestic birds have
usually been the special charge of the women and children of a
household. In some countries long-established custom makes the poultry
the personal property of the wife. A traveler in Nubia about seventy
years ago states that there the henhouse, as well as the hens, belonged
to the wife, and if a man divorced his wife, as the custom permitted,
she took all away with her.

[Illustration: Fig. 21. Silver-Spangled Polish cock and hen. (Photograph
from Leontine Lincoln Jr., Fall River, Massachusetts)]

The flocks of fowls were usually small in old times. It was only in
areas adjacent to large cities that a surplus of poultry or eggs could
be disposed of profitably, and as the fowls were almost always allowed
the run of the dooryard, the barnyard, and the outbuildings, the number
that could be tolerated, even on a large farm, was limited. As a rule
the fowls were expected to get their living as they could, but in this
they were not so much worse off than other live stock, or than their
owners. But, while this was the ordinary state of the family flock of
fowls, there were frequent exceptions. The housewife who is thrifty
always manages affairs about the house better than the majority of her
neighbors, and in older poultry literature there are occasional
statements of the methods of those who were most successful with their
fowls, which we may well suppose were methods that had been used for

[Illustration: Fig. 22. Black Langshan cock. (Photograph from Urban
Farms, Buffalo, New York)]

=Modern conditions and methods.= About a hundred years ago people in
England and America began to give more attention to poultry keeping, and
to study how to make poultry (especially fowls) more profitable. This
interest in poultry arose partly because of the increasing interest in
agricultural matters and partly because eggs and poultry were becoming
more important articles of food. Those who studied the situation found
that there were two ways of making poultry more profitable. One way,
which was open to all, was to give the birds better care; the other was
to replace the ordinary fowls with fowls of an improved breed. So those
who were much interested began to follow the practices of the most
successful poultry keepers that they knew, and to introduce new breeds,
and gradually great changes were made in the methods of producing
poultry and in the types of fowls that were kept in places where the
interest in poultry was marked.

Nearly all farmers now keep quite large flocks of fowls. Many farmers
make the most of their living from poultry, and in some places nearly
every farm is devoted primarily to the production of eggs and of poultry
for the table. Fowls receive most attention, although, as we shall see,
some of the largest and most profitable farms are engaged in producing
ducks. In the suburbs of cities and in villages all over the land many
people keep more fowls now than the average farmer did in old times.
These city poultry keepers often give a great deal of time to their
fowls and still either lose money on them or make very small wages for
the time given to this work, because they try to keep too many in a
small space, or to keep more than they have time to care for properly.

[Illustration: Fig. 23. Black Langshan hen. (Photograph from Urban
Farms, Buffalo, New York)]

The breeding of fancy fowls is also an important pursuit. Those who
engage in this line on a large scale locate on farms, but many of the
smaller breeders live in towns, and the greater number of the amateur
fanciers who breed fine fowls for pleasure are city people.

On large poultry farms the work is usually done by men. There are many
small plants operated by women. The ordinary farm and family flocks are
cared for by women and children much oftener than by men, because, even
when the men are interested in poultry, other work takes the farmer away
from the vicinity of the house, and the city man away from home, so much
that they cannot look after poultry as closely as is necessary to get
the best results. Many women like to have the care of a small flock of
fowls, because it takes them outdoors for a few minutes at intervals
every day, and the eggs and poultry sold may bring in a considerable
amount of pin money. Many boys, while attending the grammar and high
schools, earn money by keeping a flock of fowls. Some have saved enough
in this way to pay expenses at college for a year or more, or to give
them a start in a small business. When there are both boys and girls in
a family, such outdoor work usually falls to the lot of a boy. A girl
can do just as well if she has the opportunity and takes an interest in
the work.

[Illustration: Fig. 24. Pit Game cock. (Photograph from W. F. Liedtke,
Meriden, Connecticut)]

=Native fowls in America.= To appreciate the influence of improved races
of fowls from various parts of the Old World upon the development of
poultry culture in America, we must know what the fowls in this country
were like when poultry keepers here began to see the advantages of
keeping better stock, and must learn something of the history of the
improved races in the countries from which they came.

[Illustration: Fig. 25. Dominique cockerel. (Photograph from W. H.
Davenport, Coleraine, Massachusetts)]

When we speak of native fowls in America we mean fowls derived from the
stocks brought here by the early settlers. The fowl was not known in the
Western Hemisphere until it was brought here by Europeans. Britain,
France, Spain, Holland, and Sweden all sent colonists to America, and
from each of these countries came, no doubt, some of the ordinary fowls
of that country. Perhaps improved varieties came from some of these
lands in early colonial times, but the only breeds that retained their
identity sufficiently to have distinctive names were the Game Fowls,
which came mostly from England, and the Dominiques (bluish-gray barred
fowls which probably came from Holland or from the north of France,
where fowls of this type were common).

[Illustration: Fig. 26. Dominique hen. (Photograph from Skerritt and
Son, Utica, New York)]

The Game Fowls, being prized for the sport of cockfighting, were often
bred with great care, but the Dominique fowls (also called cuckoo fowls
and hawk-colored fowls) were mixed with other stock, and the name was
commonly given to any fowl of that color, until after the improvement
of fowls began. Then some people collected flocks of fowls of this color
and bred them for uniformity in other characters. Well-bred fowls,
however, were comparatively rare. Most of the stock all through the
country was of the little mongrel type until about the middle of the
last century. Then that type began to disappear from New England, New
York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. It remained longer in the
Northern states west of the Allegheny Mountains and a generation ago was
still the most common type in the upper Mississippi Valley. It is now
unknown outside of the Southern states, and within ten or twenty years
it will disappear entirely.

[Illustration: Fig. 27. Silver-Gray Dorking cock]

[Illustration: Fig. 28. Silver-Gray Dorking hen]

=Old European races of fowls.= With the exception of the Leghorn, most
of the distinct breeds of European origin were brought from England, and
the types introduced were not the types as developed in the places
where the breeds (other than English breeds) originated, but those
types as modified by English fanciers. In America, again, most of these
breeds have been slightly changed to conform to the ideas of American
fanciers. So, while the breed characters are still the same as in the
original stocks, the pupil looking at birds of these breeds to-day must
not suppose that it was just such birds that came to this country from
seventy to a hundred years ago, or that, if he went to the countries
where those races originated, he would find birds just like those he had
seen at home. Except in the case of the distinctly English breeds, such
as the Dorking and the Cornish Indian Game, which are bred to greater
perfection in their native land than elsewhere, he would find most of
the European races not so highly developed in the countries where they
originated as in England and America, where fanciers are more numerous.

[Illustration: Fig. 29. Single-Comb Brown Leghorn cockerel. (Photograph
from Grove Hill Poultry Yards, Waltham, Massachusetts)]

[Illustration: Fig. 30. Rose-Comb Buff Leghorn hen. (Photograph from H.
J. Fisk, Falconer, New York)]

=Italian fowls.= Strictly speaking, the Italian fowls in Italy are not
an improved race. The fowl which is known in this country as the Leghorn
fowl (because the first specimens brought here came from the port of
Leghorn) is the common fowl of Italy and has changed very little since
it was introduced into that country thousands of years ago. It is found
there in all colors, and mostly with a single comb. The Italian type is
of particular interest, not only because of its influence in modern
times, but because from it were probably derived most of the other
European races. Italian fowls were first brought to this country about
1835, but did not attract popular attention until twenty-five or thirty
years later.

[Illustration: Fig. 31. Silver-Spangled Hamburg cock[3]]

[Illustration: Fig. 32. Silver-Spangled Hamburg hen[3]]

[3] Photograph from Dr. J. S. Wolfe, Bloomfield, New Jersey.

=English races of fowls.= It is supposed that fowls were introduced into
Britain from Italy shortly after the Roman conquest. The type was
probably very like that of ordinary Leghorn fowls of our own time, but
with smaller combs. From such stock the English developed two very
different races, the Pit Game and the Dorking. Game fowls were bred in
all parts of the kingdom, but the Dorkings were a local breed developed
by the people in the vicinity of the town of Dorking, where from very
early times the growing of poultry for the London market was an
important local industry. Each in its way, these two breeds represent
the highest skill in breeding. In the Old English Game Fowl, symmetry,
strength, endurance, and courage were combined to perfection. The
Dorking is the finest type of table fowl that has ever been produced.

[Illustration: Fig. 33. White-Crested Black Polish cock[4]]

[Illustration: Fig. 34. White-Crested Black Polish hen[4]]

[4] Photograph from Charles L. Seely, Afton, New York.

=German and Dutch races.= The breeds now known as Hamburgs and Polish
are of peculiar interest to a student of the evolution of races of
fowls, because they present some characters not readily derived from the
primitive type of the fowl. The feather markings of some varieties of
both these breeds are unlike those of other races, and are markings
which would not be likely to become established unless the fowls were
bred systematically for that purpose. So, too, with the large crest of
the Polish fowl: to carry it the structure of the head must be changed.
Such changes require systematic breeding for a long period. Dutch and
German artists of the sixteenth century painted many farmyard scenes
showing fowls of both these types, frequently in flocks with common
fowls and with some that appear to be a mixture. To any one versed in
the breeding of poultry this indicates that these peculiar types had
been made by very skillful breeders long before. The most reasonable
supposition is that these breeders were monks in the monasteries of
Central Europe. Throughout the Middle Ages the monks of Europe, more
than any other class of men, worked for improvement in agriculture as
well as for the advancement of learning.

[Illustration: Fig. 35. Houdan cock. (Photograph from the Houdan Yards,
Sewickley, Pennsylvania)]

[Illustration: Fig. 36. White Minorca hen. (Photograph from Tioga
Poultry Farm, Apalachin, New York)]

=French races.= The Houdan is the only French breed well known in
America. It is of the Polish type, but heavier, and the plumage is
mottled irregularly, not distinctly marked as in the party-colored
varieties of Polish. The breed takes its name from the town of Houdan,
the center of a district in which this is the common type of fowl.

=Spanish races.= The fowls of Spanish origin well known outside of Spain
are the White-faced Black Spanish, the Black Minorca, and the Blue
Andalusian. The fowls of Spain at the present time are mostly of the
Italian type, with black (or in some districts blue) the predominant
color. The Black Spanish seems to have been known in Holland and England
for two hundred years or more. In Spain the white face is but moderately
developed. The monstrous exaggeration of this character began in Holland
and was carried to the extreme by British fanciers who admired it.

[Illustration: Fig. 37. Black Minorca cock. (Photograph from Arthur
Trethaway, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania)]

The Black Minorca is supposed to have been brought to England direct
from Spain about a century ago. There it was bred to much greater size,
with the comb often so large that it was a burden to the fowl. Blue
Andalusians, at first called Blue Spanish and Blue Minorcas, were first
known in England about 1850.

=Asiatic races of fowls.= The evolution of races of fowls in the Orient
gave some general results strikingly different from those in Europe. As
far as is known, after the introduction of fowls into China and India
some thousand years ago the stock which went to those countries and that
which descended from it was completely isolated from the fowls of
Western Asia, Africa, and Europe until the eighteenth century. When
commerce between Europe, India, and the East Indies began, the Europeans
found in these countries fowls of a much more rugged type than those of
Europe. Some of these fowls were much larger than any that the visitors
had seen. The Aseel of India was a small but very strong, stocky type of
Game. Among the Malayans the common fowl was a large, coarse type of
Game. The hens of these breeds laid eggs of a reddish-brown color, while
hens of all the races of Europe laid white eggs. Birds of both these
types were taken to England early in the last century, and perhaps in
small numbers before that time.

[Illustration: Fig. 38. Buff Cochin hen[5]]

[Illustration: Fig. 39. Buff Cochin cock[5]]

[5] Photograph from Tienken and Case, Rochester, Michigan.

[Illustration: Fig. 40. Dark Brahma hen]

=Chinese races.= In China a type of fowl in some ways much like the
Malay, in others quite different, had been developed as the common stock
of the country. They were about as tall as the Malays, much heavier, and
very quiet and docile. They were of various colors, had feathers on the
shanks and feet, and laid brown eggs. Some of these fowls were brought
to America in sailing vessels very early in the last century and
occasionally after that until the middle of the century, but attracted
no attention, for the birds were brought in small numbers for friends of
sailors or for persons particularly interested in poultry, and at that
time there was no means of communication between fanciers in different

[Illustration: Fig. 41. Dark Brahma cockerel]

=Japanese races.= Although the Japanese races of fowls had no particular
influence on the development of poultry culture in America, they are of
great interest in a study of poultry types, because, when intercourse
between Japan and Western nations began, it was found that the ordinary
fowls of Japan were much like the ordinary fowls of Europe and America,
and not, as would be expected, like the fowls of China. This indicated
that there had been no exchange of fowls between China and Japan after
the type in China became changed. It also affords strong evidence that
the fowls of India and China, although so changed, were originally like
the European and Japanese common fowls. The special races developed in
Japan were Game Fowls, more like the European than the Malay type; a
long-tailed fowl, very much like the Leghorn in other respects; and the
very short-legged Japanese Bantam.

[Illustration: Fig. 42. Long-Tailed Japanese Phoenix cockerel.
(Photograph from Urban Farms, Buffalo, New York)]

=The "hen-fever" period.= We are all familiar with the phrase "the hen
fever" and with its application to persons intensely interested in
poultry, but few know how it originated. The interest in better poultry
that had been slowly growing in the Eastern states culminated in 1849 in
an exhibition in the Public Garden in Boston, to which fanciers from
eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut brought
their choicest and rarest specimens. This was the first poultry show
held in America. Nearly fifteen hundred birds were exhibited, and the
exhibitors numbered over two hundred. There were a few birds of other
kinds, but fowls made by far the greater part of the show. All the
principal races of Europe and Asia were represented. Most of the
exhibitors lived in the immediate vicinity of Boston. About ten thousand
people attended this exhibition.

Such an event created a great sensation. Newspaper reports of it reached
all parts of the country. The Chinese fowls, so large when compared with
others, were most noticed. At once a great demand for these fowls and
for their eggs arose, and prices for fancy poultry, which previously had
been but little higher than prices for common poultry, rose so high that
those who paid such prices for fowls were commonly regarded as
monomaniacs. While the interest was not as great in other kinds of fowls
as in the Shanghais, Cochin Chinas, and "Brahmaputras," as they were
then called, all shared in the boom, and within a few years there was
hardly a community in the northeastern part of the United States where
there was not some one keeping highly bred fowls. When the interest
became general, the famous showman, P. T. Barnum, promoted a show of
poultry in the American Museum in New York City. Many celebrated men
became interested in fine poultry. Daniel Webster had been one of the
exhibitors at the first show in 1849. The noted temperance lecturer,
John B. Gough, was a very enthusiastic fancier.

After a few years the excitement began to subside, and most people
supposed that it was about to die, never to revive. A Mr. Burnham, who
had been one of the most energetic promoters of Asiatic fowls, and had
made a small fortune while the boom lasted, had so little confidence in
the permanence of the poultry fancy that he published a book called "The
History of the Hen Fever," which presented the whole movement as a
humbug skillfully engineered by himself. This book was very widely read,
and the phrase "the hen fever," applying to enthusiastic amateur poultry
keepers, came into common use.

Subsequent developments showed that those who had supposed that the
interest in fine poultry was only a passing fad were wrong. The true
reason for its decline at that time was that the nation was approaching
a crisis in its history and a civil war. When the war was over, the
interest in poultry revived at once, and has steadily increased ever
since. The prices for fine specimens, which were considered absurd in
the days of the hen fever, are now ordinary prices for stock of high

[Illustration: Fig. 43. Barred Plymouth Rock cock. (Photograph from
Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

=How the American breeds arose.= It is natural to suppose that with such
a variety of types of fowls, from so many lands, there was no occasion
for Americans to make any new breeds. If, however, you look critically
at the foreign breeds, you may notice that not one of them had been
developed with reference to the simple requirements of the ordinary
farmer and poultry keeper. It was the increasing demand for eggs and
poultry for market that had given the first impulse to the interest in
special breeds. The first claim made for each of these was that it was a
better layer than the ordinary fowl. In general, these claims were true,
but farmers and others who were interested primarily in producing eggs
and poultry for the table were rather indifferent to the foreign breeds,
because, among them all, there was not one as well adapted to the
ordinary American poultry keeper's needs as the old Dominique or as the
occasional flocks of the old native stock that had been bred with some
attention to size and to uniformity in other characters.

To every foreign breed these practical poultry keepers found some
objection. The Dorking was too delicate, and its five-toed feet made it
clumsy. The Hamburgs, too, were delicate, and the most skillful breeding
was required to preserve their beautiful color markings. The superfluous
feathers on the heads of the crested breeds and on the feet of the
Asiatics were equally objectionable. All the European races except the
Leghorns had white skin and flesh-colored or slate-colored feet, while
in America there was a very decided popular preference for fowls with
yellow skin and legs. The Leghorns and the Asiatics met this
requirement, but the former were too small and their combs were
unnecessarily large, while the latter were larger fowls than were
desired for general use, and their foot feathering was a handicap in
barnyards and on heavy, wet soils.

[Illustration: Fig. 44. Barred Plymouth Rock hen. (Photograph from
Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

So, while fanciers and those who were willing to give their poultry
special attention, or who kept fowls for some special purpose which one
of the foreign breeds suited, took these breeds up eagerly, farmers and
other poultry keepers usually became interested in them only to the
extent of using male birds of different breeds to cross with flocks of
native and grade hens. In consequence of this promiscuous crossing, the
stock in the country rapidly changed, a new type of mongrel replacing
the old native stock.

While the masses of poultry keepers were thus crossing new and old
stock at random, many breeders were trying systematically to produce a
new breed that would meet all the popular requirements. Even before the
days of the hen fever two local breeds had arisen, probably by accident.
These were the Jersey Blue and the Bucks County Fowl, both of which
continued down to our own time but never became popular. At the first
exhibition in Boston a class had been provided for crossbred fowls, and
in this was shown a new variety called the Plymouth Rock. From the
descriptions of these birds now in existence it appears that they looked
much like the modern Partridge Plymouth Rock. Those who brought them out
hoped that they would meet the popular demand, and for a short time it
seemed that this hope might be realized, but interest in them soon
waned, and in a few years they were almost forgotten.

[Illustration: Fig. 45. White Plymouth Rock hen (Photograph from C. E.
Hodgkins, Northampton, Massachusetts)]

In the light of the history of American breeds which did afterwards
become popular we can see now that the ideas of the masses of American
poultry keepers were not as strictly practical as their objections to
the various foreign breeds appeared to show. The three varieties that
have just been mentioned, and many others arising from time to time, met
all the expressed requirements of the practical poultry keeper quite as
well as those which subsequently caught his fancy. Indeed, as will be
shown farther on, some of the productions of this period, after being
neglected for a long time, finally became very popular. Usually this
happened when their color became fashionable.

=The modern Barred Plymouth Rock.= Shortly after our Civil War two
poultrymen in Connecticut--one a fancier, the other a farmer--engaged in
a joint effort to produce the business type of fowl that would meet the
favor of American farmers. A male of the old Dominique type was crossed
with some Black Cochin hens. This mating produced some chickens having
the color of the sire, but larger and more robust. Another and more
skillful fancier saw these chickens and persuaded the farmer to sell him
a few of the best. A few years later, when, by careful breeding and
selection, he had fixed the type and had specimens enough to supply eggs
to other fanciers, he took some of his new breed to a show at Worcester,
Massachusetts. Up to this time he had not thought of a name for them,
but as people who saw them would want to know what they were called, a
name was now necessary. It occurred to this man that the name "Plymouth
Rock," having once been given to a promising American breed, would be
appropriate. So the birds were exhibited as Plymouth Rocks.

[Illustration: Fig. 46. Buff Plymouth Rock cock]

This new breed caught the popular fancy at once, for it had the color
which throughout this country was supposed always to be associated with
exceptional vigor and productiveness, and it had greater size than the
Dominique. The fame of the new breed spread rapidly. It was impossible
to supply the demand from the original stock, and, as there is usually
more than one way of producing a type by crossing, good imitations of
the original were soon abundant. Farmers and market poultrymen by
thousands took up the Plymouth Rock, while all over the land fanciers
were trying to perfect the color which their critical taste found very

[Illustration: Fig. 47. Silver-Penciled Plymouth Rock hen]

=Other varieties of the Plymouth Rock.= The success of the Plymouth Rock
gave fresh impetus to efforts to make new breeds and varieties of the
same general character. Great as was its popularity, the new breed did
not suit all. Some did not like the color; some objected to the single
comb, thinking that a rose comb or a pea comb had advantages; some
preferred a shorter, blockier body; others wanted a larger, longer body.
The off-colored birds which new races usually produce in considerable
numbers, even when the greater number come quite true, also suggested to
some who obtained them new varieties of the Plymouth Rock, while to
others it seemed better policy to give them new names and exploit them
as new and distinct breeds.

Both black and white specimens came often in the early flocks of Barred
Plymouth Rocks. The black ones were developed as a distinct breed,
called the Black Java. The white ones, after going for a while under
various names, and after strong opposition from those who claimed that
the name "Plymouth Rock" belonged exclusively to birds of the color with
which the name had become identified, finally secured recognition as
White Plymouth Rocks. Almost immediately Buff Plymouth Rocks appeared.
For reasons which will appear later, the origin of these will be given
in another connection. Then came in rapid succession the
Silver-Penciled, the Partridge, or Golden-Penciled (which, as has been
said, is probably quite a close duplicate of the type to which the name
"Plymouth Rock" was originally given), and the Columbian, or Ermine,
Plymouth Rock. These were all of the general type of the Barred variety,
but because in most cases they were made by different combinations, and
because fanciers are much more particular to breed for color than to
breed for typical form, the several varieties of the Plymouth Rock are
slightly different in form.

[Illustration: Fig. 48. Silver-Laced Wyandotte pullet. Photographed in
position showing lacing on back]

[Illustration: Fig. 49. Silver-Laced Wyandotte cockerel]

=The Wyandottes.= Closely following the appearance of the Barred
Plymouth Rock came the Silver-Laced Wyandotte, called at first simply
the Wyandotte. The original type was quite different in color from the
modern type. It had on each feather a small white center surrounded by
a heavy black lacing. This has been gradually changed until now the
white center is large and the black edging narrow. At first some of
these Wyandottes had rose combs and some had single combs. The rose comb
was preferred and the single-combed birds were discarded as culls.

Strange as it seems in the case of an event so recent, no one knows
where the first Wyandottes came from. It is supposed that they were one
of the many varieties developed either by chance or in an effort to meet
the demand for a general-purpose fowl. They appear to have come into the
hands of those who first exploited them in some way that left no trace
of their source. They went under several different names until 1883,
when the name "Wyandotte" was given them as an appropriate and
euphonious name for an American breed.

[Illustration: Fig. 50. White Wyandotte cockerel. (Photograph from W. E.
Mack, Woodstock, Vermont)]

Next appeared a Golden-Laced Wyandotte, marked like the Silver-Laced
variety but having golden bay where that had white. This variety was
developed from an earlier variety of unknown origin, known in Southern
Wisconsin and Northern Illinois (about 1870 and earlier) under the name
of "Winnebago."

The Silver-Laced Wyandottes, like the Barred Plymouth Rocks, produced
some black and some white specimens. From these were made the Black
Wyandottes and the White Wyandottes. Then came the Buff Wyandottes
(from the same original source as the Buff Plymouth Rocks), and after
them Partridge Wyandottes, Silver-Penciled Wyandottes, and Columbian, or
Ermine, Wyandottes. From the three last-named varieties came the
Plymouth Rock varieties of the corresponding colors, the first stocks of
these being the single-combed specimens from the flocks of breeders of
these varieties of Wyandottes.

[Illustration: Fig. 51. Silver-Penciled Wyandotte cockerel. (Photograph
from James S. Wason, Grand Rapids, Michigan)]

[Illustration: Fig. 52. Partridge Wyandotte pullet]

=The Rhode Island Red.= Among the earliest of the local types developed
in America was a red fowl which soon became the prevalent type in the
egg-farming section of Rhode Island and quite popular in the adjacent
part of Massachusetts. Most of the stock of this race was produced by a
continuous process of grading and crossing which was systematic only in
that it was the common practice to preserve none but the red males after
introducing a cross of another color. A few breeders in the district
bred their flocks more carefully than others, but the race as a whole
was not really thoroughbred until after it became more widely popular.

Although the formation of this race began about 1850 (perhaps earlier),
it was fifty years before it became known outside of the limited area in
which it was almost the only type to be seen. Indeed, the first birds of
this race to attract the attention of the public were exhibited about
1890 as Buff Plymouth Rocks and Buff Wyandottes. At that time very few
of the Rhode Island Reds were as dark in color as the average specimen
now seen in the showroom, and buff specimens were numerous. Birds with
rose combs, birds with single combs, birds with pea combs, and birds
with intermediate types of comb could often be found in the same flock.
So it was not a very difficult matter, among many thousands of birds, to
pick out some that would pass for Buff Plymouth Rocks and some that
would pass for Buff Wyandottes. These varieties were also made in other
ways, mostly by various crosses with the Buff Cochin, but for some years
breeders continued to draw on the Rhode Island supply.

[Illustration: Fig. 53. Columbian Wyandottes. (Photograph from R. G.
Richardson, Lowell, Massachusetts)]

Some people in the Rhode Island district thought that a breed which
could thus furnish the foundation for varieties of two other breeds
ought to win popularity on its own merits. So they began to exhibit and
advertise Rhode Island Reds. At first they made little progress, but as
the breed improved, many more people became interested in it, and soon
it was one of the most popular breeds in the country. The modern
exhibition Rhode Island Red is of a dark brownish red in color.

=The American idea in England; the Orpington.= At the time that the
Chinese fowls were attracting wide attention in America and England some
were taken to other countries of Europe. In almost every country they
had some influence upon the native stock, but as each of the old
countries had one or more improved races that suited most of those
giving special attention to poultry culture, the influence of the
Asiatics was less marked than in our country.

When the Plymouth Rock and the Wyandotte became popular in America, they
were taken to England, where, in spite of the preference for white skin
and flesh-colored legs, they were soon in such favor that a shrewd
English breeder saw the advantage of making another breed of the same
general type but with skin and legs of the colors preferred in England.
He called his new breed the Orpington, giving it the name of the town in
which he lived. The first Orpingtons were black and were made by
crossing the black progeny of Plymouth Rocks (which in America had been
used to make the Black Java), Black Minorcas, and Black Langshans. Then
the originator of the Orpingtons put out a buff variety, which he
claimed was made by another particular combination of crosses, but which
others said was only an improvement of a local breed known as the
Lincolnshire Buff. Later White Orpingtons and Spangled Orpingtons

=Present distribution of improved races.= Having briefly traced the
distribution of the fowl in ancient times, and the movements which in
modern times brought long-separated branches of the species together,
let us look at the present situation.

The Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, and Orpingtons, which
are essentially one type, the differences between them being
superficial, constitute the greater part of the improved fowls of
America and England and are favorites with progressive poultry keepers
in many other lands. In many parts of this country one rarely sees a
fowl that is not of this type, either of one of the breeds named or a
grade of the same type. After the general-purpose type, the laying type,
which includes the Italian, Spanish, German, and Dutch races, is the
most popular, but in this type popularity is limited in most places to
the Leghorns and to a few breeds which, though classed as distinct
breeds, are essentially the same. The Ancona is really a Leghorn, and
the Andalusian, although it comes from Spain, is, like other races in
that land, distinctly of the same type as the fowls of Italy.

[Illustration: Fig. 54. Single-Combed Buff Orpington cock. (Photograph
from Miss Henrietta E. Hooker, South Hadley, Massachusetts)]

With the growth of a general-purpose class, interest in the Asiatic
fowls rapidly declined. They are now kept principally by fanciers and by
market poultry growers who produce extra large fowls for the table.

=Deformed and dwarf races.= Although some of the races of fowls that
have been considered have odd characters which, when greatly
exaggerated, are detrimental and bring the race to decay, such
characters as large combs, crests, feathered legs, and the peculiar
development of the face in the Black Spanish fowl, when moderately
developed, do not seriously affect the usefulness of fowls possessing
them. With a little extra care they usually do as well as fowls of
corresponding plain types. Poultry keepers who admire such decorations
and keep only a few birds do not find the extra care that they require
burdensome, and consequently all these races have become well
established and at times popular. It is notable that in all fowls of
this class the odd character is added to the others or is an
exaggeration of a regular character. There are two other classes of odd
types of fowls. The first of these is made up of a small group of
varieties defective in one character; the second comprises the dwarf
varieties, most of which are miniatures of larger varieties.

=Silky fowls.= In all races of fowls individuals sometimes appear in
which the web of the feathers is of a peculiar formation, resembling
hair. Such fowls are called silkies. They are occasionally exhibited as
curiosities but are not often bred to reproduce this character. There is
one distinct race of white fowls, so small that it is usually classed as
a bantam, having feathers of this kind.

[Illustration: Fig. 55. Single-Combed White Orpington hen. (Photograph
from Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of

=Frizzled fowls.= The feathers of a fowl are sometimes curled at the
tips, like the short curls in the feathers which indicate the sex of a
drake. Such birds are called frizzles or frizzled fowls. True frizzles,
like true silkies from races having normal plumage, are very rare. Many
of the fowls exhibited at poultry shows as Frizzles are ordinary birds
the feathers of which have been curled artificially.

=Rumpless fowls.= The tail feathers of a fowl are borne on a fleshy
protuberance at the lower end of the spine. It sometimes happens that
one or more of the lower vertebræ are missing. In that case the fowl has
no tail and the feathers on the back, which in a normal fowl divide and
hang down at each side, fall smoothly all around. True rumpless fowls
are rare. Many of the specimens exhibited are birds from which the rump
was removed when they were very young.

=Bantams.= Dwarf, or bantam, fowls, on account of their diminutive size
and pert ways, are especially attractive to children. Breeding them to
secure the minimum size, the desired type, and fine quality in plumage
color has the same fascination for a fancier as the breeding of large
fowls, and as the small birds are better adapted to small spaces,
fanciers who have little room often devote themselves to the breeding of
bantams. The larger and hardier varieties of bantams are good for eggs
and poultry for home use, but are not often kept primarily for these
products. Most people who keep bantams keep only a few for pleasure, and
the eggs and poultry they furnish are but a small part of what the
family consumes. Bantam keepers who have a surplus of such products can
usually find customers in their own neighborhood. The very small bantams
and the very rare varieties are usually delicate and so hard to rear
that amateurs who try them soon become discouraged and either give up
bantams or take one of the hardy kinds. It is better to begin with one
of the popular varieties, which are as interesting as any and, on the
whole, are the most satisfactory.

[Illustration: Fig. 56. White Cochin Bantam cockerel]

=Origin of bantams.= After the explanation of the origin of varieties
given in Chapter III, and the description of the evolution of the
different races of fowls in the present chapter, it is perhaps not
really necessary to tell how dwarf races of fowls originated; but the
belief that such races were unknown until brought to Europe from the
city of Bantam, in the Island of Java, is so widespread that it can do
no harm to give the facts which disprove this and in doing so to show
again how easily artificial varieties are made by skillful poultry

[Illustration: Fig. 57. Bantams make good pets]

As has been stated, people who do not understand the close relations of
the different races of fowls, and do not know how quickly new types may
be established by careful breeding, attach a great deal of importance to
purity of breed. Hence, unscrupulous promoters of new breeds have often
claimed that they received their original stock direct from some remote
place or from some one who had long bred it pure. The idea of assigning
the town of Bantam as the home of a true species of dwarf domestic fowl
seems to have occurred to some one in England more than a hundred years
ago, and to have been suggested because of the resemblance of the name
of this Asiatic city to the English word "banty," the popular name for a
dwarf fowl. It seems strange that such a fiction should be accepted as
accounting for dwarf varieties of European races, but it was published
by some of the early writers, used by lexicographers, and, having found
a place in the dictionaries, was accepted as authoritative by the
majority of later writers on poultry, even after some of the highest
authorities had shown conclusively that this view of the origin of dwarf
races was erroneous.

[Illustration: Fig. 58. Black-Tailed White Japanese Bantams. (Photograph
from Frederick W. Otte, Peekskill, New York)]

[Illustration: Fig. 59. White Polish Bantam hen]

[Illustration: Fig. 60. White Polish Bantam cock]

No evidence of the existence of a dwarf race of fowls in Java has ever
been produced. The Chinese and Japanese bantams did not come to Europe
and America until long after the name "bantam" came into use. Dwarfs
occur and undoubtedly have occurred frequently in every race of fowls.
Usually they are unsymmetrical and weakly, and are called runts and put
out of the way as soon as possible. But occasionally an undersized
individual is finely formed, active, and hardy. By mating such a
specimen with the smallest specimen of the other sex that can be found
(even though the latter is much larger), and by repeated selection of
the smallest specimens, a dwarf race may be obtained. It could be made,
though not so rapidly, by systematic selection of the smallest ordinary
specimens and by keeping the growing chicks so short of food that they
would be stunted. The latter process, however, is so tedious that no one
is likely to adopt it. Usually the idea of making a new variety of
bantams does not occur to a breeder until he sees a good dwarf specimen
of a race of which there is no dwarf variety. Then, if he undertakes to
make such a variety, he is likely to use in the process both small
specimens of large races and birds of long-established dwarf races.

[Illustration: Fig. 61. Black Cochin Bantam pullet[6]]

[Illustration: Fig. 62. Black Cochin Bantam cockerel[6]]

[6] Photograph from Dr. J. N. MacRae, Galt, Ontario.

[Illustration: Fig. 63. Rose-Comb Black Bantam cock]

[Illustration: Fig. 64. Rose-Comb Black Bantam hen[7]]

[7] Photograph from Grove Hill Poultry Yards, Waltham, Massachusetts.

Dwarf types of most of the popular breeds have been made here and
exhibited, but the originators were given very little encouragement to
perfect them.

[Illustration: Fig. 65. Silver Sebright Bantam cockerel]

[Illustration: Fig. 66. Silver Sebright Bantam pullet]

[Illustration: Fig. 67. Dark Brahma Bantam cockerel]

[Illustration: Fig. 68. Light Brahma Bantam hen with brood[8]]

[8] Photograph from Brook View Farm, Newbury, Massachusetts.

=Varieties of bantams.= The most popular bantams in this country to-day
are the Cochin Bantams, formerly called Pekin Bantams because the first
that were seen in Europe and America had come from Peking. Only the
self-colored varieties--buff, black, and white--are natives of China.
The Partridge variety was made in England, where there are several other
color varieties not known in this country. The Common Game Bantam is a
dwarf Pit Game fowl; the Exhibition Game Bantam is a dwarf type
resembling the Exhibition Game, developed from the Common Game Bantam.
Rose-Comb Black and Rose-Comb White Bantams are diminutive Hamburg
fowls; Polish Bantams are diminutive Polish. The Sebright Bantams are of
the same general type as the Rose-Combs, but in color they are laced
like the large varieties of Polish, not spangled like the party-colored
Hamburgs. They are further distinguished by being "hen-tailed," that is,
the males having tails like hens. Sebright Bantams were made in England
about a hundred years ago, by Sir John Sebright, for whom they were
named. Although the large Brahmas and Cochins are originally of the same
stock, no bantams of the colors of the Brahmas have come from China. The
Light and Dark Brahma Bantams were made in England and America in very
recent times. From Japan has come a peculiar type of bantam with very
short legs, a large tail carried very high, and a large single comb. In
their native country the Japanese Bantams are not separated into
distinct color varieties. In England and America there are black, white,
gray, black-tailed white, and buff varieties.



The methods of managing fowls vary according to the conditions under
which they are kept and the time that the keeper can give them. Fowls
ought to have an outdoor run, and it is desirable that this should be
large enough to be kept in sod; but very few people in towns can give
their fowls grass yards, and the advantages of an outdoor run will not
in themselves compensate for neglect in other matters. Hence we often
see fowls under poor conditions, with good care, doing better than
fowls, in a much more favorable environment, that are given indifferent
care. No absolute rules for keeping fowls under any given conditions can
be made. In general, small flocks of fowls that have free range or
large, grassy yards need very little attention, while those that are
closely confined require a great deal.

With good care the egg production of fowls in close confinement is often
better than that from fowls at liberty, but if the cost of caring for
the fowls is computed at current rates for common labor, the rate of
compensation is often higher on fowls running at large than on fowls in
confinement which are producing many more eggs. The question of profits
from amateur poultry keeping, however, should not be considered solely
with reference to the compensation for time used, nor should such work
be adjusted wholly with reference to economic results, for it combines
recreation, education, and money compensation, and the first two results
should have as much consideration as the last.

In this chapter the methods adapted to small flocks are first described
for the instruction of the pupil, and then descriptions of operations on
a larger scale are given for his information.


=Numbers in flocks.= The average number of fowls kept by a town family
for its own use is about one dozen. Very few who keep hens have less
than half a dozen, and not many who plan only to supply their own tables
have more than a dozen and a half. Six fowls, if well cared for, will
produce all the eggs used by an average family of two or three persons
during the greater part of the year.

=Houses and yards.= For a dozen medium-sized fowls the house should be
about 8 ft. × 8 ft. on the ground, with the highest point of the roof
about 6 or 7 feet from the floor. The general rule is to make the
poultry house face the sun, and have the windows and the outside doors
in or near the front. The object of this is to get as much sunlight in
the house as possible in winter, when the sun is low, and to have the
walls tight that are exposed to the prevailing cold winds. In the
Northern Hemisphere the front of the house is toward the south; in the
Southern Hemisphere it is toward the north. In tropical and subtropical
countries houses are often so constructed that they can be kept open on
all sides in summer and closed tightly, except in front, during cool

[Illustration: Fig. 69. Small house used for fowls and pigeons]

If the land on which a house stands is sandy and well drained, the floor
may be of earth. The common practice where earth floors are used is to
fill the earth level with the top of the sill and renew it once a year
by removing the soil that has become mixed with droppings of the fowls
and putting in fresh earth. When a house stands on wet land or on clay
soil, it is better to have a floor of boards or of cement.

Fowls may be confined to a house for a year or more and lay well and be
in apparently good condition at the end of such a period, but as the
chickens hatched from the eggs of fowls that have been so closely
confined for even a few months are almost invariably less vigorous than
those produced from fowls that live a more natural life, this plan is
not much used except by those who keep a few fowls for their eggs only
and renew the stock by purchase as often as necessary.

[Illustration: Fig. 70. An old-style small poultry house and yard]

To give a flock of a dozen fowls outdoor air and exercise enough to keep
them in good condition, a yard containing about 300 sq. ft. is
necessary. There is no perceptible advantage in giving more yard room
than this, unless the yard can be made so large that grass will grow
continuously in the greater part of it. On most soils this would
require a yard containing from 750 to 1000 sq. ft. in sod before being
used for poultry.

[Illustration: Fig. 71. Coop and shade for flock of Bantams[9]]

[9] The coop is an old dry-goods box; the shade is a burlap bag.
Makeshift arrangements are not always nice looking, but some of the
finest chickens are kept in very poor quarters.

When fowls are confined to their houses, or to the houses and small
yards, the droppings must be removed at frequent, regular intervals. To
facilitate this it is customary to have a wide board, called the
droppings board, under the roost at a distance of eight or ten inches.
All the droppings made while the birds are on the roost fall on this
board and are easily collected and removed. It is a good plan to keep a
supply of dry earth in a convenient place, and strew a little of this
over the droppings board after each cleaning. Sifted coal ashes, land
plaster, and dry sawdust are sometimes used instead of earth on the
droppings boards. The droppings of fowls, when not mixed with other
matter, are often salable for use in tanning leather, but in most cases
the difference in their value for this purpose and for use as plant
fertilizer is not great enough to pay for the extra trouble which is
made by saving them for the tanners. Poultry manure is one of the most
valuable fertilizers and can always be used to good advantage on lawns
and gardens.

[Illustration: Fig. 72. Neat house for six hens]

If the floor is of wood or of cement, a thin layer of earth or sand
spread upon it makes it more comfortable for the fowls. On all kinds of
floors the modern practice is to use a few inches of litter of some
kind. There is a great variety of materials that will serve this
purpose. Lawn clippings raked up after they are dry, dried weeds and
grass from the garden, leaves collected when dry and stored to be used
as wanted, straw, hay, cornstalks cut into short lengths, and shavings,
such as are sold baled for bedding horses and cattle, are all good.
Fresh litter should be added in small quantities about once a week.
About once a month the coarse litter on top should be raked aside, and
the fine litter mixed with droppings underneath removed. Once or twice a
year all the material should be taken out and a fresh start made.

[Illustration: Fig. 73. House for a dozen fowls. Floor, 8 ft. × 8 ft.;
height at sides, 4 ft.; height in middle, 7 ft.]

When kept in a house having an earth floor, fowls will scratch aside the
litter from small spaces and wallow and dust themselves. In houses
having hard floors, shallow boxes about 2 ft. square, containing
several inches of dry earth, are placed for the birds' dust baths. Fresh
earth must be provided frequently or they will not use the bath as
freely as is desirable. For use in winter the earth must be so dry that
it will not freeze, but the birds prefer earth that is slightly moist.
The first function of the dust bath is to clean the feathers, and damp
earth does this much better than earth that is very dry. In wallowing to
clean their plumage fowls also rid themselves of lice. When it is not
convenient to store much earth, the same material may do double
service--first in the dust bath, then on the droppings board.

[Illustration: Fig. 74. Small houses in back yard]

In a bare yard the soil should be turned over often, all the matter that
can be raked up with a fine rake having first been removed. A yard that
is in grass requires little care except near the house, where the ground
may be bare. Here it should be forked over occasionally.

=Feeding.= The feeding of a small flock of fowls is a very simple
process. The table and kitchen waste of an ordinary family will furnish
all the soft food that they need, and usually enough green food to
prevent their suffering for lack of such foods if no other provision is
made for supplying them. This waste should not be carried from the house
as it is made, and thrown on the ground for the fowls to pick out of the
dirt. A better way is to provide a covered jar large enough to hold the
accumulation of this material for a day. Into this may be put all the
leavings from the table, except such things as orange and banana
peelings, large bones, and pieces of fat meat. Once a day, at whatever
time is most convenient, the contents of the jar should be mixed with as
much corn meal and bran (equal parts by measure) as will take up the
water in them and make a moist but not sloppy mash. This should be fed
in a clean trough. If the trough stands high enough from the floor to
keep the contents clean, it will do no harm if more food is given than
the birds will eat up at once, but the quantity given should never be so
great that it will not be eaten before the next feeding time.

Most people find the morning the most convenient time to give the mash.
If the mash is fed in the morning, a small feed of hard grain should be
given about noon, and a more liberal one an hour or two before sunset.
Some poultry keepers feed the different grains separately; others mix
them before feeding. Advocates of different practices often imagine
advantages for that which they favor, but no advantage can be
demonstrated for either. Wheat and cracked corn are the grains most used
in this country; they are about equal in feeding value. As corn is
nearly always cheaper than wheat, the usual practice is to feed about
twice as much corn. When the grains are mixed, one part (by measure) of
wheat is used to two parts of cracked corn. When they are fed
separately, it is usual to feed the wheat at noon, as the light feed,
and the corn in the evening, as the heavy feed. All the common grains
except rye make good poultry foods. Why fowls do not like rye is one of
the puzzles of poultry keeping. In some countries it is used for poultry
to a greater extent than in the United States, and fowls forced to eat
it here have done very well for short periods, but will not eat it
readily if they are accustomed to other grains and can get enough to
sustain life without it. Fowls do not like dry oats so well as corn and
wheat, but have not such a dislike for them as for rye. They are very
fond of oats soaked in water and partly sprouted.

[Illustration: Fig. 75. With curtains closed]

[Illustration: Fig. 76. With one curtain open]

[Illustration: Fig. 77. As an open-front house]

(Photograph from the station)

The quantity of grain to be given any flock of fowls must be determined
by trial and observation. The grain should not be fed in troughs from
which the birds can eat it very quickly, but scattered in the litter on
the floor, so that the fowls will take exercise scratching it out, and
eat slowly. There is an advantage in giving some soft and quickly
digested food, but if too much of the food can be eaten quickly, the
birds do not take exercise enough. When there is grass in the poultry
yard, it is a good plan to scatter the grain in the grass sometimes in
fine weather. The hens will find it all, and in scratching it out will
bring up the dead grass, and a better sod will grow afterward.

[Illustration: Fig. 78. Flock of Barred Plymouth Rocks]

A dozen medium-sized fowls, if fed in the morning with the mash
described above, would probably need a little over a pint of grain in
the middle of the day and about a quart toward evening. An experienced
feeder can usually tell by the eagerness of the fowls for their food
whether to increase or diminish the quantity; but the most expert
poultry keeper does not rely upon this kind of observation alone.
Occasionally, before giving food, he looks in the litter to see if there
is grain left there from previous feedings, and if he finds much, gives
no more until the birds have eaten this all up clean.

Water should be given as often as is necessary to keep the supply quite
fresh. In cool (but not freezing) weather, once a day is usually
sufficient. In hot weather the water should be fresh two or three times
a day, in order that the birds may have cool drinks. In freezing weather
many poultry keepers give the water warm, because then it does not
freeze so quickly. The advantage of this is very slight, and wattles
that are wet with warm water in extreme cold weather become especially
susceptible to frost. It is not really necessary to give fowls water
when they can get snow or ice in a form in which they can eat it.

[Illustration: Fig. 79. Flock of Single-Comb White Leghorns]

Hens that are laying must be well supplied with oyster shells or lime in
some form for the shells of the eggs. They can get a part of the lime
required for this purpose from the lime in foodstuffs, but not nearly
enough to make good thick shells for all their eggs when they are laying
well. Ground oyster shells are sold by all dealers in poultry supplies.

[Illustration: Fig. 80. White Wyandotte hen and chicks]

=Growing chickens.= Where old fowls have to be kept in close
confinement, very little can be done in growing chickens. Some amateur
poultry keepers raise in small, bare yards birds that are as good as the
average chickens grown under more favorable conditions, but where one
succeeds in doing this a hundred fail. Most of the chickens grown in
close quarters are very poor indeed in comparison with farm-grown
chickens, and quite unfit to be kept for laying or breeding purposes.
Those who succeed in growing good chickens in a small place usually give
a great deal more time to the work than the chickens produced are worth.
The best way for a poultry keeper so situated to get as much as possible
of the pleasure of this interesting line of work is to hatch a few
broods and, when the chicks are large enough, broil, eat, or sell all
but a few of the best pullets and one or two cockerels. If these
thrive, they may be worth keeping for a year; but if, as they mature,
they do not seem rugged, it is not wise to use them for laying stock.

Where there is room to give young chickens a good grass yard, a limited
number can be grown to maturity year after year on a town lot and used
for laying and breeding purposes. Many town poultry keepers who might
grow a few very good chickens never grow a good one because they always
try to raise too many for the space at their disposal. Fifty or a
hundred chickens may be kept until two months old on a plot of land only
large enough to carry twelve or fifteen to maturity. So people start out
with a great many more chickens than they ought to have on their land,
never thinking that the better their chickens do at the start the sooner
they will begin to overcrowd their quarters, and that when that stage is
reached, the promising results of several months' work may in a few days
be ruined beyond remedy. After they are two or three months old, young
chickens will not make the best growth of which they are capable unless
they have either a great deal of room or a great deal more care than
most people who raise only a few, and have other work to do, can afford
to give them.


=Numbers in flocks.= The ordinary farm flock consists of from fifty to
one hundred adult fowls and, during the growing season, from one hundred
to two hundred chickens. The old stock is usually kept in one or more
small houses located among the other outbuildings, and all run together
during the day. If the farmer wants to keep the fowls out of the
dooryard and the kitchen garden, he does not make yards for the fowls,
but incloses the dooryard and garden. Outside of these the birds go
where they please. The coops for the young chickens are often kept in
the dooryard or the garden until the chickens are weaned, but after
that the young birds are nearly always turned out to take their chances
with the old ones.

[Illustration: Fig. 81. A small farm stock of fowls, ducks, and turkeys]

Under such conditions a farm flock is not often very productive, yet, as
the birds secure a large part of their food by foraging, the flock may
be more profitable than a more productive flock for which all food is
bought and upon which a great deal of labor is expended. While this way
of keeping fowls on farms is not in itself commendable, it is not to be
altogether condemned, because circumstances often compel the farmer to
treat his fowls as a sort of volunteer or self-producing crop. The
conditions on a farm admit of this, and as a matter of fact the greater
part of our enormous total production of eggs and poultry comes from the
half-neglected flocks on the ordinary farms. Hence the conditions are
tolerable where they are necessary, but whenever it is possible to give
farm fowls enough attention to obviate the faults of common practice,
the product and the profits can be greatly increased with very little
increase in the cost of production. In this section we consider the
best methods of securing this result when all the old stock is to be
kept as one flock. Old stock and young ought always to be separated
unless the old birds constitute an insignificant portion of the flock.

[Illustration: Fig. 82. Good poultry house on Texas farm. (Photograph
from Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of

=Single houses for farm flocks.= It is as true on a farm as elsewhere
that the greatest yields of eggs and the best growth in young birds are
secured when the flock is divided into small groups. But a farm flock of
the class under consideration, while it makes its headquarters in such
buildings as may be provided, will forage a considerable distance in
every direction, going among growing crops from which the larger farm
animals must be excluded, and also following the larger animals in their
stables, yards, and pastures and picking up food left by them. As fowls
also eat many weeds and seeds of weeds, and all kinds of destructive
insects, the advantages of letting them run at large more than make up
for lower production. Also the production is normal and can be easily
maintained from year to year in the same line of stock, while high
production secured by extra care is forced and can be maintained in the
same line of stock for only a few generations. A flock of one hundred
fowls or less, that run together, may all be kept in one house just as
well as in several, if the size of the house and the equipment are in
proportion to the size of the flock.

[Illustration: Fig. 83. Rude poultry house on a Kansas farm. (Photograph
from Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of

If the snow lies long on the ground, so that the fowls are confined to
the house much of the time in winter, the allowance of floor space
should be about 5 sq. ft. per bird. Where the snow rarely lies more than
a day or two at a time, less space may be given, because the birds will
not occupy the house much of the time during the day. Under such
conditions the allowance of floor space may be as low as 3 sq. ft. per
bird. Those who go to this limit, however, should consider that, in the
unusual case of a snowstorm keeping the hens confined to the house for
more than a very few days, overcrowding may cause losses that more than
offset what was gained by using the highest capacity of the house.

Usually a flock of fifty hens needs a house with a floor surface of
about 250 sq. ft. This is obtained in a house 16 ft. square or in a
house 12 ft. × 24 ft. A house 20 ft. square is about right for
seventy-five or eighty hens, and is not badly overcrowded if one hundred
medium-sized birds are put into it. If an oblong building is preferred,
a house 12 ft. wide by 42 ft. long gives one hundred birds 5 sq. ft. of
floor space per bird. Houses of such size should be from 4 ft. to 7 ft.
high at the sides, and from 7 ft. to 10 ft. high at the highest point of
the roof, according to the style of construction.

[Illustration: Fig. 84. Good poultry house on a Kansas farm. (Photograph
from Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of

=Feeding.= In the feeding of a farm flock the first thing to consider is
what the birds can pick up by foraging. The poultry keeper on a farm,
even more than the poultry keeper elsewhere, should make it a rule to do
nothing for poultry that they can do for themselves. Fowls can do more
for themselves at some seasons than at others, because natural food is
more abundant. As fowls do not usually go very far from their house, the
larger the flock the less food each bird will secure. On some farms
quite a large flock of fowls can get all the food they need about the
barns and stockyards and in orchards and fields near the homestead.

[Illustration: Fig. 85. Poultry house at Mississippi Agricultural
College.[10] (Photograph from the college)]

[10] In this house the part of the rear wall above the roost platform is
made to open wide, thus affording perfect ventilation in summer.

When the conditions are such that it may reasonably be supposed that the
fowls can get all the food they require without going farther than fowls
usually wander, the best way to determine whether this supposition is
correct is to give them no food until evening, then throw out a little
grain and see how much they will eat. If it appears that they need to be
fed a considerable quantity, it is better to give a light feed in the
morning and another in the evening than to give a heavy feed once a day,
because if they learn to expect a full feed at a regular time, they will
not forage so well. Fowls that have an opportunity to secure
considerable food by foraging should never be fed so much in the
morning that they will sit around for hours. When hens on a farm need
only one or two light feeds a day, whatever grain is most convenient may
be given them. Where they get so much exercise and a good variety of
other foods, whole corn is as good as anything. A good way to feed it is
to break the ears into short pieces and let the birds pick the grain
from the cob.

In winter the feeding of the farm flock should have more attention,
especially if little food can be secured around the stables and
stockyards. It is a good plan to give, once a day, a warm mash made of 1
part (by measure) of corn meal and 2 parts of bran, and to give as much
grain at one other feeding as the hens will eat. Some farmers use sheaf
oats for litter in the floors of their poultry houses, throwing in a
sheaf or two as often as is necessary to keep a good depth of litter on
the floor, and then give as much corn in addition as the hens will eat

[Illustration: Fig. 86. Open-front house with hood. (Photograph from
Department of Agriculture, Victoria, British Columbia)]

If it is not convenient to make a mash, what grain the fowls will eat
quickly from a trough may be prepared for a warm breakfast for them by
pouring boiling water on it in the evening and letting it soak
overnight. Any of the small grains and cracked corn may be fed in this
way; whole corn needs longer soaking. In hard, freezing weather no more
mash or soaked grain should be given than the fowls will eat before it
can freeze. A favorite old-time practice still used on many farms is to
heat shelled corn in the oven and feed it while warm.

The best vegetable foods for fowls in winter are cabbages and
mangel-wurzels. The cabbages can be hung up by the roots and the fowls
will eat all but the stump. The most convenient way to feed the beets
is to split them and impale the pieces on spikes in the wall at a
convenient distance from the floor. Sound, sweet turnips are also good,
but bitter turnips and those that have begun to spoil are likely to give
an unpleasant flavor to the eggs. A little freezing does not seem to
affect the value of these vegetables for poultry food, and the birds
will usually eat them when frozen. The quantity fed at one time,
however, should not be so large that it may freeze and thaw several
times before it is all eaten.

[Illustration: Fig. 87. Movable poultry house on United States
Government farm, Beltsville, Maryland. (Photograph from Bureau of Animal

When hogs and cattle are killed on a farm, the blood and other offal,
and the small trimmings when the carcasses are cut up, should be saved
and fed to the fowls regularly in moderate quantities, but care should
be taken not to leave fat trimmings where the fowls can help themselves,
for if fowls have been short of animal food, they eat meat very
greedily and are often made sick by it. Blood and lean meat are not
very injurious, but too much fat meat has very bad effects.

[Illustration: Fig. 88. The upper shutter is closed only at night in
extreme cold weather]

[Illustration: Fig. 89. Lower part of front open for hot weather]

BELTSVILLE, MARYLAND. (Photograph from Bureau of Animal Industry)

It is not necessary to give the fowls water when there is snow on the
ground. Delicate fowls that are accustomed to close confinement may not
be able to stand running out on the snow, but if they have a comfortable
house, with a good supply of litter on the floor, and are free to go and
come at will, rugged birds that are out in all kinds of weather are not
in the least hurt by going out on snow and ice and wet ground in cold
weather, and will usually take snow in preference to water when they can
get it. When the ground is bare and frozen, water or finely chipped ice
should be supplied. In extreme cold weather the latter is better,
because the water soon freezes and the fowls go thirsty until a fresh
supply is given them.

[Illustration: Fig. 90. Barred Plymouth Rock hen with Light Brahma

=Reproducing the flock.= Fowls are short-lived creatures. They mature in
less than a year; their period of greatest productiveness is usually
over before they are two years old, and only a very small proportion of
a flock are worth keeping after that. Hence the entire stock of fowls on
a farm is renewed in two years. Most farmers intend to kill off all
their two-year-old hens each year, thus keeping up the number in the
flock by growing annually about as many young birds as there are hens in
the flock. To allow for losses, for an excess of males, and for inferior
pullets which are not worth keeping for layers, it is necessary to hatch
about four times as many chickens as are to be reserved.

=The hatching season.= Most of the chickens reared on farms are hatched
in the spring months. The late-hatched chickens are nearly all from hens
that steal their nests. People on farms do not want late chickens; among
so many larger ones a few small birds have very little chance to make
good growth. But those who have a place to keep a few early chickens and
time to take care of them often set a few hens in the winter. Eggs will
hatch at any season of the year, and chickens will grow if they get
proper care; but there is a comparatively short season in the spring
when eggs hatch better and chickens grow better than at any other time,
and the easiest way to get a given number of good chickens that will be
full-grown at the beginning of winter is to hatch them in this natural
hatching season. This season cannot be exactly defined, because it
varies according to latitude and also from year to year according to the
weather. Perhaps the best general rule is to have the first chicks hatch
when the grass is beginning to grow. To effect this the hens must be set
three weeks earlier, when there may be no signs of spring. No one can
time hatches to a natural phenomenon of this kind with certainty, but by
planning with reference to the advance of spring in a normal season, the
first hatches are usually brought very near to the desired time.

=Broody hens.= When a hen wants to incubate eggs, or, as the common
phrase is, to sit, she remains on her nest continuously and, unless very
shy, will not leave it when approached and will resent any interference.
The hen is then said to be broody. Because the broody hen makes a
clucking noise, she is sometimes called a clucking hen. Hens that are
shy when they begin to cluck, and that fly from the nest when
approached, usually become tame and allow themselves to be handled after
a few days. Broody hens cannot always be obtained at the time they are
wanted. In that case there is nothing to do but wait, or try to buy,
hire, or borrow them. There is no way of forcing or inducing hens to
become broody before they would do so of their own accord. When broody
hens are hard to get, people think that hatching with incubators will
relieve them of trouble and prevent delay, but the incubator, too, has
its uncertainties. Success in artificial hatching requires careful
attention to the operation of the incubator and good judgment in
adjusting and regulating it.

[Illustration: Fig. 91. Nest boxes, made in pairs, for sitting hens.
Inside dimensions: large, 16" × 16" × 18"; small, 12" × 12" × 15"]

[Illustration: Fig. 92. Same as Fig. 91, with nest boxes closed]

=Setting the hens.= As many broody hens as can be obtained should be set
at the same time. The most convenient style of nest is that shown in
Figs. 91 and 92, which can be kept closed if desired. The best nest
material is soft hay or straw. In preparing the nest a poultry keeper
shapes the nest material with his hand, to give it a bowl shape,
pressing it down to make a smooth, firm surface upon which the eggs will
lie evenly. It is a good plan to make the nests and place the hens in
them, giving to each a few China nest eggs two or three days before the
eggs that are to be hatched are given to them. The eggs for hatching
should be of good size and shape, with good strong shells, and as
uniform in color as can be obtained. The usual number of eggs placed
under a hen is thirteen. After the weather becomes warm, even a small
hen will cover thirteen eggs well, and medium-sized hens will cover
fifteen or sixteen eggs and often hatch every one, but early in the
season it is better to give a hen eleven eggs or perhaps only nine. The
number of eggs given a hen is almost always an odd number. There is an
old superstition that an even number will not hatch. The reason commonly
given by writers on poultry is that an odd number of eggs arrange in
better form in the nest, but this is mere fancy. However the practice
started, the real reason why odd numbers of eggs are placed in nests of
sitting hens now is that the custom is so well established, and the
habit of thinking of eggs for hatching in odd numbers is so strong, that
most poultry keepers do it unconsciously.

=Care of sitting hens.= The best food for sitting hens is whole corn. As
the hen will leave the nest only once a day, and not always daily unless
removed, the food is given in a vessel from which she can eat it
readily. The usual way is to keep a supply where the hens are, so that
whenever they leave the nest they can get something to eat. Whether to
let them choose their own time to leave the nest or to keep the nests
closed except when they are let off at a regular time each day is a
point to be determined in each case according to the circumstances. If
all the hens in the same place are quiet and get along well together and
do not quarrel for the possession of particular nests, they may be left
very much to themselves; otherwise the poultry keeper should regulate
things so that there will be no quarreling and no danger of a nest of
eggs getting cold while two hens crowd on another nest and break some of
the eggs in it.

Besides grain the hens need water and a place to dust. Most sitting hens
will dust themselves every time they leave the nest, if they have an
opportunity to do so. As lice multiply rapidly on sitting hens, it is a
good idea, even when the hen can dust herself, to apply an insect powder
to her and to the nest two or three times during the period of

The eggs may be tested at the end of the seventh day by using a light,
as described on page 21. While fertility can be determined earlier,
waiting until the seventh day enables one to tell more surely whether
fertility is strong or weak, and to discard weak germs as well as
infertile eggs. An infertile egg is clear, that is, shows no signs of
development or decay, at every period of incubation. The eggs that rot
are fertile eggs in which the germs have died. A rotten egg is
distinguished from a fertile egg through the tester by the movement of
the line between the transparent air space at the large end of the egg
and the dark contents, this movement showing that the contents are in a
fluid state. The eggs which are the most opaque and have the air space
most distinctly marked are those which have the strongest germs. Eggs
that are conspicuously light-colored (as they appear before the light)
when compared with these may as well be discarded. If many eggs are
discarded, those that remain may be given to a part of the hens, and the
rest of the hens reset.

=Attention at hatching time.= The eggs of medium-sized fowls usually
hatch in from twenty to twenty-one days. The eggs of small fowls take
about a day less, and those of large fowls about a day more. Hens' eggs
have been known to hatch as early as the seventeenth day and as late as
the twenty-fourth, but as a rule chickens that come before the
nineteenth day or after the twenty-second are weakly. Hens sometimes
trample the chickens in the nests or crush the eggs after they are
picked, so that the chicken cannot turn to break the shell in the
regular manner. Sometimes this is due to the nervousness or to the
clumsiness of the hen, but oftener it is caused by the nest being too
much dished (that is, hollowed so much that the eggs tend to roll toward
the center) or by lice disturbing her. The chickens may be saved either
by removing them to other broody hens or by putting them in a flannel
wrapping in a warm place. Unless, however, the conditions are bad, it is
better to leave them with the hen. Hens with little chicks should be
left in the nests until all the eggs that will hatch have hatched and
the chicks are dry and begin to show an inclination to run about. Then,
if the weather is fine, the hen and her brood may be taken at once to a
coop out of doors, but if it is cold or stormy, the little chicks are
better indoors.

[Illustration: Fig. 93. Coop for hen and chicks, to be used without run]

=Coops for broods.= The coop for a hen and chickens should be so
constructed that they will have plenty of fresh air at night. There
should be a small run attached to it, to which the hen can be confined
while the chickens run about or come to her to be brooded, as they may
wish. It is not a good plan to let a hen run with her brood while the
chicks are very small. The chickens do much better if the mother is
confined and gives more attention to keeping them warm than to feeding
them. The coops should not be placed in the same spot year after year,
nor should they be on land upon which the old fowls run during any
considerable portion of the year. Sod ground is best.

[Illustration: Fig. 94. Coop to be used with runs, as in Fig. 95]

=Feeding young chickens.= From early times in America the most common
food for young chickens has been corn meal moistened with water. When
fresh this is a good food for chickens that run about and eat a great
deal of green food, insects, worms, and small seeds, but a mash of
scalded corn meal and bran, such as is given old fowls, or a baked
johnnycake, is better. There is no need of fussing with such foods as
finely chopped hard-boiled eggs, cracker crumbs, pinhead oatmeal, and
other things often recommended as most appropriate for the first feeds
of little chicks. Healthy hen-hatched chicks raised by the natural
method on a farm need nothing but one soft feed (such as has been
mentioned) in the morning, a little hard grain toward evening, and then,
just before dark, all the soft food they will eat. The best grain for
them is sound cracked corn; the next best is wheat. The chickens should
have good water always before them, and may be given all the milk they
want. Skim milk, sour milk (either thin or clabbered), and buttermilk
are all eaten with relish and promote health and growth. Vessels in
which milk is given must be cleaned often or they will become very

[Illustration: Fig. 95. Coops and runs for hens and chicks[11]]

[11] Burlap bags are used to shade the interior or to keep out rain.
When not in use they are turned back on the top of the coop.

=Management of growing chicks.= Of course, healthy chickens are growing
all the time, and growing at a very rapid rate, too; but after the
chicks are weaned, they have usually reached the point in growth when
the increase in size in a short period is very noticeable. So poultry
keepers commonly speak of chickens from weaning time until maturity as
growing chicks. At this time the rudest kind of shelter will suit them
as well as any. Indeed, they hardly need shelter from the weather at
all. The most essential things are a good range, apart from the old
fowls, and an abundance of food. They should be able to pick up a great
deal of food for themselves, but should have enough given them to make
sure that they always have all the food they can eat. It does not pay to
stint them to make them forage farther. Young chickens will always take
all the exercise that they need if they have the opportunity, and the
more they eat the better they grow.

[Illustration: Fig. 96. Small house for growing chicks, in Maine

[Illustration: Fig. 97. Small house for growing chicks, in orchard in
New York State]

When the range near their coops ceases to afford them good picking, the
coops should be moved to a place where the food to be secured by
foraging is more abundant.


When farmers in America began to keep larger stocks of fowls, the most
common practice nearly everywhere was to increase the general flock
until there were far too many fowls on the land that they would usually
forage over. Under such conditions fowls on the farm were not
profitable. They damaged every crop to which they had access, and made
the farm most unsightly in the vicinity of the dwelling house. Then some
farmers would reduce the flock and return to the old practice of keeping
only a few dozen hens, while others would adopt the city plan of
building houses with many compartments and keeping the fowls yarded in
small flocks. This plan was usually abandoned within a few years,
because, while it worked very well in the winter, when the farmer had
time to give the hens extra care, they were not as well off in the
summer, when the farmer had to give attention to his field crops first.
Such was the usual course of development of farm methods of managing

[Illustration: Fig. 98. Stone poultry house about two hundred years old,
on farm of F. W. C. Almy, Tiverton Four Corners, Rhode Island]

[Illustration: Fig. 99. Rhode Island colony poultry house for
thirty-five fowls]

[Illustration: Fig. 100. Colony poultry houses on Rhode Island farm]

=The colony system.= But occasionally a farmer whose flock had outgrown
its accommodations as one flock would divide it, moving a part to
another place on the farm, and so was able to maintain the increase in
numbers without adopting laborious methods. This idea was carried out
most systematically and most extensively in the vicinity of Little
Compton, Rhode Island, where the Rhode Island Red fowl originated. The
first settlers in this part of Rhode Island built large stone poultry
houses like that shown in Fig. 98. Some of these old buildings are still
used for poultry. This district is most favorably situated for poultry
keeping. The snow rarely lies long, and the birds can be outdoors nearly
every day in winter as well as in summer. Being near the fashionable
summer resort of Newport, the farmers here early found a large demand
for their eggs and poultry at high prices in the summer time, when in
many places the prices were low. Then in the winter they could send eggs
to Boston and Providence, which were the best markets in the country for
this class of produce. So these farmers had every inducement to devise a
practical method of indefinitely increasing their stocks of fowls. The
plan which they adopted was very simple. Small houses, which could
easily be moved from place to place with a two-horse team, and which
would accommodate from twenty-five to thirty-five fowls, were made and
distributed over the farm. Sometimes these houses were placed in
pastures not suitable for mowing or for cultivation and remained there
permanently, but as a rule they were moved from time to time to suit the
rotation of crops on the farm. As the number of these houses on a farm
increased, and they were spread over a larger area and sometimes placed
in fields and pastures a long distance from the farmhouse, the work of
caring for the fowls, even by the simple method used, became too heavy
to be done by man power alone, and a horse and cart was used in carrying
food and water, collecting eggs, and moving chicks and fowls from one
part of the farm to another. Thus the work was put on a very economical
basis, and keeping fowls by this method became a common feature of the
farming of this section of Rhode Island. The methods used here have
changed little, if at all, since the system was started sixty or seventy
years ago. The system is so primitive that people who are familiar with
more elaborate methods often imagine that the Rhode Island farmer, who
does so well by his simple methods, would certainly do very much better
if he applied more of the modern ideas. But the test of time has
demonstrated that this simple colony system is easily made permanent,
while most of the more ambitious and complex systems either fail utterly
or have but a transient success.

[Illustration: Fig. 101. Collecting eggs on Rhode Island farm. The
little girl is in the box in which dough is carried in the morning]

=Numbers of hens kept.= The number of hens kept on a farm in this
section varies from four or five hundred to over two thousand. Stocks of
from eight hundred to twelve hundred are most common. The principal
object is to produce market eggs, but as the two-year-old hens and the
cockerels that are not needed for breeding purposes are sold every year,
the receipts from the sale of live poultry are sometimes considerable.

[Illustration: Fig. 102. Colony houses at Michigan Agricultural College.
(Photograph from the college)]

=Feeding, care, and results.= The hens, being well distributed over the
farm, pick a large part of their living. Hard grain (usually cracked
corn) is kept always before them in the house, in hoppers which will
hold a bag of grain each. Once a day, in the morning, the hens are given
a feed of mash (or, as it is called in this locality, dough) of about
the same composition as the mash described on page 89. The dough is
cooked in a large iron set-kettle in the evening and left there until it
is to be fed the next morning. Then it is loaded into boxes or large
tubs on a cart. The cart also carries a barrel of water. As he reaches
each house the driver, with a shovel, throws what dough the hens need on
the grass near the house. Then he fills the water pail and drives on to
the next house. The hens require no more attention until evening, when
the man collects the eggs and gives more water where it is necessary.

[Illustration: Fig. 103. Moving one of the houses in Fig. 102]

[Illustration: Fig. 104. Colony houses at Iowa Agricultural College.
(Photograph from the college)]

Some of the smaller stocks of fowls on these farms--flocks that have
been selected with care and are given a little more attention than is
usual--give an average annual production of eleven or twelve dozen eggs
a hen, but the general average is only eight or nine dozen. Although the
profit per hen is small, the compensation for labor and investment is
better than on most poultry plants where a much greater product per hen
is secured. Even when eggs are the most important money crop on the
farm, the care of the laying hens is but a small part of the day's work
of the man who looks after them.

[Illustration: Fig. 105. Colony houses at Hampton Institute]

=How the chickens are grown.= The number of chickens reared each year on
one of these colony farms is usually about equal to the number of fowls
kept. Where there are so many hens of a sitting variety, and very early
hatching is not practiced, there is rarely any shortage of sitting hens
at the time when they are wanted. Usually twenty or thirty hens are set
at the same time, and it is expected that they will hatch eight or ten
chickens each. Sometimes sixty or seventy hens are set at one time. As
it is almost always quite warm when the chickens are hatched, it is
customary to give each hen twenty or more chickens. The coops are placed
in rows, several rods apart each way, on a piece of grassland that has
had no poultry on it for a year or more. Most of the farmers are very
particular on this point, and prefer to put the young chickens on land
on which there has been no poultry for at least two years. They have
learned by experience that under such conditions they can rear a much
larger percentage of the chickens hatched, and that the chickens will
grow more evenly and mature earlier. In planning the field crops grown
on the farm they always try to arrange so that the small chickens may
have fresh land not too far from the farmhouse; land seeded to grass the
year before is best.

The chickens are fed the same dough as is given to the hens, but are fed
oftener. They have a second meal of dough about noon, and their grain
supply, which is given in small troughs, is replenished frequently.
While the hens are with the chickens the food is placed where the hen
confined to the coop can get her share. After the hens are taken away,
the dough is thrown on the grass as the cart passes up and down the rows
of coops.

[Illustration: Fig. 106. Coop for hen and chicks, used on Rhode Island

When the hay has been harvested and the corn has grown tall, a part of
the young chickens may be removed from the land where they were started,
and the coops placed where they can forage on mowing lands, in
cornfields, and wherever they can go without damage to a growing crop.
As they become too crowded in the small coops, the cockerels are sold
and, if there are still too many birds in a coop, a few pullets are
taken from each of the overcrowded coops and new colonies are started,
so far from their old associates that they will not find their way back.

[Illustration: Fig. 107. Colony house for growing chicks, at Macdonald
College. (Photograph from the college)]

In the early fall as many of the oldest hens are sold as is necessary to
vacate the houses needed for the pullets reared that season. Then the
houses are thoroughly cleaned. (They may not have been cleaned before
for six months or a year.) If a house is to be moved to a new location,
the change is usually made at this time. One or two cartloads of clean
sand are put into each house, to make the floor higher than the ground
outside and to provide an absorbent for the droppings which are allowed
to accumulate. When they are brought to the house, which will probably
be their home as long as they live, the pullets are confined to the
house, or a small temporary yard is attached to it, so that they cannot
wander away. After a few days of confinement they accept the new home as
their headquarters.

=Adaptability of the colony system.= The colony system as developed in
Rhode Island attracted little attention elsewhere until very recent
years. Since about 1900 many descriptions of it have been published, and
numerous efforts have been made to adapt features of this system to
operations in other localities. The principal obstacles to this are snow
and predacious animals. Where snow lies deep for months it is not
practical to keep fowls in widely distributed flocks in winter. In some
places the plan of distributing the houses in summer and parking them
(that is, placing them close together in a regular order) in winter has
worked very well. Where wild animals are numerous, colony methods cannot
be extensively applied, but on most farms a limited application of the
system will greatly increase the amount of poultry that can profitably
be kept.

In England many farmers use smaller colony houses than those in use in
Rhode Island, and move them often, not letting a house stand in the same
spot long enough to kill the grass. Some of the houses used in this way
are provided with small wheels. The advantage of moving houses often is
greatest when the fowls are on good arable land, upon which there are,
or will be, crops that can utilize the manure which the birds leave on
the land. If the houses are moved methodically, the fertilizer will be
evenly distributed.


[Illustration: Fig. 108. Colony houses in foreground; sheds for ducks
beyond. (Photograph from Bureau of Animal Industry, United States
Department of Agriculture)]

=Reasons for concentration.= In the early days of the poultry fancy in
this country the tendency was for each fancier to keep as many different
varieties as he could find room for or could afford to buy. Most of
these fanciers were city people who thought that, as they kept their
fowls in small flocks anyway, they might just as well have as many
different kinds of poultry as they had separate compartments in their
poultry yards. When rich men with large estates became interested in
fancy poultry, they usually built large houses containing many small
pens, each with its small yard, and bought a few of each known variety.
By far the greater part of the choicest poultry was kept in small
inclosures, and the flocks that laid remarkably well were usually city
flocks that were given good care. This seemed to a great many people to
prove that fowls did not need the room and the freedom which for ages
they had enjoyed on farms, and that the limit of the possible extension
of the city method of keeping fowls in small, bare yards depended in
any case upon the business capacity of the poultry keeper.

=Concentration not profitable.= Very few people who have not had
experience in growing large numbers of poultry under both good and bad
conditions can be made to understand how futile industry and business
methods are when many other things which affect results are unfavorable.
Even when the obstacles to the application of intensive methods on a
large scale are pointed out to them, most novices imagine that the
difficulties are exaggerated for the purpose of discouraging them. They
think that the successful poultry keeper wishes to discourage
competition, and that the person who has failed does not want to see any
one else succeed, and so warns others to let such projects alone. Those
who have been very successful in their first efforts in a small way
seldom lack perfect confidence in their ability to make good on any
scale if once they are in a position to devote themselves entirely to
this work.

[Illustration: Fig. 109. Commercial laying house at New Jersey
Experiment Station. (Photograph from the station)]

For some seventy or eighty years, but more especially for the last
thirty or forty years, the most conspicuous phase of the poultry
industry in America has been the widespread and continuous movement to
develop large plants of this character. There has been no time, for a
quarter of a century, when poultry plants of this kind, which to the
uninitiated appeared to be highly profitable, have not been numerous.
The owners of many of these plants have claimed that they were making
very large profits, and their claims have led others to engage in the
business, following in every detail the methods in use on some large
plant which they suppose is very successful. So, while well-informed
poultry keepers know that these methods are not practical on a large
scale, except in a few limited lines of production, there is in the
business a constant succession of newcomers who try to operate egg farms
and breeding farms and combinations of various lines by methods that are
not suited to their purpose.

[Illustration: Fig. 110. Interior of a compartment in commercial poultry
house, United States Government farm, Beltsville, Maryland. (Photograph
from Bureau of Animal Industry)]

=Common type of intensive poultry farm.= The ordinary special poultry
farm is a run-down farm upon which have been erected the buildings
necessary for the accommodation of from four or five hundred to two or
three thousand fowls kept in comparatively small yards. The buildings
are nearly always neat and substantial, the fences strong and durable.
The arrangement of the plant is orderly, and, when well stocked with
fowls and kept clean, it presents a most attractive appearance. The
houses and yards for adult stock, the incubator cellar and the brooder
houses, the barns and sheds, and the dwelling of the owner or manager
occupy but a very small part of the farm--usually from one to three
acres. The young chickens are grown year after year on the nearest land
not occupied by the permanent buildings and yards. In most cases the
land is so heavily stocked with them that they secure almost nothing by

The routine of work on such a farm is very exacting. The fowls can do so
little for themselves and require so much extra care that the poultry
keeper knows from the start that he cannot make his business pay unless
he gets a very high production. So all his efforts are devoted to this
end. He uses labor-saving appliances, carefully systematizes his work,
and by great effort often succeeds in making a fair profit for a few
years. It is at this stage of his progress that the poultry keeper of
this class does the boasting which misleads others. Then things begin to
go wrong with his stock. His eggs do not hatch well, because his
chickens, while nominally on free range on a farm, have really been no
better off than chickens reared under ordinary conditions in town. His
chickens do not thrive, because they are weak and the land is tainted.
He himself is worn out with long hours of work and no holidays, and if
he does not realize his mistake and close out the business in time, it
is only a question of continuing until his income and credit combined no
longer suffice to keep the business going.

This in brief has been the history of all special poultry farms where
intensive methods were used, except the duck farms and the several
classes to be described farther on in this chapter. By no means all
succeed to even the extent described, because a great many people who go
into the business have so little capital that they have to give up the
business before they have been able to make it show a profit. When the
owners have capital, plants are sometimes operated for years at a loss,
but it is very rare indeed that a poultry farm of this kind (except in
the classes to be described later) is continued for more than seven or
eight years, and few of them last five years. Those who wish to make a
poultry business permanent must adopt other methods.


The desire for what is rare and costly is a common trait in human
character. In nothing is it more plainly displayed than in the demand
for food products out of their natural season. An article which in its
season of abundance is a staple article of diet, within the means of all
but the very poorest, at its season of scarcity becomes a luxury which
only the wealthy can afford.

Before cold-storage methods had been brought to high efficiency, there
was a period in the latter part of the winter and the early spring when
young chickens were very scarce. The number that could be hatched with
hens to meet a demand at this season was small, and those who were
hatching autumn and winter chickens by the natural method found it more
profitable to keep them to sell as roasters late in the spring and early
in the summer.

=The "broiler craze."= A little before 1890, artificial incubators being
then first brought to a perfection which made them popular, some poultry
keepers began to hatch chickens in the winter to meet the demand for
early broilers. Those who were successful made a very good profit on
what chickens they had ready to sell while the prices were high. Most of
them operated in a very small way, taking up this work simply for
occupation when they had nothing else to do. Many were gardeners who had
just about enough slack time, after the harvest of one year was over, to
hatch and grow one lot of broilers before beginning their regular spring

These people were not under any delusions about the limitations on this
line of production. They knew that the demand for very small chickens at
very high prices was limited and easily satisfied. But, as usual, the
published accounts of what they were doing set a great many people to
figuring the possibilities of profit from such a business conducted on a
large scale. For a few years the broiler craze affected nearly every one
interested in poultry keeping. Thousands who never engaged in it were
restrained only because of lack of capital or inability to adapt it to
their circumstances. Many people who had been through several
unsatisfactory ventures in poultry keeping thought that they saw in this
the one sure road to wealth, and began to make plans to grow broilers in
large quantities. Besides these business ventures there were countless
small ones, sometimes conducted under the most unsuitable conditions.
People tried to grow broilers in living rooms, in attics, in all sorts
of unheated outbuildings, and in house cellars to which the daylight
hardly penetrated.

=Present condition of broiler growing.= The production of broilers as a
specialty did not last long. The improvement in cold-storage methods
soon made it possible for speculators to carry over large quantities of
summer chickens, and the poultry keepers in other lines could easily
arrange to produce all the fresh broilers that could be sold at a good


=Description of a good roaster.= To roast nicely, a fowl must be
full-grown and well filled out, but young, soft-meated, and fat. A fowl
is "ripe" for a choice roaster for only a short period after arriving at
maturity. When a pullet has laid a few eggs, her flesh becomes harder
and is never again as tender and juicy as it was before she laid an egg.
When the spurs of a cockerel begin to harden and to grow a long, sharp
point, and the bird becomes boisterous and quarrelsome, the flesh
becomes dry and tough and is not fit for roasting.

=General and special supplies.= From July, when the earliest farm
chickens are large enough for roasting, until about the first of
February, when the last of the late-hatched farm chickens disappear from
the markets, there are nearly always enough very good roasting chickens
in the general market receipts to supply the demand for that class and
grade of poultry. Then for four or five months there are no fresh
roasting chickens on the market except those grown especially for this
trade. This line of poultry culture was developed first near
Philadelphia, in southern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, about
forty years ago. The chickens were hatched with hens in the autumn and
early winter, each grower having only a few hundred. They were sold not
only in Philadelphia but in New York and Boston, and in smaller Eastern
cities where there was a demand for them. They were, and still are,
commonly known as Philadelphia chickens.

[Illustration: Fig. 111. Massachusetts soft-roaster plant]

=Large roaster plants.= After incubators came into common use, the
production of Philadelphia chickens increased, but a more remarkable
development of that line of production took place in Plymouth County,
Massachusetts, just about the time the broiler craze started. The
growing of winter chickens had been carried on to some extent in
southern New England in the same way as in the vicinity of Philadelphia,
but the local supply was small and irregular until artificial methods
were adopted. Then, quite suddenly, the industry developed extensively
in the vicinity of Norwell, Hanover, and Rockland. Its growth was
remarkable, both because of the number of people who were successful on
a comparatively large scale, and because it attracted almost no
attention outside of this district until long after it had become a
well-established local industry.

[Illustration: Fig. 112. Incubator cellar]

The methods of the roaster growers in this district are very intensive,
but as originally developed their business was not a continuous line of
intensive poultry culture, nor is it continuous now except in some
cases. For many years after the business began, the growers bought the
eggs that they incubated from farmers whose flocks were kept under good
conditions and were strong and vigorous; but as the numbers engaged in
growing winter chickens increased, the supply of eggs from the farms was
not sufficient, and some of the roaster growers began to keep hens to
supply a part of the eggs they used. Later some produced all the eggs
for hatching that they needed for their own use, and a few sold to
others also. This, however, can be done only by those having quite large
farms. Some of the most successful growers have only a few acres of land
and do not attempt to keep breeding fowls.

Hatching begins in August or September and is continued until all the
chickens that can be handled are hatched. If the eggs hatch well from
the start, a large grower may have his houses full by December, but
usually it takes until January to complete hatching, and sometimes it
takes longer. The price paid for eggs for hatching is only a little
above the price of market eggs, and the buyer takes all the risks of
poor hatches. The chickens are kept in warm brooder houses as long as
they need artificial heat, then they are removed to cold brooder houses
of the same type or to colony houses. Those who have land enough use
mostly colony houses. While in the heated brooder houses the chickens
are fed in the regular way--with mixed ground grains, either dry or
moistened, and small whole or cracked grains. After they leave the
brooder houses they have cracked corn, beef scrap, and water always
before them; for green food they have cabbage or the winter rye or grass
growing on the land.

[Illustration: Fig. 113. House used for growing roasting chickens]

[Illustration: Fig. 114. Group of houses like that in Fig. 113]

As the object of the grower is to have chickens that will grow large and
remain soft as long as possible, the breeds used are principally Light
Brahmas and Plymouth Rocks, although when eggs of these varieties cannot
be obtained in sufficient quantities, Wyandottes are used. The cockerels
are caponized when they are about two months old. A capon does not grow
a comb or spurs, nor does it crow. If a perfect capon, it remains
always soft-meated and may grow very large, though it does not, as is
commonly supposed, grow larger than a cockerel within the time it is
usually kept before being killed. An imperfect capon will after a time
grow a comb and short spurs and, though sterile, becomes harder in flesh
than a perfect capon. An imperfect capon is technically called a _slip_.

[Illustration: Fig. 115. Petaluma egg farm. (Photograph from Bureau of
Animal Industry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

About the first of March some of the earliest pullets may begin to lay.
From that time all the pullets that begin to lay, and the slips as they
appear, are marketed; all others are kept, because the grower realizes
the largest profit on those that can be marketed in June and July, when
the price is highest. By the middle of July, at the latest, everything
is sold. The poultry keeper then begins to prepare for the next crop of
chickens by taking up all his fences, plowing land that is not in grass,
and planting it with winter rye or cabbage or some late garden crop. Rye
and cabbage are preferred, because the rye will remain green all winter
and furnish green food for chickens that have access to it, and the
cabbage makes the best of green food for the little chickens in the
brooder houses. It is just as good for the others, too, but not many of
the poultry keepers grow enough to continue feeding it to them
throughout the winter.

While the land on these plants is heavily stocked with poultry, the
birds are on it only half of the season,--when vegetation grows
freely,--and during the remainder of the season a great deal of manure
is removed from the soil by gross-feeding crops like rye and cabbage. So
the land may be heavily stocked longer than it could be if fowls were on
it all the time. The chickens grown in this way do not usually grow so
large as those that are given more room, but they are grown at less cost
and are as large as the market demands. By this method the land will
carry a large crop of chickens year after year for many years, yet it
finally becomes so contaminated that chickens do not thrive on it.

[Illustration: Fig. 116. Group of houses on a Petaluma egg farm.
(Photograph from Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of


Still another important development due to artificial incubation took
place in California. The climate of the Pacific Coast is well suited to
fowls of the Mediterranean class, the cold never being severe enough to
affect their large combs. Hence these fowls early became very popular
with farmers in this section, but as they were non-sitters, those who
kept them had to keep hens of another breed to hatch and rear the
chickens. When an incubator factory was established at Petaluma,
California, the farmers in that vicinity began to use incubators, and
some small egg farms grew up in the town. White Leghorns were kept
almost exclusively. Before long the egg industry here had grown to such
proportions that it was the most important local industry, and the
district became celebrated as a center of egg production. Although the
product is different, and a different type of fowl is used, the
conditions at Petaluma closely resemble those in the roaster-growing
district of Massachusetts. The special egg farms are small, each
containing from five to ten acres. The houses for the laying hens are
larger than the colony houses used in Rhode Island, and are arranged in
groups of three, each group containing about five hundred hens.

The egg farmers grow their own pullets but, as a rule, do not breed or
hatch them. The hatching is done by custom hatcheries, the eggs coming
from flocks of White Leghorns on farms that do not specialize in poultry
but keep a flock of Leghorns under more favorable conditions than exist
on the egg farms. Here, as in the Massachusetts district, the bad
effects of intensive methods are reduced for a time, because the fowls
affected by them are not used for reproduction.


A large proportion of poultry fanciers are city people who have very
little room for their fowls. Some have no room at all for growing
chickens, although, by giving them the best of care, they can keep a
small flock of adult birds in fair condition. Such fanciers have to find
farmers to grow chickens for them. This is not so easy as is commonly
supposed, for the farmers who are sufficiently interested in poultry to
give them the care required to make good exhibition birds usually want
to give their own birds all the time they can spare for work with

[Illustration: Fig. 117. Yards of a small poultry fancier]

So it happens that, after a few years' experience in keeping fine fowls
in close quarters, an amateur fancier almost always wants to move to a
farm where he can grow more and better chickens. A small farm near a
city suits the average fancier best, because, when so situated, he can
continue his regular work and look after his poultry in leisure time.
Fanciers generally use houses with many pens under one roof, because,
even when they have only one variety, the different matings must be kept
separate during the breeding season, the adult males must be kept
separate at all times, and valuable hens cannot be kept in large flocks
except when damage to plumage may be remedied before they are to be
exhibited or sold. A fancier will keep only five or six birds, and
sometimes only two or three, where a utility poultry keeper would keep a
dozen. If the yards connecting with the pens in the houses are small, he
will arrange so that each lot of fowls may have access to a large yard
daily or on alternate days. In every way practicable the experienced
fancier arranges to give his fowls all the advantages of natural
conditions, while isolating them as completely as is necessary to keep
each individual in perfect condition.

[Illustration: Fig. 118. Large fancy-poultry farm]

Poultry farms that were started as intensive market-poultry or egg farms
are sometimes converted into fancy-poultry farms. This is very likely to
be the case if thoroughbred stock is used and the owner becomes skillful
as a breeder. If he can breed fowls of a quality to command high prices,
he may be able to produce enough of them on a small farm to make a very
good living, when it would be very much harder, or perhaps impossible,
to make the farm profitable with ordinary stock.

[Illustration: Fig. 119. Growing chicks in a fancier's yard]

[Illustration: Fig. 120. Young stock in cornfield on a fancier's farm]

While farmers usually care more for horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs,
many become interested in poultry, and if they are natural fanciers and
good business men, it often happens that the growing of fancy poultry
becomes one of the most important industries on the farm. Many women on
farms become interested in fancy poultry, and some become very skillful
breeders and exhibitors. A farmer-fancier's poultry plant is usually a
combination of extensive and intensive methods. Some buildings with
small compartments must be provided, but all except the choicest birds
can be managed just like the ordinary fowls on a farm where
arrangements are made with a view to giving them the full advantage of
the good conditions which the place affords.

[Illustration: Fig. 121. Summer quarters for poultry. (Photograph from
New York State Agricultural College at Cornell University)]

To a novice in fancy-poultry culture the number of chickens grown by
expert fanciers seems very small for the equipment and the land used,
but the old fancier has learned in the costly school of competition, by
the bitter experience of defeat, that in growing exhibition poultry it
pays to give the birds a great deal more room, both indoors and
outdoors, than is needed simply to get quick growth and good size.
Elegance of form, depth and brilliance of color, and the indefinable
qualities of style and finish that distinguish the high-class exhibition
fowl are obtained in a much larger proportion of birds when they are
given a great deal more room than they apparently need.



Ducks rank next to fowls in economic importance. If there were no fowls,
domestic ducks would probably be as numerous as fowls are now, for it is
much easier to produce eggs and meat from ducks than from any known
species of gallinaceous bird except the fowl. To most people who are not
accustomed to eating them, neither the flesh nor the eggs of ducks seem
quite as palatable as the flesh and eggs of fowls. On the other hand,
people accustomed to eating fat ducks and the eggs of ducks, which
contain a much higher percentage of fat than hens' eggs, often consider
the flesh and eggs of fowls rather insipid. The feathers of ducks are
more valuable commercially than those of fowls but are not
correspondingly profitable to the producer, because ducks are much
harder to pluck.

=Description.= Common ducks are about the same size as common fowls. The
improved breeds vary greatly in size but do not present such extremes of
size and diversity of form as are found in the races of fowls. As the
duck in a state of nature lives much upon the water, its form is at
nearly every point different from the typical form of the fowl. The duck
is usually described as boat-shaped, but, while this is a good
description, it would be more correct to say that a boat is duck-shaped.
The duck was the natural model for the first builders of boats.

The bills of ducks are large, rather flat, and broad at the tip. The
species to which most of our domestic ducks belong has no head ornaments
corresponding to the comb and wattles of the fowl. There is one variety
of this species which has a topknot, or crest. The Muscovy Duck, which
is of a different species, has a bare face with a carunculated red skin.
The plumage of ducks is very soft and dense, forming a thick covering
which, when the feathers are in a natural position, is impenetrable to
water and so perfect a protection from wind and cold that hardy ducks
are quite indifferent to keen winds and low temperatures, and, if left
to themselves, rarely seek shelter in winter. During a heavy snowfall
they will get under cover to escape being buried in the snow. At other
times they seem quite as comfortable on snow and ice as on the ground.
One of the most interesting sights of the poultry yard is to see a duck
sit down on the snow or ice when the temperature is below zero, draw up
its feet and work them into the feathers at the side of its body until
they are completely covered, tuck its bill into the feathers of its back
until only the nostrils and a little of the base of the bill are
exposed, and remain this way through the coldest nights rather than go a
few feet to a comfortable house with warm bedding on the floor. Being
better adapted to cold than fowls, they are, as would be expected, much
more susceptible to heat and suffer greatly in hot summer weather if
exposed to the sun or kept where there is not a good circulation of air.

The tails of ducks are short, spread laterally, and are usually folded
close and carried with the tip a little higher than the base. The legs
are very short, comparatively slender, and weak. Most ducks walk
awkwardly and fall down and flounder about helplessly when they try to
run. The legs of a duck are so weak that it is not safe to catch or
handle them by the legs, as fowls are usually caught and handled. It is
very easy to break or dislocate the leg of a duck in this way. Hence,
the usual method is to catch and carry them by the neck, which is very
strong. Most persons who are not used to handling ducks are afraid of
choking them by grasping the neck firmly, but there is very little
danger of this. The feet of a duck are webbed between the forward toes,
which makes them more serviceable as paddles in swimming. They are not
suited to perching. There is a wild tree duck, and it is said that the
domestic Muscovy Duck sometimes alights in trees or on objects above the
ground, but the familiar kinds of ducks rest only on the surface of the
land or on the water.

Although the males average a little larger, the male and female of the
same stock are usually nearer the same size than in gallinaceous birds.
The only marks by which sex can be distinguished in all ducks are the
voice and the presence or absence of the small curled feathers on the
tail which characterize the males. In party-colored varieties the color
markings of the male and female are sometimes different. The "quack" of
the duck is the note of the female; the male makes a very subdued
similar sound, comparing with it as a hoarse whisper compares with the
natural tones of the human voice.

The duck derives its English name from its habit of ducking its head
into the water in search of food at the bottom of the shallow waters,
which it prefers. The term "duck" is applied to males and females
collectively, and also to the female as distinguished from the male. The
male is called a _drake_. The name "drake" is supposed to be derived
from an Old German word meaning "the chief duck." Any one who is
familiar with the habits of ducks will see at once the appropriateness
of the term. Ducks often march in single file, and when they do so, all
the drakes in a group go first, the ducks following them, usually with a
little space between. So if there is only one male, he marches a little
ahead of his flock, like a commander. Young ducks are called
_ducklings_, the name being applied to both sexes. In our language there
are no special terms applying to a young duck and a young drake as
distinguished from adult birds.

=Origin.= Useful domestic ducks are of two species. All the breeds of
this class, except the Muscovy Duck, are derived from the wild Mallard
Duck, specimens of which are still frequently captured and domesticated.
The Mallard takes very readily to domestication. Although in the wild
state it is a migratory bird, in domestication it soon becomes too heavy
to fly far. After a few generations in domestication it becomes as large
as common domestic stock, loses its power of flight, and cannot be
distinguished from stock that has been domesticated for centuries.
Mallard Ducks captured in the wild state and kept in captivity have been
known to lay from eighty to one hundred eggs in a season, which is as
many as the average domestic duck lays.

[Illustration: Fig. 122. Domesticated Mallard Ducks, Brook View Farm,
Newbury, Massachusetts]

When ducks were first domesticated is not known. The figure of a duck
was used in the earliest Egyptian hieroglyphics. As the Mallard is
widely distributed and so easily tamed, and as domestic ducks of the
same type (but apparently not related in domestication) are found in
widely separated parts of the earth, it is plain that the distribution
of domestic ducks has been less dependent upon the movements of the
human race than the distribution of the fowl. Wherever at any time in
the history of the world male and female wild Mallards happened to be
caught and kept in captivity, a domestic race might be developed. A
missionary who went to Africa in 1885 and worked among the Bakubas--a
people more than a thousand miles from the west coast of the
continent--reported that he found there such little mongrel fowls as are
common elsewhere in Africa, and a local race of domestic ducks varied
in color as are the common ducks of Europe and America, but as large as
the Rouen and Pekin ducks. The Bakubas had had so little intercourse
with civilized peoples that it was not at all likely that an improved
race of ducks had been introduced from the outside world, and whatever
possibility of that might be supposed to exist, the fact that the ducks
of this country, like the domestic quadrupeds, were dumb indicates that
they are a distinct and very old domestic race.

[Illustration: Fig. 123. Colored Muscovy Ducks. (Photograph by E. J.

It is worth noting in this connection that the missionary, Dr. William
H. Sheppard, found it the accepted opinion among this savage people
that, by a process of natural selection, the character of dumbness had
been acquired by the domestic animals, to which it gave a measure of
protection from wild enemies in the forest around them. It seems
wonderful that the theory of evolution was found out by such people
before it was developed by modern scientists.

=The common duck.= Like the ordinary mongrel fowl, the common duck
(sometimes called the puddle duck, because, when it cannot find water
elsewhere, it appears to be perfectly satisfied with the filthiest
puddles) is much the same in all parts of the world and is a very
inferior bird in comparison with ducks of the improved races. Common
ducks are usually very slow growers and weigh at maturity from three to
four pounds each. As a rule they are very indifferent layers, laying
only in the spring. They are of various colors.

=Improved races.= Nearly all our improved races of ducks are of foreign
origin. At the poultry exhibition at Boston in 1849 the only kinds
exhibited were the Aylesbury, the Muscovy, and the ornamental Wood

The Aylesbury Duck is a large white duck developed as a local variety in
the vale of Aylesbury, in England. It has a flesh-colored bill, and legs
of a pale orange color. Although the favorite market duck in England,
and early known in America, it never became a favorite here.

The Muscovy Duck is, as has been stated, of a different species from our
other useful breeds. It is a native of South America and is supposed to
have been taken to Europe in the seventeenth century. It was probably
brought to North America from Europe less than a hundred years ago. It
differs from ducks of Mallard origin in several other particulars
besides the naked head with its bright-red, carunculated skin. The male
is very much larger than the female. The tail is longer and more
depressed. There is an entire absence of red pigment in the plumage. The
natural color is black and white, unevenly distributed. This variety is
called the Colored Muscovy Duck. Many specimens are nearly black. The
White Muscovy Duck is an albino variety. By crossing these two varieties
a blue variety is sometimes obtained, but, although Blue Muscovy Ducks
have been made at various times, fanciers have never taken enough
interest in them to encourage the originators to continue their

The Rouen Duck takes its name from the town of Rouen, in the north of
France, though the type seems to have been common over quite a large
area and not peculiar to the vicinity of that town. It is like the
Mallard in color, and is just such a duck as by good care and selection
for size might be developed at any time from common ducks of that color.
Rouen Ducks are said to have been well known in the south of England
early in the nineteenth century. When they were brought to this country
is not known. Although for a long time they have been familiar to those
who attend poultry shows, and have been widely distributed in small
numbers, they have never been extensively bred because the Rouen, having
dark plumage, is not desirable for the production of young ducks for
market. When mature it dresses clean and the quality of its flesh is

[Illustration: Fig. 124. Rouen Ducks, Brook View Farm, Newbury,

The Cayuga Duck is an improved black duck developed about the middle of
the last century in Cayuga County, New York. Some early accounts of its
origin stated that it was a domesticated wild black duck, but it is much
more reasonable to suppose that it was developed by selection from black
and nearly black common ducks.

[Illustration: Fig. 125. Flock of Pekin Ducks]

The White Pekin Duck is a Chinese breed closely resembling the Aylesbury
Duck of England. It has an orange-yellow bill and legs. No large ducks
of other colors than white have ever been brought to this country or to
Europe from China. As far as is known, the importations from China to
England and the United States consisted of only a few birds and were
made about 1872-1875. Information about these is not very definite. The
most commonly accepted version is that they were brought to England in
1874 and to the United States from England in the following year, but
some accounts say that both England and America received them direct in
1873, and one account places the first importation to England in 1872.
The exact truth is not of importance in such a matter, but those who are
interested in the remarkable developments in duck culture which followed
the arrival of this breed in the Western World naturally wish to know
the facts. All accounts agree that there were only a few ducks brought
from China. In England the Pekin became quite popular at once. It was
hardier and more prolific than the Aylesbury, and was used largely in
outcrosses, to give vigor to Aylesbury stock. In America it became
immensely popular in a few years. It was found to be remarkably well
adapted to intensive methods of poultry keeping, and large duck farms
were built up; some of these made very large profits for long periods of

The Indian Runner Duck is a small, active duck which originated long ago
as the common duck on the meadows of certain marshy districts in the
Netherlands. The peasants of these districts compelled their ducks to
forage for their food, and so developed ducks with a more upright
carriage and stronger legs than the other races. In the Netherlands
these ducks are of all colors.

[Illustration: Fig. 126. Indian Runner Ducks. (Photograph from owner,
Clayton Ballard, White Pine, Tennessee)]

Ducks of this type, in color white with fawn-colored markings, were
introduced to poultry fanciers in England in 1893 or 1894 as Indian
Runner Ducks. It was said that they had been first brought from India to
Cumberland fifty or sixty years before, and that ever since that time
they had been bred pure by a few breeders and more or less mixed with
the common stock of that section by many others. The story of their
history in England is much more plausible than that of their origin in
India. When the breed was shown on the Continent of Europe it was at
once recognized by fanciers there as an improved variety of a common

Compared with other ducks the Indian Runner is a remarkable layer, but
it does not, as many admirers of the breed claim, surpass fowls in egg
production, and the market for duck eggs is so limited that it is easily

[Illustration: Fig. 127. Flock of White Indian Runner Ducks. (Photograph
from Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of

Blue Swedish Ducks and Buff Orpington Ducks are simply color varieties
of an improved type of the common duck. There are several other quite
well-marked varieties in Europe that have not been seen in this country.

=Ornamental ducks.= The ornamental ducks of the same species as the
common duck, and derived either from common ducks or directly from the
Mallard, are the East India Duck, the Black, White, and Gray Call Ducks,
and the Crested White Duck. The Call Ducks are so named because their
persistent quacking makes them valuable for calling wild ducks within
range of the guns of hunters, and they are much used as decoys. They are
very small and were produced by dwarfing common ducks. The name "gray,"
to describe the colored variety, is misleading. The color is like that
of the Mallard but of a lighter shade. Some Mallards are quite as gray
as the average Gray Call Duck. The Black East India Duck is a dwarf
black duck differing so little from the Call Ducks as to leave no doubt,
in the mind of any one acquainted with the mysteries of making and
naming breeds of poultry, that, like the Call Ducks, it is of European

[Illustration: Fig. 128. Blue Orpington Ducks. (Photograph from owner,
Sunswick Farm, Plainfield, New Jersey)]

There are many ornamental ducks of other species, the most interesting
of which are the brilliantly colored Wood Duck (sometimes called the
Carolina Duck) and the Mandarin Duck, which, besides being gorgeously
colored, has a peculiar crest and has some of the feathers on its wings
oddly curved and spread, giving it a singular appearance. Specimens of
these ducks are almost always to be seen in a collection of fancy
waterfowl. The Wood Duck is a native of North America, the Mandarin Duck
of Northern China.

=Place of ducks in domestication.= It has been stated that if there were
no fowls, the duck would make the best substitute, but as we have fowls
in great variety, and as they suit us better than ducks for nearly every
purpose for which either might be used, ducks are not often kept in
place of fowls. Small flocks of ducks are kept in addition to a flock of
fowls, both on farms and by town poultry keepers, either because the
owner likes to have them about or to add to the variety of poultry meat
for home consumption. The flocks of ducks so kept are of comparatively
little economic importance. The ratio of ducks to fowls is only about
one to fifty, and the ratio of values of the products of these two kinds
of poultry is probably nearer one to one hundred. But when poultry
keeping is made a special business, duck growing gives the surest and
the largest profits, because ducks can be grown in large numbers more
easily than any other domestic animal. The largest permanently
successful poultry farms in the world are the great duck farms of the
United States.

[Illustration: Fig. 129. Black and White Call Ducks, Brook View Farm,
Newbury, Massachusetts]

To the fancier, ducks are decidedly less interesting than fowls, not
only because, as has already been stated, they present fewer superficial
characters upon which he can exercise his art, but because they are, on
the whole, less intelligent and less capable of developing confidence in
one who handles them. Fowls are much easier to handle in the way the
fancier must often handle his birds for thorough examination. As a
rule, a fowl quickly learns that it is not going to be hurt, and the
more it is handled the tamer it becomes. Young ducks are almost stupidly
fearless of the person who feeds them, as long as he goes among them
without touching them, but after he catches them they are as stupidly
shy. It takes very much more patience to handle ducks as a fancier
handles birds than the average human being possesses, and so very few
people find them satisfactory for pets after they cease to be a novelty.

Perhaps if the interest in the breeding of ducks for exhibition were
greater, stocks of ducks that were free from this timidity could
gradually be developed. Individual birds are often found which are not
at all shy; and, as a rule, persistent selection for any quality will
eventually make it a race characteristic.



Although ducks delight in the water and, when they have an opportunity
to do so, spend a considerable part of the time in it, they are often
kept very successfully where they have no water except for drinking.
Some duck breeders, who have kept their ducks for many generations
without water in which they could swim, have said that the ducks lost
all desire to swim, and that birds of such stock would not go into the
water even when they had the opportunity to do so. This statement
greatly exaggerates the facts. Any young duck, no matter how the stock
from which it came has been kept, will take to the water as soon as it
can run about if it is given access to water at that time; but if young
ducks are kept away from the water until they are several weeks old, and
then given access to water in which they can swim, they are often as
much afraid of the water as they would be of any object to which they
were not accustomed. If they remain near the water, however, it will not
be long before they follow their natural instinct to get into it. Having
once entered the water, they are immediately as much at home there as if
they had always known the pleasures of life in that element.

As comparatively few people keep ducks, and specialization in duck
culture is mostly in the line of producing young ducks for market, on a
large scale, there is not as much variety in methods of managing ducks
as in methods of managing fowls. If ducks are expected to do the best of
which they are capable, they must be given a great deal of attention.
While no bird will endure more neglect without appearing to suffer,
there is none that will respond to good care more generously.


=Numbers.= The small flock of ducks on a town lot is usually a _very_
small flock, kept more from curiosity and for a little variety in
poultry keeping than with any definite purpose. Most of such little
flocks are composed of a drake and from one to five ducks. Where a
larger flock is kept for the eggs they produce, the number rarely
exceeds fifteen or twenty. Many town people who want to grow only a few
ducks each year prefer not to keep any adult stock, but to buy a few
eggs for hatching when they want them.

=Houses and yards.= Ducks require about the same amounts of house and
yard room per bird as fowls. While they will stand crowding better than
any other kind of poultry, they appreciate an abundance of room and good
conditions, and are more thrifty when they are not overcrowded. Where
they can be allowed to remain outdoors at night, they really need no
shelter but a shed large enough to give them shade from the sun on hot
days and protection from hard, driving storms. On most town lots,
however, it is advisable to have them indoors at night for protection
from dogs and thieves. Also, the amount of roughing that they like,
while not at all detrimental to them, is not conducive to early laying.
So most duck keepers prefer to have the ducks housed at night and in
severe weather, and give them approximately the same space that would be
given to an equal number of fowls.

The floor of the house should be littered with straw, hay, or shavings.
The object of littering the floors of duck houses is not to afford them
exercise, but to provide them with dry bedding. The droppings of ducks
are very watery, and the bedding must be changed often enough to keep
the ducks clean. It is customary to provide shallow nest boxes, placing
them on the floor next the wall, preferably in a corner. The ducks are
quite as likely to leave their eggs anywhere on the floor, or out in the
yard (if they are let out before they lay), but the nests are there if
they want them, and many will use the nests regularly.

The only other furnishings needed are a feed trough and a drinking
vessel, but it is advisable to have a tub or a pan in which the birds
can take a bath, and to supply them with water in this once or twice a
week. The drinking vessel must be one that they cannot get into, for if
they can get into it they will certainly do so. An ordinary wooden water
pail, or a small butter tub with the part above the upper hoop sawed
off, makes a very satisfactory drinking vessel for adult ducks. It will
hold enough water for the ducks to partially wash themselves, which they
do by dipping their heads in the water and then rubbing them on their
bodies and wings. For the regular bath for two or three ducks one of the
largest-sized bath pans made for pigeons will do very well, or an old
washtub cut down to six or eight inches deep may be used. For a flock of
eight or ten ducks a good tub may be made from one end of a molasses
hogshead. The bath should always be given outdoors, because it takes the
ducks only a few minutes to splash so much water out of the tub that
everything around it is thoroughly wet. The drinking water should also
be given outdoors whenever the houses are open.

As the ducks of the breeds usually kept can hardly fly at all, very low
partitions and fences will keep them in their quarters, but to keep
other poultry or animals out of their yards it may be necessary to build
higher fences. For the heavier breeds, like the Pekin and Rouen, fences
are usually made from 18 inches to 24 inches high. The ducks will rarely
attempt to go over these, but occasionally a drake learns to climb a
two-foot fence by using his bill, wings, and toes, and may then manage
to get over a higher fence. For the small, light breeds, fences 3 or 4
feet high may be needed. If their yard is on a slope and is large enough
to give them a chance to start a flight high up on the slope, so that
they will rise above the fence at the lower side, it may be necessary
either to put a very high fence on that side or to cover the yard.

While the fence for ducks need not be either high or strong, there must
be no holes in it that a duck, having put its head through, could by
pressure enlarge enough to let its body pass. A piece of wire netting
that has begun to rust a little may be as good as ever for fowls for a
long time, but if used for a duck fence it will be most unsatisfactory,
because the ducks will soon make many holes in it. If wire netting alone
is used, it should be fastened to the ground with pegs every three or
four feet.

=Feeding.= The feeding of ducks differs from the feeding of hens in that
ducks need mostly soft food, and that, if the keeper wishes to force
growth or egg production, they may be fed much larger proportions of
such concentrated foods as beef scraps and meat meals. As has been
stated, in its natural state the duck gets the greater part of its food
from the water. This is all soft food, and the bird swallows a great
deal of water with it. It does not, therefore, need a large crop in
which to soak its food before it passes into the gizzard. So the crop of
the duck is small--merely an enlargement of the gullet. Some of the old
books on poultry say that the duck has no crop, but you can see by
looking at a duck that has just had a full meal that the food it has
taken remains in the passage, sometimes filling it right up to the

[Illustration: Fig. 130. Pekin duckling six weeks old]

With a mash (just the same as is given to hens) morning and evening, a
cabbage to pick at, plenty of drinking water, and a supply of oyster
shell always before them, ducks will do very well. If they have no
cabbage, about one third (by bulk) of the mash should be cut clover or
alfalfa. When the days are long, it is a good plan to give them a little
cracked corn or whole wheat about noon. The water supply should always
be replenished just before feeding, for as soon as a duck has taken a
few mouthfuls of food of any kind, it wants a drink of water.

=Laying habits.= With the exception of the ducks of the Indian Runner
type, which lay some eggs at other seasons, as hens do, ducks usually
lay very persistently for about six months, and then stop entirely for
about six months. Occasionally ducks of other breeds lay a few eggs in
the autumn, but this trait has not been developed in them as it has in
the Indian Runner. If they are comfortably housed and well fed, Pekin
and Rouen Ducks usually begin to lay in January. If they are allowed to
expose themselves to rough weather, and are fed indifferently, they may
not begin to lay until March or April. When they do begin, they usually
lay much more steadily than hens until hot weather comes, and then
gradually decrease their production until by midsummer they have stopped

[Illustration: Fig. 131. Pekin drake four months old, weighing nine

The eggs are usually laid very early in the morning. Ducks often lay
before daylight and almost always lay before eight o'clock. When a duck
lays in a nest, she is very likely to cover the egg with the nest
material when she leaves it. A duck will often make a nest and remain on
it an hour or more and then go and drop her egg somewhere else and pay
no further attention to it.

=Growing ducklings.= For a poultry keeper who has only a little room it
is much easier to grow a few ducks than to grow an equal number of
chickens. There are two reasons for this: One is that the ducklings
stand close confinement better and are not so sensitive to unsanitary
conditions; the other is that ducks of the improved breeds grow much
more quickly than chickens and are grown up before the novelty of caring
for them wears off and the keeper tires of giving the close attention
that young poultry need when grown under such conditions.

The ducks of the improved breeds are mostly non-sitters. Unless one has
common ducks, Muscovy Ducks, Rouen Ducks with some wild Mallard blood,
or Mallards not long domesticated, he is not likely to have a duck "go
broody," and so small lots of duck eggs are usually hatched under hens.
As duck eggs are larger than hen eggs, a smaller number is given to the
hen. Eleven medium-sized duck eggs are given to a hen that would cover
thirteen hen eggs. If the eggs are large, it is better to give such a
hen only nine.

The development of a fertile duck egg that has a white or slightly
tinted shell can be seen very plainly when the egg is held before a
light, much earlier than the development of a hen egg. If the shell is
green and quite dark in color, the development of the germ may not show
any better than in a brown-shelled hen egg. The period of incubation is
about four weeks. Eggs are sometimes picked as early as the twenty-fifth
day, but usually on the twenty-sixth day. As stated in Chapter II, the
duckling usually waits quite a long time after chipping the shell before
it completes the process and emerges.

In a little duckling we find the most striking resemblance to a reptile
that is to be seen among domestic birds. It has a long, soft body, a
long neck, short legs, and a wriggling movement, and sometimes, when it
is wriggling through a small hole, it looks very snakelike. While they
are very small, ducklings are the most interesting of young birds. They
will go to the water as soon as they leave the nest. Dabbling in it
will not hurt them in the least if the weather is pleasant, if the water
is not cold, and if they can leave it when they are tired and go to
their mother and get dry and warm. Much of the pleasure of growing young
ducks is in watching their behavior in the water. For this purpose a
large pan or a small, shallow tub may be placed in their coop. It should
either be sunk in the ground, so that they can get in and out easily, or
two short pieces of board should be nailed together at such an angle
that they will form a little walk from the ground outside, over the edge
of the vessel, and to the bottom inside. This walk enables the ducklings
to get out if the water gets so low that they cannot scramble from its
surface over the sides of the pan or tub. The best way to teach the
little ducks to use the walk is to put a little pile of sods or earth
beside the vessel containing the water. The ducks will learn very
quickly to go into the water in this way, and will soon find their way
out by the board walk. After they have come out by the walk a few times,
they will begin to go in by it. It is very important to make sure that
if young ducks are given water to play in, they can get out of it
easily. Many who have not had experience in handling them neglect this
and feel very bad when some of their ducklings are drowned.

If proper provision is made for the safety of the ducklings, they afford
a great deal of entertainment. One of the first things a little duck
does when it gets into the water is to go through the peculiar ducking
performance that gives the name to its species. The little fellows duck
their heads to the bottom, and their tails and feet go up into the air
while they mechanically feel with their bills for the food which
instinct seems to suggest should be there. They play in the water, going
through all the motions of feeding in it. If the sun is warm, they are
as likely to lie down together in the sun when they leave the water as
they are to go to the hen to be brooded. As they lie on the ground they
often turn one eye toward the sky and look steadily upward, as if they
knew intuitively that one of their most dangerous natural enemies might
appear from that quarter. In every way they comport themselves just as
old ducks do and not at all in the ways of their hen mother.

The young ducks may be fed, as the old ones are, on mash, but should be
fed oftener, unless their coops are where they can eat all the grass
they want and can get a great many flies, worms, and insects. They are
expert flycatchers, and if there is anything in their coop to attract
flies, they will get a great many of them. Under such conditions three
feeds a day will be sufficient. If they have no grass they should be fed
five times daily and should be supplied with tender green food of some
kind. For the first few days the mash given them should have a little
very fine gravel or coarse sand mixed with it--about a heaping
tablespoonful to a quart of mash. At any time after that when the ducks
seem dull and weak, a little fine gravel in the mash will usually tone
them up.

Little ducks grow very fast and in a few weeks are entirely independent
of the hen. At ten or twelve weeks they are fully feathered and almost
full-grown, and are ready to be killed and eaten as "green ducks."


=General conditions.= The small flock of ducks on the farm is usually
most profitable if it can be given the run of a small pasture or orchard
where the birds have good foraging and have access to a pond or stream
but cannot wander away. Ducks on the farm are often allowed to run with
other poultry. This may do very well if the flocks of all kinds are
small and can separate when foraging, but as a rule it is better to put
the ducks where they will be away from other poultry. A small flock of
ducks properly placed on a farm should require very little food and very
little attention. If possible the birds should be free at night,
because the worms and grubs come to the surface in greatest abundance
then, and they can get as much in an hour early in the morning as they
can in several hours after the sun is high. The principal objections to
leaving them out at night are that they may be attacked by animals that
prey upon them, and that the ducks may lay their eggs where they are not
easily found. The person in charge of the ducks has to use his judgment
as to whether the risks in his case are so great that the ducks should
be confined at night.

When a flock of ducks on a farm has liberty to wander at will, it often
makes a great deal of trouble, because ducks are prone to stop for the
night wherever they happen to be when they have eaten their fill late in
the day.

=Feeding.= If the ducks are kept in until they have laid, they should
have a little food when they are let out. It does not make much
difference what this is. If a mash is made for other poultry, some of it
may be given to them. Otherwise, a little whole grain will make them
comfortable until they can pick up a more varied breakfast. The best
method of feeding the young ducks will depend upon the conditions. As a
rule it is better to keep them quite close for the first two or three
weeks and feed them well. The ideal way is to coop them on grass, or in
a garden where they can get a great deal of green food and worms.
Treated in this way they will get a better start and will grow much
faster and larger than if they are allowed to wear themselves out by
running about while small. On a farm where there is no water near the
house, but where there is a stream at a little distance, the young ducks
should be so placed that they cannot make their way to this stream. Very
small ducks at liberty will often find their way alone to water so far
from their home that it was not supposed that they could locate it. If
they have an opportunity to do so, small ducks are much more likely than
older ones to wander off in search of water, and instinct seems to
direct them toward it.

After the ducklings are three or four weeks old, they may be given as
much freedom as old ducks. Unless natural food is very abundant, they
should be fed some grain for a while. Ducks grown in this way cannot be
sold to advantage as green ducks. At this stage of growth they cannot be
collected from small flocks and marketed in condition to bring the
prices paid for those from the special duck farms, and as it costs the
farmer little or nothing to keep his ducks until mature, it is usually
more profitable for him to do so than to sell them earlier.

[Illustration: Fig. 132. Duck farms at Speonk, Long Island]

On a farm near a market where there is a good demand for green ducks it
might pay very well to grow several hundred a year. On this scale the
methods should be similar to those used on the special duck farms,
except that the hatching might be done with hens. It would not do to let
the ducks run about as recommended for stock which is to be kept until
mature, because then they would not be fat at the age for killing them.


=History.= The growing of ducks for the New York City market began on
Long Island at a very early stage of specialization in poultry culture.
Many farmers there produced a few hundred ducks for this market each
year, and found it very profitable. As the demand increased they tried
to increase production to meet it, but were unable to do this, because
there was then in this country no duck adapted to their needs. The
Aylesbury Duck, the favorite table duck in England, was too delicate.
The only hardy white duck that they had was the White Muscovy. This
breed was not very satisfactory, because the females are much smaller
than the males, but they had to use white ducks, for the colored ducks
will not pick clean at the age at which ducks can be marketed most
profitably; so they did the best they could with the White Muscovy Duck,
under the restrictions placed upon their operations by the difficulty of
getting broody hens. While the industry was mostly on Long Island, there
were duck growers here and there on the mainland in the vicinity of New
York and also near Boston, but there were no duck farms of any
importance in other parts of the country.

[Illustration: Fig. 133. View from the windmill tower in Fig. 132]

When the White Pekin Ducks were brought from China, and reports of their
hardiness, prolificacy, and rapid growth were circulated, the duck
growers were at first very skeptical, but they soon learned that the
reports which they had supposed were greatly exaggerated were literally
true. Then every duck grower had to have Pekin Ducks. The production
increased very much after the introduction of the Pekin Duck, but the
growth of the industry was still retarded by the impossibility of
getting all the hens that were needed to hatch the eggs. Several
incubators had been invented, which hatched very well for those who had
the skill to operate them, but which, in the hands of unskilled
operators, spoiled most of the eggs placed in them. About 1890 appeared
the first incubators with automatic regulators that really worked so
that the ordinary person could manage the machines successfully. One of
the New England duck growers who had invented the best of the machines
used before this time was already growing ducklings on quite a large
scale. On Long Island, where most of the duck farms were located, the
farmers were hard to convince of the superiority of incubators for their
work. Indeed, the only way that they could be convinced was by practical
demonstrations right on their own farms. The first incubators used there
were machines set up on trial by a manufacturer who had invented an
incubator which was very easy to operate. This man went to the duck
growing district, placed machines on various farms, and went from farm
to farm daily to attend to them, until the farmers were fully convinced
that the machines would do what was claimed for them. In a very short
time the artificial method had displaced hatching with hens on the
commercial duck farms, and the business was growing amazingly. Within
ten years there were many farms producing from 15,000 to 20,000 ducks a
year, and a few producing from 40,000 to 50,000. One man on Long Island,
who operated two farms a few miles apart, sometimes grew 80,000 ducks in
a season. Those who were successful on a large scale became moderately
rich. Without exception the successful duck farms have been built up
from small beginnings by men who had very little capital to start with.
Some of these farms have been operated on a large scale for twenty

[Illustration: Fig. 134. House and yards for breeding stock]

[Illustration: Fig. 135. Brooder house for young ducklings]

[Illustration: Fig. 136. Fattening sheds and yards]


As would be expected, the success of the big duck farms has led many
people with large capital to undertake to establish duck farms on a
still larger scale. But these undertakings do not last long, because it
is practically impossible to secure for such a plant an organization as
efficient as one developed by the owner of a plant which has grown from
small beginnings under his own management.

=Description.= A large duck farm is a very interesting place at any
time, but is most interesting at the height of the growing season, when
all the operations in the business are going on at the same time. The
total number of birds on a farm at any time is very much less than the
product for the season, because the first ducks hatched will have gone
to market before the eggs which produce the last are laid, but in flocks
of more than 10,000 the impression on the visitor is much the same, no
matter what the numbers.

[Illustration: Fig. 137. Duck house and yards on seashore, Fishers
Island, New York]

Duck farms are of two types: those located on streams or inlets have the
yards for all but the smallest ducks partly in the water; the inland
duck farms, on which the young ducks grown for market are given no water
except for drinking. Some of the inland farms give the breeding stock
access to streams and ponds only during the molting season, when they
can be allowed to run in large flocks and a small area of water will
serve for all. For a time after the large inland duck farms were first
established it was claimed by many that ducks grew faster when not
allowed to swim than they did when allowed to follow their natural
inclination to play in the water. No doubt some ducks which were in dry
yards grew better than some having access to large bodies of water, and
on the whole as good ducks were grown on the inland farms as on those
near the water, but it has long been known that it is much easier to
manage the ducks when they have water in their yards. There are two
reasons for this: in the first place, they are much more contented in
the water; in the second place, they feel very much safer on the water
when anything alarms them, and will keep quiet on it when, if they could
not retreat to the water, they would rush about in a panic and many
would be injured.

[Illustration: Fig. 138. Quarters for breeding stock on an inland duck
farm. Swimming tanks in the yards]

Ducks are very timid and easily panic-stricken. The duck grower has to
take every possible precaution to guard against disturbances of this
kind, because ducks are so easily injured, and even if they are not
hurt, a sudden fright will make them shrink a great deal in weight.
Visitors who come merely out of curiosity are not desired on duck farms
at any time, and none but those familiar with the handling of ducks are
ever allowed to go about the farm without a guide who will see that the
ducks are not disturbed. Many visitors think that this is unreasonable,
but the duck grower knows that the mere presence of a stranger excites
the ducks, and that a person walking about might put a flock in a panic
which would at once extend to other flocks, simply because he was not
familiar enough with the ways of ducks to detect the signs of panic in a
flock which he was approaching, and to stand still until they were
quiet, or move very slowly until he had passed them. If a stranger,
walking between yards where there were five thousand ducks fattening,
made an unconscious movement that set the ducks in motion, the loss to
the grower could hardly be less than from five to ten dollars, and might
be very much more. Where such little things can cause so much trouble
and loss, the difference between success and failure may lie in
preventing them.

On a duck plant with a capacity of 50,000 ducks everything is on a big
scale. Although ducks will stand more crowding than other kinds of
poultry, it takes a large farm for so many. The buildings will cover
many thousands of square feet of land and, though of the cheapest
substantial structure, will represent an investment of fifteen or twenty
thousand dollars. Incubators, appliances, breeding stock, and supplies
on hand will amount to about as much. The incubator cellar will be
several times as large as the cellar under the ordinary dwelling house.
Before the so-called mammoth incubators were made, the largest-sized
machines heated with lamps were used on all duck farms, and an incubator
cellar would sometimes contain as many as seventy incubators having a
capacity of from 200 to 300 eggs each. Now many of the large farms use
the mammoth incubators, with a capacity of from 6000 to 18,000 eggs
each. These mammoth incubators are really series of small egg chambers
so arranged that the entire series is heated by pipes coming from a
hot-water heater, instead of each chamber having an independent lamp
heater as in the small, or individual, machines.

[Illustration: Fig. 139. Feeding young ducks on farm of W. R. Curtiss &
Co., Ransomville, New York]

As nearly all kinds of supplies are bought by the carload, and as stocks
must be kept up so that there will be no possibility of running short of
foodstuffs, a great deal of space is required for storage. Large
quantities of ice are needed to cool the dressed ducks before shipping
them to market, so the farm must have its own ice houses and store its
own supply of ice in the winter. For some years after duck farms grew to
such large proportions, the mixing of mash was all done by hand, with
shovels. Often one man was kept busy all day long mixing mash, and very
hard work it was. Now the men on the large farms mix the food in big
dough mixers, such as are used by bakers, and work that would take a man
an hour is done in a few minutes.

In some sections the killing and dressing of the ducks is done by men
with whom duck picking is a trade at which they work during its season.
In others the killing is done by men, but the pickers are women living
in the vicinity of the farm, who can be secured for this work whenever
they are needed. A farm that markets 50,000 ducks in a season will keep
a large force of pickers busy the greater part of the time for many
months. Quite a large building is required to provide room for the
pickers to work in, for tanks for cooling 500 or more ducks at once, for
space for the men who pack them, and for lofts for drying the feathers
before they are sold. This drying process must be used whether the birds
are dry-picked or are scalded before the feathers are removed. Water on
feathers dries quickly, but the oil in the quills dries very slowly. The
feathers from one duck are worth only a few cents, and where small
numbers are grown the feathers are hardly worth the trouble of saving
and curing. On a large plant the total product of feathers for a season
amounts to several thousand dollars, and it pays to provide facilities
for taking proper care of them.

After the crop of ducks on an inland farm is marketed, the fences must
be removed and the land plowed and sowed with winter rye. This crop is
used extensively for this purpose, because it is a gross feeder and
takes the impurities from the soil very fast, and also furnishes a good
supply of green food for the stock ducks during the winter and for the
first young ducks put on the land in the spring. Where the farms are
large enough, all ducks may be kept off a part of the land each year and
crops grown on it. The farms located at the waterside do not have to
look to the purification of the land so carefully, because the rains
wash a great deal of the droppings away. Some of these farms get large
quantities of river grass from the streams and cut it up to mix with the
food for the ducks.


There are two general classes of duck fanciers: those who breed one or
more of the useful varieties for fine form and feather points, and those
who breed the ornamental varieties. Breeders of the latter class usually
keep other kinds of ornamental poultry also.

The methods of the fanciers of useful kinds of ducks compare with those
of the practical growers who handle small numbers as do those of the
fowl fancier with the methods of the poultry keeper who keeps a few
fowls for his own use. In a general way they are the same, yet wherever
it is necessary they are modified to secure the best possible
development of the type. If a duck fancier has not a natural water
supply for his ducks, he either makes a small artificial pond or ditch
or gives them water for bathing much oftener than the commercial duck
grower thinks is necessary. He also gives both old and young ducks more
room, and encourages them to take exercise, because this makes them
stronger, more symmetrical, and better able to stand transportation and
the handling to which they are subjected when taken to shows. Most duck
fanciers are also fanciers of fowls or of some other kind of poultry.
The competition in ducks is not nearly so keen as in fowls. Hence they
are so much less interesting to a fancier that few are satisfied with
the sport that may be obtained from exhibiting ducks only.

When the growing of green ducks for market began to be developed upon a
large scale, many of those engaged in this line exhibited stock and sold
birds for breeding and eggs for hatching. They soon found that while the
Pekin Duck was unrivaled as a market duck, it was not of sufficient
interest to fanciers to excite the competition that creates high prices
for the finest specimens, and that it paid them better to devote
themselves exclusively to the production of market ducks. At the present
time only a few market duck growers make a business of selling breeding
and exhibition stock. Most of them will not take small orders, but will
fill large orders when they have a surplus of breeding stock and can get
a good price for it. On almost every large commercial duck farm there
are hundreds of birds much better than most of the Pekin Ducks seen at
poultry shows, and many better than the best exhibited. There is
probably no other kind of poultry in which so large a proportion of the
finest specimens are found on the plants of those producing for market.

The ornamental varieties of ducks are given much less attention in
America than they deserve. Few are seen except in large collections of
fancy waterfowl, and sales from these collections are principally for
special displays at shows. On many farms the Mallard, Call, and East
Indian Ducks might be established and left to themselves, to increase in
a natural way, only enough being sold or killed to keep them from
becoming too numerous. If located in a suitable place, such a flock
makes a very attractive feature on a farm. The highly ornamental
Mandarin and Carolina Ducks, being able to fly quite as well as pigeons,
must be kept in covered runs. They will breed and rear their young in a
very small space. A covered run 6 ft. wide, 6 ft. high, and from 20 to
30 ft. long, built in a secluded place and having a small shelter at one
end, makes a very satisfactory place for a pair of ducks of any of the
small breeds to live and rear their young.



People who are not familiar with animals often get wrong ideas of the
characters of certain creatures from the popular metaphorical use of
their names. Perhaps those who first applied these metaphors understood
them correctly, but after long use by people acquainted with the
metaphor but not familiar with the animal to which it relates, a part of
the meaning is likely to be lost. This is what has happened to the term
"goose" as applied to a person. When one acts stupidly foolish about
some little thing he is often called a goose. Most people, associating
the idea of stupidity with the name of the goose, suppose that geese are
very stupid and uninteresting. If you will notice how the term "goose"
is commonly applied to persons, you will discover that it is very rarely
used except to apply to a person for whom the speaker has a great deal
of affection. Under the same circumstances others are more likely to be
designated by some harsher term. The most marked characteristic of a
goose is not stupidity but an affectionate disposition. The ancient
Egyptians noted this, and in their hieroglyphic writing a goose stood
for "son." The goose is a very intelligent and interesting bird. It is
of a most social nature and becomes very much attached not only to its
mates but to other animals and to people. No domestic animal except the
dog develops so much affection for its master as a goose will if it is
permitted to do so. But, while interesting in some ways, the goose has
so little of the other qualities which lead man to make a companion and
pet of an animal, that its devotion is not usually encouraged.
Commercially geese and ducks belong to the same class and are used in
the same way (the goose being preferred where size is desired), but in
some points of character, structure, and habits they are quite

=Description.= In general appearance a goose resembles a duck so closely
that people not familiar with both often mistake large white ducks for
geese, but no one that knows either kind well is likely to make mistakes
in the identity of any of the common varieties. While many of the small
domestic geese are no heavier than the largest ducks, geese are on the
average more than twice as large as ducks. Their legs are longer and
much stronger. Their bills are larger at the juncture with the head and
smaller and more pointed at the tip. While ducks are usually very timid,
geese are bold, and this makes a marked difference in their attitude
when approached and also in the carriage of their bodies. They are very
strong birds, quite able to defend themselves against the attacks of
small animals and from annoyance by children. Indeed, they are very
likely to take an aggressive attitude toward persons or animals that
they regard as trespassers, and a large gander when angry is a dangerous
customer. A blow from his wing might knock a child down or even break a
small child's arm.

[Illustration: Fig. 140. Emden Geese]

There are no regular distinguishing marks of sex in geese. The males
average larger than the females, but the difference is slight and some
females may be larger than some males of the same breeding. In some
foreign varieties, not known in this country, the males are mostly of
one color and the females of another, but as there are exceptions to
this rule, it is not reliable. In those varieties which have a knob on
the bill this is likely to be more prominent in the males. There is
nothing in the form of the plumage to distinguish the male, like the
little curl in the tail of the drake. The voices of males and females
are so nearly alike that, while a difference may sometimes be noted in
the voices of birds known to be of different sexes, the voice is not a
plain indication of the sex. There are some males so distinctly
masculine, and some females so distinctly feminine, in appearance and
behavior, that a person familiar with geese will not often make a
mistake in identifying the sex by the general appearance. There are
others about which the most expert goose breeder is in doubt until the
laying season arrives and the production or nonproduction of eggs shows
without doubt which birds are females and which are males.

[Illustration: Fig. 141. Toulouse Geese]

The name _goose_ is applied to either male or female without reference
to sex, and also to the female as distinguished from the male. The male
is called a _gander_. The young are called _goslings_. _Goose_ and
_gander_ are the modern forms of Anglo-Saxon names.

=Origin.= Our fully domesticated geese all originated in the Old World.
The European stock is believed to be derived from the Gray Lag Goose,
which is still found in Europe in the wild state. The origin of the
curious name "Gray Lag" has been the subject of much speculation. The
most plausible theory is that which takes "lag" in its common meaning
and supposes that the term was applied to this species of goose because
it was slower in motion, or because it lingered longer in Northern
Europe, than the less familiar species. As in the wild state the Gray
Lag Goose ranged over Europe and Northern Asia, it may have been
domesticated many times in many different places. Wild specimens may
still be brought into domestication, but there are no authentic reports
of such cases. The Chinese breeds of geese, which will shortly be
described, are quite different in appearance from the European races,
but the difference does not necessarily show that they are of different

[Illustration: Fig. 142. Toulouse goslings three weeks old]

=Common geese.= Throughout Europe and America the ordinary geese are of
much the same type as their wild progenitor. They are a little heavier
and coarser than the Gray Lag Goose, and have not its great power of
flight, yet some of them can fly better than any other domestic poultry.
The author has seen flocks of common geese fly from a high hill over the
roofs of tall buildings at its foot and alight in a stream fully an
eighth of a mile from where they started. It is perhaps needless to say
that they always walked home. Such geese were hard-meated and tough
except when quite young. They were geese that picked the most of their
living where food was none too plenty. Well-kept stocks of common geese
have probably always been very good table poultry.

=Improved races.= In various parts of Europe the common geese have
somewhat distinctive race characteristics. The Roman Geese are supposed
to be the oldest distinct race. They differ from ordinary geese in that
the prevailing color is white, and they are more prolific layers. The
Pomeranian Goose, found throughout Germany and Southeastern Europe, is
somewhat larger. The female of this race is usually white, the male
white with a gray back. Because of the peculiar markings of the male
this variety is sometimes called the Saddleback Goose. The Emden and
Toulouse Geese are very large. The Emden was developed in Germany, where
it was at one time called the Brunswick Goose. The first specimens seen
in America came from Bremen in 1826 and were called Bremen Geese. They
had been known in England for a long time and had become very popular
there under the name of "Emden Geese." The name "Bremen" was used in
this country until about 1830, when the English name was adopted.

The Toulouse Goose is a very large gray goose which originated in a
goose-growing district in the vicinity of Toulouse in the South of
France. It was introduced into England about 1840 and into America about
fifteen years later.

In Russia gander fighting was from very ancient times a popular sport,
and several varieties of geese were bred especially for their fighting
qualities. The most common of these is the Tula Goose, which is usually
gray in color but is sometimes clay-colored. The latter point is very
interesting for its bearing on the question of the common origin of the
European and Asiatic breeds of geese, to be discussed in the next
paragraph. None of the Russian races of geese are known in this country.

[Illustration: Fig. 143. White China Geese. (Photograph from Charles
McClave, New London, Ohio)]

[Illustration: Fig. 144. Brown China Geese. (Photograph by E. J. Hall)]

The Asiatic races of geese probably came to America as early as the
Asiatic races of fowls. They were early known in England under a variety
of names, and were quite popular there over a hundred years ago as
Spanish Geese. A writer in an agricultural paper in 1848 stated that he
had seen White China Geese in Virginia in 1817. It appears, however,
that the early introductions were immediately so mixed with the native
geese that the distinct type was lost, and that it was not until nearly
1850 that the specimens were brought here from which the stocks now
known were produced. There are two varieties of the China Goose--White
and Brown. They are smaller and more graceful than the improved European
varieties and are more prolific layers than any except perhaps the Roman
Goose. They have a large knob on the head at its juncture with the upper
mandible. Most of the geese of Europe are either white or gray
(black-and-white). The red which appears to a slight extent as brown in
the Gray Lag Goose has been lost or so reduced that it is not noticed
except in the Tula Goose, which is sometimes clay-colored. The colored
variety of the China Goose is distinctly brown. Hence, if they came from
the same wild species as the European geese, the red which was reduced
in Europe was greatly increased in China. But if, as is not impossible,
they came from different wild species, a most interesting question
arises: The Chinese types and the European types are perfectly fertile
when bred together. Would their wild ancestors (supposing them to have
the same characteristics) be equally fertile? Unless we can find a wild
ancestor for the Chinese type, all that we know of the relations of
domestic races points to the conclusion that they, like the European
races, are descended from the Gray Lag Goose.

The variety known as the African Goose is a larger and coarser type of
the Brown China, and is probably obtained by crossing with the Toulouse
or by selection from mixed flocks. Nothing definite is known of the
origin of this type, but to any one familiar with the stock in the
goose-growing district of Rhode Island, and with the breeding methods of
the farmers there as applied in the development of the Rhode Island Red
fowl, it appears probable that African Geese came from this district.

[Illustration: Fig. 145. African Geese on a Rhode Island farm]

=Ornamental varieties.= There are two ornamental varieties of domestic
geese and quite a number of species of wild geese that are kept in
collections of fancy waterfowl. The Sebastopol Goose evidently belongs
to the common domestic species. It is about the size of the common
goose, is white in color, and has a peculiar development of some of the
feathers of the body and wings, this development of the plumage giving
the variety its ornamental character. A number of feathers on the back
of this bird are long and twisted, as if they had been loosely curled,
and lie in a wavy mass on the back and rump. The Egyptian Goose is the
smallest domestic goose. It is unlike other domestic geese in being
quite gaudy in color. It is found in the wild state and also in
domestication in many parts of Africa. Sebastopol and Egyptian Geese are
rare in this country.

[Illustration: Fig. 146. Sebastopol Geese on an English farm]

=The Canada Goose, or American Wild Goose.= Few persons in America have
not at some time seen a flock of wild geese flying in wedgelike
formation as they migrate in the spring and fall. Their honking can
often be heard when they cannot be seen. Hunters watch for these flocks
and, when they are flying low, sometimes shoot them as they pass, but
the favorite method of hunting wild geese is to induce them to approach
a hunter concealed where he can get a better shot at them. For this kind
of hunting, shooting stands are built near bodies of water where wild
geese may alight in their passage. These stands are either concealed in
the bushes or masked by green boughs. In order to bring near the stands
any wild geese that may alight of their own accord, and also to attract
any flying by, captive wild geese are used as decoys. At first the birds
used for this purpose were those crippled but not killed by the hunters
and kept in confinement. As the supply secured in this way was small,
and as the wild birds bred readily in captivity, the breeding of wild
geese for decoys soon became quite common in districts where the
shooting of this kind of game was good. The wild geese will mate with
domestic geese, producing a sterile hybrid called a mongrel goose.

[Illustration: Fig. 147. A pet Canada gander. (Photograph from George E.

=Place of geese in domestication.= In ancient Egypt and Rome the goose
was a sacred bird, not an object of worship but reserved for the use of
the priests, who keenly appreciated the advantage of having a monopoly
of the use of the best domestic table bird then in existence. In later
times, until the turkey was introduced, goose was the favorite kind of
poultry for festal occasions all through Europe. Then it lost some of
its popularity in those places where turkeys were extensively grown. In
Germany, Austria, and Russia there is still a very large production of
geese. In this country geese are grown in small numbers by a few persons
in almost every community. The feeding and flocking habits of geese
especially adapted them to the conditions under which they were kept
when stock of all kinds was allowed to run at large and to feed on
common or unoccupied land in charge of a gooseherd. As towns grew, and
as people became less tolerant of the trespassing of live stock, the
growing of geese in towns declined. Nearly all the geese now produced in
this country come from flocks on general farms. The production of geese
on farms has been restricted to some extent by the abundance and
cheapness of turkeys. As turkeys become scarce and dear in any locality
the production of geese seems to increase. From early times geese have
been prized for their feathers. So valuable have these been considered
that it has been a practice to pluck the live geese each year before
they molted. Public opinion now condemns this barbarous practice, and
persons plucking live geese are sometimes punished for cruelty to

[Illustration: Fig. 148. Mongrel Geese on a Rhode Island farm]



Geese will bear confinement well if given proper attention, but they
require such large quantities of succulent green food that it does not
pay to grow them where they cannot secure most of this by foraging. Very
few people who keep geese in inclosures too small to furnish them with
good pasture can conveniently supply them with all the green food that
they need. Hence no one engages in growing geese in close quarters for
profit. Many, however, grow a few geese under such conditions because of
the interest a small flock affords. Goose growing cannot be developed on
intensive lines as duck growing has been. One obstacle to this is the
difficulty of supplying green food under such conditions. Another is
that the average egg production is small. The description of the
management of geese on farms will show more fully why this branch of
poultry culture is likely always to be restricted to general farms.


=Size of flock.= On the ordinary farm, where only a few dozen geese are
grown each year, a flock of one male and from two to four females gives
a sufficient number of breeding birds. It is more difficult to get a
start with geese than with fowls or ducks, because a young gander will
often mate with only one goose, and an old gander separated from mates
to which he has become attached may be very slow about establishing new
family relations. An experienced goose grower does not expect to get
very good results the first season that a flock of breeding birds are
together. On the other hand, a flock once harmoniously mated does not
have to be renewed every year or two. As long as the old birds are
vigorous the entire product of young may be sold each season without
reducing the producing capacity of the flock. The average gander is past
his prime after he is six or seven years old, but geese are often good
breeders until ten or twelve years old. Occasionally a goose lives to a
great age. There are reliable accounts of geese breeding well when over
twenty years old. Some stories of geese living to more than eighty years
of age have been widely circulated, but little credence is to be given
such tales; people who originate them and suppose that they are true do
not know how difficult it would be to make sure of the identity of a
goose through so long a period.

=Houses and yards.= Geese, like ducks, prefer to live in the open air,
and do not often voluntarily take shelter from any element but heat. It
is customary to provide a small shelter which they may use if they wish.
In most cases it is not necessary for a farmer to make a yard especially
for geese. The permanent fences or walls between the divisions of the
farm will usually keep geese in the pasture allotted to them. The best
place for geese is a marshy meadow in which some parts of the surface
are elevated enough to be quite dry at all seasons. These places afford
more comfortable resting places when the birds tire of the wet land.
They also furnish different kinds of grass from those growing on very
wet land. On many farms there are tracts of land much more suitable for
geese than for any other live stock. Cattle and hogs sometimes cut up
such land very badly, destroying the vegetation on it and making it
unsightly. Such a piece of land is sometimes a part of a pasture used
for cattle. In that case it may be a good plan to fence the cattle from
the soft ground with a wire or rail fence, which keeps them out of the
part reserved for the geese, yet allows the geese the range of the whole
pasture. A small number of geese in a large pasture will not hurt the
pasture for cattle or horses. Too many geese in a pasture spoil the
grass for themselves as well as for other stock. Even when cattle have
access to all parts of a pasture in which there are geese, a small space
should be inclosed for a feeding pen, where food for the geese will be
out of the reach of other stock. This is especially necessary during the
breeding season, when they usually require extra food.

=Feeding.= A flock of geese in a good pasture need no other food except
at the breeding season or when they are being fattened. If there is any
doubt about the pasturage being sufficient, a small trough or box
containing grain of any kind that it is convenient to give them should
be put where they can eat what they want. When there is snow on the
ground, they should have a little grain and all the cabbage, beets,
turnips, or other vegetables they want.

=Laying season and habits.= Geese usually begin to lay in February or
March. As many nests should be provided as there are geese, for while
two or more geese sometimes lay peaceably in the same nest, it is more
likely that each goose will want one to herself. A barrel placed on its
side in a secluded place makes a good nest. Geese are sometimes very
notional about the location of the nest and, neglecting one provided for
them, may choose a spot right out in the open or in some place where the
nest is not well protected. When they do this, it is a good plan to
place over the nest, without disturbing it, a large box with a hole cut
in one end for passage. Geese, like ducks, lay very early in the
morning. When they begin laying while the weather is cold, the person
who has charge of them must be up early and get the eggs before they are
chilled. A goose usually lays from twelve to eighteen or twenty eggs and
then goes broody. The common practice is to set the first lot of eggs
under hens, and keep the goose away from her nest until she shows no
inclination to sit. She may then be allowed access to the nest and
before long will begin laying again. As a rule the second lot of eggs
will be fewer in number than the first. When the goose goes broody the
second time, it is as well to set her, for if stopped again she may not
resume laying. Occasionally a goose lays for a whole season without
going broody.

=Hatching and rearing goslings.= In hatching goose eggs under hens the
hens are managed in just the same way as if they had hen eggs. Each hen
is given four or five eggs, according to the size of the eggs and the
size of the hen. A goose must be set in the nest where she has been
laying. If she is inclined to be very cross if approached while sitting,
she should be left to herself as much as possible, care being taken that
nothing can molest her. With the help of the gander a goose can defend
her nest against almost anything likely to attack it, but some eggs
would probably be broken in the fray.

The period of incubation is from thirty to thirty-five days. The
goslings sometimes chip the eggs two days before completing the process.
They should be left in the nest until they begin to run about. Then, if
they are with a goose mother, they may safely be left to the care of the
old ones, and may not even need to be fed. The early goslings with hen
mothers should be placed on sod ground where the grass is fine and soft,
in coops such as are used for little chickens, with a small pen in front
of each coop to keep them from wandering away. This pen may be made of
boards 8 or 10 inches wide, set on edge and kept in place by small
sticks driven into the ground. It is best to give them only grass to eat
the first day. After that two or three light feeds of mash may be given
daily, but they should always have all the fresh, succulent green food
that they can eat. The coops and pens should be moved as often as is
necessary to secure this end. The goslings should also be constantly
supplied with drinking water. They will appreciate a bath occasionally.

Goslings grow very rapidly. In from ten to fourteen days they are so
large that they no longer need the hen mother and she may be taken away.
At this stage several broods may be combined and the flock allowed the
run of any place where it can graze unmolested. A shelter should be
provided for protection from the sun, and a roomy coop with a dry floor
to keep them in at night. If allowed to do so, they would stay out and
graze at intervals during the night, but the owner will sleep more
comfortably if he is sure that nothing can disturb them. Although very
big babies, they are quite soft and helpless at this stage. When six
weeks old a gosling is nearly half-grown. Young goslings that were
started with hen mothers may then be put into the pasture with the old
geese. When ten or twelve weeks old they will be almost as large as the
adult birds.

[Illustration: Fig. 149. Goslings three or four days old]

[Illustration: Fig. 150. Goslings three weeks old]

[Illustration: Fig. 151. Goslings nine weeks old]

In growing geese on the farm the most important thing is to provide good
pasture. Grass is not only the most economical food, but it is the best
food. Geese will grow and fatten on grass without grain, but will not
fatten as quickly or be as firm-fleshed. To fatten for market they
should be confined for from ten to twenty days before they are to be
killed, and fed all that they will eat of some very fattening food. Corn
soaked in water until it is soft is an easily prepared food and a very
good one.


The most important goose-growing district in the United States is that
part of Rhode Island where the colony system of egg farming is used.
This district is well adapted to goose growing. The winters are not
severe, and the birds can have grass almost the year round. The breeding
geese are often kept in pastures occupied by hens and cattle, but there
are also many small ponds and marshy places used exclusively for geese.
The absence of foxes makes it possible to keep them in fields a long way
from the farmhouses, and for this reason many spots are used for geese
which in other districts would be too exposed. The large flocks of hens
in this district give an abundance of sitters to hatch the early
goslings. As the person who looks after the sitting hens and the young
chickens on one of these farms has to give the greater part of his time
to that work for several months in the spring, he can often use the
remaining time to best advantage by hatching and rearing a few hundred
goslings. So a large proportion of the farms which specialize in eggs
also specialize in geese.

The numbers grown on a farm vary from 100 to 500, the average being
between 200 and 300. To produce this average number, flocks of 15 or 20
geese and 4 or 5 ganders are kept. A flock of this kind does not mate
miscellaneously, as a similar flock of ducks would. It is composed of as
many families as there are ganders, and if the pasture is large, these
families will remain separate a great deal of the time.

The method of handling the geese on these farms differs from the
ordinary farm method in that the work is done more systematically and
more attention is given to the goslings while growing. They are grazed
each year on new grassland. Most of them are sold unfatted, as soon as
they are of full size, to men who make a business of fattening and
dressing them.


[Illustration: Fig. 152. Goslings grazing on a Rhode Island farm]

Market duck growing is conducted on so large a scale that each grower
can employ expert pickers and sell his product directly to wholesale
dealers in poultry. So the duck grower fattens his own ducks before
killing them. It is natural for him to do this, too, because his method
of fattening is a modification of the feeding process which he has used
from the start. As he nears the end of his process of feeding, he simply
increases the proportion of fat-forming material in the food and feeds
all that the ducks will eat. The fattening of geese that have been grown
on grass to make them of the quality that will bring the highest price
requires a change to a heavy grain diet. The farmers who grow these
geese could fatten them better than any one else and make more profit on
them, but few of these farmers are willing to give them the special
attention that this requires. So large a part of the geese sold alive
are thin that the men who bought them to dress for market long ago saw
an opportunity to make a greater profit by fattening them before they
were killed. Some of those who engaged in fattening geese were very
successful and made large profits. As they extended operations in this
line they required a great deal of land. Sometimes as many as 15,000
geese are fattened on one farm in a season. The fatteners buy in the
early part of the summer from the farmers who sell the green geese as
soon as they are grown. As these make the finest geese for the table,
and as the best demand for geese comes at the holiday season in the
winter, a large part of them are put in storage after being killed.
After the green geese are disposed of, the fatteners buy live geese
shipped in from distant points, and have them ready to kill about the
time when the demand for goose is good.

[Illustration: Fig. 153. Scene on a goose-fattening farm in England]

While they are very profitable when everything goes well, fattening
geese is a business attended by heavy risks. In buying from many
different sources a fattener may get some geese having a contagious
disease, and the infection may spread through his whole flock before he
discovers it, for some diseases have no pronounced symptoms in their
early stages. Keeping such large numbers of geese on the same land year
after year also brings trouble through the pollution of the soil.


The proportion of thoroughbred geese among those grown for market is
very small. Most of the geese on farms are grades produced by crossing
thoroughbred or high-grade males on the old unimproved stock. This gives
a type of goose which is much better than the old common goose but not
nearly as large as the heavy Emden and Toulouse Geese. The intermediate
size is, however, large enough to meet the general market demand. The
production of thoroughbred geese is carried on to supply stock of medium
quality for the farmers who want to maintain a good grade of stock, and
to supply exhibition birds of the best quality for the relatively small
numbers of fanciers and breeders of standard-bred stock. The usual
method of growing exhibition geese is to keep only one breed on a farm,
and to manage them as ordinary geese are managed, except that, to secure
the best possible development, the breeder is more careful than the
average farmer is to provide abundant pasture and all the grain that the
birds can use to advantage. Occasionally several breeds of geese are
kept on a farm, but most breeders consider one enough.


Old geese are so noisy that they are undesirable inhabitants for
populous places. In such a place a poultry keeper who wants to grow a
few geese often finds it satisfactory to buy eggs for hatching and
either dispose of the goslings as green geese when three months old or
eat one as he wants it until all are gone. The only difference in
handling goslings in close quarters and on farms is in the method of
providing the green food. On the farms the birds graze; on the town lot
they must be fed very abundantly with succulent food. They will eat
almost any vegetable leaf that is young and not too tough, and they
should have such food almost constantly before them. Most people who try
to grow geese in a small space injure them by feeding too much grain. If
they have had no experience in this line, they suppose, quite naturally,
that birds so much alike as the goose and the duck, both in outward
appearance and in the texture and flavor of the flesh, require the same
diet. When we compare the duck, which lives so largely on grain and
meat, with the goose, which makes greater growth in the same period on
grass alone, we can begin to appreciate what large quantities of bulky
green food the goose needs to accomplish so remarkable a result.

While the growing of geese in bare yards is not recommended as a paying
venture, every one interested in poultry should grow a few occasionally
for observation.


Wild geese mate in pairs. If they are to be bred successfully in
captivity, they must have a place away from other animals, where they
will not be disturbed. They will be more contented if located near a
small pool or stream. A pair of wild geese is usually kept during the
breeding season in a small, isolated inclosure containing a permanent
water supply. Here the female will make her nest, lay her eggs, and
hatch her brood. The male at this period is very savage and will
vigorously resent any interference with his mate. Most wild geese in
captivity lay but a few eggs, and the broods hatched are small. There
are seldom more than five or six goslings in a brood. After the young
are hatched, the parents may be allowed to leave the inclosure with



The turkey is commonly considered the best of birds for the table, the
most desirable for any festive occasion, and quite indispensable on
Thanksgiving Day. It is the largest bird grown for its flesh. As usually
found in the markets, geese and turkeys are of about the same weight,
because most people, when buying a large bird for the table, want those
that, when dressed, weigh about ten or twelve pounds; but the largest
turkeys are considerably heavier than the largest geese, and the
proportion of extra large birds is much greater among turkeys.

=Description.= A dressed turkey and a dressed fowl are quite strikingly
alike in shape. The most noticeable difference is in the breast, which
is usually deeper and fuller in a turkey. The living birds are
distinctly unlike in appearance, the carriage of the body and the
character and expression of the head of the turkey being very different
from those of the fowl. The head and upper part of the neck are bare,
with a few bristly hairs. The bare skin is a little loose on the head
and very much looser on the neck, forming many small folds, some of
which are sac-like. It varies in color from a livid bluish-gray to
brilliant scarlet. An elongated, trunklike extension of the skin at the
juncture of the beak with the head takes the place of the comb in the
fowl. There is a single wattle under the throat, not pendent from the
jaw, as in the fowl, but attached to the skin of the neck. The feathers
on the lower part of the neck are short, and the plumage of the whole
body is closer and harder than that of most fowls. The wings are large.
The tail spreads vertically and is usually carried in a drooping
position. This, with the shortness of the feathers of the neck, makes
the back of the turkey convex. The usual gait of the bird is a very
deliberate walk.

The male and female differ conspicuously in so many points that the sex
of an adult bird is distinguished without difficulty. As a rule the
males are much larger than the females of the same stock. In colored
varieties the males are more strongly pigmented, and the shades of color
in them are more pronounced. The head characters of the male are much
more prominent in size and more brilliant in color. Both sexes have the
power of inflating the loose appendages of the head and neck. In the
male this is highly developed; in the female only perceptible. The male
has a brushlike tuft of coarse hair growing from the upper part of the
breast. This tuft, called the beard, is black in all varieties. The
female is usually shy and has a low, plaintive call. The male challenges
attention and often struts about with his tail elevated and spread in a
circle like a fan, wings trailing on the ground, the feathers all over
the body erected until he looks twice his natural size, and at frequent
intervals vociferously uttering his peculiar "gobble-gobble-gobble." The
male turkey has short spurs like those of the male fowl.

The name _turkey_ was erroneously given in England when the birds were
first known there and it was supposed that they came from Turkey. The
adult male is called a _turkey cock_, also a _tom-turkey_ (sometimes
simply _tom_) and a _gobbler_. The adult female is called a _turkey
hen_, or a _hen turkey_, the order of the terms being immaterial. Young
turkeys before the sex can be distinguished are variously called _young
turkeys_, _turkey chicks_, and _poults_, the latter being considered by
poultrymen the proper technical name. After the sex can be
distinguished, the terms _cockerel_ and _pullet_ are applied to turkeys
in the same way as to fowls.

=Origin.= The turkey is a native of North America. Although not as
widely distributed as before the country was settled, it is still found
wild in many places. It was domesticated in Mexico and Central America
long before the discovery of the New World. Domesticated stock from
these places was taken to Spain and England early in the sixteenth
century, and was soon spread all over Europe. The domestic stock of the
colonists in the United States and Canada came from Europe with the
other kinds of domestic poultry. It is probable that from early colonial
times the domestic stock was occasionally crossed by wild stock, but we
have no information about such crosses until after the Revolutionary
War. From the earliest published statements in regard to the matter it
would appear that such crosses had long been common, and that the
benefits of vigorous wild blood were appreciated by the farmers of that
time. The wild turkey is about as large as a medium-sized domestic
turkey but, being very close-feathered, looks smaller. It is nearly
black, and the bare head and neck are darker in color than in most
domestic birds.

[Illustration: Fig. 154. Common turkeys on a New England farm]

=Common turkeys.= The turkey is not so well adapted to domestication as
the fowl, duck, and goose. Under the conditions to which they have
usually been subjected domestic turkeys have lost much of the vigor of
the wild stock. As far as is known, the birds taken to Europe after the
discovery of America were black or nearly black. In Europe white sports
appeared and were preserved, and the colors became mixed--black, white,
gray of various shades, brown, and buff. That has been the character of
most flocks in this country until quite recent times, and many such
flocks are still found.

=Improved varieties.= The development of the domestic turkey is unique
in that the most marked improvement in domestic stocks has been due to
extensive introductions of the blood of the wild race. The reason for
this is indicated in the statement in the preceding paragraph, in regard
to the lack of adaptation of the turkey to the ordinary conditions of
life in domestication. The turkey deteriorates where the other kinds of
poultry mentioned would improve. So, while in Europe a few color
varieties were made, and in some localities both there and in America
local breeds of special merit arose, on the whole the domestic stocks
were degenerate. The distinct color varieties were the Black, the White,
and the Gray, but by no means all turkeys of these colors were well-bred
birds. The color varieties were crudely made by the preference of
breeders in a certain locality for a particular color. They were impure
and often produced specimens of other colors because of the occasional
use of breeding birds unlike the flock. In early times it was the almost
universal opinion that crossbred stock had more vitality than pure-bred
stock. Hence farmers, although preferring a certain type of animal,
would often make an outcross to an entirely different type, and then by
selection go back to the type of their preference. When this mode of
breeding is adopted, undesirable colors may appear for many years after
a bird of a foreign variety has been used in breeding.

The local European breeds that gained a wide reputation were the Black
Norfolk, the Cambridgeshire Bronze, and the White Holland. Black and
White turkeys were perhaps quite as popular and as well established in
other places as in those mentioned. Black turkeys were the most common
kind in Spain and in some parts of France. In some other parts of
France, and in parts of Germany and Austria, White turkeys were the most
numerous, but in general the turkeys of Europe and America were of
various colors, with gray predominating.

In the United States a local breed of very good quality was developed in
Rhode Island about the middle of the last century. It appears to have
been known at first as the Point Judith Bronze Turkey, and also as the
Narragansett Turkey, but the first name was soon dropped and has long
been forgotten by all but those familiar with the early literature. The
Narragansett Turkey was not bronze as the term is now applied to
turkeys; it was a dark, brownish-gray, which is doubtless the reason why
the name was changed after the distinctly bronze turkeys became well
known. Although the Narragansett Turkey is described in the American
Standard, and prizes are still offered for it at some shows, the type
has almost disappeared.

=Bronze turkeys.= The accidental crossing of wild with tame turkeys
produced, in the domestic flocks where such crosses occurred, many
specimens of exceptional size and vigor, in which the blending of the
colors of the wild turkey with the gray of the domestic birds gave rise
to a very beautiful type of coloration. It was neither black nor brown
nor gray, but contained all these shades and had an iridescent bronze
sheen. As the crosses which produced these were only occasional, the
wild blood being reduced in each generation removed from it, the bronze
type was usually soon merged with and lost in the common type. As the
wild birds became scarce, crosses were rare, and what improvement had
been accidentally made was in danger of being lost, when the awakening
of interest in all kinds of poultry stirred turkey growers to more
systematic efforts for the improvement of domestic stock by crossing
with the wild stock. Those who were able to do so captured wild birds
and bred them in captivity, producing both pure wild and half-wild
stock. They also secured the eggs of wild birds and hatched and reared
the young with tame hens. With wild stock under control, they were able
to use as much wild blood as they desired in their flocks, and soon
fixed and improved the bronze type until they had a variety of turkeys
that were extremely hardy, larger than the wild race or any domestic
stock that had hitherto been produced, and also more attractive in
color. The name "Bronze" was soon applied exclusively to this type of
turkey in America. In England they are called American Bronze, to
distinguish them from the Cambridge Bronze, which seems to be very
nearly a duplicate of the Narragansett.

[Illustration: Fig. 155. White Holland Turkey cock. (Photograph by E. J.

The evolution of the Bronze Turkey in America is one of the most
interesting things in poultry culture. The work was done on a very large
scale. It was not just a few breeders that engaged in grading up
domestic turkeys with wild blood, but a great many scattered all over
the country. Many, remote from places where wild turkeys ranged, paid
high prices for full-blooded wild males, and also for grades with a
large proportion of wild blood. In this way the wild blood was very
widely distributed. As the superiority of the bronze type became
established, turkey growers everywhere bought Bronze males to head their
flocks, and so in a remarkably short time Bronze Turkeys of a type much
superior to the old domestic stock became the common turkeys in many

[Illustration: Fig. 156. Flock of White Holland Turkeys]

Interest in the American Bronze Turkey arose in England at a very early
stage of this development. In fact, there is some reason to believe that
the publicity given to several early shipments of small lots of wild
turkeys to France and England did more than anything else to direct the
attention of breeders in this country to the value of systematic
breeding to fix the characters which wild blood introduced. The most
celebrated of these shipments was one taken to France by Lafayette on
his return from his last visit to the United States in 1825. About this
time, or earlier, an English nobleman, who had some American wild
turkeys, presented his sovereign with a very fine horse. The king,
instead of expressing pleasure with the gift, intimated that he would
prefer some of the wild turkeys, and was accordingly presented with a
pair. The use of wild blood to give greater vigor to domestic stock
continues, though it gives no better results now than the use of
vigorous Bronze Turkeys many generations removed from wild ancestry.

[Illustration: Fig. 157. Bronze Turkey cock. (Photograph by E. J. Hall)]

=Influence of the Bronze Turkey on other varieties.= Although White
turkeys have long been very popular in some parts of Europe, in this
country they were, until recently, considered too weak to be desirable
for any but those who kept them as a hobby. By chance mixtures of Bronze
and White turkeys, and in some instances by systematic breeding, white
turkeys that were large and vigorous were produced. Some of these were
large enough to be called mammoths, as the largest Bronze Turkeys were.
A few breeders who had these big white turkeys advertised them as
Mammoth White Turkeys produced by Mammoth Bronze Turkeys as sports and
in no way related to the old, weakly white birds. But whatever may have
been the case at the outset, in a few years the Mammoth Whites were so
mixed with others that the distinction was lost, for the best buyers of
superior white turkeys were those who liked the color and had inferior
stock which they wished to improve. All white turkeys in America now go
by the old name, "White Holland Turkeys."

Yellow or buff turkeys were often seen among the old common turkeys.
They were usually small and very poor in color. The mixture of bronze
turkeys with these birds occasionally produced larger birds of a
darker, more reddish buff but very uneven in color, with the tail and
wings nearly white. From such birds, by careful breeding, a dark red
race with white wings and tail was made. This variety is called the
Bourbon Red, from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it originated.

=Other varieties of the turkey.= The only other variety worthy of
mention here is the Slate Turkey. Birds of this color are often seen in
mixed flocks. Some of very good size and color have been bred for
exhibition, and the Slate Turkey in America is classed as a distinct

[Illustration: Fig. 158. Bourbon Red Turkeys. (Photograph from owner,
C. W. Jones, Holmdel, New Jersey)]

=Place of the turkey in domestication.= In discussing the history of the
turkey in domestication much has been said of the influence of
conditions on the type and on the vitality of this bird. The case of the
turkey is peculiar, because it seems as capable of being tamed as the
fowl, the goose, or the duck, yet does not thrive under the conditions
in which it would grow tame. It is peculiarly sensitive to the effects
of soil which has been contaminated by the excrement of animals, and so
instinctively avoids feeding places on which other animals are numerous.
Thus it requires a large range and, if permitted to follow its
inclination, spends most of its time at a distance from the homestead.
The successful growing of turkeys depends upon the watchfulness of the
caretaker and the absence of their natural enemies. This will appear
more clearly when the methods of managing them are described in the next
chapter. Turkey culture is not well adapted to the more intensive
methods of farming which become necessary after the first fertility of
the land has been exhausted. Hence the turkey has almost disappeared
from many places where turkey growing was once an industry of
considerable importance. The farms of the Central West and the mountain
regions of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee have for
many years produced most of the turkeys consumed in this country, but
the changing conditions in these regions seem unfavorable to the
increase of turkey culture. Attempts to grow turkeys on a large scale
have been made on the Pacific coast. While these may succeed for a time,
turkey culture in this country is likely to decline rapidly unless
changes in economic conditions afford cheaper labor on farms, or unless
the natural enemies of poultry are so reduced that flocks of turkeys may
be kept in a half-wild state.



The turkey is almost exclusively a farm product. It is possible to grow
a few good turkeys in confinement, but this is rarely done except in
experimental work or by persons who grow a few for amusement and for an
opportunity to study some of their characteristics. A few adult turkeys
may be kept on a small farm and remain about the homestead as other
poultry does. The turkeys themselves may get along very well, but they
are likely to abuse the fowls, and as they can easily fly over any
ordinary fence, they cannot be controlled except by putting them in
covered yards. Turkeys kept under such conditions cause so much trouble
that, after the novelty of watching them has worn off, the owner soon
disposes of them. It is where the farms are large and there is a great
deal of woodland and pasture through which the turkeys may roam without
strict regard to farm boundaries, and large grain and grass fields where
they can forage after the crops are removed, that turkeys in large
numbers are grown for market with good profit. On such farms, too, the
farmer, if he is a good breeder, can produce the finest exhibition

=Size of flocks.= The number of turkeys kept on a farm for breeding
usually depends upon the number of young it is desired to rear, but the
difficulty of keeping more than one adult male with the flock tends to
restrict the annual production to what can be reared from one male.
Experience has taught that it is not advisable to have more than ten or
twelve females with one male. Sometimes a much larger number is kept
with one gobbler, and the eggs hatch well and produce thrifty poults;
oftener an excess of females is responsible for poor results which the
breeder attributes to other causes. The average hen turkey lays only
eighteen or twenty eggs in the spring. Some hens lay even less. Once in
a long time a turkey hen lays continuously for many months. A turkey
grower who raises eight or ten turkeys for each hen in his breeding
flock does very well. To do much better than this the hatches must be
exceptionally good and the losses very light. Those who grow turkeys for
profit expect them to pick the most of their living from the time they
are a few weeks old until they are ready to fatten for market. A grower
will, therefore, rarely undertake to hatch more young turkeys than he
thinks can find food on the available range. It takes a very large farm
to provide food for a hundred young turkeys and the old birds which
produced them, after the young ones are well started. On many large
farms where turkeys are grown regularly, not more than seventy or eighty
are ever hatched, and if losses are heavy, not more than two or three
dozen may be reared. A farmer who grows from seventy to a hundred
turkeys is in the business on a relatively large scale. Flocks of larger
size are sometimes seen in the fall, but not very often. The ordinary
farm flock of breeding turkeys rarely has less than three or four or
more than ten or twelve hens.

=Shelters and yards.= The wild turkey living in the woods, with only
such shelter from the rigors of Northern winters as the trees afford, is
perfectly hardy. Domestic turkeys are most thrifty when they roost high
in the open air yet are not fully exposed to storms and cold winds. If
left to themselves they usually select convenient trees near the farm
buildings, or mount to the ridge of a shed or a barn, or perch on a high
fence. A high perch to which they can mount by a succession of easy
flights has such an attraction for them that it is a common practice to
place strong perches between trees that are near together, or on tall,
stout poles set for the purpose, where other trees or buildings form a
windbreak. The turkeys, if at home, will not fail to go to such a roost
as night approaches. One of the most important tasks of the person who
has charge of a flock of turkeys is to see that the flock is at home
before nightfall.

After they begin to roost, young turkeys need no shelter in the spring
and summer. When chilly nights come in the fall, late-hatched turkeys
may do better housed than in the open. Turkeys that are well grown and
fully feathered do not need to be under cover in the winter except in
protracted or very severe storms. Turkey growers who wish to have the
birds partially under control, and want to be able to catch any one when
they need it, often have the birds roost in a shed or other outbuilding
available for the purpose. Such places should be very well ventilated,
or the turkeys will become soft and take colds.

[Illustration: Fig. 159. House and yards for stock turkeys on a
California ranch. (Photograph from the Bureau of Animal Industry, United
States Department of Agriculture)]

Yards are made for turkeys only to enable the person in charge of them
to keep them under control when necessary. The principal uses of the
yards are to confine the hens at the laying season and to separate birds
from the general flock when there is any occasion for this. A great deal
of trouble is sometimes saved by having a small yard for such purposes.
The height of fence required depends on the size and weight of the
turkeys and also upon whether they are in the habit of flying. A turkey
that is not accustomed to fly may not attempt to go over a fence four or
five feet high that has no top upon which it could alight. The same
bird, when confined in a strange place, might, without hesitation, fly
to a roof twice as high, because, although not in the habit of flying,
it has the power to fly such a distance and can see that the roof offers
a suitable place for alighting. A turkey in the habit of flying over
obstacles will often go over a fence six or seven feet high without
touching. A turkey hen that is laying will not fly as freely as one that
is not, because the weight and bulk of the eggs in her body encumber her
movements. For this reason a five-foot fence is usually high enough for
a yard for breeding stock, if they are to be confined to it only as much
as is necessary in order to make sure that the hens will lay at home.

=Feeding.= The natural diet of the turkey, like that of all birds of the
order of _Scratchers_, consists of a variety of vegetable and animal
foods. Turkeys eat the same things that fowls eat, and apparently in
about the same proportions, but their foraging habits are quite
different. The disposition of the fowl is to dig for its food wherever
it appears that anything is to be had by scratching. The turkey will
scratch a little, but it prefers to wander over the land, picking up the
food that is in sight. Fowls will forage from their house to the limits
of their usual range and return many times in the course of a day. A
flock of turkeys, if allowed to do so, leaves its roosting place in the
morning and makes a wide circuit, often returning home in the afternoon
from a direction nearly opposite to the direction they took in the
morning. On their circuit, which is likely to follow the same course day
after day, turkeys have their favorite feeding and resting places.
Persons familiar with the route of a flock can tell where they are
likely to be found at any hour of the day. If food becomes scarce on
their circuit, the turkeys extend it, or go on an exploring expedition
which takes them a long way from home. If night overtakes them at a
distance from home, they look for a convenient roosting place and remain

[Illustration: Fig. 160. Turkey roost in shelter of barn on a Rhode
Island farm]

The feeding habits of the turkey make it especially valuable for
destroying grasshoppers and other insects that damage field crops. To
get an adequate idea of the great quantities of insects destroyed by a
flock of turkeys, and of the waste food that they save and turn to
profit by eating it, one should take careful note of the amount of food
consumed when the turkeys are fed all that they can eat at one time (as
when they are being fattened), and from this compute the amount that a
flock must pick in order to live, as many flocks do, from spring until
fall almost wholly upon what they get by foraging. Turkeys are much more
systematic foragers than fowls, working more in concert. A flock
advances in an irregular yet orderly formation, taking all the choice
food in its way, but not often tempted to side excursions which would
disperse the flock.

Many people who keep turkeys make a practice of feeding a little grain,
usually corn, in the evening as an inducement to them to come home. When
they require more food, they may be given whatever is fed to the fowls.
Indeed, unless some arrangement is made by which the fowls and turkeys
are fed separately, the turkeys may get the habit of being on hand when
the fowls are fed, and drive them from the food. This, however, is most
likely to happen when the range for the turkeys is so restricted that it
does not afford good picking.

=Breeding season and laying habits.= Experienced growers of turkeys like
to get their young turkeys hatched about the time when settled weather
may be expected in the spring. Little turkeys are less rugged than
little chickens, and are very sensitive to cold, damp weather. Although
the hens may have been very domestic all winter, when they begin to lay
they develop more of a roving disposition than is at all satisfactory to
their keeper. They are very likely to want to hide their nests. When
this is the case, and there is no yard in which they may be confined,
they make a great deal of trouble. They often go a long way from home to
find places for their nests, and make such wide circuits, and double on
their tracks so often in going and returning, that the nests are very
hard to find. There is nothing to do in such cases but to confine the
turkey or to follow her day after day until the nest is found. If she is
to be confined, it should be done as soon as she indicates that she does
not intend to take one of the nests provided or to make one at home.
When, in spite of efforts to prevent it, a turkey hen makes a nest at a
distance and has laid some eggs in it before the nest is discovered, it
is best to allow her to continue to lay there, but the eggs should be
removed as soon as laid. The egg of a turkey is about twice as large as
a hen's egg. The usual color is a light, slightly bluish, brown, with
small spots of a darker shade.

=Hatching and rearing.= Turkey eggs are often incubated by fowls. A
fowl will hatch the eggs just as well as a turkey hen, and may make as
good a mother for a few turkeys grown on a small place. For young
turkeys grown on the farm, turkey hens make the best mothers, because
they take them to better foraging ground and remain with them all the
season. It is a good plan, especially when there are more turkey eggs
than the turkey hens can cover, to set some fowls on the surplus eggs at
the same time that the turkey hens are set. Then, as there will rarely
be a full hatch from all nests, the young turkeys hatched by the fowls
will fill up the broods of the turkey mothers. A fowl will cover from
seven to nine turkey eggs. As a rule it is better to give the smaller
number. A turkey hen will cover from twelve to fifteen of her own eggs,
or even a larger number, but the young turkeys will be stronger if the
nest is not too full. The period of incubation is four weeks. Even when
normally strong and healthy, little turkeys appear weak in comparison
with lively young chickens and ducks or the more bulky goslings. They
may be fed the same as young chickens.

[Illustration: Fig. 161. Sheltered turkey nest. (Photograph from the
Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

It is the common practice to confine the mother to a coop from which the
little turkeys can go to a small pen placed in front of it. The pen may
be made of wide boards placed on edge, or of light frames covered with
one-inch-mesh wire netting. The coop and pen should be moved before the
grass becomes much trampled and soiled. The little turkeys can be kept
in such an inclosure for only about a week or ten days. As they
increase in size, and as their wings grow, they fly over low obstacles
as easily and naturally as little chickens scratch or as little ducks
swim. Having once flown out of the pen, they cannot be kept in it or in
any inclosure that has not a high fence or a cover. When only two weeks
old, little Bronze Turkeys have been seen flying to the top of a
five-foot fence and, after a few efforts, reaching it with seeming ease.
No matter how contented old turkeys that produced them may have been in
confinement, young turkeys become restless as soon as their wings and
legs are strong, and, unless prevented from doing so, will begin to roam
long distances. They do not wait for the mother, whether fowl or turkey,
to take the initiative and lead them. If she is not disposed to rove,
they start and let her follow. A turkey hen quickly catches their spirit
and goes with them and keeps them together; a fowl is likely to follow
them reluctantly, allow them to scatter, and lose a part of the brood.

[Illustration: Fig. 162. Turkey brood coop. (Photograph from the Bureau
of Animal Industry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

When the little turkeys have reached this stage, the best plan of
managing them depends upon circumstances. If there is little danger of
enemies disturbing them, they may be given a light feed in the morning
and then allowed to forage where they please, the person in charge
looking occasionally to see that they do not go too far and, if
necessary, bringing them back or starting them off in another direction.
In case of a sudden, hard shower the turkeys must be looked up, and if
any have been caught out in the rain and have been chilled and wet,
they should be warmed and dried at once. The usual way to do this is to
wrap the bird in a piece of old flannel and place it in an oven at a
temperature of about 100 degrees, or near a stove. If this is done
promptly, a bird that seemed to be nearly dead from wet and cold may be
running about as well as ever in an hour. A large part of the losses of
little turkeys is due to lack of attention in matters of this kind, or
to delaying it until the injury cannot be fully repaired.

[Illustration: Fig. 163. Turkey hen with brood. (Photograph from the
Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

After the young turkeys are five or six weeks old, they do not need such
close watching. They are now so well feathered that their plumage sheds
rain, and if they are thrifty, a little wetting will not hurt them. It
is at this age that the symptoms of the disease called _blackhead_ begin
to appear, if it is present, and the turkeys pine away and die one by
one. Blackhead is a contagious liver disease which affects fowls as well
as turkeys, but is most fatal to young turkeys, because it is a filth
disease; as has been said, turkeys are especially sensitive to foul
conditions, and the young of all kinds of poultry are more sensitive to
such conditions than the adults. The germs of the disease pass into the
soil with the excrement of affected birds and may remain there for
several years. Young birds feeding on land containing these germs may
take up some with their food. If the birds are vigorous and thrifty and
the land is not badly infected, no harm may be done, but if the birds
are weakly and the land is so badly infected that they are constantly
taking up more germs, the disease soon develops in acute form.

[Illustration: Fig. 164. Driving turkeys to market in Tennessee.
(Photograph from the Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department
of Agriculture)]

Many people suppose that if once they have serious trouble with this
disease, it is useless for them to try to grow turkeys, but this is an
error. The germs of the disease are destroyed by cultivating the land
and exposing them to the sun and air. Three or four years of cultivation
will rid a piece of land of disease germs, no matter how badly it is
affected. The infection is not usually distributed in dangerous
quantities all over a farm or all over the land on which the turkeys and
fowls have ranged. It is principally on the land near the farm
buildings. There would be very little danger from diseases of this kind
on farms if those who feed the poultry would make it a practice to
scatter food on clean grass or cultivated ground at a little distance
from the buildings, instead of giving it (as too many do) on ground that
is bare year after year and never cultivated.

On a large farm the turkeys should not require close attention after
they are two months old. A little food may be given to them in the
morning and again in the evening, to keep them familiar with the person
in charge, and if they are inclined to stray too far, they should be
rounded up soon after noon and started toward home. Having started in
that direction, they may be left to come at their leisure. They should
pick the most of their living until the time comes to begin to fatten
them. Beginning about three weeks before they are to be killed, they
should be fed two or three times a day all the whole corn they will eat.



=Description.= The guinea, or guinea fowl, is about the size of a small
fowl. It is very much like the fowl in some respects but not at all like
it in some others. Naturalists classify it in the pheasant family, but
its present place in domestication is so different from that of the
pheasant that a poultry keeper hardly ever associates them in his
thought. In appearance the guinea is a unique bird. The shape of the
body and shape of the head are both peculiar. The body is quite plump,
the back nearly horizontal, and the tail short and much depressed. The
neck and legs are rather short. The feathers of the neck are short, and
the head is bare. The skin of the head and face is a bluish-white. The
bird has a small, knoblike red comb and short, stiff, red wattles
projecting from the cheeks. The plumage of the body is quite long,
loose, and soft, and lies so smoothly that it appears much shorter and
closer than it is.

The male and female are of nearly the same size, and so like in
appearance that the sex cannot be distinguished with certainty by any
external character. The comb and wattles of the male are sometimes
conspicuously larger than those Of the female, but this difference is
not regular. Although the voices of the male and female are different,
the difference is not easily described, nor is it readily detected
except by people who are familiar with the birds, and whose ears are
trained to distinguish the different notes. Both sexes make a rapid,
sharp, clattering sound, and also a shrill cry of two notes. The cry of
the male is harsher and has a more aggressive tone; that of the female
has a somewhat plaintive sound, which some people describe as like the
words "come back, come back."

The name "guinea" comes from the country of Guinea in Africa, from
which the birds were introduced into America and Western Europe. The
male guinea fowl is called a guinea cock; the female, a guinea hen; the
young, guinea chickens.

=Origin.= The guinea fowl is a native of Africa. It is said that there
are about a dozen similar species on that continent. This species is
abundant there in both the wild and the domesticated state, and also in
a half-wild state. It was probably brought into partial domestication at
a very early date, for it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, as
well as to the early civilized nations of Northern Africa. It may have
been distributed through Western Europe by the Romans. According to one
account, some English monks had guineas in the thirteenth century. It is
likely that they were rare in Europe at that time and soon disappeared,
for the modern Europeans had never seen them until they were taken to
Europe from the West Indies, where, it is said, they had been brought by
slave ships from Africa. There is a tradition that the first guineas in
America were brought direct from Africa with the first cargo of slaves
from that continent. In the West Indies and in South America the guinea,
after its introduction, ran wild. The natural color of the species is a
bluish-gray with many small, round white spots on each feather. On the
flight feathers of the wings these spots are so placed that they form
irregular bars.

[Illustration: Fig. 165. White guinea fowls]

=Varieties.= The only change that has taken place in the guinea in
domestication is the production of color varieties. White sports from
the original variety, which is called the Pearl Guinea, were developed
as a distinct variety. Crosses of White and Pearl Guineas produced birds
with white on the neck, the breast, and the under part of the body.
These are called Pied Guineas, but are not regarded as a distinct
variety. Birds with the original white markings but with the color very
much lighter and sometimes of a decidedly reddish tinge have also been
produced by crossing. These are not considered a distinct variety, but
are sometimes exhibited as such under the name of "Lavender Guineas."
Some of the older works on poultry describe the Self-Colored Guinea, a
gray bird without white spots, and the Netted Guinea, in which the
original colors are reversed. The author has never seen these varieties,
nor has he found any mention of them in the works of later writers.

=Place in domestication.= The guinea is as eccentric in nature and
habits as it is unique in appearance. It is an ill-tempered bird, very
pugnacious, and persistently annoys any other birds with which it comes
in contact. While inclined to be shy of man and to resent his control,
it likes to establish itself between wild and domestic conditions, where
it is independent yet enjoys the safety from its enemies that proximity
to the habitations of man affords. The hens are very prolific layers.
This characteristic is said to be as well developed in the wild as in
the domestic stock. Although they lay so well, they are not usually
considered desirable for egg production, because the eggs are small and
it is hard to keep the birds under such control that the eggs are easily
secured. The flesh and skin of the guinea are quite dark in color. The
dressed carcass is not at all attractive in appearance, but the meat is
very good. Many people prefer it to the flesh of the fowl.

The guinea is not really a domestic bird. It is possible to keep a few
in confinement and to rear the young with other poultry, but the adult
birds are so noisy and vicious that very few people want them near the
house or with other poultry. They would not be tolerated as much as they
are but for the traditional notion that their noisy clamor keeps hawks
away. Many farmers keep a few guineas, supposing that they are of
service in this way. Those who have tried to find out whether the noise
of the guinea really has any effect on hawks say that the hawks are just
as bad where there are guineas as where there are none.

The only way that guineas can be made profitable is by treating them as
half-wild birds--letting them establish themselves in the woods where
they can maintain themselves--and then shooting or trapping a part of
the flock each season. The number of guineas now produced in this way is
steadily increasing in many parts of the United States where the winters
are not severe and where wild animals which prey upon game birds are
kept in subjection.

[Illustration: Fig. 166. White guinea hen with brood]

=Management of domestic guineas.= As has been stated, guineas are so
hard to control that few persons try to keep them in close quarters or
where they must have particular attention. When a few birds are kept on
a farm, they are usually allowed to wander at will; the owner secures as
many of their eggs as he can find before they spoil, and perhaps hatches
a few of them under hens, for the guinea hens often lay a long time
without going broody. As they are prone to hide their nests and are very
clever in eluding observation, it not infrequently happens that, when a
nest is found, it contains a great many eggs, a large part of which
have been spoiled by long exposure to the weather.

The first care of the breeder of these birds is to see that he has
suitable proportions of males and females. Guineas are disposed to mate
in pairs. Some poultry keepers who have observed them closely say that
while one or more extra females may associate with a pair, the eggs of
the extra females do not usually hatch well. Occasionally it happens
that a small flock are all males or all females, and the owner does not
find it out until too late in the season to get a bird of the missing
sex. When a supposed guinea hen does not lay in the breeding season, the
owner often thinks that she lays but manages to completely baffle his
search for the nest.

The period of incubation for guinea eggs is four weeks. The young birds
may be managed the same as young turkeys while small, but do not need as
close watching to keep them from wandering away. Those that are hatched
and reared by fowls are tamer than those reared by guinea hens, but are
not so hardy.



The peacock, or male peafowl, when matured and in full plumage, is the
most gorgeous of birds. Many smaller birds are more brilliant in color.
Many birds of various sizes and types have beautiful or interesting
characters as attractive as those which distinguish the peacock. But
this bird surpasses them all in attractiveness, because in it are
combined in the highest degree size, beauty of form, beauty of color,
and the power of displaying its beauties to the greatest advantage.

=Description.= The adult peacock is so much more striking in appearance
than the females and the young males, and old males are so often
exhibited alone, that many persons suppose that the peafowl are
distinctly unlike other domestic birds. The size, shape, and carriage of
the peacock sometimes suggest to them a resemblance to the turkey
gobbler, but the peacock's most striking characters seem so peculiar to
it that the attention of the observer is usually fixed upon them, to the
exclusion of direct comparisons with other creatures. When, however, one
sees a flock containing several females, or males in which the
characteristic plumage is not yet developed, the general resemblance
between peafowl and turkeys is immediately noticed. The peafowl is
smaller, slenderer, and more graceful than the turkey, and is a little
more agile in motion. But if there were no old males present to identify
the species, to which they belong, a person who was not familiar with
peafowls, seeing a flock for the first time, would be almost certain to
think that they were turkeys of a rare breed. Notwithstanding this
striking general likeness, a close observer will soon note that in
nearly every conspicuous character the differences between the two
indicate that they belong to entirely different species. The voice of
the peafowl is a harsh, piercing scream.

[Illustration: Fig. 167. Indian Peacock. (Photograph from the New York
Zoölogical Society)]

The development of the plumage in the male at full maturity is like that
of the fowl and of some pheasants. In all of these species in which the
tail of the male assumes a highly decorative form, it is not the tail
proper that is so developed, but the tail coverts and other feathers of
the back, which in the male are long and flowing. In the peacock these
feathers are very remarkably developed, both in form and in color. The
largest are sometimes a yard long. The stem, or shaft, is a marvelous
combination of lightness and strength. For the greater part of the
length of the shaft the barbs are so far apart that they do not form a
web, but make a fringe on each side. Toward the tip of the feather the
barbs are closer together, and at the extremity they form a broad web.
The feathers of this structure growing next to the main tail feathers
are the longest. The next are a little shorter, and thus the length
diminishes until the shortest coverts are only a little longer than the
ordinary feathers of the back. This feather formation is called the
train. The train of the peacock is the most prominent peculiarity of
the species, but there is also in both sexes another uncommon feather
character--the curious little tuft, or crest (called the aigret), which
grows on the head.

The surface color of the peacock is a marvelous blending of purples,
greens, golds, and bronzes of various hues. On the head and neck purple
tints predominate. The train is mostly green with large, eyelike spots,
or spangles, at the tip of each feather. The plumage of the female is a
soft brown on the body, darkest on the back and shading to nearly white
on the abdomen. The brown often shows slight tints of purple and green.
The neck and throat are a purple-green; much less intense than the
coloring on the male. The young males are colored like the females until
they molt in their second year. Then they become much darker, but it is
not until the next molt, in their third year, that they grow the
characteristic train and take on the brilliant coloration which is their
greatest attraction.

The wild peafowls in different parts of Asia vary somewhat in color and
are sometimes thought to be of different species, but they are evidently
all varieties of the same species. Specimens of all are seen in
domestication. One variety is almost black. Domestic life has had little
if any effect upon the type of peafowls. A white variety has been
produced, and from the mixture of this with the green variety, birds
that are partly white are sometimes obtained.

The significance of the terms "fowl," "cock," "hen," and "chick," or
"chicken," in combination with the "pea" in the name of this bird is, of
course, perfectly plain. Those who seek further meaning in the first
syllable are puzzled until they consult the dictionary and find that the
three letters as they occur here are not the word "pea," but a
contraction of _pawa_, which was an Anglo-Saxon corruption of _pavo_,
the Latin name of the bird. While the original meaning of the name is
not known, the word came into the Latin language from the Greek, into
which it had previously come from the Persian. Hence, the history of
the name indicates that the distribution of the peafowl was along much
the same lines in Europe as the distribution of the fowl.

=Origin.= The peafowl is supposed to be a native of Java and Ceylon. It
is found throughout Southern Asia and is said to be very numerous in
India and Ceylon, both in the wild state and in a half-domestic state.
It was known to the Jews in the time of Solomon, and to all the ancient
civilized peoples of Western Asia, Europe, and Africa at a very early
period. In the days of the Roman Empire a peacock served with the
feathers on[12] was a favorite dish at the feasts of wealthy Romans, and
this mode of serving the bird was continued in Western Europe for many
centuries. At what time they were introduced into that part of the world
is not known, but it is probable that they were distributed to the
various countries soon after the Roman conquests. Nor is anything known
of their first introduction into America. It is, however, quite
reasonable to suppose that some were brought here at an early date by
wealthy colonists.

[12] Of course the bird was not cooked with the feathers on, but was
skinned, the feathers remaining in the skin, and after the flesh was
cooked the skin with the feathers was placed over it before it appeared
on the table. Skinning poultry instead of plucking the feathers seems to
have been quite a common practice in old times. As recently as between
1880 and 1890 the author heard of people who preferred it as the easiest
way of preparing chickens to be cooked immediately.

=Place in domestication.= In Europe and America the peafowl is now bred
only for ornamental purposes. That seems to be its status even in the
Asiatic countries, where it is most abundant, and its position has
probably been much the same in all lands and in all ages. The use of
fully developed peacocks for food at banquets was simply a display of
barbarous extravagance. Although a young peafowl is very good eating, a
male old enough to have acquired its full plumage would be hard, tough,
and unpalatable. The peafowl is not prolific enough to be a profitable
table bird, and is too desirable for its beauty to be used for any other
purpose. In this country peafowls are not common. Very few are seen
except in zoölogical collections and at the principal poultry shows. The
scarcity of peafowl is not due wholly to the expense of procuring them
or to the difficulty of rearing them. Indeed, neither of these
constitutes a serious drawback to their popularity. The peafowl is its
own worst enemy in domestication. It has a very savage disposition
toward smaller birds, and in this way usually makes itself an
intolerable nuisance to those who grow other poultry. Many owners of
large farms, who do not keep turkeys, or who keep only a small flock,
might maintain a small stock of peafowl with very little trouble.
Although they are so vicious when brought in close contact with smaller
poultry, they will flock and forage by themselves if they have room to
do so.

=Management.= The methods of managing turkeys apply at nearly every
point to the management of peafowl. The peafowl matures more slowly and
does not breed so early. The females are not fit for breeding until two
years old; the males not until three years old. They do not pair, but
mate in small polygamous families--one male with from two to four
females. The peahen usually lays from four to six eggs--rarely more than
eight or ten. The period of incubation is four weeks. Young peachicks
are very bright and active. They begin to fly when only three or four
days old. If they are to be kept in an inclosure while very small, the
sides must be high or the top must be covered with wire netting.
Although so active, they are less independent than most young poultry,
and follow the mother closely until she drives them from her at the
approach of the next breeding season. Peahens are preferred as mothers,
because their disposition is to keep their young with them much longer
than a turkey or a fowl does. Next to the peahen a turkey hen makes the
best mother for peachicks.



The guinea and the peafowl were described as closely related to the
pheasants, and as of limited usefulness to man both because of their
ugly dispositions and because of their roving habits. The species of
pheasants that are best known are a little farther removed from
domestication by their extreme shyness, and have often been excluded
from lists of domestic birds; yet it is quite possible that some of them
may become of much greater economic importance in America than either
the guinea or the peafowl.

=Description.= The most common kinds of pheasants are about the size of
small domestic fowls, but have rounder, plumper bodies. There are also
other characteristic differences. The head of a pheasant, except a part
of the face around the eye, is usually feathered. This bare skin, called
the wattle, is red in most species, but in a few it is purplish. The
feathers of the neck are short, and the tail is depressed. Some of the
rarer kinds of pheasants are as large as medium-sized fowls.

Pheasants as a class are distinguished principally for their brilliant
plumage. In most species the male alone has showy coloring, the females
being very sober hued. In some species the male has a very long tail,
corresponding to the train of the peacock; in some the tail is wide and
heavy, as well as quite long; in others the males are feathered like the

The name "pheasant" comes from the name of the river Phasis in Colchis,
at the eastern end of the Euxine Sea. The term "fowl" is not used in
connection with "pheasant," but the words "cock," "hen," and "chicken"
are used as in other cases that have been mentioned.

=Origin.= The pheasants are all natives of Asia, where nearly all known
kinds are found in the wild state. They are well distributed over that
continent, and are found in localities differing greatly in climate and
in the character of the soil and of the vegetation. Some species live
mostly at low altitudes; others are peculiar to high mountain regions.
According to an old Greek legend the first pheasants known in Europe
were brought to Greece by the Argonauts on their return from the
expedition in search of the Golden Fleece. A more probable story is that
which says that they were introduced in the time of Alexander the Great.
Pheasants were reared in confinement for food by the Greeks and the
Egyptians, and also later by the Romans in Italy. Both the rearing and
the use of pheasants in those times seem to have been limited to the
very wealthy. From Greece and Italy they were gradually distributed all
over Europe.

[Illustration: Fig. 168. Ringneck Pheasant[13]]

[13] Figs. 168-172 are from photographs of mounted specimens in the
National Museum, made to illustrate "Pheasant Raising in the United
States," _Farmers' Bulletin No. 390_ of the United States Department of

=History in America.= The history of pheasants in America is much more
fully known than that of most kinds of poultry. The first importation of
which there is a record was made by an Englishman named Bache, who had
married a daughter of Benjamin Franklin. In England at that time
pheasants were propagated, as they are to-day, in a half-wild state in
game preserves, and Mr. Bache expected that those which he imported and
released on his estate in New Jersey would soon become established
there. In this he was disappointed. Others who subsequently tried the
same plan met with no better success. For a long time the only pheasants
known in this country were those grown in confinement by fanciers.

[Illustration: Fig. 169. Mongolian Pheasant]

The first successful attempt to establish pheasants at liberty on this
continent was made in Oregon with pheasants brought direct from China.
The United States consul at Shanghai sent some Ringneck Pheasants to
Oregon in 1880. As most of these died on the way, a second shipment was
sent in the following year. In all about forty birds were liberated. The
shooting of pheasants was prohibited by law in Oregon until 1892, when
the stock had become so widely distributed and so well established that
shooting them was allowed for a short season. So numerous were the
pheasants at this time that on the first day of this open season about
50,000 were shot by the hunters. In many other states efforts have since
been made, both by state game commissions and by private enterprise, to
acclimatize pheasants and establish them as game birds. Some of these
efforts have been quite successful.

[Illustration: Fig. 170. Amherst Pheasant]

=Species and varieties.= The relationships of the various kinds of
pheasants are not positively known. Some kinds that are undoubtedly
varieties of the same species are commonly classed as different species.
The best-known of these so-called species interbreed freely. The rare
kinds have not been sufficiently tested, either with common kinds or
with one another, to show whether they are species or merely varieties.
The European pheasants, descended from the stocks which came in early
times from Western Asia, are called by various names--Common Pheasant,
Darknecked Pheasant, English Pheasant, and Hungarian Pheasant. Two kinds
of pheasants, of the same type but having more distinctive color
markings, have in recent times been brought from Eastern Asia. One of
these is commonly called the Ringneck Pheasant, but the names "China
Pheasant," "Mongolian Pheasant," and others are also applied to it. The
second variety, also called Mongolian Pheasant, is said by some
authorities to be the only one to which the name "Mongolian" properly
applies. It is not quite like the Ringneck, but, like it, has a white
ring around the neck. From Japan still another bird, called the
Versicolor Pheasant, or Japanese Versicolor Pheasant, very similar in
type, was brought to England. These three varieties from Eastern Asia
have been mixed with the European pheasants to such an extent that there
are now very few pheasants of the type common in Europe before their
introduction, and good specimens of the oriental races are equally rare.
The principal English variety at the present time is a Ringneck produced
from the mixture. This is called the English Pheasant; in England it is
also sometimes called the Common Pheasant. The birds that breed at
liberty in the United States are mostly of the Ringneck type.

[Illustration: Fig. 171. Manchurian Pheasant]

Although they are very beautiful birds, the pheasants thus far mentioned
appear plain in comparison with the Silver and the Golden Pheasants
(which are the most common of the highly ornamental varieties) and the
Reeves and Amherst Pheasants. These are the kinds most often seen in
aviaries and at poultry shows. There are many other rare and curious
varieties which are to be seen only in the finest collections. Among
these is a class called the Eared Pheasants, because of the little tufts
of feathers which project backward at each side of the head, looking
strikingly like the ears of a mammal. The pheasants of this class are
mostly dull colored and quite docile in disposition.

=Place in domestication.= The future place of pheasants in domestication
is not so plainly indicated by their history and present position as the
places of the guinea and the turkey seem to be. Pheasants seem to be
more desirable, easier to control, better suited to confinement, and
also better adapted to wintering out of doors in cold climates, than are
guineas. The beauty of the ornamental types makes them very desirable to
those who keep birds for pleasure. Because they are so much smaller than
peafowl, and also because they are able to live amicably with fowls,
they may be kept where peafowl could not. It is therefore probable that,
as people in America become more familiar with pheasants, and as they
learn that the greatest pleasure and the surest profit in aviculture are
to be found in growing a few birds under the most favorable conditions
that can be made for them, the numbers of pheasant fanciers will greatly

[Illustration: Fig. 172. Monaul, a Himalayan pheasant]

In England pheasants are extensively grown in game preserves, for
shooting and for sale as breeding stock to those who wish to stock new
preserves. Where the birds are fed by a keeper, as they must be when
they are very numerous, they become so tame that hunting them is not
very exciting sport. Some that have been released in this country, and
have lived in a natural state in places where shooting them was not
allowed, have become quite as tame as the birds in the English
preserves. Altogether the history of efforts to establish pheasants in a
wild state with a measure of protection from hunters shows that it would
often be practical for owners of woodland and waste land to establish
and preserve colonies of wild or half-wild pheasants. Whether this will
be done to any great extent depends upon the extermination of wild
animals and upon the placing of proper restrictions upon the domestic
animals (dogs and cats) which are destructive to land birds; it depends
also, to some extent, upon concert of action among the landowners in a
community, in securing for themselves the use of the pheasants grown on
their lands.

The possibility of domesticating pheasants of the Manchurian type, and
one or two other rare varieties that, when seen on exhibition, appear
very docile, is also to be taken into account. The United States
Department of Agriculture[14] has called attention to the fact that some
of the little-known kinds of pheasants seem especially adapted to
domestication. Even before that, many poultrymen, seeing these birds at
exhibitions, had been impressed by their appearance, and had remarked
that they looked like birds that would become thoroughly domestic. At
the present time persons desiring to grow any of the more common
varieties of pheasants for table use should first ascertain how the game
laws of the state in which they live, and of any state into which they
might want to send pheasants, would affect their undertaking. Sometimes
the laws made to protect pheasants in a wild state have been passed
without due regard for the interests of persons growing them in
captivity. Errors of this kind are usually adjusted before long;
meantime those who may innocently break a law find the situation very

[14] Pheasant Raising in the United States, _Farmers' Bulletin No. 390_.

=Management of pheasants in confinement.= The breeding of pheasants on a
small scale may be carried on in any place where suitable runs can be
made for them. The first essential is a somewhat secluded site where the
birds will not be subject to frequent disturbances. It should be near
enough to the owner's dwelling to enable him to keep watch of what goes
on in its vicinity, yet not so near that the movements of the members of
the household, as they go about their ordinary affairs, will disturb the
pheasants. It should be where trees or bushes make a natural shade but
not a dense shade; a place where the sun and shade are about equal on a
clear day is best. A light sandy or gravelly soil is to be preferred,
and a clay soil should be avoided. If the land has underbrush on it,
this need not be cleared from the space occupied by the run, unless it
is so thick that it shades the ground too much.

[Illustration: Fig. 173. Coops and yards for breeding pheasants.
(Photograph from Simpson's Pheasant Farm, Corvallis, Oregon)]

The house should be of about the same size and construction as would be
used for a few fowls. A roosting place should also be made in the yard,
for as a rule the birds will prefer to roost outdoors. The house is to
afford them proper shelter from severe storms and during prolonged damp
weather. For either a pair or a pen of a male and several females the
yard should contain about 600 square feet. The fences inclosing it
should be at least 6 feet high, and the top should be covered with wire

[Illustration: Fig. 174. Young China Pheasants at feeding time.
(Photograph from Simpson's Pheasant Farm, Corvallis, Oregon)]

The Silver, Soemmerring, and Swinhoe Pheasants mate in pairs; the other
familiar kinds are polygamous, and from one to five or six females may
be kept with one male.

Pheasants may be fed the same things as are fed to fowls, and in much
the same manner, but there is one important difference which the
pheasant breeder must carefully observe. Fowls will stand abuse in the
matter of diet much better than pheasants will. In feeding the latter
more attention must be given to providing regular supplies of green
food, to having all food sound and good when fed, and to regulating the
quantity given for a meal so that it will not lie about and become sour
or soiled before it is eaten.

[Illustration: Fig. 175. Fowls and pheasants in same yard on a New
England poultry farm]

Most pheasant fanciers use large bantams or small common hens to hatch
and rear the young pheasants. The period of incubation is from
twenty-two to twenty-four days. Until they are weaned from the hens the
little pheasants may be managed as young chickens are, but with the same
attention to variety of food and to moderation in feeding that has been
specified for the old birds. A small number with a good range on grass
or in a garden will pick much of their food. Many of the older works on
poultry which treated of the care of pheasants recommended for the young
birds a great variety of foods not easily provided. Nowadays the most
successful amateur fanciers feed either a mixture of the common small
grains or some of the commercial mixtures which contain, in addition to
these, a number of seeds and grains not much used by poultry keepers who
buy their grains separately in bulk. Stale cracked corn, which is
dangerous to all young poultry, is especially to be avoided in feeding
young pheasants. After the young pheasants are weaned, they must be kept
in covered runs, or their wings must be clipped to prevent them from

A large pheasantry is operated on the same general lines as a plant
where birds are grown in small numbers. The method is simply an
extension of that just described. When only one kind of pheasant is
kept, the inclosed yard is sometimes made very large, and a hundred or
more birds are put together. This is not good practice with any kind of
poultry, and is no doubt responsible for much of the trouble which those
growing pheasants in large numbers have had. At aviaries where there are
large collections of pheasants, including many rare and costly kinds,
the yards are always made large enough to give the birds good sanitary
conditions, and as a rule each family of adult birds, whether composed
of two or more, has a yard to itself.



Naturalists divide swans into a number of different species. Whether
this division is correct is not known. The habits of swans, and the
circumstances under which they are usually kept, tend to prevent the
mingling of different kinds. As far as the author has been able to
learn, there is no evidence which shows conclusively the relations of
any of the supposed different species. The differences between them are
in some cases very slight. Some of the decisions of the naturalists who
have classified slightly different kinds as distinct species are based
upon examinations of very small numbers of specimens. Considering the
apparent resemblances of the different kinds of swans in the light of
what is known of species and varieties in fowls, ducks, geese, and
pheasants, it seems probable that the true species of swans are fewer in
number than the common classification shows, and it also seems quite
possible that all swans are of the same species.

=Description.= The common swan, called the domestic swan, is about the
size of the largest domestic geese, but appears larger because it has a
longer neck and head and larger wings. The body is also somewhat longer
than that of a goose of about the same weight, and the swan is a much
more graceful bird than a large goose. It is sometimes called the Mute
Swan, to distinguish it from the Whistling Swan, which is a very similar
kind not bred in domestication. There are other slight differences
between the Mute Swans and the Whistling Swans, but the difference in
the voice, if it really is as great as is supposed, is the only one of
much consequence in deciding their relations. The Mute Swan is not
dumb. It sometimes makes a low, whistling sound. People are not agreed
as to whether there is any real foundation for the familiar tradition
that the Mute Swan remains silent until about to die, and then sings a
"song." Some people acquainted with the habits of swans declare that the
swan is more vocal when dying than at any other time in its life. Others
say that the idea probably arose as a result of some one's hearing a
dying swan moaning in pain, as sick animals and birds often do, and
concluding that it was uttering a series of sounds characteristic of
swans in a dying condition. However that may be, the Mute Swan is
distinctly less noisy than the wild Whistling Swan.

Until 1697 all swans known to civilized people were white, and the swan
was an emblem of purity of color. In that year a Dutch navigator
visiting Australia found there a black swan. Afterwards a white swan
with a black neck was discovered in South America. Had the subject of
heredity been well understood before the discovery of these two swans
that were not white, people familiar with the white swans would have
known that there were colored swans in some unexplored country (or that
they had existed in the known world in a former age), for white swans
are not perfectly white at maturity, and when young they are gray.
Neither is the black swan all black. It has white flight feathers, and
its black color is a rusty black, that is, a black mixed with red.

Swans are very long-lived birds, but stories of swans living to seventy
or eighty years of age are not to be credited. It cannot be affirmed
that the birds may not live as long as that, but the evidence in the
cases reported is defective. The reports of swans living for fifty years
are quite credible. The male and female swan are not readily
distinguished, for there are no external indications of sex, and the
birds use their voices so rarely that, even if there is a difference in
the notes of the male and female, it is not practical to use it to
distinguish between them. The only way to identify the sex with
certainty is by observing the birds at nesting time.

The name "swan" is Anglo-Saxon. Nothing is known of its derivation. The
terms "cock" and "hen" are sometimes applied to swans as they are to
many other kinds of birds. The swanherds in England call the male a
_cob_ and the female a _pen_. The young swan is called a _cygnet_, from
the French word for "swan."

[Illustration: Fig. 176. Swan and nest]

=Origin and history in domestication.= Tradition says that the domestic
swan was brought to England from France by Richard the Lion-hearted. As
the swan is a migratory bird, still sometimes seen in many parts of the
Eastern Hemisphere north of the equator, it is possible that swans were
known in England long before the reign of this king. However that may
be, it is certain that, from about the time of the Norman Conquest, the
swan has occupied a peculiar position in England. It was regarded as a
royal bird, and the privilege of owning swans was granted only to those
in high station. At first the number of those who were permitted to own
swans was very small, but it was afterward extended until, in the reign
of Queen Elizabeth, more than nine hundred different swanmarks were
registered by the royal swanherd, who had general oversight of all the
swans in the kingdom. The swans were marked by branding or cutting the
bill, this being necessary because they lived largely on the margins of
uninclosed waters, just as in some of our Western states cattle live on
unfenced lands. The right to own swans carried with it the right to keep
them in such a place.

=Place in domestication.= Although it has been bred in captivity for
centuries, the swan is not fully domesticated. It does not, like the
duck and the goose, so increase in size and weight when kept under the
control of man that it becomes incapable of flight, but, like the
American Wild Goose in captivity, it is prevented from flying by
removing the first joint of one wing, the operation being performed as
soon as possible after the young birds are hatched. The swan lives more
on the water than either the duck or the goose. It subsists largely upon
coarse aquatic grasses and plants, and is said to eat all kinds of
decaying matter found in the water.

In England in old times the swan was used as food by the wealthy, but
its use for this purpose ceased long ago. It is now kept almost
exclusively for ornament. Most of the swans in America are kept in
public parks or on large private estates. Very few are reared here; the
supply is kept up largely by importations from England. The swan is not
popular, because the birds are costly and are not prolific. Still the
breeding of swans for ornamental purposes or for sale to exhibitors
might be carried on with profit upon many farms. Under suitable
conditions, swans may, at the same time, perform valuable service and
make a valuable product. By consuming the kinds of food which they
prefer, they clean ponds and keep sluggish streams open. Being so large
and strong, and requiring so much coarse food, they are a great deal
more serviceable in this way than are ducks and geese.

=Management.= When swans were abundant in England, they were kept mostly
upon certain rivers and inlets of the sea where natural food was
abundant. The climate of England is so mild that they can there obtain
food in such places at all seasons. The colder parts of America do not
afford conditions favorable to swan culture. Where the winters are long
and severe, and streams and ponds are frozen over for months, wintering
swans would be troublesome and expensive, but where the waters are open
throughout the year, a farmer who had a suitable place for them might
breed swans with profit. A pair of swans would cost about the same as a
good cow, and might make about the same net profit. But there would be
this difference: the cow would require a great deal of care, the swans
very little; the cow would eat salable food, the swans mostly waste
food. By this comparison it is not meant to suggest that a farmer might
profitably replace his cows with swans. The object is simply to show how
the possible profit from small specialities compares with the usual
profit from a regular feature of farming.

The methods of managing swans are much like the methods of managing wild
geese in captivity. The principal difference is that the swans must have
a larger body of water, and one in which vegetation is abundant. They
are not as fond of land grasses as geese are, and like to float on the
surface of the water, feeding on the vegetation at the bottom. Their
long necks enable them to do this in water several feet deep. They need
no shelter but a small hut, which they will use only in rare
emergencies. After they have settled down in a spot, there should be no
need of building fences to restrain them. As they are not able to fly,
they will remain quite near their home unless food supplies there are
very short. In that case extra food should be given them. Even when
natural food is abundant, it is a good plan to feed swans a little of
something else occasionally, to attach them to the person who has charge
of them. As every one knows who has seen the swans in parks, where
visitors amuse themselves by feeding them, swans are very fond of bread.
They will eat grain also, although, when not accustomed to it, they may
at first refuse it. Their food is usually given either by throwing it on
the water or by placing it in troughs from which the birds can eat while
floating upon the water.

[Illustration: Fig. 177. Feeding swans on the water]

[Illustration: Fig. 178. View of an English swannery]

The female builds near the water a nest of coarse stalks and small
sticks. Sometimes this is reared to a height of several feet, and
material added around the sides, little by little, during the whole
period of incubation. Swans have been known to pile up nearly half a
cord of material for their nest. From five to ten eggs are laid in the
nest. The period of incubation is six weeks. As far as possible,
interference with the birds should be avoided during the breeding season
and while the young are small. When it is necessary to handle them in
any way, the attendant should have at the start all the assistance he
is likely to require. A blow from a swan's wing may injure a man very
seriously. It is said that such a blow has been known to break a man's

The young are gray when hatched and do not become entirely white until
two years old. Even then many of them are not absolutely white, but show
very distinct traces of reddish-yellow, especially on the head and upper
part of the neck. There is a story that a young swan of a deep buff
color was hatched at Lewes in England.

If the swans with young must be fed, the usual practice is to throw the
food upon the water. Stale bread, grain, and even meal are given in this
way. It looks like a wasteful way of feeding, but the birds will get all
the food.

Swanneries are unknown in America. In England a few of those established
many centuries ago still remain. The largest and most celebrated of
these is at Abbotsbury. Swans have been bred here continuously for about
eight hundred years.



The ostrich is unlike other birds in many important characters. It is
not a typical bird. While it has feathers and wings, its feathering is
not normal, and the muscles of the wings are lacking. In the minds of
most persons it is associated with the circus menagerie rather than with
the poultry yard, but, as we shall see, this singular bird has a place
in domestication and, as a useful land bird, belongs to the poultry
group. There are two species of ostriches, but only one of these is of
economic value.

=Description.= The ostrich is the largest of living birds. A full-grown
male standing erect measures from six to seven feet in height. The
largest specimens weigh about three hundred pounds. As, in the
atmosphere which now surrounds the earth, a creature of such size and
weight cannot fly at all, the wings of the ostrich have become
atrophied, and the muscles of the wings, which form the plump, meaty
breasts of flying birds, are entirely wanting. Not only have these
muscles disappeared, but the breastbone, which in flying birds is very
large in proportion to the rest of the skeleton, and has a deep,
longitudinal keel in the middle, is comparatively small in the ostrich
and has no keel at all. The ostrich, having no power of flight, is
dependent for safety upon its speed in running; so its legs are long and
strong, and the muscles which move them are very large. Indeed, there is
very little meat on an ostrich except on the thighs. It can run much
faster than a horse. Because its foot must be adapted to running at
great speed, the ostrich has only two toes. Its neck is very long and
slender, and its head is very small and flat. In such a head there is
little room for brains. The ostrich is a very stupid creature, but it
does not, as is commonly supposed, hide its head in the sand and imagine
that, not being able to see its enemies, it cannot be seen by them. That
is a myth apparently based upon the fact that, when in repose, an
ostrich sometimes lies with its long neck stretched upon the ground.

[Illustration: Fig. 179. Side view of male ostrich. (Photograph from the
Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

Since the wings of the ostrich are useless for flight, the flight
feathers have lost the structure adapted to that purpose and have
developed into beautiful plumes. The tail feathers have also undergone a
similar change. These wing and tail feathers are the ostrich feathers of
commerce. The neck and head of the ostrich are almost bare of feathers.
The body is covered with feathers, but not as densely as in most birds.
There are just enough feathers on the body of an ostrich to protect the
skin from exposure when they lie flat. The areas on the skin where there
are no feathers are much larger than on other birds. The thighs of the
ostrich are bare. The skin is in some varieties of a bluish-gray; in
other varieties the bare parts are red and the skin of the body is

The crop and the gizzard of the ostrich are not separated as in other
birds, but are joined; the upper part of the stomach performs the
functions of a crop and the lower part those of a gizzard.

The male ostrich is usually larger than the female. The adult males and
females are plainly distinguished by the color of their plumage, the
body feathers of the male being black, while those of the female are
gray. The plumes of both sexes are white or white mixed with black. The
black on an ostrich is often of a brownish shade, and this is most
conspicuous when it appears on the plumes.

The bill of the male and the scales on the fronts of his shanks become a
bright rose color in the breeding season. The male ostrich utters a
guttural sound, called booming, which is said to resemble the roar of a
lion as heard at a distance. The voice of the female is like that of the
male, but very faint.

The difference in the plumage of the sexes, although it is not complete
until after the second adult molt, is noticeable much earlier. The
females do not begin to lay until three or four years old. The males are
not fully matured until four or five years of age. Ostriches are very
long-lived. Birds whose age could be verified have lived as long as
forty-five years in captivity, and at that age were profitable as
breeders and also as feather producers. It is believed by some of those
most competent to judge such matters that under favorable circumstances
an ostrich might live a hundred years or more. Very few of the birds
kept in domestication die of old age. They are so stupid, and their
long legs, though strong for running, are so easily broken, that an
accident of some kind almost always ends the life of an ostrich long
before it has passed its prime.

[Illustration: Fig. 180. Front view of male and female ostriches.
(Photograph from the Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department
of Agriculture)]

The name "ostrich" has an interesting history. The Greeks called this
singular bird _struthion'_. This came into the Latin language as
_struthio_. In low Latin, _avis_, the Latin word for "bird," was
prefixed to what remained of the Greek name, giving _avis struthio_.
"Ostrich" is a contraction of this low Latin compound. So we have in
this name a combination of two words from different languages, having
the same meaning. The terms "cock," "hen," and "chick" are used with the
name of the species, to designate respectively the adult male, the adult
female, and the young before the first plucking.

=Origin and history in domestication.= The domestic ostrich is the wild
African ostrich in captivity. It is probable that the ostrich was
familiar to the people of Northern Africa, and was known to those of the
adjacent parts of Asia and Europe, in prehistoric times. In very early
times ostriches may have been kept in captivity for their feathers, as
they are now kept in the Sudan, but, until about 1860, when the farmers
of South Africa began to take an interest in the subject, we have no
knowledge of any efforts to breed ostriches in captivity and to improve
the quality of the feathers by giving the birds more nutritious food
than they usually get in the wild state. The first stock used in South
Africa was some of the wild stock found in that part of the continent.
In 1882 the first ostriches were brought to the United States.

=Place in domestication.= Commercially the ostrich is valuable only for
its plume feathers. The extent of the development of ostrich culture
depends upon the demand for ostrich feathers at prices that will warrant
breeding ostriches to supply them. When the industry was first
established in South Africa, ostrich feathers brought high prices and
the business was very profitable; but so many farmers engaged in it, and
the supply of feathers increased so rapidly that prices soon became much
lower and have never since returned to the scale that prevailed at that

The flesh of the ostrich is edible, but it is so hard and tough that no
one would grow ostriches for their flesh. The egg of an ostrich is about
as large as two dozen hen eggs. Ostrich eggs are said to be very good,
but they are too large for ordinary use, and the birds are so long in
maturing that it would not pay to use them to produce eggs for
commercial purposes.

[Illustration: Fig. 181. Ostrich eggs and newly hatched chicks.
(Photograph from the Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department
of Agriculture)]

The breeding of ostriches for their feathers, however, may be regarded
as a permanent industry, for there will always be a demand for ostrich
plumes, but it cannot be developed as extensively as if the product were
a staple article of food. The ostrich farms in America are mostly
special farms devoted exclusively to ostrich breeding. Most of these
farms are owned and operated by companies. Some of them are stock
speculation projects. In South Africa the industry is more in the hands
of the general farmers, each of those engaged in it growing a few birds.
The people of South Africa have tried to secure a monopoly in ostrich
feathers by prohibiting the exportation of ostriches and by purchasing
the best stock to be obtained in North Africa. Ostrich farming is
practical only in tropical and semitropical countries; the plumage of
the birds is too scanty to protect them in the cold winters of temperate
climes. In the United States nearly all the ostrich farms are in
Southern California and Arizona, but there are some in Texas, Arkansas,
and Florida.

=Management.= In the places where ostrich farming is carried on, the
birds need no shelter. They must be kept in inclosures fenced as for
cattle. As ostriches are bred for their plumage, and that of the male is
most valuable, the breeder does not object to their following their
natural inclination and mating in pairs, but many males are so injured
in fighting that they must be killed. This leaves an excess of females,
and so two or more females are sometimes mated with one male. The birds
are mated for breeding when they are about three and one-half years old.
The object of mating them before they are fully mature is to prevent
them from selecting for themselves partners contrary to the ideas of the
breeder. Each mating must have its own yard, unless the place where more
than one family is kept is large enough to allow each family the
exclusive use of a part of it. Under such circumstances each group will
keep to its own range.

The natural food of the ostrich is grass and the leaves of shrubs and
trees. In domestication it is usually pastured on alfalfa, or fed on
alfalfa hay, according to the season. The alfalfa is often supplemented
with grain (principally corn), and grit, bone, and shell are provided as
for other birds.

Most ostrich growers prefer to hatch the eggs in incubators, because by
removing the eggs from the nests they induce the hens to lay more, and
because the young ostriches are much easier to manage when by themselves
than when with the old birds. When a pair of ostriches hatch their own
eggs, the hen sits during the day and the cock at night. The period of
incubation is six weeks.

[Illustration: Fig. 182. Flock of ostriches on a California ostrich
farm. (Photograph from the Bureau of Animal Industry, United States
Department of Agriculture)]

Young ostriches are fed the same as old ones. They are kept in flocks of
fifty or more until about a year old, when the sexes are separated. The
plumes are cut for the first time when the birds are between six and
seven months old. Although the process of removing these feathers is
called plucking, they are not drawn out, but are cut close to the skin.
The object is to get the feather immediately after it is grown, before
it can be soiled or damaged in any way. At that time the quill is still
full of blood. Drawing it out would be very painful to the bird, and
might injure the wing so that the next feather that grew would be
defective. The stumps of the feathers are allowed to remain until they
are dead and dry, when they are drawn out easily. In South Africa the
Kafirs draw the stumps out with their teeth. In about six or seven
months after the stumps are removed, the new plumes are grown and the
process of plucking is repeated.



The pigeon is the only species of aërial bird kept in domestication to
provide food for man. It is also the only useful domestic bird that is
able to maintain itself and increase in numbers in populous districts
without the care of man.

=Description.= The common pigeon is about the size of the smallest
bantam fowls. It is a plump, hard-feathered bird, with a short neck, a
round head free from ornamental appendages, a short beak, and short
legs. The prevailing color is a dull, checkered blue, varying in shade
from a very light blue to nearly black. The blue is sometimes replaced
by red with similar variations in shade. There are also white pigeons,
black pigeons, and many birds in which all the colors that have been
named are irregularly mixed.

The male and female pigeons are not distinguished by any regular
differences of size, form, color, or voice. The males are usually a
little larger and coarser looking, and make themselves conspicuous by
their vain posing and domineering ways, but none of these
characteristics are reliable indications of sex. The natural voice of
the pigeon is a soft, gurgling coo repeated over and over with
monotonous effect. It is sometimes heavier and more prolonged in the
male, but except in the Trumpeter and Laugher Pigeons, in which the
voice has been peculiarly developed, the difference in the voices of the
male and female is not marked. Even in the two varieties mentioned, many
males have such poor voices that the voice is not an infallible
indication of the sex. The most expert pigeon breeders are often in
doubt about the sex of some pigeons until they pair.

The name "pigeon" is from the Latin _pipio_ (to peep or chirp), and
came into the English language from the French. The Anglo-Saxon name for
the bird was probably _dufa_, from which we have the word "dove," which
is still sometimes applied to pigeons. _Dufa_ was derived from _dufan_
(to plunge into). It seems probable that the name was given because of
the pigeon's habit of dropping almost perpendicularly when descending
from an elevated position. The male pigeon is called a cock, the female
a hen. Young pigeons are called _squabs_, _squeakers_, or sometimes
_squealers_. The word "squab," which means "fat," describes the
characteristic appearance of the nestling pigeon; the other terms refer
to the noise it makes as it persistently begs for food.

[Illustration: Fig. 183. Tame pigeons. (Photograph from Elmer E. Rice,
Boston, Massachusetts)]

=Origin.= Domestic pigeons are all descended from the wild Blue Rock
Pigeon of the Old World. Although many of the improved varieties have
been greatly changed in form, they are all perfectly fertile when bred
together. The Blue Rock Pigeon is found in the wild state in Europe,
Asia, and Africa. "Fancy Pigeons," by James C. Lyell, the best authority
on the subject, contains this statement: "The British Blue Rock inhabits
the rocks and caves on our seacoasts, as well as precipitous inland
rocks, and certainly the difference between this bird and a common blue
flying tumbler is very little. Their color is identical, their size
almost so.... In the west of Scotland, where fanciers keep and show
common pigeons, the wild Blue Rock domesticated is the bird so called."

It is by no means certain that these wild pigeons are a true wild race.
Considering the habits of the pigeon and its wide distribution in
England centuries ago, it seems certain that many, if not all, of the
pigeons now found wild in the British Isles are descended from birds
once domesticated. Rock Pigeons of the same type, however, are found in
many other parts of the Old World and, whether wild or feral, are
plainly all from the same original stock. The American Wild Pigeon, also
called the Passenger Pigeon, which was once found in enormous flocks in
eastern North America, is often erroneously mentioned as the ancestor of
domestic pigeons. The Rock Pigeon and the Passenger Pigeon are of
different species and are very different in appearance and habits. The
Rock Pigeon is what is called a shelf builder. It builds its nest on a
ledge, or shelf, and will rarely even alight in a tree or a bush. The
Passenger Pigeon is a wood pigeon, nesting and roosting in trees.

[Illustration: Fig. 184. Flock of Dragoon Pigeons[15]]

[Illustration: Fig. 185. Flying Homer Pigeon[15]]

[Illustration: Fig. 186. Silver Runt Pigeon[15]]

[15] Photograph from Elmer E. Rice, Boston, Massachusetts.

=Distribution in ancient times.= The pigeon was domesticated at a very
early stage of civilization. Like the fowl, the duck, and the goose, it
was well known to all civilized peoples of antiquity. To what extent the
distribution of pigeons in domestication followed the early migrations
of the human race is not known. It is probable that pigeons were
domesticated before the Aryan migrations began, and also that the
domestic stock was sometimes taken by Aryan colonists to their new
homes; but it is equally probable that at various times in the history
of the earth people coming to new lands domesticated some of the wild
rock pigeons which they found there.

[Illustration: Fig. 187. Swiss Mondaine Pigeon[16]]

[Illustration: Fig. 188. Splashed Homer[16]]

[Illustration: Fig. 189. Blue-barred Homer[16]]

[16] Photograph from Elmer E. Rice, Boston, Massachusetts.

=Improved varieties.= Common pigeons are much alike the world over, and
have changed little from the wild race, but in many different parts of
the Old World the making of improved varieties began thousands of years
ago, and in some places peculiar types were developed which were little
known elsewhere until modern times. The varieties of the pigeon are so
numerous that it is practically impossible to make a complete list of
them. At the large shows in this country, classes are made for more than
one hundred fifty named varieties, in about forty breeds. In many of
these breeds there are eight or ten principal color varieties, and an
indefinite number of less popular varieties, specimens of which compete
in a miscellaneous competition in what is called the "any other variety
class." There are probably nearly three hundred varieties of pigeons
bred in America and England. On the continent of Europe the number is
very much greater. The Triganica pigeon has one hundred fifty-two color
varieties, and it is said that another variety in Germany, not known in
England and America, has one hundred thirty-eight color varieties. Where
varieties are so numerous, many of the color differences are necessarily
slight, and only those who know them well can readily distinguish the
different varieties at sight; others are bewildered when they attempt to
do so. In this chapter only the most pronounced color varieties and the
breeds of most interest to beginners will be described, but some of the
most interesting of the others will be mentioned, to illustrate the
range of the improved types developed by fanciers.

[Illustration: Fig. 190. White Hen Pigeons. (Photograph from Elmer E.
Rice, Boston, Massachusetts)]

[Illustration: Fig. 191. Young Jacobin Pigeons. (Photograph from E. R.
B. Chapman, Stoneham, Massachusetts)]

=The Carrier Pigeon.= The homing instinct--that is, the faculty of
finding the way home after wandering or being taken away from it--is
found in animals of all kinds. In some kinds of animals it is much more
highly developed than in others, and some animals of each kind have more
of it than is usual with their species. It is well known that migratory
birds usually return to the same localities season after season, and
that certain pairs often return to the same vicinity year after year and
build their nests in the same places. When this instinct is highly
developed in a wild bird, its habit of returning to the same nest is of
great interest to those who observe it, but it has no particular value.
In a domestic bird the homing instinct or habit is of service because
the owner of a bird relies upon it to make the bird return always to the
place which he has provided for it, instead of taking shelter elsewhere
or remaining where nocturnal enemies will find it an easy prey. In the
domestic land birds the instinct has no further use than this, but in
pigeons which, while thoroughly domesticated, retain full power of
flight, the development of the homing faculty makes it possible to use
them as a means of communication when it is necessary to transmit short
letters with great dispatch.

[Illustration: Fig. 192. Muffed Tumblers with "saddle" color pattern.
(Photograph from E. R. B. Chapman, Stoneham, Massachusetts)]

It is known that pigeons were used as messengers in war about the
beginning of the Christian Era. An Egyptian bas-relief of about 1350
B.C. shows pigeons being released from cages just as they are now
released in flying matches. The homing instinct is so strong in the
common pigeon that any one familiar with its habits may easily suppose
that pigeons were used to carry messages almost as soon as men had
devised means of communication by writing upon any material which the
birds could carry in their flight. There is reason to believe that in
very ancient times pigeons were bred and trained especially for work of
this kind in Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

[Illustration: Fig. 193. Feeding pigeons on Boston Common. (Photograph
from Elmer E. Rice, Boston, Massachusetts)]

The pigeon which in England and America now goes by the name of "Carrier
Pigeon" is a type developed as a messenger pigeon in Persia and from
that country distributed to many parts of the world. As bred in Asia it
was larger and stronger than the common pigeon, and had a cere, or
convoluted membrane, around each eye and at the juncture of the head and
the beak. It is thought that this type of Carrier may have been taken
from Asia Minor to England at the time of the Crusades, but nothing
definite is known of it in Great Britain until the seventeenth century.
This old type of Carrier and several closely related varieties were used
for messengers, and also in flying competitions, until the variety next
described was developed. When the Carrier Pigeon was bred for carrying
messages, no attention was paid to its color. Pigeon fanciers who were
not interested in pigeon flying, but liked the Carrier for its other
characters, early developed many distinct color varieties and also gave
special attention to the form and carriage of the bird and to the
development of the ceres around the eyes and on the beak. The Carrier
Pigeon is now bred only as an exhibition bird.

=The Antwerp Homer.= Beginning sometime early in the last century,
breeders of flying pigeons at Antwerp, in Belgium, developed a race
which soon became celebrated for superior development of the homing
faculty and for great speed and endurance. This race was at first called
the Antwerp Carrier. When the invention of the telegraph made the
services of pigeons as messengers on land unnecessary, pigeons that
could fly long distances were still bred and trained for competitive
flying matches. In these, as a rule, they carried no messages; the
object was to see which bird would reach home first. So gradually the
term "homer" was substituted for "carrier," and the pigeons now called
Homers, or Homing Pigeons, are the Antwerp Homing Pigeons. Good birds of
this type are larger and stronger than the common pigeon, and have a
bolder, more confident bearing and a more attractive carriage. They show
their good breeding very plainly. Many of the pigeons called Homers are
crosses or grades of the Antwerp Homer, and are not much better in any
way than ordinary pigeons.

[Illustration: Fig. 194. Flying Homer[17]]

[17] Photograph from C. E. Twombley, Medford, Massachusetts.

The true Homer is also the most popular type of pigeon for the
production of squabs for market. Its great prolificacy, strong
constitution, quick growth, and large size make it a favorite with squab
growers. As bred for flying or for market, Homers are of various colors,
and the color varieties are not distinct except as occasionally a
breeder makes a specialty of producing birds of some particular color.
Many pigeon fanciers breed Homers solely for exhibition. The Exhibition
Homer has many distinct color varieties--Blue, Silver, Mealy, Blue
Checker, Black Checker, Black, Red Checker, White, Yellow.

=Tumbler and Tippler Pigeons.= The flying powers of pigeons have been
developed for other purposes as well as for traveling long distances. In
rising or descending in flight a pigeon sometimes turns a somersault in
the air. This trait has been developed in certain races so that many
birds will perform the feat very often. These races are called Tumblers.
They are found all over Europe and Asia and in a few localities in
America. The common Tumblers perform in the air, usually at some
distance from the ground, the tumbling of individual birds being an
occasional feature of the evolutions of a flock circling about in the
vicinity of its home. From this common Tumbler more highly specialized
types have been developed. The breeding of these types has become
something of an art, and in some cases the sport of flying them has
become a well-organized recreation.

[Illustration: Fig. 195. Squab-breeding Homers. (Photograph from Elmer
E. Rice, Boston, Massachusetts)]

By breeding together specimens which performed well when flying,
Tumblers were finally produced in which the tumbling propensity was so
exaggerated that they could not fly but, after a few somersaults,
alighted on their feet. These birds were called Inside Tumblers, or
Parlor Tumblers, to distinguish them from the common Tumblers, which
required more room for their evolutions than any ordinary building
afforded. Although they are incapable of flight, the Parlor Tumblers can
rise a short distance before they fall. The Roller is a Tumbler which
turns many somersaults so rapidly that each revolution of its body is
made in a very small space. A high-flying Roller falls while rolling in
the air. An Inside Roller turns over and over backward on the ground.

[Illustration: Fig. 196. Clean-legged Red Tumbler[18]]

[Illustration: Fig. 197. Muffed, or Feather-legged, Tumblers[18]]

[18] Photograph from E. R. B. Chapman, Stoneham, Massachusetts.

Breeders of common Tumblers do not give them liberty, but release them
from their loft only when they wish to see the birds perform, and, by
feeding them immediately upon their return, coax and train them to
return to the loft soon after being released. A good performer is soon
exhausted by tumbling, and is quite willing to return to the loft in a
short time. But not all birds of Tumbler stock are good and persistent
performers, and often birds that do not perform prefer liberty for a
longer period to the food that is waiting for them in the loft. Birds
have sometimes been compelled to remain in the air for a long time. As a
result of this treatment of poor Tumblers a type of Tumbler has been
produced which will perform more or less when ascending or descending,
but which, having risen to a high elevation, will remain for hours
circling over its home and perhaps occasionally flying away and
returning. Tumblers of this type can remain in the air for five or six
hours. In flying them for sport the object is to see which flock will
remain in the air longest. The tumbling habit was gradually bred out of
the high-flying birds, and after a time many of them did not tumble at
all. Such birds were then called Tipplers ("tipple" having in some
English dialects the meaning of "tumble"). The modern Tippler Pigeon is
a bird in which the tendency to rise to a great height and remain there
for a long time has been developed to the utmost, as the tendency to
return home from great distances has been developed in the Flying Homer.
Performing Tumblers and Tipplers are usually bred for performance
without regard to color, and the colors in a flock of the same breeding
may be, and nearly always are, various. Exhibition stocks of Tumblers
and Tipplers are bred in many distinct color varieties.

[Illustration: Fig. 198. English Owl Pigeon[19]]

[Illustration: Fig. 199. English Red Trumpeter Pigeon[19]]

[Illustration: Fig. 200. English Saddle Trumpeter Pigeon[19]]

[19] Photograph from E. R. B. Chapman, Stoneham, Massachusetts.

=The Fantail Pigeon.= The Fantail Pigeon originated in India. The
fan-shaped tail, from which this variety takes its name, was developed
by selection to increase the number of the large, straight main tail
feathers. Normally a pigeon has from twelve to sixteen of these
feathers; in the ordinary Fantail the number has been increased to
twenty-four or twenty-six. Many of the specimens in which this
character is highly developed have a much greater number of tail
feathers. It is said that forty-two feathers have been counted in a
tail. A tail in which there are so many feathers cannot be carried in
the natural position; it spreads, forming a major segment of a circle,
and at the same time it is elevated until, in specimens with very full
tails, the highest tail feathers stand nearly perpendicular. To balance
the large tail carried in this position the Fantail has to carry its
head very far back. This makes the breast very prominent. The bird
cannot fly well, and when walking about it appears to be strutting to
make a display of its spectacular tail. Its appearance is in this
respect deceptive, for it is a very modest bird and has difficulty in
balancing itself in any other position. The Fantail is gentle and
affectionate, and is the best of all pigeons for those who want birds
for pets. It is bred in many color varieties. The White Fantail is the
most popular, because it is the most showy and the easiest to produce
with uniform color in a flock.

[Illustration: Fig. 201. White Runt Pigeon[20]]

[20] Photograph from Elmer E. Rice, Boston, Massachusetts.

[Illustration: Fig. 202. White Pouter Pigeon]

=Pouter Pigeons.= All pigeons have in some measure the power of
inflating the crop with air. In the Pouter Pigeons this power has been
developed and its exercise encouraged to such an extent that in many
specimens the inflated crop is as large as all the rest of the bird.
Pouters were introduced into England from Holland several hundred years
ago. They were at first called Croppers. The common Pouter is a large
pigeon with long legs. It usually stands in a very erect position.
There is a race of dwarf pigeons of this type, called Pigmy Pouters.

[Illustration: Fig. 203. Fowl-like, or Maltese Hen, Pigeons[21]]

[21] Photograph from Elmer E. Rice, Boston, Massachusetts.

=Other important types.= One of the most attractive pigeons is the
Jacobin, which has the feathers of the neck turned upward, forming a
hood which sometimes almost conceals the head. The Turbit and Owl
Pigeons are distinguished by a frill of feathers on the breast, and by
the peculiar beak and face, which are very short. The Dragoon is a
large, showy pigeon of the Carrier type. The Trumpeter is distinguished
by a crest, which greatly obstructs its sight, as well as by the
peculiar development of the voice, to which it owes its name. The Runt
is a very large pigeon bred both for exhibition and for the table. Some
squab growers prize it very highly; others say that the smaller and more
prolific Homer is more profitable for squab breeding. The use of a term
commonly applied to undersized, ill-developed creatures as the name of
one of the largest pigeons is one of the curiosities of nomenclature.
The explanation, however, is simple. In England in old times common
pigeons were called runts. The pigeon now called the Runt was introduced
into England from Spain, and was called by early writers on pigeons the
Spanish Runt, meaning the common pigeon of Spain. With the disuse of the
term "runt" to designate the common pigeon, the term "Spanish" was
dropped from the designation of the improved breed, and it became simply
the Runt. Besides the Runt just mentioned there is another large pigeon,
once called the Leghorn Runt, which belongs to the class of Fowl-like,
or Hen, Pigeons, so called because in shape they are strikingly like
fowls. The most familiar representative of this class is the Maltese
Hen Pigeon.

=History in domestication.= The history of the pigeon in domestication
presents some very interesting features. Its use as a messenger has been
mentioned. From very early times people of privileged classes took
advantage of the habits of the pigeon to grow the birds for their own
use at the expense of the community. The Assyrians and some other
ancient peoples considered the pigeon sacred to certain of their
deities. Sometimes all pigeons were so regarded; at other times and
places only white pigeons were sacred, those of other colors being used
by the common people.

[Illustration: Fig. 204. Nun Pigeons[22]]

[Illustration: Fig. 205. German Frillback Pigeons[22]]

[22] Photograph from E. R. B. Chapman, Stoneham, Massachusetts.

In medieval times in England, the lord of a manor, when leasing farms to
tenants, reserved the right to let his pigeons forage over them. As
pigeons live mostly upon grains and seeds, caring little for green
vegetation and insects, the newly planted fields of the farmer were the
favorite feeding places of his landlord's pigeons. The landlords, being
able to keep pigeons without other expense than that of providing
shelter for them, built large dovecots near the manor houses and kept
their tables plentifully supplied with pigeons. At one time it was
estimated that there were more than twenty thousand such dovecots in
England. The destruction of crops by the occupants of these caused
serious losses to the farmers and a great deal of trouble between them
and their landlords. This form of protection for roving pigeons in
agricultural districts was finally abandoned.

No doubt the selfishness of landlords was originally responsible for
this method of protecting pigeons, but the government of the country at
that time also had something to do with it. Pigeon manure is very rich
in niter, which in those days the government had difficulty in procuring
in such quantities as it needed for the manufacture of gunpowder; so it
adopted the policy of regulating the construction of pigeon houses,
prescribing the method of disposing of the droppings to conserve the
niter in them and appointing official inspectors to see that its
regulations were observed, and collectors to gather the pigeon manure.
It was much easier to do this when large flocks were kept by landlords
than when an equal number of the birds were kept in small flocks by the

=Place in domestication.= Although many farmers keep small flocks of
pigeons, the pigeon in modern times is a city bird rather than a country
bird. The strong flying types are all well adapted to an independent
life in towns and cities, where, as has been stated, they often become a
nuisance. This form of nuisance might be partly abated and perhaps
prevented if city authorities would systematically and humanely
exterminate the free flocks of common pigeons, and encourage citizens to
breed improved varieties under proper control.

Pigeon culture does not afford as many or as good opportunities for
profit as poultry culture does, but it is suited to conditions under
which poultry do not thrive. A flock of pigeons may be permanently
maintained by a city resident who has so little room for domestic birds
that, if he kept poultry, he would have to renew his flock every year. A
few pigeons may be kept by any one who can provide a nesting place for
them where they will be safe from cats and rats. In this country the
growing of squabs has been widely exploited in recent years as a
profitable commercial industry. Near large cities where the demand for
squabs is good, squab growing on a large scale is sometimes successful.
Elsewhere the small flock that can be cared for in the owner's spare
time is likely to be more profitable.

The breeding of fancy pigeons is also almost wholly a spare-time
occupation. The demand for fancy pigeons is small in comparison with the
demand for fancy poultry, and a pigeon fancier's trade rarely grows so
large that he can give his attention to it exclusively. In Europe the
breeding of pigeons for exhibition and sport is more popular than in
America, but the interest is growing rapidly in this country.



[Illustration: Fig. 206. Small pigeon house and fly[23]]

[23] The photographs for illustrations in this chapter, when not
credited to others, are from Elmer E. Rice, Boston, Massachusetts.

Almost every child knows something of the lives of the common pigeons
that are seen at large in both city and country. Some flocks have owners
who take a slight interest in them and make rude provisions for their
safety and comfort. Nearly all the country flocks, and many of the city
flocks, are in this class. But there are in all large cities, and in
some smaller places, many flocks of pigeons which no one claims to own.
They build their nests in high cupolas, in the belfries of churches, on
sheltered ledges under the cornices or other projections of high
buildings, and in all sorts of places from which they cannot be easily
dislodged. The streets and areas of a great city afford daily food
sufficient for vast numbers of birds. The principal part of this is
fresh oats scattered by thousands of horses as they take their noon meal
from pails or nose bags, and oats that, passing through the horses
undigested, are mixed with the dust and dirt of the street. Very large
quantities of food also fall on the streets from torn bags or broken
boxes as cereal products are carted from place to place and handled in
transportation. Then there are the crumbs and remnants of food thrown
from windows by innumerable people who carry their lunches when they go
to their work; and besides these a great deal of waste food from the
occupants of tenements, as well as from many hotel and restaurant
kitchens. Much of this is thrown out at random, but often, when pigeons
begin to frequent places where food supplies are regular, the people
there take an interest in the birds and throw out more than they did
before. From all these various sources an abundance of food is available
for birds that forage on the city streets.

[Illustration: Fig. 207. House and fly for a small flock]

The pigeons do their part in saving this waste food, but the people
derive little benefit from the saving, because so many pigeons are not
kept under control, where their produce may be taken and used when it is
ready. Good management of pigeons consists in keeping them so that the
owner gets all the benefits of ownership. Good management in the large
sense requires that all pigeons shall be owned by some one who is
responsible for them, and who keeps them under full control or under
partial control, as the circumstances in each case require.

=Size of flock.= A flock of breeding pigeons may contain as many pairs
as can nest in the place where they are kept. Most pigeon keepers prefer
lofts about 12 or 14 feet square, because in larger spaces it is harder
to catch the birds when they must be handled, and in many ways the very
large flock makes extra trouble for the attendant. A place with a floor
area of from 150 to 200 square feet will accommodate from fifty to sixty
pairs of breeding pigeons. Except when undertaking squab breeding on a
large scale, pigeon keepers usually begin with a small number and keep
most of the increase until the full capacity of the loft is used.

[Illustration: Fig. 208. Small barn and shed arranged for pigeon

=Quarters for pigeons.= A pair of pigeons may be kept in a coop, box, or
cage about 3 feet square, and 2 or 3 feet high. A cage 4 or 5 feet high,
or one as high as the room in which it is placed, is still better,
because it will allow the birds a little room to use their wings. If
such a cage has a few perches at various heights, the pigeons will not
seem to miss their liberty. Such close confinement, however, is not
recommended except for those who cannot provide larger quarters, or who
merely wish to keep one or two pair a short time for observation. A
house about 6 feet square makes a convenient size for a small breeding
flock of pigeons. In a place of that size eight or ten pairs may be
kept. Attached to it there should be a wire-inclosed fly, as pigeon
keepers call the outdoor compartment for pigeons. The size of the fly
can be adjusted to suit the conditions and the available space. The
larger the fly the better the pigeons will like it, but even a very
small place where they can be much in the open air and lie and sun
themselves is better than constant confinement indoors, which makes them
anemic and greatly reduces their vitality.

Where the space for pigeons is very limited and there is room for only
one small loft and fly, breeding operations are closely restricted. Most
pigeon fanciers want at least two lofts of this size--one for the
breeding birds, the other for the young birds that no longer need the
care of their parents. With such facilities the work in the breeding
loft goes on better, and promising young birds can be kept until they
are well matured and the breeder can tell whether it is advisable to
keep some of these and dispose of a part of the old ones.

To provide for larger numbers of birds, either more lofts or larger
lofts may be made. A breeder of fancy pigeons usually prefers many small
compartments. A breeder of squabs for market makes each compartment as
large as is convenient and builds as many as he has room for.

[Illustration: Fig. 209. Old poultry house arranged for pigeons.
(Photograph from Dr. J. G. Robinson, Pembroke, Massachusetts)]

Buildings for pigeons are constructed on the same plans as buildings for
fowls. The furnishings of the pigeon loft are different from those of
the poultry house, and of course the fly is always completely inclosed.
Upper floors or lofts of buildings are used for pigeons to much better
advantage than for poultry, but where there is room it is more
satisfactory to have all quarters for pigeons on the ground floor.

As the young pigeons remain in the nest and are fed by the parents until
they are almost full-grown, each pair of old pigeons must have their own
nesting place. As has been stated, the domestic pigeon is a shelf
builder. So in arranging for nests the pigeon keeper builds shelves 10
or 12 inches apart, and divides these into compartments about 12 inches
wide, thus forming pigeonholes. Because a hen pigeon often lays again
and begins to incubate before a pair of young are ready to leave the
nest, it is usual to arrange the pigeonholes in pairs. This is sometimes
done by omitting alternate dividing boards, making each pigeonhole twice
the size required, so that a nest can be made in each corner. Some
people prefer to have single pigeonholes and to arrange them in double
sections by making each alternate perpendicular board project several
inches beyond the front edge of the horizontal shelf. When this is done,
a pair of pigeons in possession of one side of a double section will
usually claim the entire section and prevent others from entering it
even when they are themselves using only one side.

[Illustration: Fig. 210. City back-yard squab plant]

For indoor perches for pigeons individual perches shaped like an
inverted V are most used. These are attached to the wall, one above
another, about 12 or 14 inches apart. The pigeons rest on the upper edge
of the perch, and the sloping sides prevent their plumage from being
soiled by birds roosting above them. In the outdoor flies running boards
are placed along the sides to make exercising and resting places for the
birds, for they usually prefer a shelf of this kind to the ground. Long
perches are also placed in the fly when the running boards do not give
room for all the pigeons in the flock. Out of doors the birds get along
very well on long perches, but in the house each wants a separate perch.
Feed hoppers like those used for fowls are used in pigeon houses.
Drinking vessels for pigeons should be of the fountain type, exposing
only a small surface of water, because if the vessel is open the birds
will bathe in it. For the bath any circular vessel with a depth of 4 or
5 inches and a diameter of 18 inches or over may be used.

[Illustration: Fig. 211. Running boards in pigeon fly. (Photograph from
Springer Brothers, Bridgeton, New Jersey)]

=Ventilation and cleanliness.= The ventilation of a pigeon house is
managed in the same way as that of a poultry house, by adjusting the
openings in the front. Most kinds of pigeons are very rugged and, when
fully feathered, can stand a great deal of cold. When a house is open in
winter, some of the young, unfledged squabs may be chilled and die from
exposure, but breeders agree that, on the whole, it is better to keep
the windows or other openings for ventilation partly open at all times.
While this causes some loss of the weaker squabs, it keeps the old birds
in much better condition than when the house is tightly closed.

[Illustration: Fig. 212. Constant water supply for pigeons]

To keep the loft looking clean and neat the droppings should be removed
from the floor, and from all shelves that can be cleaned without
disturbing breeding birds, at least once a week. Many pigeon keepers
clean the houses oftener than that, but if the ventilation is good and
the droppings are dry and firm, a house may go uncleaned for weeks or
months without detriment to the birds. It is customary to keep the floor
of the pigeon loft thinly covered with fine gravel, coarse sand,
sawdust, or chaff. To prevent the wind from the pigeons' wings from
blowing this from the middle to the sides of the floor, a small box is
placed in the middle of the floor. Whenever it is possible, the bath pan
is placed outdoors, because in taking a bath pigeons splash the water a
great deal, and if they are given the bath indoors, they will make a
nasty mess of the house floor unless it is perfectly clean. The bath
need not be given oftener than once or twice a week. In bad weather it
is better to let them go without a bath than to have them take one and
get chilled before their feathers dry.

=Handling pigeons.= When a few pigeons in a small loft get a great deal
of attention, they usually become very tame and allow themselves to be
caught at any time. For catching pigeons that are shy, pigeon keepers
use a net, called a landing net, such as is used by fishermen. A pigeon
is held securely in the hand by grasping it so that the breast of the
bird lies in the palm and one wing is held against the side by the thumb
and the other by the fingers. A pigeon may also be carried by the tips
of the wings by bringing them together over the back and letting the
bird hang by them.

[Illustration: Fig. 213. Small pigeon house and fly]

=Mating pigeons.= The beginner's first serious difficulty in breeding
pigeons is to get the birds in his loft all mated and each pair
attending to the work of hatching and rearing its young. As has been
said, the sexes cannot always be identified by appearance. Most of the
pigeons sold for breeding are young birds that have not yet mated. Some
breeders and dealers are very expert in selecting males and females, but
all make some mistakes, and the average person makes a great many of
them. There are two ways of selling pigeons. The most common way is to
sell the desired number of birds, the seller selecting, according to his
best judgment, equal numbers of males and females, with the
understanding that if, when the birds mate, there is an excess of one
sex, he will make a suitable exchange. The other way is to sell the
number of pairs desired, guaranteeing them as mated pairs--which means
that the pairs are all known to be properly mated. The advantage of
buying guaranteed mated pairs is that the question of mating requires no
further attention at the outset, but the prices for them are so much
higher than for those not known to be mated, that most beginners buy on
the other plan.

[Illustration: Fig. 214. Large squab plant. (Photograph from Dr. J. G.
Robinson, Pembroke, Massachusetts)]

Where the flock is small and the birds are to be allowed to select their
own mates, all that is necessary is to watch them closely until all are
mated or it is evident that there is a surplus of one sex. Surplus males
will quarrel persistently with the other males and endeavor to coax
their mates away from them. The unmated males must be provided with
mates or removed from the loft. Unmated females are not so readily
noticed except when there are only a few birds in the loft, but by close
watching they will soon be found. When a start is to be made with quite
a large number of unmated birds, the best plan is to put the flock first
in a different apartment from that in which they are to be kept
permanently, and, as each pair mate and begin to build their nest,
remove them to their permanent quarters.

[Illustration: Fig. 215. Neat pigeon house and fly]

When it is desired to mate a particular male and female, the best way is
to place them one in each side of a small coop with a wire partition
across the middle. This coop should be put where they cannot see other
pigeons. Sometimes one of the birds shows a decided antipathy to the
other. In such a case it is, as a rule, useless to continue efforts to
induce them to pair. In most cases, however, the birds will soon show
mutual affection. When this stage is reached, they may be taken to the
loft and released. Short coarse straw or fine twigs should be placed
where pigeons that are building nests can take what they want. No nest
box or pan is really needed, but many pigeon keepers use a nest bowl,
called a nappy, of earthenware or wood fiber.

=Feeding.= The food of pigeons consists almost wholly of grains and
seeds. The principal grains used in America are wheat and corn (usually
cracked corn). Field peas are also used quite extensively. While pigeons
will eat the same kinds of ground-grain products as are fed to poultry,
pigeon keepers rarely use such foods. They prefer to give a variety of
hard grains and seeds. Those who keep large stocks of pigeons often buy
separately the feeds which they use, and mix the grains to suit
themselves, or feed them in such alternation as seems desirable. People
who keep only a few pairs of pigeons usually find it more satisfactory
to buy the feed mixtures sold by dealers in pigeons' supplies. As a
rule, old grain and seed that are very dry and hard are best for
pigeons, and especially for exhibition and breeding stock.

[Illustration: Fig. 216. An attractive squab plant]

The most common practice is to give the feed in hoppers, keeping a
supply always before the birds. This is done principally because it is
the most convenient way, particularly for those who are away from home a
great deal. For them hopper feeding is really necessary, but pigeon
fanciers seem to agree that when the birds can be fed by throwing on the
floor of the loft or the fly, two or three times a day, just about the
quantity of food that they need for a meal, they do better and the cost
of food is less than by the hopper method. Unlike poultry, pigeons
require considerable quantities of salt. The common practice is to keep
it before them in the form of lumps of rock salt, one large lump being
enough for the birds in a loft of ordinary size. Oyster shell should
also be supplied.

[Illustration: Fig. 217. Homer squabs four weeks old]

[Illustration: Fig. 218. Carneaux squabs four weeks old]

=How pigeons rear their young.= After a pair of pigeons have completed
their nest, the male seems to come at once to the conclusion that home
duties demand his mate's constant attention. At the nest he struts
about, cooing and coaxing, entering the nest himself, then leaving it
and plainly showing his wish that she should take the nest. If she goes
away from the nest, he follows her with his head high and his neck
inflated. His cooing turns to scolding. He pecks at her and will not
give her a moment's peace until she returns to the nest. The hen lays
one egg and, after laying it, spends most of her time standing on the
nest until the second or third day after, when she lays another egg and
immediately begins to sit. She seems to know that if she sat on the
first egg before laying the other, one squab would hatch two or three
days earlier than the other, and the second squab, being smaller and
weaker, would have a hard time. The work of incubation is done mostly by
the hen, the cock taking only a minor part. For about an hour in the
middle of the morning and again in the middle of the afternoon he
relieves her on the nest, giving her a chance to eat, drink, and take
some exercise. Counting from the time the last egg was laid, the period
of incubation is sixteen or seventeen days.

Young squabs, like all other young birds that are naked when hatched,
are ugly little things. They have apparently insatiable appetites, and
their mouths seem to be always open. They are fed by the parents with
pigeon milk, which is simply the usual food of the old birds softened in
the crop. The pigeon has the power of disgorging the contents of the
crop at will, and feeds its young by forcing food from its crop into
their mouths. When they are well fed, the squabs grow very fast. Young
Homers four weeks old often weigh from three quarters of a pound to a
pound, or even more, and are ready for market. Many of the fancy
varieties of pigeons are hard to rear, because the abnormal structure of
the beak or the interference of peculiar feather characters prevent the
old ones from feeding their young properly. All the breeds described in
detail in the preceding chapter are known as good feeders.

[Illustration: Fig. 219. Dressed squabs. (Photograph from Dr. J. G.
Robinson, Pembroke, Massachusetts)]

Pigeons will breed nearly the year round, stopping only while molting,
but in cold climates many young birds die in the nests in winter. Those
who are breeding for market take this as one of the risks of their
business. If only half of the squabs are reared in winter, the profits
may be as great as when the actual results are much better, because in
winter the prices are much higher than at the seasons when squabs are
most easily produced. Fanciers do not usually allow their pigeons to
breed during the coldest winter months, but take the eggs from the nests
or keep the sexes separate until spring approaches. The object of the
fancier is to produce specimens having the finest possible development
of form and color. He cannot do this successfully under conditions that
cause heavy losses. The birds may grow under such conditions but will
not have the superior quality that he desires, and so he finds it more
profitable to concentrate all his attention upon the birds that he can
produce when the weather is most favorable.



The canary is the only common cage bird. There are about fifty kinds of
birds that make desirable pets, but very few of them will breed in small
cages, and many will not breed in confinement even when kept in large
aviaries. In the United States the number of kinds of cage birds is
restricted by state laws which prohibit keeping native song birds in
captivity. Such laws are necessary to preserve the birds. Before these
laws were passed, great numbers of song birds were trapped every year to
send to Europe, where the keeping of cage birds as pets is more popular
than in America. Song birds from other parts of the world may be kept in
this country, but most of them are so scarce and expensive that few
people would buy them even if the canary were not a more satisfactory

=Description.= The common domestic canary is a small bird, about five
inches in length, very lively and sprightly in manner, and in color
yellow or a greenish gray and yellow. The male and female are so much
alike that the sex cannot be positively determined by the appearance.
Although it often happens that the male is more slender in form and
brighter in color, the voice is a better index of sex and, in mature
birds of good singing stock, is very reliable. The male is the singer.
The female also has a singing voice, but it is so inferior in quality to
that of the male that few people care for it.

=Origin.= The domestic canary belongs to the finch family and is found
wild in the Canary Islands (from which it takes its name) and in a
number of other islands in that part of the world. The color of the wild
birds is described, by some who have seen them, as greenish-gray,
changing to a greenish-yellow on the breast and under parts. Other
observers describe the wild birds of some localities as brownish.

[Illustration: Fig. 220. Tricolor Canary[24]]

[24] The illustrations in this chapter are from "Our Domestic Animals,"
by Charles W. Burkett.

The canary was introduced into Europe about four hundred years ago. As
the story goes, a ship with a cargo from the Canary Islands, carrying
several thousand canaries, which the traders thought might be sold in
Europe, was wrecked off the coast of Italy early in the sixteenth
century. Before the sailors left the ship, they opened the cages
containing the canaries. The birds escaped to the Island of Elba and
there became established in the wild state. From this colony of canaries
birds were captured and distributed to all parts of Europe and America,
their superior song powers and adaptability to domestication making them
popular wherever they became known.

[Illustration: Fig. 221. Norwich Canary with hood]

The wild bird known in America as the wild canary is the American
Goldfinch. It belongs to the same family as the canary but is of a
different species. It is of no value as a singer.

[Illustration: Fig. 222. Yorkshire Canary]

=Improvement in domestication.= Nearly all the varieties of the canary
were developed before the eighteenth century. The German canary fanciers
turned their attention to developing the song of the bird, the Belgian
and British fanciers to making and perfecting shape and color varieties.
In Germany the celebrated Harz Mountain Canaries were produced. These
are simply common canaries carefully bred and trained for singing. But
their excellence as singers is not due to breeding and training alone;
the climate of the Harz Mountain region seems to be peculiarly suited to
the development of canaries with beautiful voices. The finest Harz
Mountain Canaries are produced at St. Andreasberg, a health resort noted
for its pure and bracing air. The St. Andreasberg Roller is a canary
trained to sing with a peculiar rolling note.

Among fancy types of canaries the most interesting are the Norwich
Canary, which is larger than the singing canaries and has reddish-yellow
plumage; the Manchester Coppy, a yellow canary almost as large as a
small pigeon; the Lizard Canaries (Silver and Golden), which have
spangled markings on the back; the London Fancy Canary, which has an
orange body with black wings and tail; and the Belgian Canary, a
malformed type in which the head appears to grow out of the breast
instead of being carried above the shoulders.

[Illustration: Fig. 223. Belgian Canary]

=Place in domestication.= Most people who have canaries keep them for
pets, and have only a few. In perhaps the greater number of cases a
single bird--a singer--satisfies the canary lover. A few of those who
keep canaries as pets also breed them for sale. Occasionally a canary
fancier devotes a room in his house entirely to his birds and, when
breeding on such a scale, has a great many to sell. The commercial side
of canary breeding, however, is usually subordinate, except in the Harz
Mountain district, where the breeding and training of singing canaries
is a very important cottage industry. Canaries from this district are
sold all over the civilized world.

[Illustration: Fig. 224. English Flatheaded Canary]


=Cages.= The common wire bird cages used for one or two canaries are so
well known that no description of them is necessary. For larger numbers
larger cages must be provided. Large cages cannot always be obtained at
stores which sell the small ones, but they may be obtained from bird
stores in the large cities, or made to order by a local mechanic.
Indeed, any clever boy who has learned to use tools can make one at very
little cost. While the small cages are usually made all of metal, the
large ones are commonly made with wooden frames. A small cage has a
removable bottom. A large cage must have two bottoms--the outer one
fixed, the inner one in the form of a movable drawer. A metal drawer is
easier to keep clean than a wooden one.

=Position of the cage.= The cage in an ordinary room should be hung
where its occupants will be comfortable and safe. The greatest foe of
the domestic canary is the house cat. Some cats can be trained to let
canaries alone, but very few can be trusted to make no attempt to get a
canary when left alone in a room with it. When canaries and cats are
kept in the same house, the cage should hang in a place from which cats
can be excluded when they cannot be watched. The comfort of the bird
will often require that the position of the cage be changed once or
oftener during the day, according to the season or to some particular
condition. Thus, a sunny window may be very pleasant at some times and
too warm at others, or a bird may tire of being constantly in the same
place. The bird keeper has to learn to know, by observing the actions of
birds, when they are comfortable and contented, and must use judgment in
placing the cage to suit them.

=Feeding.= Canaries live mostly on ripe seeds, but they are also very
fond of the leaves, flowers, and green seeds of many common plants.
Being such small birds, they eat only small seeds. The seeds most used
as food for canaries are hempseed, flaxseed, rapeseed, and canary seed,
which is the seed of the canary grass, a plant indigenous to the Canary
Islands. These are often sold mixed under the trade name of "birdseed."
Many canary fanciers think that it is better to feed the seeds
separately, or to make the mixtures themselves, so that they can know
just what the birds eat, and can judge whether any trouble which may
arise is due to a wrong diet. Rapeseed and canary seed are considered
the best and safest feed for canaries. They may be mixed in equal parts
and kept before the birds at all times. Canaries like hempseed better
than anything else, but it is so rich that, if fed heavily, it is
injurious. When a mixture of seeds containing hempseed is placed in the
feed cup, canaries will pick out and scatter and waste the other seeds,
to get the hempseed. For this reason it is often left out of the mixture
and given occasionally, a few grains at a time.

Canaries are very fond of lettuce, chickweed, and plantain. They also
like the green seeds of many grasses. These things may be given to them
by fastening the leaves or stalks between the wires of the cage where
the birds can reach them easily. A piece of cuttlefish bone should be
placed where the birds can eat some whenever they want it. Cuttle bone
furnishes them with salt and lime.

=Care.= Canaries should have regular attention. Aside from having the
position of the cage changed when necessary, they usually require
attention only once a day. This should be at a regular hour, preferably
in the morning. The cage should be placed on a table or stand, and the
bottom removed, that it may be thoroughly cleaned. The best way is to
wash it. While the bottom of the cage is being cleaned the cage with the
bird in it rests upon the table. This is the best time to give the bird
its bath. A shallow pan or dish containing about an inch of water is
placed on the table under the bottomless cage. Some birds splash so
vigorously that the bath must be given in a room containing nothing that
would be damaged by the drops of water which they scatter. Some seem to
understand that the harder they splash the more trouble they make, and
to take delight in wetting everything about them.

When the bird has had its bath, the cage should be wiped dry, the bottom
replaced, the drinking cup rinsed and refilled, and the seed cup filled.
If a bird is very tame and can be easily caught, it may be let out of
the cage for its bath and for a little exercise. Many canaries will
return voluntarily to their cages after bathing and flying around the
room a few times. Canary fanciers frequently allow their birds the
freedom of the room for hours at a time. Whenever this is done, special
care must be taken that no unexpected opening of a door allows the bird
to escape from the room. Neglect of this point often leads to the loss
of a valued bird.

=Breeding.= The breeding season for canaries is from February until May
or June. The cage for a breeding pair should be a little larger than
that used for a single bird, and should be firmly attached to the wall
instead of hanging where it can swing. The nest is usually a small wire
basket. For nest material cotton batting and cow's hair or deer's hair
are used. Deer's hair may be obtained at bird stores. These materials
are placed in the cage and the birds use what they want. The hen lays
from four to six eggs. The period of incubation is two weeks. During the
breeding season the birds should be fed, in addition to the usual supply
of seed, a little grated hard-boiled egg with cracker or bread crumbs.
They also need a supply of fine oyster shells. By the time the young are
three weeks old they are able to leave the nest and to feed themselves.
They should then be removed to a separate cage.



=Producers, consumers, and middlemen.= The preceding chapters have
treated of the characters and the uses of domestic birds, and of the
methods of producing them. In this chapter we shall consider matters
relating to the distribution of such of their products as are staple
articles of commerce. There are very few subjects of general interest
that are as widely misunderstood as some phases of the distribution of
market eggs and poultry. Every one uses these products; many millions of
people produce them in small quantities; but the consumers who are not
producers live mostly in cities remote from the farming sections which
have great surpluses of eggs and poultry to send to the cities, and so
the work of distributing these products is done principally by traders,
or middlemen.

The modern developments of poultry culture have been in a very large
measure due to middlemen and could not continue without them. In a large
and highly organized population middlemen in many different capacities
perform the services which in primitive or small communities may be
performed by either the producer or the consumer. Consumers and
producers are apt to think that the middlemen get more than their fair
share of the profits on the articles that they buy and sell. The true
situation and the exact relations of producers, middlemen, and consumers
of poultry products are easily understood if we study the development of
the existing methods of distribution from the beginning.

=How the middleman enters local trade.= Suppose that a farmer brings to
town 30 dozen eggs; that the storekeeper will allow him 20 cents a dozen
for them; and that by peddling them from house to house he can sell
them for 25 cents a dozen: how much will he make by selling them
directly to the consumers?

As an arithmetical example, considering only the factors which appear in
the statement, this is a very simple problem. It is easy to compute that
by selling the eggs from house to house the farmer will make $1.50. But
the farmer's practical problem in disposing of his eggs has some very
important factors which do not appear in a simple arithmetical problem.
Unless he had regular customers for his eggs, he would probably have to
call at fifty or sixty houses to sell them. He might have to call at a
great many more, and then might not succeed in selling them all. He
would find that it was of little use to try to sell eggs to families
that had not engaged them in advance, unless he called very early in the
morning, before they had ordered eggs from some one else. If he
succeeded in selling all the eggs, he would still have to consider
whether it paid him better to spend his time, and that of his team, in
selling the eggs than in working on the farm. Most farmers find that
they cannot afford to peddle produce themselves, and unless some other
member of the family can do it without interfering with important farm
work, they sell such products as poultry, butter, and eggs to the

Now take the consumer's side of the case. The ordinary family uses only
2 or 3 dozen eggs a week. If the eggs can be bought at the store for 25
cents a dozen, and at a farm for 15 cents a dozen, there is an apparent
saving of 20 or 30 cents by purchasing them at the farm. But in most
cases it would cost the buyer more than 20 or 30 cents to go to the farm
and get the eggs, and so he goes to the store for them.

The storekeeper is the middleman, really serving both producer and
consumer. Every one can see this clearly in cases where there is only
one middleman.

=Additional middlemen.= If the farmers trading at a country store bring
to it more eggs than the people in the town will buy, the storekeeper
must either sell them elsewhere or refuse to take them. If possible, he
will find a market for the surplus, usually by shipping them to the
nearest large city. But he does not send them direct to consumers, for
he could not deal with them any better than the farmers could with the
people in his town. He may send them to a storekeeper in the city, but
he is more likely to send them to some one who makes a business of
receiving eggs from country collectors and selling them at wholesale
wherever there is a demand for them. If the receipts in a city exceed
the local requirements, the surplus will be sent to one of the great
cities which are the principal receiving centers for produce of all
kinds. The large receivers in the great cities distribute the eggs to
retailers in the cities and also to jobbers and retailers in smaller
cities where local supplies are inadequate.

[Illustration: Fig. 225. Unloading coops of poultry at a receiving
warehouse. (Photograph from the Bureau of Chemistry, United States
Department of Agriculture)]

Thus between the producer and the consumer there may be as many as six
or seven middlemen who in turn handle the eggs. At first thought it
seems that so many middlemen are not necessary. But it is not a
question of numbers; it is a question of conditions. The number depends
more or less upon whether the middleman at any stage finds it more
advantageous to deal with one next to him in the general series or to
pass one or more and deal with another farther away. In the United
States prices of eggs are finally determined by the demand and supply in
the large cities of the East; the prices at other points are usually the
prices in these cities, minus the cost of transportation and handling.
In periods of scarcity, however, there is a tendency to uniformity of
prices in all large cities.

The movements of poultry to market are made in much the same way as the
movement of eggs. As a rule the same people handle both.

=How the demand for poultry products stimulates production.= In the
preceding sections it was assumed, for the purpose of showing clearly
the relation of the middleman to both the producer and the consumer,
that the movement of these articles from the country producer to the
city buyer came about as the result of the existence of a surplus in
farming districts. As a matter of fact the movement is produced by the
demand in localities which do not produce their own supplies. One effect
of the increase of population in cities is to cause farmers near the
cities to grow more poultry and sometimes to establish special poultry
farms. But as grain and labor cost more near the cities, the poultry and
eggs produced near them must be sold at high prices. If the city people
were dependent upon these local supplies, only the rich could afford

As this is true of all perishable food articles, as well as of poultry
products, the growth of cities was restricted as long as there was no
means of bringing provisions quickly from places where they could be
produced at low cost. When steam railroads were built, this restriction
on the growth of cities was partly removed. Many cities then began to
grow very fast, and the demands of their population for cheap food led
city dealers in provisions to look for supplies in the towns and farms
along the railroads. Many such dealers had before collected provisions
by wagon as far from the city as was practicable. These men could now
greatly extend their routes, because, having collected a wagon-load,
they could take it to the most convenient railway station, ship it by
rail to the city, and go on collecting, instead of spending a day or
more in delivering their load in the city. Very soon after railroads
were first built, many farmers began to produce more poultry and eggs
and to ship them directly to the best city market that they could find.
As the demand for their produce was usually much greater than could be
supplied from their own farms, such farmers often began to buy from
their neighbors, thus becoming middlemen as well as producers. In many
cases such men would after a time find it to their advantage to move
their headquarters to the city, and would ultimately build up a very
large business.

[Illustration: Fig. 226. Fattening chickens in crates at a poultry
buyer's warehouse.[25] (Photograph from the Bureau of Chemistry, United
States Department of Agriculture)]

[25] If the farmer sells his chickens without fattening, the buyer can
fatten them in this way and so make an extra profit.

In nearly all farming sections, even those most remote from city
markets, there is a short period in the spring when there is a large
surplus of eggs and sometimes a period in the fall when there is more
poultry ready for market than can be sold; but the people in those
places rarely make any effort to increase their production, and to
extend the seasons when they have more than enough for themselves, until
they have good facilities for shipping eggs and poultry and the demands
from outside cause a marked increase in the local prices of these

[Illustration: Fig. 227. Driving turkeys to market. (Photograph from
Bureau of Chemistry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

So from the city and the country, almost simultaneously, but with the
demand from the city most active and pressing, the modern system of
collecting and distributing poultry products has grown. At first poultry
products were nearly all handled by men who dealt in all kinds of
country produce. As the business increased, many firms gave their
attention exclusively to poultry products. Then, when creameries were
established in many places, the creamery was found a convenient place
for the collection of eggs. The large packing houses which handle other
kinds of meat also entered this field and became a very important factor
in the development of poultry culture in the West.

[Illustration: Fig. 228. A big drive of turkeys arriving at a killing
house. (Photograph from Bureau of Chemistry, United States Department of

In the collection and distribution of poultry products the various
agencies mentioned form a great many different kinds of combinations.
The arrangements vary according to many different conditions. From first
to last every one who handles an article is trying to make all he can
out of it, but most of the middlemen deal fairly both in buying and in
selling. Indeed, people cannot continue long in any legitimate business
unless they are honest. As we shall see, middlemen are in a position
where they are often blamed without just cause, and often have to take
much greater risks than either producers or consumers.

=Losses in distribution.= It has been said that the general tendency is
to reduce as far as possible the number of middlemen concerned in the
distribution of poultry products. This tendency often goes too far and
overreaches its purpose of economy. The efforts of producers and country
collectors to deal directly with consumers and retailers in the large
cities often give them less profit than would be obtained by selling
through the regular channels of the trade. The reason for this is that
most producers and a majority of country collectors do not prepare and
pack their poultry and eggs so that they will reach those to whom they
are consigned in good condition and bring the prices which the shippers
expected to realize. The losses due to improper handling of eggs and
poultry by producers and small collectors are enormous, undoubtedly
amounting to more than $100,000,000 a year in the United States.

[Illustration: Fig. 229. Candling eggs.[26] (Photograph from Bureau of
Chemistry, United States Department of Agriculture)]

[26] The man is posing for the photograph. When he works, the room must
be dark except for the covered light used in candling.

To place eggs and poultry in the hands of consumers in strictly
first-class condition, they must be handled with great care at every
stage of preparation and distribution. Eggs must be gathered while
perfectly fresh, kept in a cool place where no bad odors will reach
them, and protected from heat and frost, as well as from breakage, when
being moved from place to place. If the producer is careless about any
of these points, many of his eggs will be tainted or stale or beginning
to rot when they are only a few days old, and though he may call them
fresh eggs and try to sell them as such, he will not get the highest
price for them. The small collectors are also likely to be careless in
handling eggs, and to ship them to receivers in bad condition.

The receivers in the cities, whose whole business is in perishable
products, cannot afford to handle goods in this slipshod way. They
candle the eggs that are forwarded to them to determine the quality, and
pay for eggs not only according to their external appearance, but also
the appearance and condition of the package in which they are received.
Candling eggs consists in passing them before a bright light, as in
testing to determine the fertility of eggs that are being incubated.
When the egg is held before a light, the expert candler can tell in an
instant whether it is fresh and good and, if not, just what is wrong
with it. Except when kept at almost freezing temperature, eggs that have
begun to decompose continue to deteriorate quite rapidly. Sometimes a
lot of eggs is candled several times and the bad ones removed, before it
reaches the last dealer who handles it.

Market poultry and pigeons are sold both alive and dead. Most dead
poultry is dressed (that is, has the feathers removed), but pigeons and
guineas are often marketed dead without plucking, and occasionally
turkeys are treated in the same way. Live birds lose weight in
transportation, especially when they are shipped in crowded and badly
ventilated coops. Frequently many birds in a shipment die before their
journey is over. Because of such losses, and because the price per pound
of the best dressed poultry is usually much higher than the price per
pound of the best live poultry, the impression that it is more
profitable for a producer to dress his poultry is widespread. The result
is that a great many people who have poultry to sell dress it just as
they would to use at home and, putting it into a box or a barrel, ship
it to a market where the prices are high, expecting to get the highest
price for it. A large part of such poultry arrives on the market in such
a condition that it is hard to sell at any price, and much of it has to
be thrown away.

[Illustration: Fig. 230. Barrel of dressed poultry opened on arrival at
its destination.[27] (Photograph from Bureau of Chemistry, United States
Department of Agriculture)]

[27] Note the large piece of ice remaining. If the ice should give out
on the way, the poultry would spoil.

Birds that are to be marketed should be kept without food or water for
from twenty-four to thirty-six hours before killing. The object of this
is to have the crop, gizzard, and intestines entirely empty. The killing
is done by making a small, deep cut, that will at the same time
penetrate the brain (making the bird unconscious) and sever one or two
veins, thus letting the blood flow freely. This cut is usually made in
the roof of the mouth, but sometimes in the neck. The former method is
preferred because it leaves no wound exposed to the air. The common
practice in picking poultry for home use is to scald the bird in water
just below the boiling temperature. When this is done just right, the
results are very good; the feathers come off easily and the skin is not
damaged. But if the bird is not held in the scalding water long enough,
the feathers are hard to remove and the skin may be torn in several
places in the process. If the bird is held in the water too long, the
skin will be partly cooked. If it is scalded before it has been properly
bled, the hot water will turn the skin red. The defects in scalded
poultry do not show badly at first, and if it is packed and shipped at
once, the shipper may think that it was in very good condition; but if
he could see it when the receiver unpacks it, he would be surprised to
find how many blemishes there were on it and how poor it looked.
Removing the feathers without scalding is called dry picking. It is an
art which requires considerable practice. The novice who tries it
usually tears the skin of the birds badly.

In order to reach the market in good condition, poultry must not only be
properly killed and picked, but each carcass must be cooled as quickly
as possible, to remove the animal heat that remains in it. This is done
either by hanging the carcasses in a very cool place or by putting them
in cold water. Meat of all kinds that is cooled immediately after
killing will keep much longer than if cooling is neglected.

[Illustration: Fig. 231. A badly dressed and a well-dressed fowl.
(Photograph from Bureau of Chemistry, United States Department of

There are so many details which must have attention in dressing poultry
for shipment, that it usually pays both producers and small collectors
to sell poultry alive to those who have better facilities for handling
it and whose operations are on such a scale that they can employ experts
for all parts of the work of preparation.

=Cold storage of poultry products.= So abundant are the supplies of eggs
in the spring, and of some kinds of dressed poultry in the summer, fall,
and early winter, that large quantities could not be sold at any price
at seasons of plenty if there were no way of keeping them until a season
of scarcity. For about half a century after the production of eggs and
poultry began to receive special attention in this country, the profits
of the ordinary producer were severely cut every spring and fall,
because the market was overstocked. Consumers derived little benefit
from this situation, because they could not use the surplus before it
spoiled. The popular idea of the way to remedy the conditions was to
have hens lay when eggs were scarce, and to have poultry ready for sale
when supplies were insufficient. Experience, however, has shown that it
is practically impossible to have a very large proportion of things of
this kind produced out of their natural season. The relatively small
numbers of people who succeed in doing so make very good profits, but
the masses of producers and consumers are not benefited.

The solution of the problem of carrying the surplus of a season of
abundance to a season of scarcity was discovered when methods of making
ice artificially were perfected and it was found that the equipment used
in manufacturing ice could be used to cool, to any desired degree, rooms
for the storage of perishable produce. This form of refrigeration was at
first used in place of the ordinary method (with natural ice), to keep
goods for short periods. Much larger quantities could be taken care of
in this way when for any reason a market was temporarily overstocked.

For hundreds of years it had been quite a common practice to preserve
eggs in various ways. By packing them in salt, or in salt brine, or in
limewater, eggs may be kept in very good condition for several months,
and sometimes for nearly a year. As limed and pickled eggs were
regularly sold in the markets, every dealer in eggs at once saw the
possibilities of cold storage as a factor in the market egg trade.
Wherever there was a storage house, dealers began to buy eggs when
prices were low, and store them to sell when prices were high. At first
a great many of those who stored eggs lost money on them, either by the
eggs spoiling in storage or because they kept the eggs too long, but
after a few years' experience the operators of cold-storage plants
learned the best temperatures for keeping the different kinds of produce
and the best methods of arranging different articles in the chambers of
the storage warehouses. They found that eggs kept best at 34 degrees
Fahrenheit, that poultry must be frozen hard, and that the temperature
in a storage chamber must not be allowed to vary. Those who were putting
eggs and poultry in cold storage found that it did not pay to store
produce that was not perfectly sound and good, and that products which
had been in cold storage must be used promptly after being taken out,
and also that they must plan their sales to have all stored goods sold
before the new crop began to come in, or they would lose money.

[Illustration: Fig. 232. Dressed fowls cooling on racks in dry-cooling
room. (Photograph from Bureau of Chemistry, United States Department of

The development of cold-storage methods and their extensive use have
been of great benefit to producers and consumers, as well as to
distributors of perishable food products. The storing of such products
is a legitimate form of speculative business. It prevents waste and
loss. The demand for eggs and poultry to go into cold storage raises the
price at seasons of plenty and makes a good market for all eggs and
poultry that are fit to store. The eggs and poultry that have been
stored furnish consumers with supplies at reasonable prices for much
longer seasons. As a rule supplies in storage are not kept there for
very long periods. Speculators who want to be on the safe side plan very
carefully so that most, if not all, of the stuff that they have stored
shall be sold before new supplies become abundant in the market. To do
this they have to watch very closely every condition affecting the
markets, and to use good judgment in selling. Most of them do not, as is
popularly supposed, hold their entire stock for the period when prices
are highest. If they did, all would lose. Eggs begin to come out of
storage about midsummer, and are withdrawn gradually for about six
months. By far the greater part of the poultry stored goes into the
warehouses in the fall and begins to come out soon after the winter

Within the limits of the time that goods may be carried in cold storage
profitably, long storage has no more bad effects on eggs and poultry
than refrigeration for short periods. Cold-storage products are usually
of better than average quality if used immediately upon being withdrawn
from storage.

=Methods of selling at retail.= For convenience in handling and counting
them in quantities, eggs are packed in cases containing thirty dozen
each, and wholesale transactions in eggs are by the case, but with the
price usually quoted by the dozen. Consumers who use large quantities of
eggs buy them by the case. The ordinary consumer buys them by the dozen.
There is a widespread impression that, inasmuch as eggs vary greatly in
size, the practice of selling them by count is not fair to the consumer.
This feeling sometimes goes so far that laws are proposed, and even
passed, requiring that eggs shall be sold by weight. Such a law does
not remain long in force, because weighing small quantities of eggs is
troublesome and the greater number of consumers prefer to buy them by
the dozen. In fact, while eggs are nominally sold by count both at
wholesale and at retail, they are usually assorted according to size,
and the prices graduated to suit. Considering size, condition, quality,
and color of shell, as many as ten grades of eggs are sometimes made.
Although the color of the shell of an egg has no relation whatever to
its palatability or its nutritive value, eggs of a certain color
sometimes command a premium. Thus, in New York City white eggs of the
best grades will bring from five to ten cents a dozen more than brown
eggs of equal quality, while in Boston the situation is exactly

When most of the poultry of each kind in any market is of about the same
size and quality, it is customary to sell live poultry at wholesale at a
uniform price by the dozen, and to sell at retail by the piece or by the
pair. But as soon as any considerable part of the poultry of any kind in
a market is larger than the general run of supplies, a difference is
made, in the prices per dozen or per piece or per pair, between small
birds and large ones. If the size of the largest specimens further
increases, the range of weights becomes too great to be classified in
this way, and selling by weight soon becomes the common practice.
Conditions are the same for dead poultry, except that the change to
selling by weight comes more quickly.

In preparing poultry for market by the method that has been described
the head and feet were left on and the internal organs were not removed.
The reason for this is that poultry keeps much better in this state.
Removing these parts exposes the flesh at several places to the action
of the air and of bacteria, which cause putrefaction. In many markets in
poultry-producing sections it is customary to sell poultry drawn and
with the head and feet off. In places where most of the poultry comes
from a distance the waste parts of the carcass are not removed until it
is bought by the consumer. Some people who buy in this way think that
they are being defrauded if the marketman weighs the bird before
removing the offal. Sometimes, to satisfy such a customer, a dealer
removes the offal before weighing, and the customer cheerfully pays a
higher rate per pound, feeling that at any rate he is getting just what
he pays for when he insists on having it done in this way. As far as the
cost is concerned, it makes no difference to the consumer at what stage
of distribution the offal is discarded.

=Volume of products.= In the United States and Canada the production and
consumption of poultry products are very nearly equal, because each
country has agricultural areas capable of supplying an enormous
population with poultry and eggs. Production in such districts responds
quickly to the increasing demands of other sections, but not in such
volume as to create large surpluses for export. The present annual
production of the United States is variously estimated at from
$600,000,000 to $1,000,000,000. This wide difference exists because the
census is only a partial one. In Canada no general census of poultry
products has ever been taken.

The poultry statistics for the United States as collected decennially by
the Bureau of the Census may be found complete in the full report of
agricultural statistics. Those for the different states may be obtained
in separate bulletins. Some of the states and provinces collect poultry
statistics through state and provincial departments and furnish the
reports to all persons desiring them. Persons living in communities
which ship poultry products can usually learn from the local shippers
the approximate amounts and the value of the produce that they handle.
At the more important receiving points statistics of receipts are kept
by such organizations as the Produce Exchange, Board of Trade, or
Chamber of Commerce, and the results published in their annual reports.
From such sources it is possible for pupils to get information as to the
status and importance of the poultry trade in the communities in which
they live.



=Conditions in the fancy trade.= The trade in fancy poultry and pigeons
and in cage birds is on a very different basis from the trade in market
products. With the arrangements for collecting poultry products and for
holding them when that is desirable, it seldom happens that market
products cannot be sold at any time when the producer wants to dispose
of them. The fancy trade is quite closely limited to certain short
seasons. In this trade prices depend as much upon the reputation of the
seller as upon the quality of his stock. Very high prices are obtained
only by those who have made a big reputation by winning at important
shows, and have advertised their winnings extensively. Buyers of fancy
stock prefer to deal directly with producers, and the greater part of
the business is mail-order business. It is almost impossible to force
the sale of this class of stock except by selling it for the table at
market prices. The producer can only advertise and wait for customers,
and what is not sold at fancy prices must be sold at market prices.

=Exhibitions.= Competitive exhibitions hold a very important place in
the development and distribution of improved stocks of animals. In old
times such exhibitions were informal gatherings of the persons in a
locality who were interested in the improvement of a particular breed or
variety. Our knowledge of these early gatherings of breeders of domestic
birds is very limited and is mostly traditional. From what is known it
appears that they were usually held in the evenings at public houses,
and that each person taking part carried with him to the place of
meeting one or more of his best birds; that these were compared and
their qualities discussed by the company, and that at the close each
participant carried his exhibit home.

[Illustration: Fig. 233. View of a section of a large poultry show in
Mechanics Building, Boston, Massachusetts]

As the interest in breeding for fancy points extended, such gatherings
became larger and assumed a more formal character, and rules were
adopted for comparing, or judging, the birds; but it was not until about
the middle of the nineteenth century that the modern system of public
exhibitions of poultry, pigeons, cage birds, and pet stock was
inaugurated. The first exhibitions of this kind were held at the
agricultural fairs. Very soon after these began to attract attention,
special exhibitions, limited to this class of stock and held in suitable
buildings in the winter, became frequent. Now large shows are held
annually in nearly every large city and in hundreds of smaller cities,
and every agricultural fair has its poultry department. For the sake of
brevity, shows at which poultry is the principal feature are called
simply poultry shows, although they often include other kinds of
domestic birds and all kinds of small domestic animals.

A large poultry show, with a great variety of exhibits of birds and of
the appliances used in aviculture, affords an excellent opportunity to
see good specimens of many kinds. Those who have such an opportunity
ought to make the most of it. But the novice who can attend only small
shows will find that, while he does not see as many different kinds of
birds there and may not see many really fine specimens, the small show
affords the beginner a much better opportunity to learn something about
the differences that affect quality and value in fancy poultry and

At the large show there is so much to see, and the differences between
the winning specimens in any class are usually so slight, that only
those who are familiar with many varieties can make a critical
examination of the exhibits. At the smaller shows the varieties are not
as numerous, the competing classes are smaller, and the differences
between the specimens which win prizes are often plainly apparent, even
to a novice, if he has a clue to the method of making the awards. Those
who visit large shows can use their time to best advantage if they make
as careful a study as they can of the few things in which they take the
most interest, and take just a casual look at everything else. In the
four or five days that it is open to the public it is not possible for
any one to make a thorough, discriminating inspection of all that there
is to be seen at a large poultry show, and an experienced visitor to
such shows never tries to do so. At many of the small shows even a
novice, by studying the exhibits systematically, may get a very good
idea of all the classes and may add something to his accurate knowledge
of a number of different kinds of birds.

=Rudiments of judging.= While even an ordinary poultry show contains a
great deal that is of interest to those who know how to get at it, the
visitor who does not know how to study the exhibits and simply takes a
cursory look at all of them, tires of the regular classes at a show in a
very short time. After the awards have been made, the ribbons or cards
on the coops will show the winning birds and their relative positions,
but unless one knows something of the methods and rules of judging and
compares the birds with some care, he is likely to get the impression
that making comparisons between show birds requires a keener critical
faculty than he possesses, and to conclude that it is quite useless for
him to attempt to discover why the birds have been ranked in the order
in which the judge has placed them.

Judging live stock is not a matter of simple comparisons of weights and
dimensions. The personal opinions of the judge necessarily affect his
decisions, and as the opinions of men differ, their judgments will vary.
A judge is often in doubt as to which of two or more birds is (all
things considered) the better specimen, but he must make his decision on
the birds as they appear to him at the time, and that decision must
stand for that competition. No one, no matter how well he may know the
requirements of the standard for a variety and the methods of applying
it, can discover by a study of a class of birds all of the judge's
reasons for his decisions; but any one who will keep in mind and try to
apply a few simple, general rules can look over a variety that he has
never seen before, and of which he may not know the name, and (unless
the judge has been very erratic in his decisions) can see why most of
the awards in a small class of varied quality have been made.

These rules are:

1. The character or characters that most conspicuously distinguish a
type are given most consideration in judging.

2. Color of plumage is given more consideration than shape, unless some
shape character is unusually striking.

3. Quality in color of plumage consists in evenness and purity of shade
in solid-colored specimens, and in sound colors and distinctness of the
pattern in party-colored specimens.

4. The shape of extraordinary superficial shape characters, such as
crests, very large combs, heavy foot-feathering, etc., is usually given
as much consideration as color.

The first rule really includes all the others, and although this is not
usually admitted by the exponents of current methods of judging live
stock, in practice it is the fundamental rule in judging. One reason why
people who have a little knowledge of standards for well-bred poultry,
and of the methods of applying them, are almost always puzzled by the
awards at poultry shows is because they try to analyze them in
accordance with the commonly accepted theory of judging by points, which
assigns definite numerical values to certain characters. This theory
assumes that the judge, taking these values as a basis, computes the
values of faults with mathematical accuracy. This is not possible where
the computation is based upon an opinion.

To illustrate the application of the rules given, let us apply them to
some well-known varieties, taking first the Barred Plymouth Rock.

The conspicuous distinguishing character of this variety is the barred
color pattern; therefore color of plumage has most consideration in
judging it. The pattern is the same all over the bird; therefore every
feather should be barred. The pattern must be sharply defined; therefore
the colors must be clean-cut and the bars straight and of nearly equal
width on each feather, with the width of bars on feathers of different
sizes proportionate to the width of the feather. These requirements seem
very simple when stated, but a close examination of ordinary exhibition
Barred Plymouth Rocks will show very few specimens that closely approach
perfection according to the rules.

Now take the White Wyandotte. The most conspicuous character of any
white bird is its whiteness. In judging this variety, therefore,
whiteness will have more consideration than any other quality. White
Wyandottes are distinguished from White Plymouth Rocks by the shape of
the comb; therefore the shape of the comb will be given more attention
by the judge than if there were other distinguishing features.

Silver-Laced Wyandottes are conspicuous for their color pattern;
therefore the most important thing is that this shall be well defined
and uniform, the white centers clean and white and the black edges
intensely black. Uniformity in such markings is very difficult to
produce. A bird may be well marked in one section and very poorly marked
in another.

In Partridge Cochins the most conspicuous character is extreme feather
development; the next is color of plumage, which differs in male and
female. Feather development and the shape which it produces will
therefore have about equal consideration with color. In color the male
is black on the breast and body, with a red neck and back, the feathers
of the hackle and the saddle having black stripes in the center;
therefore, in the male, quality in color consists in blackness in the
black sections, a uniform red in the red sections, and clear and sharp
striping wherever it appears. The Partridge Cochin female has plumage of
brown penciled with a darker brown; therefore to the eye of a poultry
fancier the beauty of her color consists in well-defined penciling and a
harmonious contrast in the two shades of color.

A White-Crested Black Polish fowl is most conspicuous for its large
white crest; therefore the crest is the most important feature to be
considered in judging this variety. But color is also very important,
for if the white feathers of the crest are partly mixed with black, or
the black of the body is dull, the effect is not pleasing.

The Fantail Pigeon is most conspicuous for its fan-shaped tail;
therefore this is the most important thing in judging. The tail must not
only be large and well shaped, but must be carried in an attractive
manner. It must not be too large, because then the bird cannot carry it
in a good position. In addition to carrying the tail in a good position,
the bird must pose so that the whole attitude adds to the attractiveness
of the principal feature.

Similarly with the Pouter Pigeon, the globular crop, which is its
distinctive character, must be large and well formed, and in addition
the general carriage must be such as to show the pouting trait to the
best advantage.

[Illustration: Fig. 234. Almost complete view of a poultry show at
Worcester, Massachusetts]

The same rules of color which apply to fowls apply also to pigeons. The
color patterns of pigeons are much more numerous, but as a rule the
principal required features are at once obvious to any one who keeps in
mind the general rules that have been given.

After the more conspicuous characters, many minor characters are given
particular consideration. In theoretical statements of methods of
judging, these minor characters are often treated as of equal importance
with the conspicuous characters, but in ordinary judging practice they
are not often so treated, except in the case of disqualifying faults, to
be noted presently. The less conspicuous characters, including shape of
body (in regard to which the average fancier and judge is somewhat
careless, not discriminating between closely related types), become
important in making decisions between specimens which appear to be equal
in the more conspicuous characters. Because of this there is a tendency
to exaggerate some one minor character whenever a high degree of
uniformity in characters that are of primary importance in judging is

[Illustration: Fig. 235. Saddle Fantail Pigeon[28]]

[Illustration: Fig. 236. White Fantail Pigeons [28]]

[28] Reproduced, by permission, from "Domesticated Animals and Plants,"
by E. Davenport.

=Disqualifications.= The practice of judging the relative merits of
exhibition birds principally by a few striking characters tends to make
breeders and exhibitors neglect many little things which affect the
appearance of a bird. This is especially the case with exhibitors
competing under judges who are partial to some conspicuous character. To
prevent this, and to place the heaviest possible penalty upon serious
faults that are easily overlooked, certain faults are made
disqualifications; that is, a bird having any one of these faults is
absolutely debarred from competition, no matter how good it may be in
other respects.

There is general agreement as to the wisdom and justice of disqualifying
for deformities or for mutilations of the feathers to conceal a fault.
In regard to disqualifying for trivial faults, fanciers differ in
opinion. Many hold that this has been carried to a ridiculous extreme in
some cases. Thus, in all clean-legged fowls it is required that the
shanks and toes shall be free from small feathers, stubs, or down. Most
fanciers agree that conspicuous feathers and stubs should disqualify,
but many consider that to disqualify for a minute bit of down, which can
hardly be seen without the aid of a magnifying glass, is going too far.

Unless the judge has overlooked a disqualification (and this rarely
happens), none will be found on a bird that has been awarded a prize. If
in any class there is a bird which is not given a place, though
apparently superior to any of the prize winners in the characters most
distinctive of its variety, that bird usually has some disqualification.
The list of disqualifications is too long to be given here. It is not
the same throughout for all varieties. Exhibitors and breeders do not
attempt to keep track of the disqualifications (which are changed
occasionally) for any but the varieties in which they are especially

=Methods of judging.= When exhibitions of domestic birds were first
held, the awards were usually made by committees of two or three judges.
The object in doing this was to insure impartiality and to make
connivance between a judge and an exhibitor more difficult. It was found
that this plan did not work well. Often the opinions of one man
dominated, or, if the man could not have his way, the committee wrangled
and took too long to make its decisions. So by degrees the committee
plan was abandoned and a single judge made the awards in accordance with
standards and rules agreed upon by associations of exhibitors and

At first all judging was done by comparison of the specimens of each
class entered in competition. That is the method still in general use in
Europe and widely used in America. But to many exhibitors comparison
judging seemed unsatisfactory, because by it only the winning birds were
indicated, and exhibitors whose birds did not win usually wanted to
know how their birds compared with the winners. To meet this demand
score-card judging was adopted. In this method of judging, the
characters to be considered are divided into sections, which are named
in order on a card having corresponding blank spaces in which to mark
numerical cuts for faults in each section. The score cards used at
poultry shows where judging is done by that method do not indicate to
which of several possible faults a cut applies, except that, having one
column for shape cuts and another for color cuts, they show in which
class the fault appears. In many educational and private score cards the
names of the common faults in each section are printed in the space
allotted that section, in order that the fault may be accurately
checked. The use of cards with so much detail is not practical in
ordinary competition.

The score of a bird judged by the score-card method is the difference
between 100 (taken as the symbol of the perfect bird of any variety) and
the sum of all the cuts made for faults. The common cuts for faults are
½ for a slight fault, 1 for a pronounced fault, and 1½ for a very bad
fault. Occasionally larger cuts are made for serious faults.
Theoretically the score is supposed to represent accurately the relation
of a specimen to a perfect specimen, but really scores only represent in
a general way the judges' opinions of the relative values of the birds
in a class, and indicate to the exhibitor where the judge found faults
in his bird.

=Exhibition quality and value.= The winning of a prize at an important
show gives a breeder of fancy birds a standing that he could not
otherwise acquire. The greater part of the sales of poultry of this
class are made by mail to persons who do not know the breeder personally
and do not see his stock until after purchasing. No matter how good his
stock may be, those who want to buy will not pay much attention to his
claims for its superior quality until they have such confirmation of
those claims as is given by the winning of prizes in competition. Then
the prices which a breeder can get for his stock will be regulated
largely by the prices obtained by other successful exhibitors at shows
of the same class.

There is a wide range of prices from those that can be secured for stock
of the quality that wins at the greatest shows, to those that can be
obtained for the kind that wins at ordinary small shows. High prices are
paid for noted winners and for other stock of the same breeding, as much
for the advertising value of ownership of fine stock as for the actual
value of the birds to breed from or to exhibit again. A breeder who wins
at some very small show may find it hard to sell either stock or eggs
for hatching except at a slight advance over market prices. Some
breeders who have made remarkable records in winning at the best shows
can get very high prices for their prize-winning stock and for the eggs
from it. Fowls sometimes sell as high as $500 each, and eggs at $2 each.
Pigeons also bring very high prices at times, although fewer people are
interested in them and sales are not so numerous. The ordinary prices
for good stock are quite reasonable, considering how few really fine
specimens are produced. The average novice finds that fowls at from $10
to $25 a trio and pigeons at from $5 to $15 a pair have all the quality
that he can appreciate.

In the early days of modern fancy poultry culture those breeders who had
great reputations could get relatively high prices for almost any bird
that would pass as a breeding specimen of its kind. This is still true
of breeders who successfully introduce new varieties or who suddenly
attain prominence with stock of their own breeding. But as the stock of
a leading breeder becomes widely distributed among smaller breeders, the
competition of his customers reduces his sales, and especially the sales
of the cheaper grades of stock. The most troublesome problem that the
best breeders have is to get rid of the lower grades of their stock at a
fair profit.

=Why good breeders have much low-priced stock.= Novices in the breeding
of fine stock commonly suppose that all pure-bred stock of any variety
is of uniform quality. When they learn that, as a rule, only a small
part of the young birds hatched from good stock is considered of
superior quality, they often conclude that the ideas and the standards
of fanciers must be wrong. Even professional and scientific men who
become interested in fancy poultry and pigeons often take this view and,
after considering the question carefully from their standpoint, try to
explain to fanciers how, by changing a standard, they might secure a
much larger proportion of specimens approximately perfect according to
the standard used. In the case of varieties in which the finest
specimens of the different sexes are secured from different matings,
many novices waste a great deal of time trying to convince old fanciers
that their standards and methods are illogical and unnatural.

To those who do not understand the philosophy of the interest in
breeding to highly specialized types the arguments for standards that
are adjusted to common results and are easy to attain appear to be
unanswerable. Upon the fancier who does understand this philosophy they
make no impression at all. The breeding and exhibiting of fancy stock of
any kind is primarily a game. The rules of the game are in a measure
arbitrary, like the rules in baseball or football or any other game. At
the same time they must be framed in the interests of the development of
the game as a sport and also as a spectacle. They must be reasonable and
must be suited to players of all degrees of skill.

Standards and rules for judging fancy stock develop just as the rules of
athletic games develop. A generation ago such games as baseball and
football were comparatively simple games in which boys and men might
take very creditable parts without devoting a great deal of attention to
practice. These games still afford recreation to many who use them for
that purpose only, but they have also been developed so that players of
exceptional skill play competition games for the interest of a public
which studies the fine points of these games and compares the abilities
of the players. People who take an interest in and patronize
professional or high-class amateur ball games do so because in them
skillful and well-trained players do difficult things. It is the same in
the breeding of fancy live stock to a high standard of excellence. When
a breed or a variety is first made, the interest of the breeders centers
in a few characters, precisely as the interest of a novice in any line
centers in a few prominent features. As breeders grow in experience and
in skill, and as the characters to which they first give special
attention become fixed, they demand better quality in these and also
turn their attention to the development of other characters. The more
difficult a combination of characters is to produce, the greater
interest the fancier takes in trying to produce it. When a standard
calls for a high degree of excellence in many characters, the proportion
of specimens of high excellence, as measured by that standard, will
almost always be small. It is because this is the case that the rare
specimens are considered so valuable.

=Fancy and utility types in the same variety.= The great majority of
American breeders of fancy poultry seek to secure a high degree of
practical value in combination with fancy quality in their stock. There
are some fanciers who breed only for fancy points, and some market
poultry growers who pay no attention at all to them, but as a rule those
who give market poultry special attention want well-bred stock of good
ordinary quality, and those who keep poultry for pleasure want the flock
kept for this purpose to supply at least their own tables with eggs and
meat. The breeder who wishes to combine fancy and utility properties in
any kind of live stock must breed only from specimens that are
meritorious in both directions, selecting much more carefully than when
breeding for one class of properties.



The value of a knowledge of domestic birds is not limited to the use
which may be made of it in keeping them for profit or for pleasure. Any
occupation in which a great many people are interested affords
opportunities to combine the knowledge relating to it with special
knowledge or skill in other lines, to the advantage of those who are
able to do so. Just as the large market or fancy poultry business may
develop from a small flock kept to supply the owner's table or to give
him a little recreation, many special occupations grow out of particular
interests of aviculturists. Some of these have been mentioned
incidentally in preceding chapters. In this chapter the principal
occupations associated with aviculture will be discussed both in their
relation to that subject and with respect to their possible interest for
those who plan to devote themselves to lines of work which would qualify
them for special service in aviculture.

=Judging fancy poultry and pigeons.= There is the same difference
between selecting one's own birds according to quality and judging the
birds of others in competition that there is between performing well in
a friendly game and performing well in a competition where the stakes
are important and feeling runs high. Many fanciers who are good breeders
and also good judges under other conditions make poor judges in
competitions. In judging at shows decisions must be made quickly, there
is little opportunity to rectify mistakes, and if a judge makes serious
blunders he is severely criticized. A person who deliberates a long time
before coming to a decision, and who is very sensitive to criticisms of
his errors, even though he knows that some errors are sure to be made
by every one and that unprejudiced exhibitors make allowance for this,
will not make a successful judge of poultry and pigeons. Judges as a
class are not the men who know the most about standard-bred birds or who
are the most skillful in breeding them, although some of the best
breeders are among the best judges. Almost all fanciers get
opportunities to act as judges. If their work is satisfactory, the
demand for their services increases until in time their income from this
source may be large enough to make it worth while to adjust their other
affairs to their engagements at poultry shows.

=Journalism.= There were a few books on poultry and pigeons written in
the first half of the last century, and a larger number immediately
following the "hen-fever" period. These and the articles on poultry and
pigeons in agricultural papers constituted the literature of the subject
until about 1870. Then there appeared a number of poultry journals, most
of which gave some attention to other domestic birds. The demand for
special journals arose because many people who were interested in
poultry were living in cities and were not interested in general
agriculture; they wanted more information about poultry matters than the
agricultural papers could give. Advertisers of poultry and pigeons, and
of goods bought by aviculturists, also wished advertising mediums
through which they could reach buyers at less cost than they could
through the agricultural papers. The rates for advertising are based
upon circulation, and if only a small class of the readers of a
publication are buyers of a particular class of goods advertised in it,
the cost of reaching them may be too great. Whenever any interest
becomes of sufficient importance, journals especially devoted to it are
issued, for the convenience of buyers and sellers as well as for the
information they contain. Until about 1890 nearly all poultry journals
were small publications which the owners looked after in their spare
time. Then they began to increase in number and importance, and before
long there were a great many that gave regular employment to editors,
advertising solicitors, and subscription solicitors, who were employed
for their knowledge of poultry and their acquaintance with poultrymen as
well as for special qualifications for their respective departments.

=Art.= The illustrating of poultry journals and books, and of the
catalogues of fanciers and other advertisers in poultry literature,
gives employment to a constantly increasing number of artists. In order
to successfully portray birds for critical fanciers, an artist must be
something of a fancier. It is not enough that he should draw or paint
them as he sees them; he must know how to pose birds of different kinds,
types, and breeds so that his pictures will show the proper
characteristic poses and show the most important characters to their
best advantage. Since the half-tone process of making illustrations was
perfected, the greatest demand is for photographic work, but unless an
artist is able to work over and complete a defective photograph with
brush or pencil, he cannot make this line of work profitable. Most birds
are difficult subjects to photograph, and only a small proportion of the
photographs that are taken can be used without retouching. A
photographer may work for an hour to get a bird posed to suit him, and
then, just as he presses the bulb, the bird, by a slight movement of the
head or foot, may spoil one feature in a photograph that is otherwise
all that could be desired. An artist who can draw birds can remedy such
defects; the ordinary commercial artist cannot.

=Invention.= The most important invention used in aviculture is the
artificial incubator. Methods of hatching eggs by artificial heat were
developed independently by the Egyptians and by the Chinese thousands of
years ago, and are still used in Egypt and China. The arrangements used
in these old hatcheries are crude, and the success of the operation
depends upon exceptional skill and judgment on the part of the operator.
Operating incubators is a business continued in the same families for
centuries. Each hatchery does the hatching for a community.

In the early part of the eighteenth century a French scientist named
Réaumur, who was much interested in poultry, began to make experiments
in artificial hatching and brooding. In 1750 he published a very full
account of these and other experiments which he had made with poultry.
His idea was to devise a modification of the Egyptian practice of
hatching in ovens, suited to the conditions of a more advanced
civilization. He succeeded in hatching eggs by utilizing the waste heat
from a baker's oven, and also hatched eggs in hotbeds heated with
decomposing manure. He applied the hotbed principle to the brooding of
chickens with some success. But the methods that he devised were not
adapted to general use.

After Réaumur many others experimented with artificial hatching. Some of
the ideas were obviously more impractical than those of Réaumur, but the
experimenters tried them out and sometimes succeeded in hatching
chickens by very peculiar and laborious processes. One man in England,
in the latter part of the eighteenth century, hatched some chickens from
eggs placed in cotton batting in a sieve adjusted over a charcoal fire
in a small fireplace. The fire was watched constantly for three weeks,
either by himself or by some member of his family. He demonstrated that
eggs could be hatched in this way, but not that it could be done
profitably. Practical incubators were not produced until about forty
years ago.

Although incubators and brooders have been brought to a relatively high
state of efficiency, they are far from perfect. Inventors of the best
machines are still studying ways to improve them. In this and many other
fields there are opportunities for inventive genius.

=Education and investigation.= Lectures on poultry have been given
occasionally at agricultural institutes in the United States since about
1860. After 1890 the demand for such lectures, and the number given,
constantly increased, and ability to speak in public became valuable to
one versed in aviculture. Then the study of poultry culture was
introduced into agricultural colleges, and a new field was opened to
poultry keepers with a faculty for teaching, and for trained teachers
with special knowledge of domestic birds. The teaching of poultry
culture impressed upon those engaged in it the need of scientific
investigation of many problems not clearly understood even by the
best-informed poultrymen.

The agricultural experiment stations had been giving little attention to
some of these problems except in a desultory way and without important
results. As the demands for more accurate information on many topics
increased, many of the experiment stations began to make important
poultry investigations. For this work men specially trained in various
sciences were required. As a rule the men that were secured for such
work knew very little about poultry when they began their
investigations, but it was much easier for them to acquire a knowledge
of poultry sufficient for their needs than for persons who had poultry
knowledge and no scientific training to qualify for positions as
investigators. The field of investigation of matters relating to poultry
is constantly being extended. Proficiency in physics, chemistry,
biology, surgery, and medicine, and in higher mathematics as far as it
relates to the problems of any of the sciences mentioned, will always be
in demand for scientific work in aviculture. In the future the most
efficient teachers and investigators will be those whose early
familiarity with domestic birds has given a greater insight into the
subject than is usually possessed by those who take up the study of the
subject comparatively late in life.

=Manufacturing and commerce.= It is very much easier to build up a large
business in the manufacture or the sale of articles used by poultry and
pigeon keepers than to build up a large business as a breeder of
domestic birds of any kind. As has been stated in connection with nearly
every kind of bird mentioned in this book, a poultry keeper's operations
are limited by the difficulty of keeping large numbers of birds
continuously on the same land, and also by the exacting nature of the
work of caring for them under such conditions. In manufacturing and
commercial operations there are no such limitations. The possibilities
of development depend upon the extent of the demand for the articles
that are manufactured or sold, and only a small proportion of the
employees need to be persons versed in aviculture. But in competition
with other manufacturers or merchants those who understand domestic
birds and know all the different phases of interest in them have a very
great advantage over those who do not.

=Legislation and litigation.= The rise of new industries creates new
problems for legislators, executive departments, courts, and lawyers. An
industry in which many people are interested eventually reaches a stage
where it is profitable for lawyers to specialize to some extent in laws
affecting it, and politic for legislators and administrators to do what
is in their power to protect the interests of those engaged in it, and
to advance those interests for the benefit of the whole community. A
special field is opening for lawyers familiar with aviculture and with
its relations to other matters, just as within a few years the field has
opened to teachers and investigators.

       *       *       *       *       *

The possible uses of a knowledge of aviculture to young people who are
naturally inclined toward intellectual professions, art, invention,
manufacturing, or trading have not been given for the sake of urging
students to direct their course especially toward work connected with
aviculture. The object is only to show those who take an interest in the
subject that it is worth while to cultivate that interest for other
reasons, as well as for the profit or the pleasure that may be
immediately derived from it.


  Abbotsbury, old swannery at, 229

  Africa, guinea fowl in, 202;
    ostrich breeding in, 235

  African goose, 164;
    illustrated, 164

  Age, of earth, 25;
    of fowls, 92;
    of geese, 169;
    of swans, 223;
    of ostriches, 232

  Agricultural experiment stations, interest of, in aviculture, 308

  Agricultural fairs, poultry exhibitions at, 292

  Aigret of peafowl, 208

  Albumen, formation of, in egg, 17

  Alfalfa, 140, 236

  American Wild Goose, 165;
    illustrated, 166

  American Wild Pigeon, 241

  Amherst Pheasant, illustrated, 214

  Ancona, 64

  Andalusian, Blue, 49, 64

  Animal kingdom, place of birds in, 2

  Animals, having bird characters, 1;
    predacious, prevent use of colony system, 107

  Annual production of poultry and eggs in United States, 290

  Antwerp Homer Pigeon, 246

  Art, relation of, to poultry culture, 306

  Aseel, 50

  Ashes, use of, in poultry house, 75

  Asia, peafowl in, 208;
    pheasants in, 212

  Asiatic races of fowls, 49

  Australia, Black Swan discovered in, 223

  Austria, goose growing in, 167

  Aylesbury Duck, 129;
    as a market duck in America, 147

  Babylonians, knowledge of fowls among, 36

  Bache, importation of pheasants by, 212

  Bakubas, ducks among the, 127

  Bantams, 66;
    illustrated, 37, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70

  Barbs of feather, 9

  Barnum, P. T., promoter of an early poultry show, 53

  Barrel of dressed poultry iced for shipment, illustrated, 284

  Barring, quality in, 295

  Bat, a flying animal, 1

  Bath, for ducks, 139;
    for pigeons, 261;
    for canaries, 273

  Beard, of fowls, 10;
    of turkeys, 180

  Bedding for ducks, 138

  Beef scrap, 116, 140

  Belgian Canary, 271;
    illustrated, 271

  Bill, of duck, 124;
    of goose, 158

  Bird, use of term, 2

  Birdseed, composition of, 273

  Black Swan, 223

  Blackhead in turkeys, 198

  Blood, feeding, to fowls, 90

  Boat, swimming bird model for, 3, 124

  Boston, first poultry show held in, 52

  Boston Common, feeding pigeons on, illustrated, 245

  Bourbon Red Turkey, 187;
    illustrated, 188

  Brahma Bantams, 71;
    illustrated, 70

  Brahmaputras, 53

  Brahmas, Light, illustrated, 22, 36, 37;
    Dark, illustrated, 51;
    used for roasters, 116

  Bran, 78, 89

  Branding swans, 225

  Bread, feeding, to swans, 228

  Breast in birds, relation of development of, to flight, 12

  Breed, defined, 28

  Bremen Goose, 161

  Broiler growing, 112

  Bronze Turkey, 183;
    illustrated, 186

  Broody hen, actions of, 93

  Brown eggs, preference for, in Boston, 289

  Brunswick Goose, 161

  Bucks County Fowl, 56

  Buff Turkey, 187

  Buoyancy of aquatic birds, 15

  Burnham, author of "The History of the Hen Fever," 53

  Buttermilk, 98

  Cabbage for poultry, 89, 117, 140

  Cackling of fowls, 33

  Cages for canaries, 272

  Call Ducks, 133, 134;
    illustrated, 135

  Cambridgeshire Bronze Turkey, 182

  Canada Goose, 165;
    illustrated, 166

  Canary Islands, canaries in, 269

  Candling eggs, 21, 283;
    illustrated, 282

  Capon, 116

  Carneaux squabs, illustrated, 266

  Carrier Pigeon, 243

  Cart, used on poultry farm, illustrated, 102

  Cats and canaries, 272

  Cayuga Duck, 131

  Cement floor in poultry house, 74

  Central America, turkey in, 181

  Ceylon, peafowl in, 209

  Chalazæ, function of, 17

  Charcoal fire, incubating eggs over, 307

  Chicken, exclusion of, 22;
    technical use of term, 35

  Chickweed for canaries, 273

  Children as poultry keepers, 39, 42

  China, introduction of poultry into, 36;
    Pekin Duck brought from, 131;
    artificial incubation in, 305

  China Geese, 162;
    illustrated, 162, 163

  Chinese races of fowls, 51

  Cities, relation of growth of, to poultry culture, 278

  Classes of domestic birds, 6

  Clover, 140

  Clucking of hen, 33, 93

  Cochin, Buff, illustrated, 50;
    Black, used in making Plymouth Rock, 57;
    Partridge, judging, 296

  Cochin Bantams, 69;
    illustrated, 69

  Cock, use of term, 34

  Cockfighting, prohibition of, 5

  Cockerel, 35

  Cold storage, 112, 285

  Colony houses, illustrated, 101, 103, 104, 106

  Colony system of poultry keeping, 101

  Color, in feathers, 10;
    of wild ancestor of domestic fowl, 27;
    of wild ancestor of domestic pigeon, 247;
    consideration of, in judging, 294

  Comb, of fowl, 33, 117;
    of guinea, 200

  Commerce, relations of, to aviculture, 308

  Common Pheasant, 214

  Comparison judging, 299

  Confinement, effect of, on egg production, 72, 74

  Cooling dressed poultry, 285;
    illustrated, 287

  Coop, made of dry-goods box, illustrated, 75;
    for hens and chicks, 97;
    illustrated, 97, 98, 106;
    for turkey hen and brood, illustrated, 197;
    for pheasants, illustrated, 218, 219

  Corn, cracked, 78, 98, 103, 116, 140, 175;
    feeding, on cob, 89;
    soaking whole, 89;
    for sitting hens, 95;
    stale, 220

  Corn meal for chicks, 78, 89, 97

  Cornfield, poultry in, 106;
    illustrated, 122

  Cracker crumbs for chicks, 98

  Creameries as egg-collecting depots, 280

  Creamy tint in white feathers, cause of, 11

  Crest, occurrence of, in fowls, 10;
    consideration of, in judging, 295

  Crested White Duck, 133

  Crop, function of, 16;
    size of, in duck, 140;
    peculiarity of, in ostrich, 232

  Croppers, 250

  Crossbred, defined, 29

  Crow of cock, 33

  Crower, colloquial use of term, 35

  Cuckoo, laying habit of, 1;
    mating habits of, 3;
    fowls, 43

  Curl in tail of drake, 127

  Cuttle bone for canaries, 273

  Cygnet, 224

  Darknecked Pheasant, 214

  Decoration, feathers used for, 32

  Decorative plumage, 10

  Deer's hair for canaries' nests, 274

  Diet of birds, 15

  Disqualifications for exhibitions, 298

  Domestication, adaptability of species to, 7

  Dominique, 43, 55, 57;
    illustrated, 43

  Dorking, 44, 55;
    illustrated, 44

  Dove, origin and use of term, 240

  Dovecots, great number of, in England in medieval times, 252

  Down, defined, 8;
    replaced by feathers, 11;
    sometimes a disqualification, 299

  Dragoon pigeon, 251;
    illustrated, 241

  Drawing poultry, 289

  Dressed poultry, 283;
    illustrated, 285

  Dressed squabs, illustrated, 267

  Driving turkeys to market, illustrated, 199, 280, 281

  Droppings board, 75

  Duck farms, illustrated, 146, 147, 149, 150

  Dumb ducks, 127

  Dust bath for fowls, 76

  Dutch artists, paintings of poultry by, 48

  Dutch races of fowls, 47

  Dwarf fowls, 64

  Eared Pheasants, 216

  Earth, relation of age of, to evolution, 26

  East India Duck, 133

  Egg, description of, 16

  Eggs, uses of, 4;
    number of, set under hen, 95;
    boiled for chicks, 98;
    quality of ducks' and hens', compared, 124

  Egypt, fowls in ancient, 36;
    goose sacred in ancient, 166;
    pigeons in, 244;
    artificial incubation in, 305

  Egyptian Goose, 165

  Egyptian hieroglyphics, duck in, 127;
    goose in, 157

  Embryo, growth of, 16, 21

  Emden Goose, 158;
    illustrated, 158

  England, colony poultry houses in, 107

  English Pheasant, 215

  English races of fowls, 46

  Evolution, theory of, 25

  Exhibition Game Bantams, 70;
    illustrated, 37

  Exhibitions of poultry, illustrated, 292, 297

  Face of fowl, appearance of, 8

  Fancier, philosophy of the, 302

  Fanciers, influence of, on development of types, 37

  Fancy poultry plant, illustrated, 121

  Fantail Pigeon, 249, 296;
    illustrated, 298

  Farm stock of poultry, illustrated, 84

  Fattening chickens in crates, illustrated, 279

  Feather beds, 31

  Feathers, uses of, 4, 31;
    structure of, 8;
    resistance of, to water, 15

  Feeding young ducks on duck farm, illustrated, 153

  Fence for ducks, 139;
    for turkeys, 192, 197

  Feral race, distinguished from wild, 35

  Fertile egg, appearance of, when tested, 96

  Feudal system, regulation under, of use of birds in hunting, 5

  Flatheaded Canary, illustrated, 271

  Flaxseed for canaries, 272

  Flies, ducks catching, 144

  Flight of birds, 2

  Floors in poultry houses, 73

  Fly for pigeons, 257

  Flying machine, bird a model for, 2

  Food, of birds, 15;
    of fowls, 78

  Foot feathering, 37;
    consideration of, in judging, 295

  Fowl, use of term, 2

  Fowls and pheasants in same yard, illustrated, 220

  French races of fowls, 48

  Frillback Pigeons, illustrated, 252

  Frizzled fowls, 65

  _Gallus Bankiva_, 35;
    cock, illustrated, 42

  Game, resemblance of Brown Pit to wild progenitor, 27

  Game Bantam, 37

  Gander, 160;
    fighting, in Russia, 162

  Garden, keeping chickens in, 83;
    keeping ducks in, 145

  Germ of egg, 16

  German artists, paintings of poultry by old, 48

  German races of fowls, 47

  Germany, goose growing in, 167

  Gizzard, function of, 16;
    peculiarity of, in ostrich, 232

  Gobbler, use of term, 180

  Golden Pheasant, 215

  Goldfinch, American, erroneously called a canary, 270

  Goose-fattening farm, illustrated, 175

  Goslings, growth of, illustrated, 172;
    grazing, illustrated, 174

  Gough, John B., a noted poultry fancier, 53

  Grade, defined, 29

  Grass, in poultry yards, 72;
    growing goslings on, 172

  Grasshoppers, turkeys as destroyers of, 194

  Gray Lag Goose, 160

  Green ducks, 144

  Grit, use of, for poultry, 16

  Guinea, color pattern in feathers of, 10;
    White, illustrated, 202, 204

  Gunpowder, use of pigeon manure in manufacture of, 253

  Hair, relation of, to feathers, 8

  Hamburg, Silver-Spangled, illustrated, 46

  Hamburg chicks, early growth of feathers of, 11

  Handling ducks, 125

  Handling pigeons, 262

  Harz Mountain Canaries, 271

  Hatching season, natural, 93

  Hawk-colored fowls, 43

  Hawks and guineas, 204

  Hempseed for canaries, 274

  Hen Pigeons, illustrated, 251

  Hen-tailed Bantams, 70

  Heron, flight of, 12

  Holland Turkey, White, 182;
    illustrated, 184, 185

  Homer Pigeons, 243;
    Flying, illustrated, 241, 242, 246;
    squab-breeding, illustrated, 247;
    squabs of, illustrated, 266

  Houdan male, illustrated, 48

    for fowls, 73, 85, 101, 108;
      illustrated, 74, 76, 77, 85-89, 118;
    with open front protected by hood, illustrated, 89;
    for growing chickens, illustrated, 99, 116;
    old stone, on Rhode Island farm, illustrated, 100;
    moving a colony to, 104;
    interior of a compartment in, illustrated, 110;
    for ducks, 138;
      illustrated, 150, 151;
    for geese, 169;
    for turkeys, 190;
      illustrated, 191;
    for pheasants, 219

  House and fly for pigeons, illustrated, 255, 259, 262-265

  Houses at agricultural colleges and experiment stations, illustrated,
    79, 88, 90, 91, 109

  Hungarian Pheasant, 214

  Hybrid, defined, 25

  Ice supply on large duck farms, 154

  Incubation, appearance of eggs at various stages of, illustrated, 20, 21;
    period of, 96, 142, 171, 196, 205, 210, 220, 228, 236, 267, 275

  Incubator cellar, illustrated, 115

  Incubators, 306;
    introduction of, on Long Island duck farms, 148;
    mammoth, 152

  India, antiquity of fowl in, 36;
    peafowl in, 209

  Indian Runner Duck, 132, 141;
    illustrated, 132, 133

  Insects, birds as destroyers of, 5

  Instinct, relation of, to incubation, 19;
    homing, in pigeons, 243

  Intelligence of birds, 3

  Intensive poultry farms, 110

  Invention, relation of, to aviculture, 306

  Italian races of fowls, 46

  Jacobin Pigeon, illustrated, 243

  Japan, antiquity of fowl in, 36

  Japanese Bantams, 68;
    illustrated, 68

  Japanese Long-Tailed Fowl, illustrated, 52

  Japanese races of fowls, 51

  Java, Black, 58

  Java, peafowl in, 209

  Jersey Blue, 56

  Johnnycake for chicks, 98

  Journalism, 305

  Judging, 293, 304

  Kafirs, their method of pulling stumps of ostrich plumes, 238

  Kentucky, turkeys in, 189

  Killing poultry, 284

  Land plaster, use of, in poultry houses, 75

  Langshan, Black, illustrated, 40, 41

  Language, capacity of birds for, 2

  Laugher Pigeon, 239

  Lavender Guinea, 203

  Lawn clippings for poultry, 76

  Laying capacity of birds, 18, 127

  Laying habits of birds, 141, 170, 195, 266

  Leaves for litter in poultry houses, 76

  Leg of bird, contraction of, in perching, 14

  Leghorn, 46;
    illustrated, 10, 11, 45, 81;
    early growth of feathers of, 11

  Legislation relating to aviculture, 309

  Lettuce for canaries, 273

  Lice, how fowls rid themselves of, 77;
    to destroy, on sitting hens, 96

  Lime in eggshells, 16

  Lincolnshire Buff, 63

  Litter in poultry houses, 76, 138

  Lizard Canary, 271

  Long Island duck farms, 146

  Losses due to bad handling of poultry produce, 282

  Lyell, James C., on origin of domestic pigeon, 240

  Malay fowl, 50

  Mallard Duck, 126;
    illustrated, 127

  Maltese Hen Pigeon, 252

  Manchester Coppy, 271

  Manchurian Pheasant, illustrated, 215

  Mandarin Duck, 134

  Mangel-wurzels, 89

  Manure, poultry, use of, 75;
    pigeon, used in manufacture of gunpowder, 253

  Mash, time of feeding, 78;
    method of making, 89;
    use of, 89, 98, 140;
    cooking, 103

  Meat meal, 140

  Mexico, turkey in, 181

  Middlemen, 275

  Milk, feeding, to chicks, 98;
    pigeon, 267

  Minorcas, illustrated, 48, 49

  Molting, 11

  Monaul, illustrated, 216

  Mondaine Pigeon, Swiss, illustrated, 242

  Mongolian Pheasant, 215;
    illustrated, 213

  Mongrel Geese, illustrated, 167

  Monks, probable originators of many types of fancy fowls, 48

  Mule, defined, 25

  Muscovy Duck, 125, 129;
    illustrated, 128

  Mute Swan, 222

  Narragansett Turkey, 183

  Native fowls in America, 43

  Neck, handling ducks by, 125

  Nest building, 18

  Nest eggs, 94

  Nests, fowls', 94;
    ducks', 138;
    geese's, 171;
    turkeys', 195;
    swans', 228;
    pigeons', 259, 264;
    canaries', 274

  Netherlands, Indian Runner Duck in, 132

  Netted Guinea, 203

  New Jersey, pheasant introduced into, 213

  Norfolk Turkey, 182

  Norwich Canary, illustrated, 270

  Nubia, ownership of fowls in, 39

  Nun Pigeons, illustrated, 252

  Oatmeal for chicks, 98

  Oats, 78;
    feeding, in sheaf, 89

  Offal of slaughtered animals, feeding, to poultry, 90

  Oil in feathers, 11

  Oregon, pheasant introduced into, 213

  Ornamental birds, number of, in domestication limited, 7

  Ornamental ducks, 156

  Ornamental geese, 164

  Ornithorhynchus, resemblance of, to bird, 1

  Orpington Ducks, Blue, illustrated, 134

  Orpington fowl, 63;
    illustrated, 64, 65

  Ostrich, illustrated, 231, 233, 235, 237

  Outdoor quarters for fowls, 72

  Ovary, 17

  Oviduct, 17

  Ovules, numbers of, in hens, 18

  Owl Pigeon, illustrated, 249

  Oyster shell for fowls, 81

  Packing houses, relation of, to distribution of poultry produce, 280

  Pairing of birds, 3, 168, 178, 205, 210, 219, 236, 262, 274

  Partridge, peculiarity of flight of, 13

  Passenger Pigeon, 241

  Peacock, tail of, 10;
    Indian, illustrated, 207

  Pearl Guinea, 203

  Peas for pigeon food, 265

  Pekin Duck, 131, 147;
    illustrated, 131, 140, 141

  Penguin, locomotion of, 1

  Perches for pigeons, 259

  Persia, pigeon in ancient, 245

  Petaluma, egg farming at, 119;
    illustrated, 117

  Philadelphia chickens, 114

  Phoenix cockerel, illustrated, 52

  Pied Guinea, 203

  Pigment in feathers, 11

  Pigmy Pouters, 251

  Plantain for canaries, 273

  Plucking live geese, 167

  Plymouth Rock,
    Barred, 57, 295;
      illustrated, 54, 55, 80;
    White, 58;
      illustrated, 56;
    Buff, 59, 62;
      illustrated, 57;
    Columbian, 61;
      illustrated, 62;
    Silver-Penciled, 61;
      illustrated, 58

  Point Judith Bronze Turkey, 183

  Polish, 47;
    White, 34;
    Silver-Spangled, illustrated, 39;
    White-Crested Black, 47

  Pomeranian Goose, 161

  Poult, 180

  Pouter Pigeon, 250, 297;
    illustrated, 250

  Preserved eggs, 286

  Prices, how determined, 278;
    of fancy poultry and pigeons, 301

  Profits, computation of, 72

  Pullet, 35

  Pure-bred, defined, 30

  Quail, laying of, in captivity, 18

  Quantity of food, 80, 88

  Range, advantages of, 85

  Rapeseed for canaries, 273

  Réaumur, experiments of, in incubation, 307

  Reptile, resemblance of duckling to, 142

  Retailing poultry produce, 275, 288

  Rhode Island, goose growing in, 173

  Rhode Island Red, 61, 100;
    illustrated, 32

  Ringneck Pheasant, illustrated, 212

  Roaster growing, 113;
    illustrated, 114

  Rock Pigeon, 241

  Roller Canaries, 271

  Roller Pigeons, 248

  Romans, distribution of domestic fowl by, 36, 46;
    peacock a favorite dish among, 209

  Rooster, use of term, 34

  Rose-Comb Black Bantam, illustrated, 69

  Rotten egg, appearance of, when candled, 96

  Rouen Duck, 130, 141;
    illustrated, 130

  Rudiments of judging poultry, 293

  Ruff, occurrence of, in pigeons, 10

  Rumpless Fowl, 65

  Running board for pigeons, 260

  Runt Pigeon, 251;
    illustrated, 241, 250

  Russia, geese in, 167

  Rye, 78, 116, 154

  Saddleback Goose, 161

  St. Andreasberg Roller, 271

  Salt for pigeons, 265

  Sawdust in poultry house, 75

  Scalding poultry, 284

  Scale on beak of young birds, 22

  Scales, relation of, to feathers, 8

  Scoring, 300

  Scotland, wild pigeon in, 240

  Scratching of birds, use of, 14

  Sebastopol Goose, 165;
    illustrated, 165

  Sebright Bantam, 70;
    illustrated, 70

  Shanghai, 53

  Shavings for litter in poultry house, 76

  Shell of egg, formation of, 17

  Silky fowl, 65

  Silver Pheasant, 215

  Sitting hen, illustrated, 19;
    food for, 95

  Slate Turkey, 187

  Slip, an imperfect capon, 117

  Snow, effect of, on poultry, 81, 92, 107, 125, 269

  Social relations of birds, 3

  South America, guinea in, 202

  Space per bird in poultry house, 86

  Spain, turkey in, 181

  Spanish Goose, 162

  Spanish, White-Faced Black, illustrated, 38

  Spanish races of fowls, 49

  Sparrow, laying capacity of, 18

  Species, predatory relation of, 6;
    defined, 24;
    origin of, 25

  Sprouted oats, 78

  Spurs, 33, 117

  Squab, 240;
    illustrated, 266, 267

  Squeaker. See Squab

  Standard-bred, defined, 30

  Standards for judging exhibition poultry, 299

  Strain, defined, 29

  Stub feather, 9

  Subvariety, defined, 29

  Summer quarters for poultry, illustrated, 123

  Sunlight, benefits of, 73

  Swan and nest, illustrated, 224

  Swannery, an English, illustrated, 228

  Swans feeding on the water, illustrated, 227

  Swedish Duck, Blue, illustrated, 133

  Swimming, of birds, economic value of, 14;
    effect of, on growth of ducks, 151

  Swiss Mondaine Pigeon, illustrated, 242

  Table fowl, Dorking best type of, 47

  Table scraps, feeding to fowls, 77

  Tail of bird, its use in flight, 14

  Temperature for incubation, 21

  Tennessee, turkeys in, 189

  Testing eggs to determine fertility, 21, 96, 142

  Thoroughbred, defined, 30

  Tippler Pigeon, 247

  Tom-turkey, 180

  Toulouse Goose, 161;
    illustrated, 159, 160

  Train of peacock, 207

  Tricolor Canary, illustrated, 270

  Triganica Pigeon, 242

  Trumpeter Pigeon, 239;
    illustrated, 249

  Tula Goose, 162

  Tumbler Pigeon, 247;
    illustrated, 244, 258

  Turbit Pigeon, 251

  Turkey, common, illustrated, 181

  Turkey hen with brood, illustrated, 198

  Turkey nest, illustrated, 196

  Turkey roost, illustrated, 194

  Turnips for poultry, 90

  Uses of birds in domestication, 4

  Utility types of poultry, 303

  Varieties, 27

  Variety, defined, 28

  Ventilation, 261

  Versicolor Pheasant, 215

  Virginia, turkeys in, 189

  Voices of birds, 3, 33, 126, 159, 180, 200, 207, 223, 232, 238, 269

  Waste food consumed by street pigeons, 256

  Water, 81, 98, 141;
    imperviousness of feathers to, 15;
    warming, for fowls, 81;
    propensity of young ducks for, 145;
    constant supply of, for pigeons, illustrated, 261

  Wattles, of fowl, 33;
    of turkey, 179;
    of guinea, 200;
    of pheasant, 211

  Web of feather, 9

  Webster, Daniel, exhibitor at first poultry show in America, 53

  West Indies, guinea in, 202

  Wheat, 78, 98, 141

  Whistling Swan, 222

  White eggs, preference for, 289

  White of egg, formation of, 17

  Wild birds, place of, in civilization, 5

  Wild geese, growing, in captivity, 178

  Wings, movement of, in flight, 12

  Women as poultry keepers, 39, 42, 122

  Wood Duck, 134

  Wyandotte, 59;
    Silver-Laced, illustrated, 59;
    White, 60;
      illustrated, 60, 82;
    Partridge, illustrated, 61;
    Silver-Penciled, illustrated, 61;
    Buff, origin of, 62;
    Columbian, illustrated, 62

  Yard of small poultry fancier, illustrated, 120

  Yards, for fowls, 73;
    for ducks, 138;
    for geese, 169;
    for turkeys, 190;
    for pheasants, 219

  Yellow-legged fowls, American preference for, 55

  Yolk of egg, 17

  Yorkshire Canary, illustrated, 270

Transcriber's Notes.

In the text version, the oe-ligature was changed to the two separate
characters, "oe." Also, the macron, which appeared over the "o" in the
Greek transliteration of "struthion'" was dropped.

Changed "silver penciled" to "silver-penciled" on page 28: "partridge,
silver-penciled, and ermine."

Changed "out-crosses" to "outcrosses" on page 30: "outcrosses are
regularly made."

Changed "Siver-Penciled" to "Silver-Penciled" in the caption to figure

Changed "Amercia" to "America" on page 63: "fowls of America."

Changed "thay" to "they" on page 169: "which they may use."

Changed "distroyed" to "destroyed" on page 200: "are destroyed by

Changed "servicable" to "serviceable" on page 226: "more serviceable in
this way."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Our Domestic Birds" ***

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