Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Poultry - A Practical Guide to the Choice, Breeding, Rearing, and - Management of all Descriptions of Fowls, Turkeys, - Guinea-fowls, Ducks, and Geese, for Profit and Exhibition.
Author: Piper, Hugh
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Poultry - A Practical Guide to the Choice, Breeding, Rearing, and - Management of all Descriptions of Fowls, Turkeys, - Guinea-fowls, Ducks, and Geese, for Profit and Exhibition." ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



  Transcriber's Note.

  Hyphenation has been standardised.

  ==================================

[Illustration: White Dorking Cock. Coloured Dorkings. Duck-winged and
Black-breasted Red Game.]



  POULTRY

  A

  Practical Guide

  TO THE

  CHOICE, BREEDING, REARING, AND MANAGEMENT

  OF ALL DESCRIPTIONS OF

  FOWLS, TURKEYS, GUINEA-FOWLS,
  DUCKS, AND GEESE,

  FOR

  PROFIT AND EXHIBITION.

  BY

  HUGH PIPER,

  AUTHOR OF "PIGEONS: THEIR VARIETIES, MANAGEMENT, BREEDING,
  AND DISEASES."

  ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT COLOURED PLATES.

  Fourth Edition.

  LONDON:
  GROOMBRIDGE & SONS.

  MDCCCLXXVII.


  LONDON:
  BARRETT, SONS AND CO., PRINTERS,
  SEETHING LANE.



PREFACE.


This work is intended as a practical guide to those about to commence
Poultry keeping, and to provide those who already have experience on the
subject with the most trustworthy information compiled from the best
authorities of all ages, and the most recent improvements in Poultry
Breeding and Management. The Author believes that he has presented his
readers with a greater amount of valuable information and practical
directions on the various points treated than will be found in most
similar works. The book is not the result of the Author's own experience
solely, and he acknowledges the assistance he has received from other
authorities. Among those whom he has consulted he desires specially to
acknowledge his obligations to Mr. Tegetmeier, whose "Poultry Book"
(published by Messrs. Routledge & Sons, London) contains his especial
knowledge of the Diseases of Poultry; and to Mr. L. Wright, whose
excellent and practical Treatise, entitled "The Practical Poultry
Keeper" (published by Messrs. Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London), cannot
be too highly commended.



CONTENTS.


GENERAL MANAGEMENT.

                                                                    PAGE
  CHAPTER I.--INTRODUCTION                                             1

    Neglect of Poultry-breeding--Profit of Poultry-keeping--Value to the
    Farmer--Poultry Shows--Cottage Poultry.

  CHAPTER II.--THE FOWL-HOUSE                                          6

    Size of the House--Brick and Wood--Cheap Houses--The
    Roof--Ventilation--Light--Warmth--The Flooring--Perches--Movable
    Frame--Roosts for Cochin-Chinas and Brahma-Pootras--Nests for
    laying--Cleanliness--Fowls' Dung--Doors and
    Entrance-holes--Lime-washing--Fumigating--Raising Chickens under
    Glass.

  CHAPTER III.--THE FOWL-YARD                                         18

    Soil--Situation--Covered Run--Pulverised Earth for deodorising--Diet
    for confined Fowls--Height of Wall, &c.--Preventing Fowls from
    flying--The Dust-heap--Material for Shells--Gravel--The Gizzard--The
    Grass Run.

  CHAPTER IV.--FOOD                                                   27

    Table of relative constituents and qualities of
    Food--Barley--Wheat--Oats--Meal--Refuse Corn--Boiling Grain--Indian
    Corn, or Maize--Buckwheat--Peas, Beans and
    Tares--Rice--Hempseed--Linseed--Potatoes--Roots--Soft Food--Variety
    of Food--Quantity--Mode of Feeding--Number of Meals--Grass and
    Vegetables--Insects--Worms--Snails and Slugs--Animal
    Food--Water--Fountains.

  CHAPTER V.--EGGS                                                    40

    Eggs all the Year round--Warmth essential to laying--Forcing
    Eggs--Soft Shells--Shape and Colour of Eggs--The Air-bag--Preserving
    Eggs--Keeping and Choosing Eggs for setting--Sex of Eggs--Packing
    Setting-eggs for travelling.

  CHAPTER VI.--THE SITTING HEN                                        48

    Evil of restraining a Hen from sitting--Checking the Desire--A
    separate House and Run--Nests for sitting in--Damping Eggs--Filling
    for Nests--Choosing their own Nests--Choosing a Hen for
    sitting--Number and Age of Eggs--Food and Exercise--Absence from the
    Nest--Examining the Eggs--Setting two Hens on the same day--Time of
    Incubation--The "tapping" sound--Breaking the Shell--Emerging from
    the Shell--Assisting the Chicken--Artificial Mothers--Artificial
    Incubation.

  CHAPTER VII.--REARING AND FATTENING FOWLS                           63

    The Chicken's first Food--Cooping the Brood--Basket and
    Wooden Coops--Feeding Chickens--Age for Fattening--Barn-door
    Fattening--Fattening-Houses--Fattening-Coops--Food--"Cramming"--
    Capons and Poulardes--Killing Poultry--Plucking and packing
    Fowls--Preserving Feathers.

  CHAPTER VIII.--STOCK, BREEDING, AND CROSSING                        75

    Well-bred Fowls--Choice of Breed--Signs of Age--Breeding
    in-and-in--Number of Hens to one Cock--Choice of a Cock--To prevent
    Cocks from fighting--Choice of a Hen--Improved Breeds--Origin of
    Breeds--Crossing--Choice of Breeding Stock--Keeping a Breed pure.

  CHAPTER IX.--POULTRY SHOWS                                          83

    The first Show--The first Birmingham Show--Influence of
    Shows--Exhibition Rules--Hatching for Summer and Winter
    Shows--Weight--Exhibition Fowls sitting--Matching Fowls--Imparting
    lustre to the Plumage--Washing Fowls--Hampers--Travelling--Treatment
    on Return--Washing the Hampers and Linings--Exhibition
    Points--Technical Terms.


BREEDS.

  CHAPTER X.--COCHIN-CHINAS, OR SHANGHAES                             93

  CHAPTER XI.--BRAHMA-POOTRAS                                        101

  CHAPTER XII.--MALAYS                                               105

  CHAPTER XIII.--GAME                                                108

  CHAPTER XIV.--DORKINGS                                             112

  CHAPTER XV.--SPANISH                                               115

  CHAPTER XVI.--HAMBURGS                                             118

  CHAPTER XVII.--POLANDS                                             121

  CHAPTER XVIII.--BANTAMS                                            124

  CHAPTER XIX.--FRENCH AND VARIOUS                                   128

  CHAPTER XX.--TURKEYS                                               132

  CHAPTER XXI.--GUINEA-FOWLS                                         139

  CHAPTER XXII.--DUCKS                                               142

  CHAPTER XXIII.--GEESE                                              147

  CHAPTER XXIV.--DISEASES                                            150



LIST OF PLATES.


                                                                    PAGE
  PLATE I.--Facing the Title-page.

    White Dorking Cock--Coloured Dorkings--Duck-winged and
    Black-breasted Red Game.

  PLATE II.                                                           93

    White and Buff Cochin-China--Malay Cock--Light and Dark
    Brahma-Pootras.

  PLATE III.                                                         115

    Golden-pencilled and Silver-spangled Hamburgs--Black
    Spanish.

  PLATE IV.                                                          121

    White-crested Black Polish--Golden and Silver-spangled
    Polish.

  PLATE V.                                                           124

    White and Black Bantams--Gold and Silver-laced or Sebright
    Bantams--Game Bantams.

  PLATE VI.                                                          128

    French: Houdans--La Flêche Cock--Crêve-Coeur Hen.

  PLATE VII.                                                         132

    Turkey--Guinea-Fowls.

  PLATE VIII.                                                        142

    Toulouse Goose--Rouen Ducks--Aylesbury Ducks.



PROFITABLE AND ORNAMENTAL POULTRY.



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.


Until of late years the breeding of poultry has been almost generally
neglected in Great Britain. Any kind of mongrel fowl would do for a
farmer's stock, although he fully appreciated the importance of breeding
in respect of his cattle and pigs, and the value of improved seeds. Had
he thought at all upon the subject, it must have occurred to him that
poultry might be improved by breeding from select specimens as much as
any other kind of live stock. The French produce a very much greater
number of fowls and far finer ones for market than we do. In France,
Bonington Mowbray observes, "poultry forms an important part of the live
stock of the farmer, and the poultry-yards supply more animal food to
the great mass of the community than the butchers' shops"; while in
Egypt, and some other countries of the East, from time immemorial, vast
numbers of chickens have been hatched in ovens by artificial heat to
supply the demand for poultry; but in Great Britain poultry-keeping has
been generally neglected, eggs are dear, and all kinds of poultry so
great a luxury that the lower classes and a large number of the middle
seldom, if ever, taste it, except perhaps once a year in the form of a
Christmas goose, while hundreds of thousands cannot afford even this. It
is computed that a million of eggs are eaten daily in London and its
suburbs alone; yet this vast number only gives one egg to every three
mouths. "It is a national waste," says Mr. Edwards, "importing eggs by
the hundreds of millions, and poultry by tens of thousands, when we are
feeding our cattle upon corn, and grudging it to our poultry; although
the return made from the former, it is generally admitted, is not five
per cent. beyond the value of the corn consumed, whereas an immense
percentage can be realised by feeding poultry." A writer in the _Times_,
of February 1, 1853, states that, while it will take five years to
fatten an ox to the weight of sixty stone, which will produce a profit
of £30, the same sum may be realised in five months by feeding an equal
weight of poultry for the table.

Although fowls are so commonly kept, the proportion to the population is
still very small, and the number of those who rear and manage them
profitably still smaller, chiefly because most people keep them without
system or order, and have not given the slightest attention to the
subject. Nevertheless, it costs no more trouble and much less expense to
keep fowls successfully and profitably, for neglected fowls are always
falling sick, or getting into mischief and causing annoyance, and often
expense and loss. "A man," says Mr. Edwards, "who expects a good return
of flesh and eggs from fowls insufficiently fed and cared for, is like a
miller expecting to get meal from a neglected mill, to which he does not
supply grain."

The antiquated idea that fowls on a farm did mischief to the crops has
been proved to be false; for if the grain is sown as deeply as it should
be, they cannot reach it by scratching; and, besides, they greatly
prefer worms and insects. Mr. Mechi says, "commend me to poultry as the
farmer's best friend," and considers the value of fowls, in destroying
the vast number of worms, grubs, flies, beetles, insects, larvæ, &c.,
which they devour, as incalculable; and the same may be said as to their
destruction of the seeds of weeds. They also consume large quantities of
kitchen and table refuse, which is generally otherwise wasted, and often
allowed to decay and become a source of disease, or at least of
impurity.

The enormous prices paid at the poultry shows of 1852 and 1853 for fancy
fowls gave a new impulse to poultry-keeping; and many persons who
formerly thought the management of poultry beneath their attention, now
superintend their yards. Mrs. Ferguson Blair, now the Hon. Mrs.
Arbuthnot, the authoress of the "Henwife," whose experience may be
judged by the fact that she gained in four years upwards of 460 prizes
in England and Scotland, and personally superintended the management of
forty separate yards, in which above 1,000 chickens were hatched
annually, says:--

"I began to breed poultry for amusement only, then for exhibition, and
lastly, was glad to take the trouble to make it pay, and do not like my
poultry-yard less because it is not a loss. It is impossible to imagine
any occupation more suited to a lady, living in the country, than that
of poultry rearing. If she has any superfluous affection to bestow, let
it be on her chicken-kind and it will be returned cent. per cent. Are
you a lover of nature? come with me and view, with delighted gaze, her
chosen dyes. Are you a utilitarian? rejoice in such an increase of the
people's food. Are you a philanthropist? be grateful that yours has been
the privilege to afford a _possible_ pleasure to the poor man, to whom
so many are _impossible_. Such we often find fond of poultry--no mean
judges of it, and frequently successful in exhibition. A poor man's
pleasure in victory is, at least, as great as that of his richer
brother. Let him, then, have the field whereon to fight for it.
Encourage village poultry-shows, not only by your patronage, but also by
your presence. A taste for such may save many from dissipation and much
evil; no man can win poultry honours and haunt the taproom too."

For those who desire to encourage a taste for poultry keeping in young
people, and their humbler neighbours, we would recommend our smaller
work on the subject as a suitable present.[1]

"It becomes," says Miss Harriet Martineau, "an interesting wonder every
year why the rural cottagers of the United Kingdom do not rear fowls
almost universally, seeing how little the cost would be and how great
the demand. We import many millions of eggs annually. Why should we
import any? Wherever there is a cottage family living on potatoes or
better fare, and grass growing anywhere near them, it would be worth
while to nail up a little penthouse, and make nests of clean straw, and
go in for a speculation in eggs and chickens. Seeds, worms, and insects
go a great way in feeding poultry in such places; and then there are the
small and refuse potatoes from the heap, and the outside cabbage leaves,
and the scraps of all sorts. Very small purchases of broken rice (which
is extremely cheap), inferior grain, and mixed meal, would do all else
that is necessary. There would be probably larger losses from vermin
than in better guarded places; but these could be well afforded as a
mere deduction from considerable gains. It is understood that the
keeping of poultry is largely on the increase in the country generally,
and even among cottagers; but the prevailing idea is of competition as
to races and specimens for the poultry-yard, rather than of meeting the
demand for eggs and fowls for the table."

With the exception of prizes for Dorkings, which are chiefly bred for
market, our poultry-shows have always looked upon fowls as if they were
merely ornamental birds, and have framed their standards of excellence
accordingly, and not with any regard to the production of profitable
poultry, which is much to be regretted.

Martin Doyle, the cottage economist of Ireland, in his "Hints to Small
Holders," observes that "a few cocks and hens, if they be prevented from
scratching in the garden, are a useful and appropriate stock about a
cottage, the warmth of which causes them to lay eggs in winter--no
trifling advantage to the children when milk is scarce. The French, who
are extremely fond of eggs, and contrive to have them in great
abundance, feed the fowls so well on curds and buckwheat, and keep them
so warm, that they have plenty of eggs even in winter. Now, in our
country (Ireland), especially in a gentleman's fowl yard, there is not
an egg to be had in cold weather; but the warmth of the poor man's cabin
insures him an egg even in the most ungenial season."

Such fowls obtain fresh air, fresh grass, and fresh ground to scratch
in, and prosper in spite of the most miserable, puny, mongrel stock,
deteriorating year after year from breeding in and in, without the
introduction of fresh blood even of the same indifferent description.
Many an honest cottager might keep himself and family from the parish by
the aid of a small stock of poultry, if some kind poultry-keeper would
present him with two or three good fowls to begin with, for the cottager
has seldom capital even for so small a purchase.

Considerable profit may be made by the sale of eggs for hatching and
surplus stock, if the breeds kept are good, and the stock known to be
pure and vigorous. The "Henwife" says: "You may reduce your expenses by
selling eggs for setting, at a remunerative price. No one should be
ashamed to own what he is not ashamed to do; therefore, boldly announce
your superfluous eggs for sale, at such a price as you think the public
will pay for them." This is now done extensively by breeders of rank and
eminence, especially through the London _Field_ and agricultural papers.
But, "beware of sending such eggs to market. Every one would be set, and
you might find yourself beaten by your own stock, very likely in your
own local show, and at small cost to the exhibitor."

The great secret of success in keeping fowls profitably is to hatch
chiefly in March and April; encourage the pullets by proper feeding to
lay at the age of six months; and fatten and dispose of them when about
nineteen months old, just before their first adult moult; and never to
allow a cockerel to exceed the age of fourteen weeks before it is
fattened and disposed of.



CHAPTER II.

THE FOWL-HOUSE.


In this work we shall consider the accommodation and requisites for
keeping fowls successfully on a moderate scale, and the reader must
adapt them to his own premises, circumstances, and requirements.
Everywhere there must be some alterations, omissions, or compromises. We
shall state the essentials for their proper accommodation, and describe
the mode of constructing houses, sheds, and arranging runs, and the
reader must then form his plan according to his own wishes, resources,
and the capabilities of the place. The climate of Great Britain being so
very variable in itself, and differing in its temperature so much in
different parts, no one manner or material for building the fowl-house
can be recommended for all cases.

Plans for poultry establishments on large scales for the hatching,
rearing, and fattening of fowls, turkeys, ducks, and geese, are given in
our smaller work on Poultry, referred to on page 3.

The best aspects for the fowl-house are south and south-east, and
sloping ground is preferable to flat.

"It is only of late years," says Mr. Baily, "poultry-houses have been
much thought of. In large farmyards, where there are cart-houses,
calf-pens, pig-styes, cattle-sheds, shelter under the eaves of barns,
and numerous other roosting-places, not omitting the trees in the
immediate vicinity, they are little required--fowls will generally do
better by choosing for themselves; and it is beyond a doubt healthier
for them to be spread about in this manner, than to be confined to one
place. But a love of order, on the one hand, and a dread of thieves or
foxes on the other, will sometimes make it desirable to have a proper
poultry-house."

Each family of fowls should, if possible, have a house and run; and if
they are kept as breeding stock, and the breeds are to be preserved
pure, this is essential. And where many kinds are kept, the various
houses must be adapted to the peculiarities of the different breeds, in
order to do justice to them all, and to attain success in each.

The size of the house and the extent of the yard or run should be
proportioned to the number of fowls kept; but it is better for the house
to be too small than too large, particularly in winter, for the mutual
imparting of animal heat. It is found by experience that when fowls are
crowded into a small space, their desire for laying continues even in
winter; and there is no fear of engendering disease by crowding if the
house is properly ventilated, and thoroughly cleansed every day. Mr.
Baily kept for years a cock and four hens in a portable wooden house six
feet square, and six feet high in the centre, the sides being somewhat
shorter, and says such a house would hold six hens as well as four.
Ventilating holes were made near the top. It had no floor, being placed
upon the ground, and could be moved at pleasure by means of two poles
placed through two staples fixed at the end of each side. A few
Cochin-Chinas may be kept where there is no other convenience than an
outhouse six feet square to serve for their roosting, laying, and
sitting, with a yard of twice that size attached. Mr. Wright "once knew
a young man who kept fowls most profitably, with only a house of his own
construction, not more than three feet square, and a run of the same
width, under twelve feet long." The French breeders keep their fowls in
as small a space as possible, in order to generate and preserve the
warmth that will induce them to lay; while the English breeders allow
more space for exercise, larger houses, and free circulation of air. The
French mode, is very likely the best for the winter and the English for
the summer, but the two opposite methods may be made available by having
one or more extra houses and runs into which the fowls can be
distributed in the summer. A close, warm roosting-place will cause the
production of more eggs in winter, when they are scarcest and most
valuable, while air and exercise are necessary to rear superior fowls
for the table; and if they can have the run of a farmyard or good fields
in which to pick up grain or insects, their flesh will be far superior
in flavour to that of fowls kept in confinement, or crammed in coops.

Almost any outbuilding, shed, or lean-to, may be easily and cheaply
converted into a good fowl-house by the exercise of a little thought and
ingenuity.

The best material to build a house with is brick, but the cheapest to be
durable is board, with the roof also of wood, covered with patent felt.
One objection to timber houses is their being combustible, and easily
ignited, and houses had better be built of a single brick in thickness,
unless cheapness is a great object.

A lean-to fowl-house may be constructed for a very small sum, with
boards an inch thick, against the west or south side of any wall.
Whenever wood is employed it should be tongued, which is a very cheap
method of providing against warping by heat, or admitting wind or rain;
lying flat against the uprights, it saves material and has an external
appearance far superior to any other method of boarding. If the second
coat of paint is rough cast over with sand, it will greatly improve the
appearance, and the house will not be unsightly even in the ornamental
part of a gentleman's grounds.

A house may be built very cheaply by driving poles into the ground at
equal distances, and nailing weather-boarding upon their outside. If it
is to be square, one pole should be placed at each corner, and two more
will be required for the door-posts. The house may be made with five,
six, or more sides, as many poles being used as there are sides, and the
door may occupy one side if the house be small and the side narrow,
otherwise two door-posts will be required. If the boards are not tongued
together, the chinks between them must be well caulked by driving in
string or tow with a blunt chisel, for it is not only necessary to keep
out the rain but also to keep out the wind, which has great influence on
the health and laying of the fowls.

Where double boarding is employed for the sides, the house may be made
much warmer by filling up the space with straw, or still better with
marsh reeds, so durable for thatching. This plan, unfortunately, affords
a shelter for rats, mice, and insects, and therefore, if adopted, it
will be highly advantageous to form the inside boarding in panels, so as
to be removable at pleasure for examination and cleansing.

For the roof, tiles or slates alone are not sufficient, but, if used,
must have a boarding or ceiling under them; otherwise all the heat
generated by the fowls will escape through the numerous interstices, and
it will be next to impossible to keep the house warm in winter. A
corrugated roof of galvanised iron may be used instead, but a ceiling
also will be absolutely necessary for the sake of warmth. A rough
ceiling of lath and plaster not only preserves the warmth generated by
the fowls and keeps out the cold, but has the great advantage of being
easily lime-washed, an operation that should be performed at least four
or five times a year. Boards alone make a very good and cheap roof. They
may be laid either horizontally, one plank overlapping the other, and
the whole well tarred two or three times, and once every autumn
afterwards; or they may be laid perpendicularly side by side, fitting
closely, in which case they should be well tarred, then covered with old
sheeting, waste calico, or thick brown paper tightly stretched over it,
and afterwards brushed over with hot tar, or a mixture of tar boiled
with a little lime, and applied while hot; this, soaking through the
calico, cements it to the roof, and makes it waterproof. But board
covered with patent felt, and tarred once a year, is the best. The roof
ought to project considerably beyond the walls, in order to prevent the
rain from dripping down them.

Ventilation is most important, and the house should be high, especially
if there are many fowls, for by having it lofty a current of air can
pass through it far above the level of the fowls, and purify the
atmosphere without causing a draught near them. They very much dislike a
draught, and will alter their positions to avoid it, and if unable to
do so, will seek another roosting-place. Ventilation may be obtained by
leaving out some bricks in the wall or making holes in the boarding; and
when there is a shed at the side of the fowl-house, by boring a few
holes near the top of the wall next to the shed; all ventilators should
be considerably above the perches, in order to avoid a draught near to
the fowls; and should be entirely closed at night in severe weather. The
best method of ventilation for a fowl-house of sufficient size and
height, is by means of an opening in the highest part of the roof,
covered with a lantern of laths or narrow boards, placed one over the
other in a slanting position, with a small space between them like
Venetian blinds.

Light is essential, not only for the health of the fowls, but in order
that the state of the house may be seen, and the floor and perches may
be well cleansed. It may be admitted either through a common window, a
pane or two of thick glass placed in the sides, or glass tiles in the
roof. It also induces them to take shelter there in rough weather.

Warmth is the most important point of all. Fowls that roost in cold
houses and exposed places require more food and produce fewer eggs; and
pullets which are usually forward in laying will not easily be induced
to do so in severe weather if their house is not kept warm. It is a
great advantage when the house backs a fire-place or stable. A gentleman
told Mr. Baily that he "had been very successful in raising early
chickens in the north of Scotland, and he attributed much of it to the
following arrangements. He had always from twenty to thirty oxen or
other cattle fattening in a long building; he made his poultry-house to
join this, and had ventilators and openings made in the partition, so
that the heat of the cattle-shed passed into the fowl-house. Little good
has resulted from the use of stoves, or hot-water pipes, for poultry;
but by skilfully taking advantage of every circumstance like that above
mentioned, and by consulting aspect and position, many valuable helps
are obtained."

A house built of wood in the north of England and Scotland must be
lined, unless artificially warmed. Felt is the best material, as its
strong smell of tar will keep away most insects. Matting is frequently
used, and will make the house sufficiently warm, but it harbours vermin,
and therefore, if used, should be only slightly fastened to the walls,
so that it can be often taken down and well beaten, and, if necessary,
fumigated.

Various materials are recommended for the flooring. Boards are warm, but
they soon become foul. Beaten earth, with loose dust scattered over it
some inches deep, is excellent for the feet of the birds, but is a
harbour for the minute vermin which are often so troublesome, and even
destructive, to domestic fowls. Mowbray recommends a floor of
"well-rammed chalk or earth, that its surface, being smooth, may present
no impediment to being swept perfectly clean." Chalk laid on dry
coal-ashes to absorb the moisture is excellent. A mixture of cow-dung
and water, about the consistency of paint, put on the surface of the
floor, no thicker than paint, gives it a hard surface which will bear
sweeping down. It is used by the natives of India, not only for the
floors, but often for the walls of their houses, and is supposed to be
healthy in its application, and to keep away vermin. Miss Watts says:
"Dig out the floor to about a foot deep, and fill in with burnt clay,
like that used extensively on railways, the strong gravel which is
called 'metal' in road-making, or any loose dry material of the kind.
Let this be well rammed down, and then lay over it, with a bricklayer's
trowel, a flooring of a compost of cinder-ashes, gravel, quick-lime, and
water. This flooring is without the objections due to those which are
cold and damp, and those which imbibe foul moisture. Stone is too cold
for a flooring; beaten earth or wood becomes foul when the place is
inhabited by living animals; and a flooring of bricks possesses both
these bad qualities united." Bricks are the worst of all materials; they
retain moisture, whether atmospheric or arising from insufficient
drainage; and thus the temperature is kept low, and disease too often
follows, especially rheumatic attacks of the feet and legs. However,
trodden earth makes a very good flooring, and it or other materials may
easily be kept clean by placing moveable boards beneath the perches to
receive the fowl-droppings. The floor should slope from every direction
towards the door, to facilitate its cleansing, and to keep it dry.

Perches are generally placed too high, probably because it was noticed
that fowls in their natural state, or when at large, usually roost upon
high branches; but it should be observed that, in descending from lofty
branches, they have a considerable distance to fly, and therefore alight
on the ground gently, while in a confined fowl-house the bird flutters
down almost perpendicularly, coming into contact with the floor
forcibly, by which the keel of the breast-bone is often broken, and
bumble-foot in Dorkings and corns are caused.

Some writers do not object to lofty perches, provided the fowls have a
board with cross-pieces of wood fastened on to it reaching from the
ground to the perch; but this does not obviate the evil, for they will
only use it for ascent, and not for descent. The air, too, at the upper
part of any dwelling-room, or house for animals, is much more impure
than nearer the floor, because the air that has been breathed, and
vapours from the body, are lighter than pure air, and consequently
ascend to the top. The perches should therefore not be more than
eighteen inches from the ground, unless the breed is very small and
light. Perches are also generally made too small and round. When they
are too small in proportion to the size of the birds, they are apt to
cause the breast-bone of heavy fowls to grow crooked, which is a great
defect, and very unsightly in a table-fowl. Those for heavy fowls should
not be less than three inches in diameter. Capital perches may be formed
of fir or larch poles, about three inches in diameter, split into two,
the round side being placed uppermost; the birds' claws cling to it
easily, and the bark is not so hard as planed wood. The perches, if made
of timber, should be nearly square, with only the corners rounded off,
as the feet of fowls are not formed for clasping smooth round poles.
Those for chickens should not be thicker than their claws can easily
grasp, and neither too sharp nor too round.

When more than one row of perches is required they should be ranged
obliquely--that is, one above and behind the other; by which arrangement
each perch forms a step to the next higher one, and an equal convenience
in descending, and the birds do not void their dung over each other.
They should be placed two feet apart, and supported on bars of wood
fixed to the walls at each end; and in order that they may be taken out
to be cleaned, they should not be nailed to the supporter, but securely
placed in niches cut in the bar, or by pieces of wood nailed to it like
the rowlocks of a boat. If the wall space at the sides is required for
laying-boxes, the perches must be shorter than the house, and the
oblique bars which support them must be securely fastened to the back of
the house, and, if necessary, have an upright placed beneath the upper
end of each.

Some breeders prefer a moveable frame for roosting, formed of two poles
of the required length, joined at each end by two narrow pieces; the
frame being supported upon four or more legs, according to its length
and the weight of the fowls. If necessary it should be strengthened by
rails--connecting the bottoms of the legs, and by pieces crossing from
each angle of the sides and ends. These frames can conveniently be moved
out of the house when they require cleansing. Or it may be made of one
pole supported at each end by two legs spread out widely apart, like two
sides of an equilateral or equal-sided triangle. The perch may be made
more secure for heavy fowls by a rail at each side fastened to each leg,
about three inches from the foot.

Mr. Baily says: "I had some fowls in a large outhouse, where they were
well provided with perches; as there was plenty of room, I put some
small faggots, cut for firing, at one extremity, and I found many of the
fowls deserted their perches to roost on the faggots, which they
evidently preferred."

Cochin-Chinas and Brahma Pootras do not require perches, but roost
comfortably on a floor littered down warmly with straw. It should be
gathered up every morning, and the floor cleaned and kept uncovered till
night, when the straw, if clean, should be again laid down. It must be
often changed. A bed of sand is also used, and a latticed floor even
without straw, and some use latticed benches raised about six inches
from the floor. But we should think that latticed roosting-places must
be uncomfortable to fowls, and the dung which falls through is often
unseen, and, consequently, liable to remain for too long a time, while a
portion will stick to the sides of the lattice-work, and be not only
difficult to see, but also to remove when seen. The "Henwife" finds,
however, "that if there are nests, there the Cochins will roost, in
spite of all attempts to make them do otherwise." It is a good plan, in
warm weather, occasionally to sprinkle water over and about the perches,
and scatter a little powdered sulphur over the wetted parts, which will
greatly tend to keep the fowls free from insect parasites.

The nests for laying in are usually made on the ground, or in a kind of
trough, a little raised; but some use boxes or wicker-baskets, which are
preferable, as they can be removed separately from time to time, and
thoroughly cleansed from dust and vermin, and can also be kept a little
apart from each other. These boxes or troughs should be placed against
the sides of the house, and a board sloping forwards should be fixed
above, to prevent the fowls from roosting upon the edges. If required, a
row of laying-boxes or troughs may be placed on the ground, and another
about a foot or eighteen inches above the floor. The nest should be made
of wheaten, rye, or oaten straw, but never of hay, which is too hot, and
favourable besides to the increase of vermin. Heath cut into short
pieces forms excellent material for nests, but it cannot always be had.
The material must be changed whenever it smells foul or musty, for if it
is allowed to become offensive, the hens will often drop their eggs upon
the ground sooner than go to the nest. When the fowl-house adjoins a
passage, or it can be otherwise so contrived, it is an excellent plan
to have a wooden flap made to open just above the back of the nests, so
that the eggs can be removed without your going into the roosting-house,
treading the dung about, and disturbing any birds that may be there, or
about to enter to lay. Where possible the nests in the roosting-houses
should be used for laying in only; and a separate house should be set
apart for sitting hens. Where there are but a few fowls and only one
house, if a hen is allowed to sit, a separate nest must be made as quiet
as possible for her.--_See_ Chapter VI.

Cleanliness must be maintained. The _Canada Farmer_ suggested an
admirable plan for keeping the roosting-house clean. A broad shelf,
securely fastened, but moveable, is fixed at the back of the house,
eighteen inches from the ground, and the perch placed four or five
inches above it, a foot from the wall. The nests are placed on the
ground beneath the board, which preserves them from the roosting fowl's
droppings, and keeps them well shaded for the laying or sitting hen, if
the latter is obliged to incubate in the same house, and the nests do
not need a top. The shelf can be easily scraped clean every morning, and
should be lightly sanded afterwards. Thus the floor of the house is
never soiled by the roosting birds, and the broad board at the same time
protects them from upward draughts of air. Where the nests and perches
are not so arranged, the idea may be followed by placing a loose board
below each perch, upon which the dung will fall, and the board can be
taken up every morning and the dung removed. With proper tools, a
properly constructed fowl-house can be kept perfectly clean, and all the
details of management well carried out without scarcely soiling your
hands. A birch broom is the best implement with which to clean the house
if the floor is as hard as it ought to be. A handful of ashes or sand,
sprinkled over the places from which dung has been removed, will absorb
any remaining impurity.

Fowls' dung is a very valuable manure, being strong, stimulating, and
nitrogenous, possessing great power in forcing the growth of vegetables,
particularly those of the cabbage tribe, and is excellent for growing
strawberries, or indeed almost any plants, if sufficiently diluted; for,
being very strong, it should always be mixed with earth. A fowl,
according to Stevens, will void at least one ounce of dry dung in
twenty-four hours, which is worth at least seven shillings a cwt.

The door should fit closely, a slight space only being left at the
bottom to admit air. It should have a square hole, which is usually
placed either at the top or bottom, for the poultry to enter to roost. A
hole at the top is generally preferred, as it is inaccessible to vermin.
The fowls ascend by means of a ladder formed of a slanting board, with
strips of wood nailed across to assist their feet; a similar ladder
should be placed inside to enable them to descend, if they are heavy
fowls; but the evil is that, even with this precaution, they are
inclined to fly down, as they do from high perches, without using the
ladder, and thus injure their feet. A hole in the middle of the door
would be preferable to either, and obviate the defects of both. These
holes should be fitted with sliding panels on the inside, so that they
can be closed in order to keep the fowls out while cleaning the house,
or to keep them in until they have laid their eggs, or it may be safe to
let them out in the morning in any neighbourhood or place where they
would else be liable to be stolen. Every day, after the fowls have left
their roosts, the doors and windows should be opened, and a thorough
draught created to purify the house. During the winter months all the
entrance holes should be closed from sunset to sunrise, unless in mild
localities. Where there are many houses, they should, if possible,
communicate with each other by doors, so that they may be cleaned from
end to end, or inspected without the necessity of passing through the
yards, which is especially unpleasant in wet weather. The doors should
be capable of being fastened on either side, to avoid the chance of the
different breeds intermingling while your attention is occupied in
arranging the nests, collecting eggs, &c. See that your fowls are
securely locked in at night, for they are more easily stolen than any
other kind of domestic animals. A good dog in the yard or adjoining
house or stable is an excellent protection.

Every poultry-house should be lime-washed at least four or five times a
year, and oftener if convenient. Vermin of any kind can be effectually
destroyed by fumigating the place with sulphur. In this operation a
little care is requisite; it should be commenced early in the morning,
by first closing the lattices, and stopping up every crevice through
which air can enter; then place on the ground a pan of lighted charcoal,
and throw on it some brimstone broken into small pieces. Directly this
is done the room should be left, the door kept shut and airtight for
some hours; care too should be taken that the lattices are first opened,
and time given for the vapour to thoroughly disperse before any one
again enters, when every creature within the building will be found
destroyed.

It is said that a pair of caged guinea-pigs in the fowl-house will keep
away rats.

In a large establishment, and in a moderate one, if the outlay is not an
object, the pens for the chickens and the passages between the various
houses may be profitably covered with glass, and grapes grown on the
rafters. Raising chickens under glass has been tried with great
success.



CHAPTER III.

THE FOWL-YARD.


The scarcity of poultry in this country partly arises from all
gallinaceous birds requiring warmth and dryness to keep them in perfect
health, while the climate of Great Britain is naturally moist and cold.

"The warmest and driest soils," says Mowbray, "are the best adapted to
the breeding and rearing of gallinaceous fowls, more particularly
chickens. A wet soil is the worst, since, however ill affected fowls are
by cold, they endure it better than moisture. Land proper for sheep is
generally also adapted to the successful keeping of poultry and
rabbits."

But poultry may be reared and kept successfully even on bad soils with
good drainage and attention. The "Henwife" says: "I do not consider any
one soil necessary for success in rearing poultry. Some think a chalk
soil essential for Dorkings, but I have proved the fallacy of this
opinion by bringing up, during three years, many hundreds of these _soi
disant_ delicate birds on the strong blue clay of the Carse of Gowrie,
doubtless thoroughly drained, that system being well understood and
universally practised by the farmers of the district. A coating of
gravel and sand once a year is all that is requisite to secure the
necessary dryness in the runs." The best soil for a poultry-yard is
gravel, or sand resting on chalk or gravel. When the soil is clayey, or
damp from any other cause, it should be thoroughly drained, and the
whole or a good portion of the ground should be raised by the addition
of twelve inches of chalk, or bricklayer's rubbish, over which should be
spread a few inches of sand. Cramp, roup, and some other diseases, more
frequently arise from stagnant wet in the soil than from any other
cause.

The yard should be sheltered from the north and east winds, and where
this is effected by the position of a shrubbery or plantation in which
the fowls may be allowed to run, it will afford the advantage of
protection, not only from wind and cold, but also shelter from the rain
and the burning sun. It also furnishes harbourage for insects, which
will find them both food and exercise in picking up. Indeed, for all
these purposes a few bushes may be advantageously planted in or
adjoining any poultry-yard. When a tree can be enclosed in a run, it
forms an agreeable object for the eye, and affords shelter to the fowls.

A covered run or shed for shelter in wet or hot weather is a great
advantage, especially if chickens are reared. It may be constructed with
a few rough poles supporting a roof of patent felt, thatch, or rough
board, plain or painted for preservation, and may be made of any length
and width, from four feet upwards, and of any height from four feet at
the back and three feet in the front, to eight feet at the back and six
feet in the front. The shed should, if possible, adjoin the fowl-house.
It should be wholly or partly enclosed with wire-work, which should be
boarded for a foot from the ground to keep out the wet and snow, and to
keep in small chickens. The roof should project a foot beyond the
uprights which support it, in order to throw the rain well off, and have
a gutter-shoot to carry it away and prevent it from being blown in upon
the enclosed space. The floor should be a little higher than the level
of the yard, both in order to keep it dry and the easier to keep it
clean; and it should be higher at the back than in the front, which will
keep it drained if any wet should be blown in or water upset. If
preferred, moveable netting may be used, so that the fowls can be
allowed their liberty in fine weather, and be confined in wet weather.
But the boarding must be retained to keep out the wet. The ground may be
left in its natural state for the fowls to scratch in, in which case the
surface should be dug up from time to time and replaced with fresh earth
pressed down moderately hard. If the house is large and has a good
window, a shed is not absolutely necessary, especially for a few fowls
only, but it is a valuable addition, and is also very useful to shelter
the coops of the mother hens and their young birds in wet, windy, or hot
weather.

By daily attention to cleanliness, a few fowls may be kept in such a
covered shed, without having any open run, by employing a thick layer of
dry pulverised earth as a deodoriser, which is to be turned over with a
rake every day, and replaced with fresh dry pulverised earth once a
week. The dry earth entirely absorbs all odour. In a run of this kind,
six square feet should be allowed to each fowl kept, for a smaller
surface of the dry earth becomes moist and will then no longer deodorise
the dung. Sifted ashes spread an inch deep over the floor of the whole
shed will be a good substitute if the dry earth cannot be had. They
should be raked over every other morning, and renewed at least every
fortnight, or oftener if possible. The ground should be dug and turned
over whenever it looks sodden, or gives out any offensive smell; and
three or four times a year the polluted soil below the layer, that is,
the earth to the depth of three or four inches, should be removed and
replaced with fresh earth, gravel, chalk, or ashes.[2] The shed must be
so contrived that the sun can shine upon the fowls during some part of
the day, or they will not continue in health for any length of time, and
it is almost impossible to rear healthy chickens without its light and
warmth; and it will be a great improvement if part of the run is open.
Another shed will be required if chickens are to be reared.

Fowls that are kept in small spaces or under covered runs will require a
different diet to those that are allowed to roam in fields and pick up
insects, grass, &c., and must be provided with green food, animal food
in place of insects, and be well supplied with mortar rubbish and
gravel.

The height of the wall, paling, or fencing that surrounds the yard, and
of the partitions, if the yard is divided into compartments for the
purpose of keeping two or more breeds separate and pure, must be
according to the nature of the breed. Three feet in height will be
sufficient to retain Cochins and Brahmas; six feet will be required for
moderate-sized fowls; and eight or nine feet will be necessary to
confine the Game, Hamburg, and Bantam breeds. Galvanised iron
wire-netting is the best material, as it does not rust, and will not
need painting for a long time. It is made of various degrees of
strength, and in different forms, and may be had with meshes varying
from three-fourths of an inch to two inches or more; with very small
meshes at the lower part only, to keep out rats and to keep in chickens;
with spikes upon the top, or with scolloped wire-work, which gives it a
neat and finished appearance; with doors, and with iron standards
terminating in double spikes to fix in the ground, by which wooden posts
are divided, while it can be easily fixed and removed. The meshes should
not be more than two inches wide, and if the meshes of the lower part
are not very small, it should be boarded to about two feet six inches
from the ground, in order to keep out rats, keep in chickens, and to
prevent the cocks fighting through the wire, which fighting is more
dangerous than in the open, for the birds are very liable to injure
themselves in the meshes, and, Dorkings especially, to tear their combs
and toes in them. If iron standards are not attached to the netting, it
should be stretched to stout posts, well fixed in the ground, eight feet
apart, and fastened by galvanised iron staples. A rail at the top gives
a neater appearance, but induces the fowls to perch upon it, which may
tempt them to fly over.

Where it is not convenient to fix a fence sufficiently high, or when a
hen just out with her brood has to be kept in, a fowl may be prevented
from flying over fences by stripping off the vanes or side shoots from
the first-flight feathers of one wing, usually ten in number, which will
effectually prevent the bird from flying, and will not be unsightly, as
the primary quills are always tucked under the others when not used for
flying. This method answers much better than clipping the quills of each
wing, as the cut points are liable to inflict injuries and cause
irritation in moulting.

The openness of the feathers of fowls which do not throw off the water
well, like those of most birds, enables them to cleanse themselves
easier from insects and dirt, by dusting their feathers, and then
shaking off the dirt and these minute pests with the dust. For this
purpose one or more ample heaps of sifted ashes, or very dry sand or
earth, for them to roll in, must be placed in the sun, and, if possible,
under shelter, so as to be warm and perfectly dry. Wood ashes are the
best. This dust-heap is as necessary to fowls as water for washing is to
human beings. It cleanses their feathers and skin from vermin and
impurities, promotes the cuticular or skin excretion, and is materially
instrumental in preserving their health. If they should be much troubled
with insects, mix in the heap plenty of wood ashes and a little flour of
sulphur.

A good supply of old mortar-rubbish, or similar substance, must be kept
under the shed, or in a dry place, to provide material for the
eggshells, or the hens will be liable to lay soft-shelled eggs. Burnt
oyster-shells are an excellent substitute for common lime, and should be
prepared for use by being heated red-hot, and when cold broken into
small pieces with the fingers, but not powdered. Some give chopped or
ground bones, or a lump of chalky marl. Eggshells roughly crushed are
also good, and are greedily devoured by the hens.

A good supply of gravel is also essential, the small stones which the
fowls swallow being necessary to enable them to digest their hard food.
Fowls swallow all grain whole, their bills not being adapted for
crushing it like the teeth of the rabbit or the horse, and it is
prepared for digestion by the action of a strong and muscular gizzard,
lined with a tough leathery membrane, which forms a remarkable
peculiarity in the internal structure of fowls and turkeys. "By the
action," says Mr. W. H. L. Martin, "of the two thick muscular sides of
this gizzard on each other, the seeds and grains swallowed (and
previously macerated in the crop, and there softened by a peculiar
secretion oozing from glandular pores) are ground up, or triturated in
order that their due digestion may take place. It is a remarkable fact
that these birds are in the habit of swallowing small pebbles, bits of
gravel, and similar substances, which it would seem are essential to
their health. The definite use of these substances, which are certainly
ground down by the mill-like action of the gizzard, has been a matter
of difference among various physiologists, and many experiments, with a
view to elucidate the subject, have been undertaken. It was sufficiently
proved by Spallanzani that the digestive fluid was incapable of
dissolving grains of barley, &c., in their unbruised state; and this he
ascertained by filling small hollow and perforated balls and tubes of
metal or glass with grain, and causing them to be swallowed by turkeys
and other fowls; when examined, after twenty-four and forty-eight hours,
the grains were found to be unaffected by the gastric fluid; but when he
filled similar balls and tubes with bruised grains, and caused them to
be swallowed, he found, after a lapse of the same number of hours, that
they were more or less dissolved by the action of the gastric juice. In
other experiments, he found that metallic tubes introduced into the
gizzard of common fowls and turkeys, were bruised, crushed, and
distorted, and even that sharp-cutting instruments were broken up into
blunt fragments without having produced the slightest injury to the
gizzard. But these experiments go rather to prove the extraordinary
force and grinding powers of the gizzard, than to throw light upon the
positive use of the pebbles swallowed; which, after all, Spallanzani
thought were swallowed without any definite object, but from mere
stupidity. Blumenbach and Dr. Bostock aver that fowls, however well
supplied with food, grow lean without them, and to this we can bear our
own testimony. Yet the question, what is their precise effect? remains
to be answered. Boerhave thought it probable that they might act as
absorbents to superabundant acid; others have regarded them as irritants
or stimulants to digestion; and Borelli supposed that they might really
contribute some degree of nutriment."

Sir Everard Home, in his "Comparative Anatomy," says: "When the external
form of this organ is first attentively examined, viewing that side
which is anterior in the living bird, and on which the two bellies of
the muscle and middle are more distinct, there being no other part to
obstruct the view, the belly of the muscle on the left side is seen to
be larger than on the right. This appears, on reflection, to be of great
advantage in producing the necessary motion; for if the two muscles were
of equal strength, they must keep a greater degree of exertion than is
necessary; while, in the present case, the principal effect is produced
by that of the left side, and a smaller force is used by that on the
right to bring the parts back again. The two bellies of the muscle, by
their alternate action, produce two effects--the one a constant friction
on the contents of the cavity; the other, a pressure on them. This last
arises from a swelling of the muscle inwards, which readily explains all
the instances which have been given by Spallanzani and others, of the
force of the gizzard upon substances introduced into it--a force which
is found by their experiments always to act in an oblique direction. The
internal cavity, when opened in this distended state, is found to be of
an oval form, the long diameter being in the line of the body; its
capacity nearly equal to the size of a pullet's egg; and on the sides
there are ridges in their horny coat (lining membrane) in the long
direction of the oval. When the horny coat is examined in its internal
structure, the fibres of which it is formed are not found in a direction
perpendicular to the ligamentous substance behind it; but in the upper
portion of the cavity it is obliquely upwards. From this form of cavity
it is evident that no part of the sides is ever intended to be brought
in contact, and that the food is triturated by being mixed with hard
bodies, and acted on by the powerful muscles which form the gizzard."

The experiments of Spallanzani show that the muscular action of the
gizzard is equally powerful whether the small stones are present or not;
and that they are not at all necessary to the trituration of the firmest
food, or the hardest foreign substances; but it is also quite clear that
when these small stones are put in motion by the muscles of the gizzard
they assist in crushing the grain, and at the same time prevent it from
consolidating into a thick, heavy, compacted mass, which would take a
far longer time in undergoing the digestive process than when separated
and intermingled with the pebbles.

This was the opinion of the great physiologist, John Hunter, who, in his
treatise "On the Animal Economy," after noticing the grinding powers of
the gizzard, says, in reference to the pebbles swallowed, "We are not,
however, to conclude that stones are entirely useless; for if we compare
the strength of the muscles of the jaws of animals which masticate their
food with those of birds who do not, we shall say that the parts are
well calculated for the purpose of mastication; yet we are not thence to
infer that the teeth in such jaws are useless, even although we have
proof that the gums do the business when the teeth are gone. If pebbles
are of use, which we may reasonably conclude they are, birds have an
advantage over animals having teeth, so far as pebbles are always to be
found, while the teeth are not renewed. If we constantly find in an
organ substances which can only be subservient to the functions of that
organ, should we deny their use, although the part can do its office
without them? The stones assist in grinding down the grain, and, by
separating its parts, allow the gastric juice to come more readily in
contact with it."

When a paddock is used as a run for a large number of poultry, it should
be enclosed either by a wall or paling, but not by a hedge, as the fowls
can get through it, and will also lay their eggs under the hedge. The
paddock should be well drained, and it will be a great advantage if it
contains a pond, or has a stream of water running through or by it.
Mowbray advises that the grass run should be sown "with common trefoil
or wild clover, with a mixture of burnet, spurry, or storgrass," which
last two kinds "are particularly salubrious to poultry." If the grass is
well rooted before the fowls are allowed to run on it, they may range
there for several hours daily, according to its extent and their number,
but it should be renewed in the spring by sowing where it has become
bare or thin. A dry common, or pasture fields, in which they may freely
wander and pick up grubs, insects, ants' eggs, worms, and leaves of
plants, is a great advantage, and they may be accustomed to return from
it at a call. Where there is a cropped field, orchard, or garden, in
which fowls may roam at certain seasons, when the crops are safe from
injury, each brood should be allowed to wander in it separately for a
few hours daily, or on different days, as may be most convenient. "A
garden dung-heap," says Mr. Baily, "overgrown with artichokes, mallows,
&c., is an excellent covert for chickens, especially in hot weather.
They find shelter and meet with many insects there." When horse-dung is
procured for the garden, or supplied from your stables, some should be
placed in a small trench, and frequently renewed, in which the fowls
will amuse themselves, particularly in winter, by scraping for corn and
worms. When fowls have not the advantage of a grass run they should be
indulged with a square or two of fresh turf, as often as it can be
obtained, on which they will feed and amuse themselves. It should be
heavy enough to enable them to tear off the grass, without being obliged
to drag the turf about with them.



CHAPTER IV.

FOOD.


The following table, which first appeared in the "Poultry Diary," will
show at a glance the relative constituents and qualities of the
different kinds of food, and may be consulted with great advantage by
the poultry-keeper, as it will enable him to proportion mixed food
correctly, and to change it according to the production of growth,
flesh, or fat that may be desired, and according to the temperature of
the season. These proportions, of course, are not absolutely invariable,
for the relative proportions of the constituents of the grain will vary
with the soil, manure used, and the growing and ripening characteristics
of the season.

  ------------------+-------+-------+-------+---------+------+-------
                    |Flesh- |Warmth-| Bone- |  Husk   |Water.|
                    |forming|giving |making |   or    |      |
  There is in every | Food. | Food. | Food. | Fibre.  |      |
   100 lbs. of      +-------+-------+-------+---------+      |
                    |Gluten,|Fat or |Starch,| Mineral |      |
                    |  &c.  | Oil.  |  &c.  |Substance|      |
  ------------------+-------+-------+-------+---------+------+-------
  Oats              |  15   |   6   |  47   |    2    |  20  |  10
  Oatmeal           |  18   |   6   |  63   |    2    |  2   |  9
  Middlings or fine |       |       |       |         |      |
    Sharps          |  18   |   6   |  53   |    5    |  4   |  14
  Wheat             |  12   |   3   |  70   |    2    |  1   |  12
  Barley            |  11   |   2   |  60   |    2    |  14  |  1
  Indian Corn       |  11   |   8   |  65   |    1    |  5   |  10
  Rice              |   7   |a trace|  80   | a trace |  --  |  13
  Beans and Peas    |  25   |   2   |  48   |    2    |  8   |  15
  Milk              |   4½  |   3   |   5   |     ¾   |  --  |  86¾
  -------------------------------------------------------------------

Barley is more generally used than any other grain, and, reckoned by
weight, is cheaper than wheat or oats; but, unless in the form of meal,
should not be the only grain given, for fowls do not fatten upon it, as,
though possessing a very fair proportion of flesh-forming substances, it
contains a lesser amount of fatty matters than other varieties of corn.
In Surrey barley is the usual grain given, excepting during the time of
incubation, when the sitting hens have oats, as being less heating to
the system than the former. Barley-meal contains the same component
parts as the whole grain, being ground with the husk, but only inferior
barley is made into meal.

Wheat of the best description is dearer than barley, both by weight and
measure, and possesses but about one-twelfth part more flesh-forming
material, but it is fortunate that the small cheap wheat is the best for
poultry, for Professor Johnston says, "the small or tail corn which the
farmer separates before bringing his grain to market is richer in gluten
(flesh-forming food) than the full-grown grain, and is therefore more
nutritious." The "Henwife" finds "light wheats or tailings the best
grain for daily use, and next to that barley."

Oats are dearer than barley by weight. The heaviest should be bought, as
they contain very little more husk than the lightest, and are therefore
cheaper in proportion. Oats and oatmeal contain much more flesh-forming
material than any other kind of grain, and double the amount of fatty
material than wheat, and three times as much as barley. Mowbray says
oats are apt to cause scouring, and chickens become tired of them; but
they are recommended by many for promoting laying, and in Kent, Sussex,
and Surrey for fattening. Fowls frequently refuse the lighter samples of
oats, but if soaked in water for a few hours so as to swell the kernel,
they will not refuse them. The meal contains more flesh-forming material
than the whole grain.

The meal of wheat and barley are much the same as the whole grain, but
oatmeal is drier and separated from a large portion of the husk, which
makes it too dear except for fattening fowls and feeding the youngest
chickens, for which it is the very best food. Fine "middlings," also
termed "sharps" and "thirds," and in London coarse country flour, are
much like oatmeal, but cheaper than the best, and may be cheaply and
advantageously employed instead of oatmeal, or mixed with boiled or
steamed small potatoes or roots.

Many writers recommend refuse corn for fowls, and the greater number of
poultry-keepers on a small scale perhaps think such light common grain
the cheapest food; but this is a great mistake, as, though young fowls
may be fed on offal and refuse, it is the best economy to give the older
birds the finest kind of grain, both for fattening and laying, and even
the young fowls should be fed upon the best if fine birds for breeding
or exhibition are desired. "Instead of giving ordinary or tail corn to
my fattening or breeding poultry," says Mowbray, "I have always found it
most advantageous to allow the heaviest and the best; thus putting the
confined fowls on a level with those at the barn-door, where they are
sure to get their share of the weightiest and finest corn. This high
feeding shows itself not only in the size and flesh of the fowls, but in
the size, weight, and substantial goodness of their eggs, which, in
these valuable particulars, will prove far superior to the eggs of fowls
fed upon ordinary corn or washy potatoes; two eggs of the former going
further in domestic use than three of the latter." "Sweepings" sometimes
contain poisonous or hurtful substances, and are always dearer, weight
for weight, than sound grain.

Some poultry-keepers recommend that the grain should be boiled, which
makes it swell greatly, and consequently fills the fowl's crop with a
smaller quantity, and the bird is satisfied with less than if dry grain
be given; but others say that the fowls derive more nutriment from the
same quantity of grain unboiled. Indeed, it seems evident that a portion
of the nutriment must pass into the water, and also evaporate in steam.
The fowl's gizzard being a powerful grinding mill, evidently designed by
Providence for the purpose of crushing the grain into meal, it is clear
that whole grain is the natural diet of fowls, and that softer kinds of
food are chiefly to be used for the first or morning meal for fowls
confined in houses (see p. 34), and for those being fattened
artificially in coops, where it is desired to help the fowl's digestive
powers, and to convert the food into flesh as quickly as possible.

Indian corn or maize, either whole or in meal, must not be given in too
great a proportion, as it is very fattening from the large quantity of
oil it contains; but mixed with barley or barley-meal, it is a most
economical and useful food. It is useful for a change, but is not a good
food by itself. It may be given once or twice a week, especially in the
winter, with advantage. From its size small birds cannot eat it and rob
the fowls. Whether whole or in meal, the maize should be scalded, that
the swelling may be done before it is eaten. The yellow-coloured maize
is not so good as that which is reddish or rather reddish-brown.

Buckwheat is about equal to barley in flesh-forming food, and is very
much used on the Continent. Mr. Wright has "a strong opinion that the
enormous production of eggs and fowls in France is to some extent
connected with the almost universal use of buckwheat by French
poultry-keepers." It is not often to be had cheap in this country, but
is hardy and may be grown anywhere at little cost. Mr. Edwards says, he
"obtained (without manure) forty bushels to the acre, on very poor sandy
soil, that would not have produced eighteen bushels of oats. The seed is
angular in form, not unlike hempseed; and is stimulating, from the
quantity of spirit it contains."

Peas, beans, and tares contain an extraordinary quantity of
flesh-forming material, and very little of fat-forming, but are too
stimulating for general use, and would harden the muscular fibres and
give too great firmness of flesh to fowls that are being fattened, but
where tares are at a low price, or peas or beans plentiful, stock fowls
may be advantageously fed upon any of these, and they may be given
occasionally to fowls that are being fattened. It is better to give them
boiled than in a raw state, especially if they are hard and dry, and the
beans in particular may be too large for the fowls to swallow
comfortably. Near Geneva fowls are fed chiefly upon tares. Poultry
reject the wild tares of which pigeons are so fond.

Rice is not a cheap food. When boiled it absorbs a great quantity of
water and forms a large substance, but, of course, only contains the
original quantity of grain which is of inferior value, especially for
growing chickens, as it consists almost entirely of starch, and does not
contain quite half the amount of flesh-forming materials as oats. When
broken or slightly damaged it may be had much cheaper, and will do as
well as the finest. Boil it for half an hour in skim-milk or water, and
then let it stand in the water till cold, when it will have swollen
greatly, and be so firm that it can be taken out in lumps, and easily
broken into pieces. In addition to its strengthening and fattening
qualities rice is considered to improve the delicacy of the flesh. Fowls
are especially fond of it at first, but soon grow tired of this food. If
mixed with less cloying food, such as bran, they would probably continue
to relish it.

Hempseed is most strengthening during moulting time, and should then be
given freely, especially in cold localities.

Linseed steeped is occasionally given, chiefly to birds intended for
exhibition, to increase the secretion of oil, and give lustre to their
plumage.

Potatoes, from the large quantity of starch they contain, are not good
unmixed, as regular food, but mixed with bran or meal are most conducive
to good condition and laying. They contain a great proportion of
nutriment, comparatively to their bulk and price; and may be
advantageously and profitably given where the number of eggs produced is
of more consequence than their flavour or goodness. A good morning meal
of soft food for a few fowls may be provided daily almost for nothing by
boiling the potato peelings till soft, and mashing them up with enough
bran, slightly scalded, to make a tolerably stiff dry paste. The
peelings will supply as many fowls as there are persons at the dinner
table. A little salt should always be added, and in winter a slight
sprinkling of pepper is good.

"It is indispensable," says Mr. Dickson, "to give the potatoes to fowls
not only in a boiled state, but hot; not so hot, however, as to burn
their mouths, as they are stupid enough to do if permitted. They dislike
cold potatoes, and will not eat them willingly. It is likewise requisite
to break all the potatoes a little, for they will not unfrequently leave
a potato when thrown down unbroken, taking it, probably, for a stone,
since the moment the skin is broken and the white of the interior is
brought into view, they fall upon it greedily. When pieces of raw
potatoes are accidentally in their way, fowls will sometimes eat them,
though they are not fond of these, and it is doubtful whether they are
not injurious."

Mangold-wurtzel, swedes, or other turnips, boiled with a very small
quantity of water, until quite soft, and then thickened with the very
best middlings or meal, is the very best soft food, especially for
Dorkings.

Soft food should always be mixed rather dry and _friable_, and not
_porridgy_, for they do not like sticky food, which clings round their
beaks and annoys them, besides often causing diarrhoea. There should
never be enough water in food to cause it to glisten in the light. If
the soft food is mixed boiling hot at night and put in the oven, or
covered with a cloth, it will be warm in the morning, in which state it
should always be given in cold weather.

Fowls have their likes and dislikes as well as human beings, some
preferring one kind of grain to all others, which grain is again
disliked by other fowls. They also grow tired of the same food, and will
thrive all the better for having as much variety of diet as possible,
some little change in the food being made every few days. Fowls should
not be forced or pressed to take food to which they show a dislike. It
is most important to give them chiefly that which they like best, as it
is a rule, with but few exceptions, that what is eaten with most relish
agrees best and is most easily digested; but care must be taken not to
give too much, for one sort of grain being more pleasing to their palate
than another, induces them to eat gluttonously more than is necessary or
healthy. M. Réaumur made many careful experiments upon the feeding of
fowls, and among them found that they were much more easily satisfied
than might be supposed from the greedy voracity which they exhibit when
they are fed, and that the sorts of food most easily digested by them
are those of which they eat the greatest quantity.

No definite scale can be given for the quantity of food which fowls
require, as it must necessarily vary with the different breeds, sizes,
ages, condition, and health of the fowls; and with the seasons of the
year, and the temperature of the season, much more food being necessary
to keep up the proper degree of animal heat in winter than in summer;
and the amount of seeds, insects, vegetables, and other food that they
may pick up in a run of more or less extent. Over-feeding, whether by
excess of quantity or excess of stimulating constituents, is the cause
of the most general diseases, the greater proportion of these diseases,
and of most of the deaths from natural causes among fowls. When fowls
are neither laying well nor moulting, they should not be fed very
abundantly; for in such a state over-feeding, especially with rich food,
may cause them to accumulate too much fat. A fat hen ceases to lay, or
nearly, while an over-fed cock becomes lazy and useless, and may die of
apoplexy.

But half-fed fowls never pay whether kept for the table or to produce
eggs. A fowl cannot get fat or make an egg a day upon little or poor
food. A hen producing eggs will eat nearly twice as much food as at
another time. In cold weather give plenty of dry bread soaked in ale.

Poultry prefer to pick their food off the ground. "No plan," says Mr.
Baily, "is so extravagant or so injurious as to throw down heaps once or
twice per day. They should have it scattered as far and wide as
possible, that the birds may be long and healthily employed in finding
it, and may not accomplish in a few minutes that which should occupy
them for hours. For this reason every sort of feeder or hopper is bad.
It is the nature of fowls to take a grain at a time, and to pick grass
and dirt with it, which assist digestion. They should feed as pheasants,
partridges, grouse, and other game do in a state of nature; if,
contrary to this, they are enabled to eat corn by mouthfuls, their crops
are soon overfilled, and they seek relief in excessive draughts of
water. Nothing is more injurious than this, and the inactivity that
attends the discomfort caused by it lays the foundation of many
disorders. The advantage of scattering the food is, that all then get
their share; while if it is thrown only on a small space the master
birds get the greater part, while the others wait around. In most
poultry-yards more than half the food is wasted; the same quantity is
thrown down day after day, without reference to time of year, alteration
of numbers, or variation of appetite, and that which is not eaten is
trodden about, or taken by small birds. Many a poultry-yard is coated
with corn and meal."

If two fowls will not run after one piece, they do not want it. If a
trough is used, the best kind is the simplest, being merely a long, open
one, shaped like that used for pigs, but on a smaller scale. It should
be placed about a foot from one of the sides of the yard, behind some
round rails driven into the ground three inches apart, so that the fowls
cannot get into the troughs, so as to upset them, or tread in or
otherwise dirty the food. The rails should be all of the same height,
and a slanting board be fixed over the trough.

Some persons give but one meal a day, and that generally in the morning;
this is false economy, for the whole of the nutriment contained in the
one meal is absorbed in keeping up the animal heat, and there is no
material for producing eggs. "The number of meals per day," says Mr.
Wright, "best consistent with real economy will vary from two to three,
according to the size of the run. If it be of moderate extent, so that
they can in any degree forage for themselves, two are quite sufficient,
at least in summer, and should be given early in the morning and the
last thing before the birds go to roost. In any case, these will be the
principal meals; but when the fowls are kept in confinement they will
require, in addition, a scanty feed at mid-day. The first feeding should
consist of soft food of some kind. The birds have passed a whole night
since they were last fed; and it is important, especially in cold
weather, that a fresh supply should as soon as possible be got into the
system, and not merely into the crop. But if grain be given, it has to
be ground in the poor bird's gizzard before it can be digested, and on a
cold winter's morning the delay is anything but beneficial. But, for the
very same reason, at the evening meal grain forms the best food which
can be supplied; it is digested slowly, and during the long cold nights
affords support and warmth to the fowls."

They should be fed at regular hours, and will then soon become
accustomed to them, and not loiter about the house or kitchen door all
day long, expecting food, which they will do if fed irregularly or too
often, and neglect to forage about for themselves, and thus cost more
for food.

Grass is of the greatest value for all kinds of poultry, and where they
have no paddock, or grass-plot, fresh vegetables must be given them
daily, as green food is essential to the health of all poultry, even of
the very youngest chickens. Cabbage and lettuce leaves, spinach, endive,
turnip-tops, turnips cut into small pieces and scattered like grain, or
cut in two, radish-leaves, or any refuse, but not stale vegetables will
do; but the best thing is a large sod of fresh-cut turf. They are
partial to all the mild succulent weeds, such as chickweed and
_Chenopodium_, or fat-hen, and eat the leaves of most trees and shrubs,
even those of evergreens; but they reject the leaves of strawberries,
celery, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, onions, and leeks. The supply of
green food may be unlimited, but poultry should never be entirely fed on
raw greens. Cabbage and spinach are still more relaxing when boiled than
raw. They are very fond of the fruit of the mulberry and cherry trees,
and will enjoy any that falls, and prevent it from being wasted.

Insect food is important to fowls, and essential for chickens and laying
hens. "There is no sort of insect, perhaps," says Mr. Dickson, "which
fowls will not eat. They are exceedingly fond of flies, beetles,
grasshoppers, and crickets, but more particularly of every sort of
grub, caterpillar, and maggot, with the remarkable exception of the
caterpillar moth of the magpie (_Abraxas Grossularia_), which no bird
will touch." M. Réaumur mentions the circumstance of a quantity of wheat
stored in a corn-loft being much infected with the caterpillars of the
small corn-moth, which spins a web and unites several grains together. A
young lady devised the plan of taking some chickens to the loft to feed
on the caterpillars, of which they were so fond that in a few days they
devoured them all, without touching a single grain of the corn. Mr.
Dickson observes, that "biscuit-dust from ships' stores, which consists
of biscuit mouldered into meal, mixed with fragments still unbroken,
would be an excellent food for poultry, if soaked in boiling water and
given them hot. It is thus used for feeding pigs near the larger
seaports, where it can sometimes be had in considerable quantity, and at
a very reasonable price. It will be no detriment to this material if it
be full of weevils and their grubs, of which fowls are fonder than of
the biscuit itself."

There is not any food of which poultry generally are so fond as of
earthworms; but all fowls are not equally fond of them, and some will
not touch them. They will not eat dead worms. Too many ought not to be
given, or they will become too fat and cease laying. When fowls are
intended for the table worms should not be given, as they are said
always more or less to deteriorate the flavour of the flesh. A good
supply may easily be obtained. By stamping hard upon the ground, as
anglers do, worms will rise to the surface; but a better method is to
thrust a strong stake or a three-pronged potato-fork into the ground, to
the depth of a foot or so, and jerk it backwards and forwards, so as to
shake the soil all around. By going out with a light at night in calm,
mild weather, particularly when there is dew, or after rain, a cautious
observer will see large numbers of worms lying on the ground,
gravel-walks, grass-plots or pastures; but they are easily frightened
into their holes, though with caution and dexterity a great number, and
those chiefly of the largest size, may be captured. Mr. Dickson advises
that cottagers' children should be employed to imitate the example of
the rooks, by following the plough or the digger, and collecting the
worms which are disclosed to view; and also to collect cock-chafers,
"and, what would be more advantageous, they might be set to collect the
grubs of this destructive insect after the plough, and thus, while
providing a rich banquet for the poultry, they would be clearing the
fields of a most destructive insect."

Fowls are very fond of shell snails. They are still more fattening than
worms, and therefore too many must not be given when laying, but they do
not injure the flavour of the flesh. Some will eat slugs, but they are
not generally fond of these, and many fowls will not touch them.

One great secret of profitable poultry-keeping is, that hens cannot
thrive and lay without a considerable quantity of animal food, and
therefore if they cannot obtain a sufficient quantity in the form of
insects, it must be supplied in meat, which, minced small, should be
given daily and also to all fowls in winter, as insects are then not to
be had. Mr. Baily says: "Do not give fowls meat, but always have the
bones thrown out to them after dinner; they enjoy picking them, and
perform the operation perfectly. Do not feed on raw meat; it makes fowls
quarrelsome, and gives them a propensity to peck each other, especially
in moulting time if the accustomed meat be withheld." They will peck at
the wound of another fowl to procure blood, and even at their own wounds
when within reach. Take care that long pieces of membrane, or thick
skin, tough gristle or sinew, or pieces of bone, are not left sticking
to the meat, or it may choke them, or form a lodgment in the crop.
"Pieces of suet or fat," says Mr. Dickson, "are liked by fowls better
than any other sort of animal food; but, if supplied in any quantity,
will soon render them too fat for continuing to lay. Should there be any
quantity of fat to dispose of, it ought, therefore, to be given at
intervals, and mixed or accompanied with bran, which will serve to fill
their crops without producing too much nutriment." It is a good plan
when there are plenty of bones and scraps of meat to boil them well, and
mix bran or pollard with the liquor before giving them to the fowls, as
it makes the meat easier to mince, and extracts nourishment from the
bones. When minced-meat is required for a large number of fowls, a
mincing or sausage machine will save much time and prepare the meat
better than chopping. They are as fond of fish, whether salted or fresh,
as of flesh. Crumbs, fragments of pastry, and all the refuse and slops
of the kitchen may be given them. Greaves, so much advertised for fowls,
are very bad, rapidly throwing them out of condition, causing their
feathers to fall off, spoiling the flavour of the flesh; they cause
premature decrepitude, and engender many diseases, the most common being
dropsy of an incurable character.

Where there is no danger from thieves, foxes, or other vermin, and the
run is extensive, it is the best plan to leave the small door of the
fowl-house open, and the fowls will go out at daybreak and pick up many
an "early worm" and insect. The morning meal may be given when the
household has risen.

A constant supply of fresh clean water is indispensable. Fountains are
preferable to open vessels, in which the fowls are apt to void their
dung, and the chickens to dabble and catch cold, often causing roup,
cramp, &c. The simplest kind of water vessel is a saucer made of red
pottery, containing several circular, concentric troughs, each about an
inch wide, and of the same depth. Chickens cannot get drowned in these
shallow vessels, but unless placed behind rails the water will be
dirtied by the fowls. They are sold at all earthenware shops, and are
used for forcing early mustard in. A capital fountain may be made with
an earthenware jar or flower-pot and a flower-pot saucer. Bore a small
hole in the jar or flower-pot an inch and a half from the edge of the
rim, or detach a piece about three-quarters of an inch deep and one inch
wide, from the rim, and if a flower-pot is used plug the hole in the
bottom airtight with a piece of cork; fill the vessel with water, place
the saucer bottom upwards on the top, press it closely, and quickly turn
both upside down, when the water will flow into the saucer, filling up
the space between it and the vessel up to the same height as the hole
in the side of the jar or flower-pot, therefore the hole in the side of
the rim of the vessel must not be quite so deep as the height of the
side of the saucer; and above all the plug in the flower-pot must be
airtight. This fountain is cheap, simple, and easily cleaned. Water may
also be kept in troughs, or earthenware pans, placed in the same way.
The fountains and pans should be washed and filled with fresh water once
every day, and oftener in warm weather; and they should occasionally be
scoured with sand to remove the green slime which collects on the
surface, and produces roup, gapes, and other diseases. In winter the
vessels should always be emptied at night, in order to avoid ice from
forming in them, which is troublesome to remove, and snow must never be
allowed to fall into them, snow-water being most injurious to poultry.



CHAPTER V.

EGGS.


During the natural process of moulting, hens cease laying because all
the superabundant nutriment is required for the production of the new
feathers. Fowls moult later each time; the moulting occupies a longer
period, and is more severe as it becomes later, and if the weather
should be cold at its termination they seldom recommence laying for some
time. But young fowls moult in spring. Therefore, by having pullets and
hens of different ages, and moulting at different times, a healthy
laying stock may be kept up. Pullets hatched in March, and constantly
fed highly, not only lay eggs abundantly in the autumn, but when killed
in the following February or March, are as fat as any one could or need
desire them to be, and open more like Michaelmas geese than chickens.
When eggs alone are wanted, you can commence by buying in the spring as
many hens as you require, and your run will accommodate, not more than a
year or eighteen months old. If in good health and condition, they will
be already laying, or will begin almost immediately; and, if well housed
and fed, will give a constant supply of eggs until they moult in the
autumn. When these hens have ceased laying, and before they lose their
good condition by moulting, they should be either killed or sold, unless
they are Hamburgs, Brahmas, or Cochins, and replaced by pullets hatched
in March or April, which will have moulted early, and, if properly
housed and fed, will begin to lay by November at the latest, and
continue laying until February or March, when they may be sold or
killed, being then in prime condition, and replaced as before; or, as
they will not stop laying for any length of time, the best may be kept
until the autumn, when, if profit is the chief consideration, they must
be disposed of.[3] But Brahmas, Cochins, and Hamburgs will lay through
the winter up to their second, or even third year. If you commence
poultry-keeping in the autumn you should buy pullets hatched in the
preceding spring. The best and cheapest plan of keeping up a good stock
is to keep a full-feathered Cochin or two for March or April sitting;
and, if necessary, procure eggs of the breed you desire. The Cochin
will sit again, being only too often ready for the task; and the
later-hatched chickens can be fattened profitably for the table. But if
you wish to obtain eggs all the year round, and to avoid replacing of
stock, or object to the trouble of rearing chickens, keep only those
breeds that are non-sitters, as the Hamburgs, Polands, and Spanish; but
you must purchase younger birds from time to time to keep a supply of
laying hens while others are moulting.

Warmth is most essential for promoting laying. A severe frost will
suddenly stop the laying of even the most prolific hens. "When," says M.
Bosc, "it is wished to have eggs during the cold season, even in the
dead of winter, it is necessary to make the fowls roost over an oven, in
a stable, in a shed where many cattle are kept, or to erect a stove in
the fowl-house on purpose. By such methods, the farmers of Ange have
chickens fit for the table in the month of April, a period when they are
only beginning to be hatched in the farms around Paris, although farther
to the south." It is the winter management of fowls that decides the
question of profit or loss, for hens will be sure to pay in the summer,
even if only tolerably attended to. It is thought by many that each hen
can produce only a certain number of eggs; and if such be the case, it
is very advantageous to obtain a portion of them in winter when they are
generally scarce and can be eaten while fresh, instead of having the
whole number produced in the summer, when so many are spoiled from too
long keeping in consequence of more being produced than are required for
use at the time.

When the time for her laying approaches, her comb and wattles change
from their previous dull hue to a bright red, the eye brightens, the
gait becomes more spirited, and sometimes she cackles for three or four
days. After laying her egg on leaving the nest the hen utters a loud
cackling cry, to which the cock often responds in a high-pitched kind of
scream; but some hens after laying leave the nest in silence. Some hens
will lay an egg in three days, some every other day, and others every
day. Hens should not be forced. By unnaturally forcing a fowl with
stimulating food, and more particularly with hempseed and tallow
greaves, to lay in two years or so the eggs that should have been the
produce of several, the hen becomes prematurely old and diseased; and it
is reasonable to suppose that the eggs are not so good as they would
have been if nature had been left to run its own course. The eggs ought
to be taken from the nest every afternoon when no more may be expected
to be laid; for if left in the nest, the heat of the hens when laying
next day will tend to corrupt them.

When the shells of the eggs are somewhat soft, it is because the hens
are rather inclined to grow too fat. It is then proper to mix up a
little chalk in their water, and to put a little mortar rubbish in their
food, the quantity of which should be diminished. We give the following
remarks by an experienced poultry-keeper of the old school, as valuable
from being the result of practice: "The hen sometimes experiences a
difficulty in laying. In this case a few grains of salt or garlic put
into the vent have been successfully tried. The keeper should indeed
make use of the latter mode to find out the place where a hen has laid
without his knowledge; for, as the hen will be in haste to deposit her
egg, her pace towards the nest will be quickened; she may then be
followed and her secret found out."

"Though one particular form," says Mr. Dickson, "is so common to eggs,
that it is known by the familiar name of egg-shaped, yet all keepers of
poultry must be aware that eggs are sometimes nearly round, and
sometimes almost cylindrical, besides innumerable minor shades of
difference. In fact, eggs differ so much in shape, that it is said
experienced poultry-keepers can tell by the shape of the eggs alone the
hen that laid them; for, strange to say, however different in size the
eggs of any particular hen may be occasionally, they are very rarely
different in form. Among the most remarkable eggs may be mentioned those
of the Shanghae, or Cochin-China fowl, which are of a pale chocolate
colour; and those of the Dorking fowl, which are of a pure white, and
nearly as round as balls. The eggs of the Malay fowls are brown; those
of the Polish fowl, which are very much pointed at one end, are of a
delicate pinkish white; and those of the Bantam are of a long oval."

A very important part of the egg is the air-bag, or _folliculus æris_,
which is placed at the larger end, between the shell and its lining
membranes. It is, according to Dr. Paris, about the size of the eye of a
small bird in new laid eggs, but enlarges to ten times that size during
the process of incubation. "This air-bag," says Mr. Dickson, "is of such
great importance to the development of the chick, probably by supplying
it with a limited atmosphere of oxygen, that if the blunt end of the egg
be pierced with the point of the smallest needle (a stratagem which
malice not unfrequently suggests), the egg cannot be hatched, but
perishes."

An egg exposed to the air is continually losing a portion of its
moisture, the place of which is filled by the entrance of air, and the
egg consequently becomes stale, and after a time putrid. M. Réaumur made
many experiments in preserving eggs, and found that, by coating them
with varnish, it was impossible to distinguish those which had been kept
for a year from those newly laid; but varnish, though not expensive, is
not always to be had in country places, and it also remained on the eggs
placed under a hen and impeded the hatching, while in boiling them, the
varnish, not being soluble in hot water, prevented them from being
properly cooked. He tried other substances, and found that fat or
grease, such as suet, lard, dripping, butter, and oil, were well adapted
for the purpose, the best of these being a mixture of mutton and beef
suet thoroughly melted together over a slow fire, and strained through
a linen cloth into an earthen pan. It is only requisite, he says, to
take a piece of the fat or butter about the size of a pea on the end of
the finger, and rub it all over the shell, by passing and repassing the
finger so that no part be left untouched; the transpiration of matter
from the egg being as effectually stopped by the thinnest layer of fat
or grease as by a thick coating, so that no part of the shell be left
ungreased, or the tip of the finger may be dipped into oil and passed
over the shell in the same manner. If it is desired that the eggs should
look clean, they may be afterwards wiped with a towel, for sufficient
grease or oil enters the pores of the shell to prevent all transpiration
without its being necessary that any should be left to fill up the
spaces between the pores. They can be boiled as usual without rubbing
off the fat, as it will melt in the hot water, and when taken out of the
water the little grease that is left upon the egg is easily wiped off
with a napkin.

Eggs preserved in this manner can also be used for hatching, as the fat
easily melts away by the heat of the hen; and by this means the eggs of
foreign fowls might be carried to a distance, hatched, and naturalised
in this and other countries. The French also find that a mixture of
melted beeswax and olive oil is an excellent preservative.

Eggs may also be preserved for cooking by packing them in sawdust, in an
earthen vessel, and covering the top with melted mutton suet or fat; as
fruit is sometimes preserved. They are also said to keep well in salt,
in a barrel arranged in layers of salt and eggs alternately. If the salt
should become damp, it would penetrate through the pores of the shell
and pickle them to a certain extent. M. Gagne says that eggs may be
preserved in a mixture made of one bushel of quick-lime, two pounds of
salt, and eight ounces of cream of tartar, with sufficient water to make
it into a paste of a consistency to receive the eggs, which, it is said,
may be kept in it fresh for two years; but eggs become tasteless when
preserved with lime. It may be as well to mention here that eggs are
comparatively wasted when used in making a rice pudding, as they render
it too hard and dry, and the pudding without them, if properly made,
will be just of the right consistency.

"Another way to preserve eggs," says Mr. Dickson, "is to have them
cooked in boiling water the same day they are laid. On taking them out
of the water they are marked with red ink, to record their date, and put
away in a cool place, where they will keep, it is said, for several
months. When they are wanted for use, they are again put into hot water
to warm them. The curdy part which is usually seen in new-laid eggs is
so abundant, and the taste is said to be so well preserved, that the
nicest people may be made to believe that they are new laid. At the end
of three or four months, however, the membrane lining the shell becomes
much thickened, and the eggs lose their flavour. Eggs so preserved have
the advantage of not suffering from being carried about."

"It ought not to be overlooked," says Mr. Dickson, "with respect to the
preservation of eggs, that they not only spoil by the transpiration of
their moisture and the putrid fermentation of their contents, in
consequence of air penetrating through the pores of the shell; but also
by being moved about, and jostled when carried to a distance by sea or
land. Any sort of rough motion indeed ruptures the membranes which keep
the white, the yolk, and the germ of the chick in their proper places,
and upon these becoming mixed, putrefaction soon follows."

If the eggs are to be kept for setting, place a box, divided by
partitions into divisions for the eggs of the different breeds, in a dry
corner of your kitchen, but not too near to the fire; fill the divisions
with bran previously well dried in an oven; place the eggs in it
upright, with the larger ends uppermost, as soon as they are laid, and
cover them with the bran. Mark each egg in pencil with the date when
laid, and description of breed or cross. They should be kept in a cool
place or a warm place according to the season. Airtight jars, closed
with airtight stoppers, may be used if the eggs are intended to be kept
for a very long time.

In selecting eggs for setting, choose the freshest, those of moderate
size, well-shaped, and having the air-vessel distinctly visible, either
in the centre of the top of the egg, or slightly to the side, when the
egg is held between the eye and a lighted candle, in a darkened room.
Reject very small eggs, which generally have no yolk, those that are
ill-shaped, and those of equal thickness at both ends, which latter is
the usual shape of eggs with double yolks. These should be avoided, as
they are apt generally to prove unfertile, or produce monstrosities.

It has been stated that the sex of the embryo chicken can be ascertained
by the position of the air-vessel; that if it be on the top the egg will
produce a cockerel, and if on the side a pullet; but there is no proof
of the truth of this, and, notwithstanding such assertions, it appears
to be impossible to foretell the sex of the chick, from the shape of the
egg or in any other way.

In selecting eggs for the purpose of producing fowls that are to be kept
for laying only, being non-sitters, choose eggs only from those hens
that are prolific layers, for prolific laying is often as characteristic
of some fowls of a breed as it is of the particular breeds, and by
careful selection this faculty, like others, may be further developed,
or continued if already fully developed.

If carefully packed, eggs for setting may be carried great
distances--hundreds and even thousands of miles--without injury;
vibration and even moderate shaking, and very considerable changes of
temperature, producing no ill effect upon the germ. The chief point is
to prevent the escape of moisture by evaporation, and consequent
admission of air. A hamper travels with less vibration than a box, and
is therefore preferable, especially for a long journey. They should be
packed in hay, by which they will be preserved from breakage much better
than by being packed in short, close material like bran, chaff, oats, or
sawdust; these being shaken into smaller space by the vibration of
travelling, the eggs often strike and crack each other. The hamper or
box should be large enough to admit of some soft, yielding packing
material being placed all round the eggs. The bottom should be first
covered with a good layer of hay, straw, or moss. It is a good plan to
roll each egg separately in hay or moss, fastened with a little wool or
worsted. They should be covered with well-rubbed straw, pressed down
carefully and gently. The lid of the hamper should be sewed on tightly
all round, or in three or four places at least. If a box is used, the
lid should be fastened by cords or screws, but not with nails, as the
hammering would probably destroy the germ of the egg.

In procuring eggs for hatching, be sure that the parent birds are of
mature age, but not too old, well-shaped, vigorous, and in perfect
health; that one cock is kept to every six or seven hens; and that they
are well fed and attended to. Have a steady broody hen ready to take the
eggs.



CHAPTER VI.

THE SITTING HEN.


All hens that are inclined to sit should be allowed to hatch and bring
up one brood of chickens a year; for, if altogether restrained from
sitting, a hen suffers much in moulting, and is restless and excited for
the remainder of the season. It is unnatural, and therefore must be
injurious. The period of incubation gives her rest from producing eggs.
The hen that is always stimulated to produce eggs, and not allowed to
vary that process by hatching and bringing up a young brood, must
ultimately suffer from this constant drain upon her system, and the eggs
are said to be unwholesome.

But hens frequently wish to sit when it is not convenient, or in autumn
or winter, when it is not advisable, unless very late or early chickens
are desired, and every attention can be given to them. To check this
desire, the old-fashioned plan with farmers' wives, of plunging the
broody hen into cold water, and keeping her there for some minutes, was
not only a cruel practice, but often failed to effect its object, and
must naturally always have caused ultimate disease in the poor bird.
When it is absolutely necessary to check the desire of a hen to sit, the
best plan is to let her sit on some nest-eggs for a week, then remove
and coop her for a few days, away from the place where she made her
nest, low diet, as boiled potatoes and boiled rice, and water being
placed near; meanwhile taking away the eggs and destroying the nest,
and, not finding it on her return, she will generally not seek for
another, unless she is a Cochin, or the desire exceedingly strong.

When a hen wishes to sit, she utters a peculiar cluck, ruffles her
feathers, wanders about, searches obscure corners and recesses, is very
fidgety, feverishly hot, impatient, anxiously restless, and seeks for a
nest. Highly-fed hens feel this desire sooner than those that are not so
highly fed. A hen may be induced to sit at any season, by confining her
in a dark room in a covered basket, only large enough to contain her
nest, keeping her warm, and feeding her on stimulating food, such as
bread steeped in ale, a little raw liver or fresh meat chopped small,
and potatoes mashed warm with milk and oatmeal.

Every large poultry establishment should have a separate house for the
sitting hens, and the run that should be provided for their relaxation
must be divided from that of the other fowls by wire or lattice work, to
prevent any intrusion. Where there is a large number of sitting hens,
each nest should be numbered, and the date of setting, number and
description of eggs, entered in a diary or memorandum book opposite to
the number; and the number of chickens hatched, and any particulars
likely to be useful on a future occasion, should afterwards be entered.

A separate house and run for each sitting hen is a great advantage, as
it prevents other hens from going to the nest during her absence, or
herself from returning to the wrong nest, as will often happen in a
common house. The run should not be large, or the hen may be inclined to
wander and stay away too long from her nest. A separate division for the
sitting hen is often otherwise useful, for the purpose of keeping the
cock apart from the hens, or for keeping a few additional birds for
which accommodation has not been prepared, or for the use of a pen of
birds about to be sent for exhibition.

"Boxes, of which every carpenter knows the form," says Mowbray, "are to
be arranged round the walls, and it is proper to have a sufficient
number, the hens being apt to dispute possession, and sit upon one
another. The board or step at the entrance should be of sufficient
height to prevent the eggs from rolling out. Provision of a few railed
doors may be made for occasional use, to be hung before the entrance, in
order to prevent other hens from intruding to lay their eggs upon those
which sit, a habit to which some are much addicted, and by which a brood
is often injured. The common deep square boxes, uncovered at top, are
extremely improper, because that form obliges the hen to jump down upon
her eggs, whereas for safety she should descend upon them from a very
small height, or in a manner walk in upon them. The same objection lies
against hampers, with the additional one of the wicker-work admitting
the cold in variable weather, during winter or early spring sittings.
Many breeders prefer to have all the nests upon the ground, on account
of the danger of chickens falling from the nests which are placed
above." The ground is preferable for other reasons. The damp arising
from the ground assists very materially in incubation. When fowls sit
upon wooden floors, or in boxes, the eggs become so dry and parched as
to prevent the chicken from disencumbering itself of the shell, and it
is liable to perish in its attempts. Hens in a state of nature make
their nests upon the ground; and fowls, when left to choose a nest for
themselves, generally fix upon a hedge, where the hen conceals herself
under the branches of the hedge, and among the grass. In general, the
sitting places are too close and confined, and very different in this
respect to those that hens select for themselves.

But nests cannot always be allowed to be made on the ground, unless
properly secured from vermin, particularly from rats, which will
frequently convey away the whole of the eggs from under a hen. And other
considerations may render it necessary to have them on a floor, in boxes
on the ground, or placed above; in which cases the eggs must be kept
properly moistened, for, unless the egg is kept sufficiently damp, its
inner membrane becomes so hard and dry that the chicken cannot break
through, and perishes. When a hen steals her nest in a hedge or clump of
evergreens or bushes, she makes it on the damp ground. She goes in
search of food early in the morning, before the dew is off the grass,
and returns to her nest with her feathers saturated with moisture. This
is the cause of the comparatively successful hatching of the eggs of
wild birds. The old farmers' wives did not understand the necessity of
damping eggs, but frequently complained of their not hatching, although
chickens were found in them, which was, in most cases, entirely caused
by want of damping. If, therefore, the weather is warm and wet, all will
probably go well; but if the air should be very dry, moisture must be
imparted by sprinkling the nest and eggs slightly, when the hen is off
feeding, by means of a small brush dipped in tepid water. A small flat
brush such as is used by painters is excellent for this purpose, as it
does not distribute the water too freely. The ground round about, also,
should be watered with hot water, to cause a steam. But the natural
moisture of a damp soil is preferable, and never fails.

The nest may be of any shape. A long box divided by partitions into
several compartments is much used, but separate boxes or baskets are
preferable as being more easily cleaned and freed from vermin. Wooden
nest-boxes are preferable to wicker baskets in winter, as the latter let
in the cold air, but many prefer wicker baskets in summer for their
airiness. A round glazed earthen pan, with shelving sides, like those
used in the midland counties for milk, and partially filled with moss,
forms a good nest, the moss being easier kept moist in such a pan than
in a box. The nest should be made so large that the hen can just fill
it, not very deep, and as nearly flat inside at the bottom as possible,
so that the eggs may not lean against each other, or they may get
broken, especially by the hen turning them.

The best filling for hatching nests is fine dry sand, mould, coal or
wood ashes placed on a cut turf, covering it and lining the sides with a
little well-broken dry grass, moss, bruised straw, lichen, or liverwort
collected from trees, or dry heather, which is the best of all, but
cannot always be had. Hay, though soft at first, soon becomes hard and
matted, and is also said to breed vermin. Straw is good material, but
must be cut into short pieces, for if long straw is used and the hen
should catch her foot in it, and drag it after her when she leaves the
nest, it will disturb, if not break, the eggs. The nests of the sitting
hens in Her Majesty's poultry-yard at Windsor are made of heather,
which offers an excellent medium between the natural damp hedge-nest of
the hen and the dryness of a box filled with straw, and also enables her
to free herself from those insects which are so troublesome to sitting
hens. A thick layer of ashes placed under the straw in cold weather will
keep in the heat of the hen. A little Scotch snuff is a good thing to
keep the nests free from vermin.

Where only a few fowls are kept, and a separate place cannot be found
for the sitting hen, she can be placed on a nest which should be covered
over with a coop, closed in with a little boarding or some other
contrivance for a day or two, to prevent her being disturbed by any
other fowls that have been accustomed to lay there. They will then soon
use another nest. She should be carefully lifted off her nest, by taking
hold of her under the wings, regularly every morning, exercised and fed,
and then shut in, so that she cannot be annoyed.

It is best to allow a hen to keep the nest she has chosen when she shows
an inclination to sit; and if she continues to sit steadily, and has not
a sufficient number of eggs under her, or the eggs you desire her to
hatch, remove her gently at night, replace the eggs with the proper
batch, and place her quietly upon the nest again. Hens are very fond of
choosing their own nests in out of the way places; and where the spot is
not unsafe, or too much exposed to the weather, it is best to let her
keep possession, for it has been noticed that, when she selects her own
nest and manages for herself, she generally brings forth a good and
numerous brood. Mr. Tegetmeier observes that he has "reason to believe,
indeed, that whatever care may be taken in keeping eggs, their vitality
is better preserved when they are allowed to remain in the nest. Perhaps
the periodical visits of the hen, while adding to her store of eggs, has
a stimulating influence. The warmth communicated in the half-hour during
which she occupies the nest may have a tendency to preserve the embryo
in a vigorous state."

It is a good plan, before giving an untried hen choice eggs, to let her
sit upon a few chalk or stale eggs for a few days, and if she continue
to sit with constancy, then to give her the batch for hatching. When
choice can be made out of several broody hens for a valuable batch of
eggs, one should be selected with rather short legs, a broad body, large
wings well furnished with feathers, and having the nails and spurs not
too long or sharp. As a rule, hens which are the best layers are the
worst sitters, and those with short legs are good sitters, while
long-legged hens are not. Dorkings are the best sitters of all breeds,
and by high feeding may be induced to sit in October, especially if they
have moulted early, and with great care and attention chickens may be
reared and made fit for table by Christmas. Early in the spring Dorkings
only should be employed as mothers, for they remain much longer with
their chickens than the Cochin-Chinas, but the latter may safely be
entrusted with a brood after April. Cochins are excellent sitters, and,
from the quantity of "fluff" which is peculiar to them, keep the eggs at
a high and regular degree of heat. Their short legs also are
advantageous for sitting. A Cochin hen can always be easily induced to
sit, and eggs of theirs or of Brahma Pootras for sitting, are not wanted
in the coldest weather.

Old hens are more steady sitters than pullets, more fond of their brood,
and not so apt as pullets to leave them too soon. Indeed, pullets were
formerly never allowed to sit before the second year of their laying,
but now many eminent authorities think it best to let them sit when they
show a strong desire to do so, considering that the prejudice against
them upon this point is unfounded, and that young hens sit as well as
older fowls. Pullets hatched early will generally begin to lay in
November or December, if kept warm and well fed, and will sit in January
or February.

Broody hens brought from a distance should be carried in a basket,
covered over with a cloth.

The number of eggs to be set under a hen must be according to the extent
of her wings and the temperature of the weather. Some say that the
number may vary from nine to fourteen, but others would never give more
than nine in winter and early spring, and eleven in summer, to the
largest hen, and two fewer to the smaller fowls. A Cochin-China may have
fifteen of her own in summer. A hen should not be allowed more eggs than
she can completely cover; for eggs that are not thoroughly covered
become chilled, and fewer and weaker chickens will be hatched from too
large a number than from a more moderate allowance. It is not only
necessary to consider how many eggs a hen can hatch, but also how many
chickens she can cover when they are partly grown. In January and
February, not more than seven or eight eggs should be placed under the
hen, as she cannot cover more than that number of chickens when they
grow large, and exposure to the cold during the long winter nights would
destroy many. "The common order to set egges," says Mascall, "is in
odde numbers, as seven, nyne, eleven, thirteen, &c., whiche is to make
them lye round the neste, and to have the odde egge in the middest."

Eggs for sitting should be under a fortnight old, if possible, and never
more than a month. Fresh eggs hatch in proper time, and, if good,
produce strong, lively chicks; while stale eggs are hatched sometimes as
much as two days later than new laid, and the chickens are often too
weak to break the shell, while of those well out fewer will probably be
reared. It is certain, as a general rule, that the older the egg the
weaker will be its progeny. Every egg should be marked by a pencil or
ink line drawn quite round it, so that it can be known without touching,
and if another be laid afterwards it may be at once detected and
removed, for hens will sometimes lay several after they have commenced
sitting. Place the eggs under the hen with their larger ends uppermost.

Let the hen be well fed and supplied with water before putting her on
the nest. Whole barley and soft food, chiefly barley-meal and mashed
potatoes, should be given to her when she comes off the nest, and she
must have as much as she will eat, for she leaves the nest but once
daily, and the full heat of the body cannot be kept up without plenty of
food; or she may have the same food as the general stock. A good supply
of water must be always within her reach. A good-sized shallow box or
pan, containing fine coal-ashes, sand, or dry earth, to cleanse herself
in, should always be ready near to the nest. She should be left
undisturbed, and, as far as possible, allowed to manage her own
business. When a hen shows impatience of her confinement, and frequently
leaves the nest, M. Parmentier advises that half only of her usual meal
should be given, after which she should be replaced on the nest and fed
from the hand with hemp or millet seed, which will induce her to stay
constantly on her eggs. Others will sit so long and closely that they
become faint for want of food. Such hens should not be fed on the nest,
but gently induced with some tempting dainty to take a little exercise,
for they will not leave their eggs of their own accord, and feeding on
the nest has crippled many a good sitter. It is not healthy for the hen
to feed while sitting on or close by the nest, for she requires a little
exercise and rolling in the dust-heap, as well as that the eggs should
be exposed for the air to carry off any of that stagnant vapour which M.
Réaumur proved to be so destructive to the embryo chickens; and it has
also been shown by physiologists that the cooling of the eggs caused by
this absence of the hen is essential to allow a supply of air to
penetrate through the pores of the shell, for the respiration of the
chick. When there are many hens sitting at the same time, it is a good
plan to take them off their nests regularly at the same time every
morning to feed, and afterwards give them an opportunity to cleanse
themselves in a convenient dusting-place, and, if possible, allow them
exercise in a good grass run. A hen should never be caught, but driven
back gently to her nest.

A good hen will not stay away more than half an hour, unless infested
with vermin, from want of having a proper dust-heap. But hens have often
been absent for more than an hour, and yet have hatched seven or eight
chickens; and instances have been known of their being absent for five
and even for nine hours, and yet hatching a few. The following
remarkable instance is recorded by an excellent authority: "Eggs had
been supplied and a sitting hen lent to a neighbour, and, when she had
set in a granary ten days, she was shut out through the carelessness of
a servant. Being a stranger in the farmyard, the hen was not recognised,
but supposed to have strayed in from an adjoining walk, and thirty hours
elapsed before it was discovered that the hen had left her nest. The
farmer's wife despaired of her brood; but, to her surprise and pleasure,
eight chickens were hatched. The tiled roof of the granary was fully
exposed to the rays of the sun, and the temperature very high, probably
above 80 deg. during the day, and not much lower at night." Valuable
eggs, therefore, should not be abandoned on account of a rather
lengthened absence; and ordinary eggs should not be discarded as
worthless if the hen has already sat upon them for a fortnight or so;
but if she has been sitting for only a few days, it is safer to throw
them away, and have a fresh batch.

During the hen's absence, always look at the eggs, remove any that may
have been broken, and very gently wash any sticky or dirty eggs with a
flannel dipped in milk-warm water. See that they are dry before putting
them back. If the nest is also dirty, replace it with fresh material of
the same kind. Gently drive the hen back to her nest as quickly as
possible, to prevent any damage from the eggs becoming chilled. If a hen
should break an egg with her feet or otherwise, it should be removed as
soon as it is seen, or she may eat it, and, liking the taste, break and
eat the others. Some hens have a bad habit of breaking and eating the
eggs on which they are sitting, to cure which some recommend to boil an
egg hard, bore a few holes in it, so that the inside can be seen, and
give it while hot to the culprit, who will peck at the holes and burn
herself; but hens with such propensities should be fattened for the
table, for they are generally useless either for sitting or laying.

Some persons examine the eggs after the hen has sat upon them for six or
seven days, and remove all that are sterile, by which plan more warmth
and space are gained for those that are fertile, and the warmth is not
wasted upon barren eggs. They may be easily proved by holding them near
to the flame of a candle, the eye being kept shaded by one hand, when
the fertile eggs will appear dark and the sterile transparent. Another
plan is to place the eggs on a drum, or between the hands, in the
sunshine, and observe the shadow. If this wavers, by the motion of the
chick, the eggs are good; but if the shadow shows no motion, they are
unfertile. If two hens have been sitting during the same time, and many
unfertile eggs are found in the two nests, all the fertile eggs should
be placed under one hen, and a fresh batch given to the other. The eggs
should not be moved after this time, except by the hen, more especially
when incubation has proceeded for some time, lest the position of the
chick be interfered with, for if taken up a little time before its exit,
and incautiously replaced with the large end lowermost, the chicken,
from its position, will not be able to chip the shell, and must
therefore perish. The forepart of the chicken is towards the biggest end
of the egg, and it is so placed in the shell that the beak is always
uppermost. When the egg of a choice breed has been cracked towards the
end of the period of incubation, the crack may be covered with a slip of
gummed paper, or the unprinted border that is round a sheet of postage
stamps, and the damaged egg will probably yet produce a fine chick.

It is a good plan to set two hens on the same day, for the two broods
may be united under one if desirable, and on the hatching day, to
prevent the newly-born chickens being crushed by the unhatched eggs, all
that are hatched can be given to one hen, and the other take charge of
the eggs, which are then more likely to be hatched, as, while the
chickens are under the hen, she will sit higher from the eggs, and
afford them less warmth when they require it most.

The hen of all kinds of gallinaceous fowls, from the Bantam to the
Cochin-China, sits for twenty-one days, at which time, on an average,
the chickens break the shell; but if the eggs are new laid it will often
lessen the time by five or six hours, while stale eggs will always be
behind time. For the purpose of breaking the shell, the yet soft beak of
the chicken is furnished, just above the point of the upper mandible,
with a small, hard, horny scale, which, from the position of the head,
as Mr. Yarrell observes, is brought in contact with the inner surface of
the shell. This scale may be always seen on the beaks of newly-hatched
chickens, but in the course of a short time peels off. It should not be
removed. The peculiar sound, incorrectly called "tapping," so
perceptible within the egg about the nineteenth day of incubation, which
was universally believed to be produced by the bill of the chick
striking against the shell in order to break it and effect its release,
has been incontestably proved, by the late Dr. F. R. Horner, of Hull, in
a paper read by him before the British Association for the Advancement
of Science, to be a totally distinct sound, being nothing more than the
natural respiratory sound in the lungs of the young chick, which first
begins to breathe at that period. Of course there is also an occasional
sound made by the tapping of the beak in endeavouring to break the
shell.

The time occupied in breaking the shell varies, according to the
strength of the chick, from one to three hours usually, but extends
sometimes to twenty-four, and even more. "I have seen," says Réaumur,
"chicks continue at work for two days together; some work incessantly,
while others take rest at intervals, according to their physical
strength. Some, I have observed, begin to break the shell a great deal
too soon; for, be it observed, they ought, before they make their exit,
to have within them provision enough to serve for twenty-four hours
without taking food, and for this purpose the unconsumed portion of the
yolk enters through the navel. The chick, indeed, which comes out of the
shell without taking up all the yolk is certain to droop and die in a
few days after it is hatched. The assistance which I have occasionally
tried to give to several of them, by way of completing their
deliverance, has afforded me an opportunity of observing those which had
begun to break their shells before this was accomplished; and I have
opened many eggs much fractured, in each of which the chick had as yet
much of the yolk not absorbed. Some chicks have greater obstacles to
overcome than others, since all shells are not of an equal thickness nor
of an equal consistence; and the same inequality takes place in the
lining membrane, and offers still greater difficulty to the emergent
chick. The shells of the eggs of birds of various species are of a
thickness proportionate to the strength of the chick that is obliged to
break through them. The canary-bird would never be able to break the
shell it is enclosed in if that were as thick as the egg of a barn-door
fowl. The chick of a barn-door fowl, again, would in vain try to break
its shell if it were as thick and hard as that of an ostrich; indeed,
though an ostrich ready to be hatched is perhaps thrice as large as the
common chick, it is not easy to conceive how the force of its bill can
be strong enough to break a shell thicker than a china cup, and the
smoothness and gloss of which indicate that it is nearly as
hard--sufficiently so to form, as may be often seen, a firm
drinking-cup. It is the practice in some countries to dip the eggs into
warm water at the time they are expected to chip, on the supposition
that the shell is thereby rendered more fragile, and the labour of the
chick lightened. But, though the water should soften it, upon drying in
the air it would become as hard as at first. When the chick is entirely
or almost out of the shell, it draws its head from under its wing, where
it had hitherto been placed, stretches out its neck, directing it
forwards, but for several minutes is unable to raise it. On seeing for
the first time a chick in this condition, we are led to infer that its
strength is exhausted, and that it is ready to expire; but in most cases
it recruits rapidly, its organs acquire strength, and in a very short
time it appears quite another creature. After having dragged itself on
its legs a little while, it becomes capable of standing on them, and of
lifting up its neck and bending it in various directions, and at length
of holding up its head. At this period the feathers are merely fine
down, but, as they are wet with the fluid of the egg, the chick appears
almost naked. From the multitude of their branchlets these down
feathers resemble minute shrubs; when, however, these branchlets are wet
and sticking to each other, they take up but very little room; as they
dry they become disentangled and separated. The branchlets, plumules, or
beards of each feather are at first enclosed in a membranous tube, by
which they are pressed and kept close together; but as soon as this
dries it splits asunder, an effect assisted also by the elasticity of
the plumules themselves, which causes them to recede and spread
themselves out. This being accomplished, each down feather extends over
a considerable space, and when they all become dry and straight, the
chick appears completely clothed in a warm vestment of soft down."

If they are not out in a few hours after the shell has been broken, and
the hole is not enlarged, they are probably glued to the shell. Look
through the egg then, and, if all the yolk has passed into the body of
the chicken, you may assist it by enlarging the fracture with a pair of
fine scissors, cutting up towards the large end of the egg, never
downwards. "If," says Miss Watts, "the time has arrived when the chicken
may with safety be liberated, there will be no appearance of blood in
the minute blood-vessels spread over the interior of the shell; they
have done their work, and are no longer needed by the now fully
developed and breathing chick. If there should be the slightest
appearance of blood, resist at once, for its escape would generally be
fatal. Do not attempt to let the chicken out at once, but help it a
little every two or three hours. The object is not to hurry the chicken
out of its shell, but to prevent its being suffocated by being close
shut up within it. If the chick is tolerably strong, and the assistance
needful, it will aid its deliverance with its own exertions." When the
chicken at last makes its way out, do not interfere with it in any way,
or attempt to feed it. Animal heat alone can restore it. Weakness has
caused the delay, and this has probably arisen from insufficient warmth,
perhaps from the hen having had too many eggs to cover thoroughly, or
they may have been stale when set. Should you have to assist it out of
the shell, take it out gently with your fingers, taking great care not
to tear any of its tender skin, when freeing the feathers from the
shell.

Mr. Wright says: "We never ourselves now attempt to assist a chick from
the shell. If the eggs were fresh, and proper care has been taken to
preserve moisture during incubation, no assistance is ever needed. To
fuss about the nest frets the hen exceedingly; and we have always found
that, even where the poor little creature survived at the time, it never
lived to maturity. Should the reader attempt such assistance, in cases
where an egg has been long chipped, and no further progress made, let
the shell be cracked gently all round, without tearing the inside
membrane; if that be perforated, the viscid fluid inside dries and glues
the chick to the shell. Should this happen, or should both shell and
membrane be perforated at first, introduce the point of a pair of
scissors and cut up the egg towards the large end, where there will be
an empty space, remembering that, if blood flows, all hope is at end.
Then put the chick back under the hen; she will probably squeeze it to
death, it is true--it is so very weak; but it will never live if put by
the fire, at least we always found it so. Indeed, as we have said, we
consider it quite useless to make the attempt at all."

The fact is, it is scarcely worth while to attempt to assist in the case
of ordinary eggs, but if the breed is valuable the labour may be well
bestowed.

Some hens are reluctant to give up sitting, and will hatch a second
brood with evident pleasure; but it is cruel to overtask their strength
and patience, and they are sure to suffer, more or less, from the
unnatural exertion.

Some breeders use a contrivance called an "artificial mother" for broods
hatched under the hen, and it may be employed very advantageously when
any accident has happened to her. It is made in various forms, such as a
wooden frame, or shallow box, open at both ends, and sloping like a
writing-desk, with a perforated lid lined with sheep or lamb's skin,
goose-down, or some similar warm fleecy material hanging down, under and
between which the chickens nestle, heat being applied to the lid either
by hot water or hot air, so as to imitate the warmth of the hen's
breast. When chickens are hatched by artificial means, such as by the
Hydro-Incubator, or the Eccaleobion, or in an oven according to the
method practised by the Egyptians, these protectors are essential; for
without a good substitute for the hen's natural warmth the chickens
would perish. Artificial incubators are now extensively used, and where
gas is laid on they are easily managed, but the chief difficulty is in
rearing the chickens. For information on the subject see the works of
Tegetmeier, Dickson, and Wright, on Poultry.



CHAPTER VII.

REARING AND FATTENING FOWLS.


The first want which the chick will feel will be that of warmth, and
there is no warmth so suited for them as that of the hen's body. Some
persons remove the chicks from under the mother as soon as they are
hatched, one by one, placing them in a basket covered up with flannel,
and keep them there in a warm place, until the last chick is out, when
they are put back under the hen. But this is very seldom necessary
unless the weather is very cold and the hen restless, and is generally
more likely to annoy than benefit her. Nor should the hen be induced to
leave the nest, but be left undisturbed until she leaves of her own
accord, when the last hatched chickens will be in a better condition to
follow her than if she had been tempted to leave earlier. In a few hours
they are able to run about and follow their parent; they do not require
to be fed in the nest like most birds, but pick up the food which their
mother shows them; and repose at night huddled up beneath her wings. The
chicken during its development in the egg is nourished by the yolk, and
the remaining portion of the yolk passes into its body previous to its
leaving the shell, being designed for its first nourishment; and the
chicken, therefore, does not require any food whatever during the first
day. The old-fashioned plan, so popular with "practical" farmers' wives,
of cramming a peppercorn down the throat of the newly-hatched chick is
absurd and injurious.

The first food must be very light and delicate, such as crumbs of bread
soaked in milk, the yolk of an egg boiled hard, and curds; but very
little of anything at first except water, for thirst will come before
hunger. The thirsty hen will herself soon teach the little ones how to
drink. If your chicks be very weakly, you may cram them with crumbs of
good white bread, steeped in milk or wine, but at the same time
recollect that their little craws are not capable of holding more than
the bulk of a pea; so rather under than over feed them.

As soon as the hen leaves the nest, she should have as much grain as she
can eat, and a good supply of pure, clean water. In winter, or settled
wet weather, she should, if possible, be kept on her nest for a day,
and, when removed, be cooped in a warm, dry shed or outhouse; but in
summer, if the weather be fine, and the chickens well upon their legs,
they may be at once cooped out in the sun, on dry gravel, or if possible
on a nice grass-plot, with food and water within her reach. The hen is
cooped to prevent her from wearying the brood by leading them about
until they are over-tired, besides being exposed to danger from cats,
hawks, and vermin, tumbling into ditches, or getting wet in the high
grass. They can pass in and out between the bars of the coop, and will
come when she calls, or they wish to shelter under her wings. It is a
good plan to place the coop for the first day out upon some dry sand, so
that the hen can cleanse herself comfortably. The common basket coop
should only be used in fine weather, and some straw, kept down by a
stone, matting, or other covering, should be placed on the top, to
shelter them from the mid-day sun; otherwise a wooden coop should be
used, open in front only, about two and a half or three feet square;
well-made of stout, sound boards, with a gabled roof covered with felt;
and at night a thick canvas or matting should be hung over the front,
sufficient space being left for proper ventilation, but not to admit
cold draught, or to allow the chicks to get out. Mr. Wright describes an
excellent coop which is "very common in some parts of France, and
consists of two compartments, separated by a partition of bars, one
compartment being closed in front, the other fronted with bars like the
partition. Each set of bars should have a sliding one to serve as a
door, and the whole coop should be tight and sound. It is best to have
no bottom, but to put it on loose dry earth or ashes, an inch or two
deep. Each half of the coop is about two feet six inches square, and may
or may not be lighted from the top by a small pane of glass. The
advantage of such a coop is that, except in very severe weather, no
further shelter is required, even at night [if placed under a shed].
During the day the hen is kept in the outer compartment, the chickens
having liberty, and the food and water being placed outside; whilst at
night she is put in the inner portion of the coop, and a piece of canvas
or sacking hung over the bars of the outer half. If the top be glazed, a
little food and the water-vessel may be placed in the outer compartment
at night, and the chicks will be able to run out and feed early in the
morning, being prevented by the canvas from going out into the cold air.
It will be only needful to remove the coop every two days for a few
minutes, to take away the tainted earth and replace it with fresh. There
should, if possible, be a grass-plot in front of the shed, the floor of
which should be covered with dry, loose dust or earth." The hen should
be kept under a coop until the brood has grown strong. Some breeders
object to cooping, on account of its preventing the hen from scratching
for worms and insects for her brood, and which are far superior to the
substitutes with which they must be supplied, unless, indeed, a good
supply of worms, ants' eggs, insects, or gentles can be had. The hen too
has not sufficient exercise after her long sitting. Cooping thus has its
advantages and disadvantages, and its adoption or not should depend upon
circumstances. If it is preferred not to coop the hen, and she should be
inclined to roam too far, a small run may be made with network, or with
the moveable wire-work described on page 21.

Winter-hatched chickens must be reared and fed in a warm place, which
must be kept at an equal temperature. They return a large profit for the
great care they require in hatching and rearing.

Chickens should be fed very often; every two hours is not too
frequently. The number of these meals must be reduced by degrees to
four or five, which may be continued until they are full grown. Grain
should not be given to newly-hatched chickens. The very best food for
them, after their first meal of bread-crumbs and egg, is made of two
parts of coarse oatmeal and one part of barley-meal, mixed into a thick
crumbly paste with milk or water. If milk is used, it must be fresh
mixed for each meal, or it will become sour. Cold oatmeal porridge is an
excellent food, and much liked by them. After the first week they may
have cheaper food, such as bran, oatmeal, and Indian meal mixed, or
potatoes mashed with bran. In a few days they may also have some whole
grain, which their little gizzards will then be fully able to grind.
Grits, crushed wheat, or bruised oats, should form the last meal at
night. Bread sopped in water is the worst food they can have, and even
with milk is still inferior to meal. For the first three or four days
they may also have daily the yolk of an egg boiled hard and chopped up
small, which will be sufficient for a dozen chicks; and afterwards, a
piece of cooked meat, rather underdone, the size of a good walnut,
minced fine, should be daily given to the brood until they are three
weeks old. In winter and very early spring this stimulating diet may be
given regularly, and once a day they should also have some stale bread
soaked in ale; and whenever chickens suffer from bad feathering, caused
either by the coldness of the season or delicacy of constitution, they
must be fed highly, and have a daily supply of bread soaked in ale.
Ants' eggs, which are well known as the very best animal diet for young
pheasants, are also excellent for young chickens; and when a nest can be
obtained it should be thrown with its surrounding mould into the run for
them to peck at. Where there is no grass-plot they should have some
grass cut into small pieces, or other vegetable food minced small, until
they are able to peck pieces from the large leaves. Onion tops and leeks
chopped small, cress, lettuce, and cabbage, are much relished by all
young poultry. The French breeders give a few dried nettle seeds
occasionally. Young growing fowls can scarcely have too much food, so
long as they eat it with a good appetite, and do not tread any about, or
otherwise leave it to waste.

Young poultry cannot thrive if overcrowded. They should not be allowed
to roost on the branches of trees or shrubs, or otherwise out of doors,
even in the warmest weather, or they will acquire the habit of sleeping
out, which cannot be easily overcome; not that they would suffer much
from even severe weather, when once accustomed to roosting out of doors,
but from want of warmth the supply of eggs would decrease, and it would,
in many places, be unsafe and, in most, inconvenient.

The sooner chickens can be fattened, of course the greater must be the
profit. They should be put up for fattening as soon as they have quitted
the hen, for they are then generally in good condition, but begin to
lose flesh as their bones develop and become stronger, particularly
those fowls which stand high on the leg.

Fowls are in perfection for eating just before they are fully developed.
By keeping young fowls, especially the cockerels, too long before
fattening them for market or home consumption, they eat up all the
profit that would be made by disposing of them when the pullets have
ceased laying just before their first adult moult, and the cockerels
before their appetites have become large. Fowls intended to be fattened
should be well and abundantly fed from their birth; for if they are
badly fed during their growth they become stunted, the bones do not
attain their full size, and no amount of feeding will afterwards supply
these defects and transform them into fine, large birds. Poultry that
have been constantly fed well from their birth will not only be always
ready for the table, with very little extra attention and feeding, but
their flesh will be superior in juiciness and rich flavour to those
which are fattened up from a poor state. In choosing full-grown fowls
for fattening, the short-legged and early-hatched should be preferred.

In fattening poultry, "the well-known common methods," Mowbray observes,
"are, first, to give fowls the run of the farmyard, where they thrive
upon the offals of the stables and other refuse, with perhaps some
small regular feeds; but at threshing time they become fat, and are
thence styled barn-door fowls, probably the most delicate and
high-flavoured of all others, both from their full allowance of the
finest corn and from the constant health in which they are kept, by
living in the natural state, and having the full enjoyment of air and
exercise; or secondly, they are confined during a certain number of
weeks in coops; those fowls which are soonest ready being drawn as
wanted." "The former method," says Mr. Dickson, "is immeasurably the
best as regards the flavour and even wholesomeness of the fowls as food,
and though the latter mode may, in some cases, make the fowls fatter, it
is only when they have been always accustomed to confinement; for when
barn-door fowls are cooped up for a week or two under the notion of
improving them for the table, and increasing their fat, it rarely
succeeds, since the fowls generally pine for their liberty, and,
slighting their food, lose instead of gaining additional flesh."

To fatten fowls that have not the advantage of a barn-door, Mowbray
recommends fattening-houses large enough to contain twenty or thirty
fowls, warm and airy, with well-raised earth floors, slightly littered
down with straw, which should be often changed, and the whole place kept
perfectly clean. "Sandy gravel," he says, "should be placed in several
different layers, and often changed. A sufficient number of troughs for
both water and food should be placed around, that the stock may feed
with as little interruption as possible from each other, and perches in
the same proportion should be furnished for those birds which are
inclined to perch, which few of them will desire after they have begun
to fatten, but it helps to keep them easy and contented until that
period. In this manner fowls may be fattened to the highest pitch, and
yet preserved in a healthy state, their flesh being nearly equal in
quality to the barn-door fowl. To suffer fattening fowls to perch is
contrary to the general practice, since it is supposed to bend and
deform the backbone; but as soon as they become heavy and indolent from
feeding, they will rather incline to roost in the straw, and the
liberty of perching has a tendency to accelerate the period when they
wish for rest."

The practice of fattening fowls in coops, if carried to a moderate
extent, is not objectionable, and may be necessary in many cases. The
coop may be three feet high, two feet wide, and four feet long, which
will accommodate six or eight birds, according to their size; or it may
be constructed in compartments, each being about nine inches by
eighteen, and about eighteen inches high. The floor should not consist
of board, but be formed of bars two inches wide, and placed two inches
apart. The bars should be laid from side to side, and not from the back
to the front of the coop. They should be two inches wide at the upper
part, with slanting or rounded sides, so as to prevent the dung from
sticking to them instead of falling straight between. The front should
be made of rails three inches apart. The house in which the coops are
placed should be properly ventilated, but free from cold draughts, and
kept of an even temperature, which should be moderately warm. The fronts
of the coops should be covered with matting or other kind of protection
in cold weather. The coop should be placed about two inches from the
ground, and a shallow tray filled with fresh dry earth should be placed
underneath to catch the droppings, and renewed every day.

When fowls are put up to fat they should not have any food given to them
for some hours, and they will take it then more eagerly than if pressed
upon them when first put into the coop. But little grain should be given
to fowls during the time they are fattening in coops; indeed the chief
secret of success consists in supplying them with the most fattening
food without stint, in such a form that their digestive mills shall find
no difficulty in grinding it. Buckwheat-meal is the best food for
fattening; and to its use the French, in a great measure, owe the
splendid condition of the fowls they send to market. If it cannot be
had, the best substitute is an equal mixture of maize-meal and
barley-meal. The meal may be mixed with skim milk if available. Oatmeal
and barley-meal alternately, mixed with milk, and occasionally with a
little dripping, is good fattening food. Milk is most excellent for all
young poultry. A little chopped green food should be given daily, to
keep their bowels in a proper state.

The feeding-troughs, which must be kept clean by frequent scouring,
should be placed before the fowls at regular times, and when they have
eaten sufficient it is best to remove them, and place a little gravel
within reach to assist digestion. Each fowl should have as much food as
it will eat at one time, but none should be left to become sour. A
little barley may, however, be scattered within their reach. A good
supply of clean water must be always within their reach. If a bird
appears to be troubled with vermin, some powdered sulphur, well rubbed
into the roots of the feathers, will give immediate relief. The coops
should be thoroughly lime-washed after the fowls are removed, and well
dried before fresh birds are put up in them.

It is a common practice to fatten poultry in coops by a process called
"cramming," by which they are loaded with greasy fat in a very short
time. But it is evident that such overtaxing of the fowls' digestive
powers, want of exercise and fresh air, confinement in a small space,
and partial deprivation of light, without which nothing living, either
animal or vegetable, can flourish, cannot produce healthy or wholesome
flesh. "Indeed," as Mowbray observes, "it seems contrary to reason, that
fowls fed upon such greasy, impure mixtures can possibly produce flesh
or fat so firm, delicate, high-flavoured, or nourishing, as those
fattened upon more simple and substantial food; as for example, meal and
milk, and perhaps either treacle or sugar. With respect to grease of any
kind, its chief effect must be to render the flesh loose and of a coarse
flavour. Neither can any advantage be gained, except perhaps a
commercial one, by very quick feeding; for real excellence cannot be
obtained but by waiting nature's time, and using the best food. Besides
all this, I have been very unsuccessful in my few attempts to fatten
fowls by cramming; they seem to loathe the crams, to pine, and to lose
the flesh they were put up with, instead of acquiring flesh; and when
crammed fowls do succeed, they must necessarily, in the height of their
fat, be in a state of disease." Mr. Muirhead, poulterer to Her Majesty
in Scotland, says: "With regard to _cramming_, I may say that it is
_wholly_ unnecessary, provided the fowls have abundance of the best food
at regular intervals, fresh air, and a free run; in confinement fowls
may gain fat, but they lose flesh. None but those who have had
experience can form any idea how both qualities can be obtained in a
natural way. I have seen fowls reared at Inchmartine (which had never
been shut up, or had food forced upon them), equal, if not superior, to
the finest Surrey fowl, or those fattened by myself for the Royal
table."

If "cramming" is practised it should be done in the following manner:
The feeder, usually a female, should take the fowl carefully out of the
fatting-coop by placing both her hands gently under its breast, then sit
down with the bird upon her lap, its rump under her left arm, open its
mouth with the finger and thumb of the left hand, take the pellet with
the right, dip it well into water, milk, or pot liquor, shake the
superfluous moisture from it, put it into the mouth, "cram" it gently
into the gullet with her forefinger, then close the beak and gently
assist it down into the crop with the forefinger and thumb, without
breaking the pellet, and taking great care not to pinch the throat. When
the fowl has been "crammed" it should be carefully carried back to its
coop, both hands being placed under its breast as before. Chickens
should be "crammed" regularly every twelve hours. The "cramming" should
commence with a few pellets, and the number be gradually increased at
each meal until it amounts to about fifteen. But always before you begin
to feed gently feel the fowl's crop to ascertain that the preceding meal
has been digested, and if you find it to contain food, let the bird wait
until it is all digested, and give it fewer pellets at the next meal. If
the "crams" should become hardened in the crop, some lukewarm water must
be given to the bird, or poured down its throat if disinclined to
drink, and the crop be gently pressed with the fingers until the
hardened mass has become loosened so that the gizzard can grind it.

The food chiefly used in France for "cramming" fowls is buckwheat-meal
bolted very fine and mixed with milk. It should be prepared in the
following manner: Pour the milk, which should be lukewarm in winter,
into a hole made in the heap of meal, mixing it up with a wooden spoon a
little at a time as long as the meal will take up the milk, and make it
into the consistency of dough, keep kneading it until it will not stick
to the hands, then divide it into pieces twice as large as an egg, which
form into rolls generally about as thick as a small finger, but more or
less thick according to the size of the fowls to be fed, and divide the
rolls into pellets about two and a half inches in length by a slanting
cut, which leaves pointed ends, that are easier to "cram" the fowls with
than if they were square. The pellets should be rolled up as dry as
possible.

The operation of caponising as performed in England is barbarous,
extremely painful, and dangerous. In France it is performed in a much
more scientific and skilful manner. But the small advantage gained by
this unnatural operation is more than counterbalanced by the unnecessary
pain inflicted on the bird, and the great risk of losing it. Capons
never moult, and lose their previously strong, shrill voice. In warm,
dry countries they grow to a large size, and soon fatten, but do not
succeed well in our moist, cold climate. They are not common in this
country, and most of the fowls sold in the London markets as capons are
merely young cockerels well crammed. If capons are kept they should have
a separate house, for the other fowls will not allow those even of their
own family to occupy the same roosting-perch with them. The hens not
only show them indifference, but decided aversion. Hen chickens,
deprived of their reproductive organs in order to fatten them sooner,
are common in France, where they are styled poulardes.

Fattening ought to be completed in from ten to twenty days. When fowls
are once fattened up they should be killed, for they cannot be kept fat,
but begin to lose flesh and become feverish, which renders their flesh
red and unsaleable, and frequently causes their death.

Great cruelty is often ignorantly inflicted by poulterers, higglers, and
others, in "twisting the necks" of poultry. An easy mode of killing a
fowl is to give the bird a very sharp blow with a small but heavy blunt
stick, such as a child's bat or wooden sword, at the back of the neck,
about the second or third joint from the head, which will, if properly
done, sever the spine and cause death very speedily. But the knife is
the most merciful means; the bird being first hung up by the legs, the
mouth must be opened wide, and a long, narrow, sharp-pointed knife, like
a long penknife, which instrument is made for the purpose, should be
thrust firmly through the back part of the roof of the mouth up into the
brain, which will cause almost instant death. Another mode of killing is
to pluck a few feathers from the side of the head, just below the ear,
and make a deep incision there. Some say that fowls should not be bled
to death like turkeys and geese, as, from the loss of blood, the flesh
becomes dry and insipid. But when great whiteness of flesh is desired,
the fowl should be hung up by its legs immediately after being killed,
and if it has been killed without the flow of blood, an incision should
be made in the neck so that it may bleed freely.

Fowls that have been kept without food and water for twelve hours before
being killed will keep much better than if they had been recently fed,
as the food is apt to ferment in the crop and bowels, which often causes
the fowl to turn green in a few hours in warm weather. If empty they
should not be drawn, and they will keep much better. Fowls are easiest
plucked at once, while warm; they should afterwards be scalded by
dipping them for a moment in boiling water, which will give a plump
appearance to any good fowl. Fowls should not be packed for market
before they are quite cold. Old fowls should not be roasted, but boiled,
and they will then prove tolerably good eating.

The feathers are valuable and should be preserved, which is very easily
managed. "Strip the plumage," says Mr. Wright, "from the quills of the
larger feathers, and mix with the small ones, putting the whole loosely
in paper bags, which should be hung up in the kitchen, or some other
warm place, for a few days to dry. Then let the bags be baked three or
four times for half an hour each time, in a cool oven, drying for two
days between each baking, and the process will be completed. Less
trouble than this will do, and is often made to suffice; but the
feathers are inferior in crispness to those so treated, and may
occasionally become offensive."



CHAPTER VIII.

STOCK, BREEDING, AND CROSSING.


Keep only good, healthy, vigorous, well-bred fowls, whether you keep
them to produce eggs or chickens, or both. The ill-bred mongrel fowls
which are so commonly kept, are the most voracious, and consume larger
quantities of food, without turning it to any account; while well-bred
fowls eat less, and quickly convert that into fat, flesh, and eggs.
"Large, well-bred fowls," says Mr. Edwards, "do not consume more food
than ravenous, mongrel breeds. It is the same with fowls as with other
stock. I have at this moment two store pigs, one highly bred, the other
a rough, ill-bred animal. They have, since they left their mothers, been
fed together and upon the same food. The former, I am confident (from
observation), ate considerably less than the latter, which was
particularly ravenous. The former pig, however, is in excellent
condition, kind, and in a measure fat; whereas the latter looks hard,
starved, and thin, and I am sure she will require one-third more food to
make bacon of."

For the amateur who is content with eggs and chickens, and does not long
for prize cups, excellent birds possessing nearly all the best
characteristics of their breeds, but rendered imperfect by a few
blemishes, may be purchased at a small cost, and will be as good layers
or chicken-producers, and answer his purpose as well as the most
expensive that can be bought.

The choice of breed must depend upon the object for which the fowls are
kept, whether chiefly for eggs or to produce chickens, or for both; the
climate, soil, and situation; the space that can be allotted to them;
and the amount of attention that can be devoted to their care. If fowls
are to be bred for exhibition, you must be guided by your own taste,
pocket, and resources, as well as by the suitability of the situation
for the particular breed desired. The advantages, disadvantages, and
peculiarities of the various breeds will be described under their
respective heads.

In commencing poultry-keeping buy only young and healthy birds. No one
sign is infallible to the inexperienced. In general, however, the legs
of a young hen look delicate and smooth, her comb and wattles are soft
and fresh, and her general outline, even in good condition (unless when
fattened for the table), rather light and graceful; whilst an old one
will have rather hard, horny-looking shanks; her comb and wattles look
somewhat harder, drier, and more "scurfy," and her figure is well filled
out. But any of these signs may be deceptive, and the beginner should
use his own powers of observation, and try and catch the "old look,"
which he will soon learn to know.

All authorities agree that a cock is in his prime at two years of age,
though some birds show every sign of full vigour when only four months
old. It is agreed by nearly all the greatest authorities that the ages
of the cocks and hens should be different; however, good birds may be
bred from parents of the same age, but they should not be less than a
year old. The strongest chickens are obtained from two-year old hens by
a cockerel of about a year old; but such broods contain a disproportion
of cocks, and, therefore, most poultry-keepers prefer to breed from
well-grown pullets of not less than nine months with a cock of two years
of age. The cock should not be related to the hens. It is, therefore,
not advisable to purchase him from the same breeder of whom you procure
the hens. Do not let him be the parent of chickens from pullets that are
his own offspring. Breeding in-and-in causes degeneracy in fowls as in
all other animals. Some birds retain all their fire and energy until
five or even six years of age, but they are beyond their prime after the
third, or at the latest their fourth year; and should be replaced by
younger birds of the same breed, but from a different stock.

Poultry-breeders differ with respect to the proper number of hens that
should be allowed to one cock. Columella, who wrote upon poultry about
two thousand years ago, advised twelve hens to one cock, but stated that
"our ancestors did use to give but five hens." Stephanus gave the same
number as Columella. Bradley, and the authors of the "Complete Farmer,"
and the article upon the subject in "Rees's Cyclopædia," give seven or
eight; and those who breed game-cocks are particular in limiting the
number of hens to four or five for one cock, in order to obtain strong
chickens. If fine, strong chickens be desired for fattening or breeding,
there should not be more than five or six hens to one cock; but if the
supply of eggs is the chief consideration, ten or twelve may be allowed;
indeed, if eggs are the sole object, he can be dispensed with
altogether, and his food saved, as hens lay, if there be any difference,
rather better without one.

The russet red is the most hardy colour, white the most delicate, and
black the most prolific. General directions for the choice of fowls, as
to size, shape, and colour, cannot be applicable to all breeds, which
must necessarily vary upon these points. But in all breeds the cock
should, as M. Parmentier says, "carry his head high, have a quick,
animated look, a strong, shrill voice (except in the Cochins, which have
a fuller tone), a fine red comb, shining as if varnished, large wattles
of the same colour, strong wings, muscular thighs, thick legs furnished
with strong spurs, the claws rather bent and sharply pointed. He ought
also to be free in his motions, to crow frequently, and to scratch the
ground often in search of worms, not so much for himself, as to treat
his hens. He ought, withal, to be brisk, spirited, ardent, and ready in
caressing the hens, quick in defending them, attentive in soliciting
them to eat, in keeping them together, and in assembling them at night."

To prevent cocks from fighting, old Mascall, following Columella, says:
"Now, to slacke that heate of jealousie, ye shall slitte two pieces of
thicke leather, and put them on his legges, and those will hang over his
feete, which will correct the vehement heate of jealousie within him";
and M. Parmentier observes that "such a bit of leather will cause the
most turbulent cock to become as quiet as a man who is fettered at the
feet, hands, and neck."

The hen should be of good constitution and temper, and, if required to
sit, large in the body and wide in the wings, so as to cover many eggs
and shelter many chickens, but short in the legs, or she could not sit
well. M. Parmentier advises the rejection of savage, quarrelsome, or
peevish hens, as such are seldom favourites with the cocks, scarcely
ever lay, and do not hatch well; also all above four or five years of
age, those that are too fat to lay, and those whose combs and claws are
rough, which are signs that they have ceased to lay. Hens should not be
kept over their third year unless very good or choice. Hens are not
uncommon with the plumage and spurs of the cock, and which imitate,
though badly, his full-toned crow. In such fowls the power of producing
eggs is invariably lost from internal disease, as has been fully
demonstrated by Mr. Yarrell in the "Philosophical Transactions" for
1827, and in the "Proceedings of the Zoological Society" for 1831. Such
birds should be fattened and killed as soon as observed.

By careful study of the characteristics of the various breeds, breeding
from select specimens, and judicious crossing, great size may be
attained, maturity early developed, facility in putting on flesh
encouraged, hardiness of constitution and strength gained, and the
inclination to sit or the faculty of laying increased.

Sir John Sebright, speaking of breeding cattle, says: "Animals may be
said to be improved when any desired quality has been increased by art
beyond what that quality was in the same breed in a state of nature. The
swiftness of the racehorse, the propensity to fatten in cattle, and to
produce fine wool in sheep, are improvements which have been made in
particular varieties in the species to which these animals belong. What
has been produced by art must be continued by the same means, for the
most improved breeds will soon return to a state of nature, or perhaps
defects will arise which did not exist when the breed was in its natural
state, unless the greatest attention is paid to the selection of the
individuals who are to breed together."

The exact origin of the common domestic fowl and its numerous varieties
is unknown. It is doubtless derived from one or more of the wild or
jungle fowls of India. Some naturalists are of opinion that it is
derived from the common jungle fowl known as the _Gallus Bankiva_ of
Temminck, or _Gallus Ferrugineus_ of Gmelin, which very closely
resembles the variety known as Black-breasted Red Game, except that the
tail of the cock is more depressed; while others consider it to have
been produced by the crossing of that species with one or more others,
as the Malay gigantic fowl, known as the _Gallus giganteus_ of Temminck,
Sonnerat's Jungle Fowl, _Gallus sonneratii_, and probably some other
species. At what period or by what people it was reclaimed is not known,
but it was probably first domesticated in India. The writers of
antiquity speak of it as a bird long domesticated and widely spread in
their days. Very likely there are many species unknown to us in Sumatra,
Java, and the rich woods of Borneo.

The process by which the various breeds have been produced "is simple
and easily understood," says Mr. Wright. "Even in the wild state the
original breed will show some amount of variation in colour, form, and
size; whilst in domestication the tendency to change, as every one
knows, is very much increased. By breeding from birds which show any
marked feature, stock is obtained of which a portion will possess that
feature in an _increased degree_; and by again selecting the best
specimens, the special points sought may be developed to almost any
degree required. A good example of such a process of development may be
seen in the 'white face' so conspicuous in the Spanish breed. White ears
will be observed occasionally in all fowls; even in such breeds as
Cochins or Brahmas, where white ear-lobes are considered almost fatal
blemishes; they continually occur, and by selecting only white-eared
specimens to breed from, they might be speedily fixed in any variety as
one of the characteristics. A large pendent white ear-lobe once firmly
established, traces of the white _face_ will now and then be found, and
by a similar method is capable of development and fixture; whilst any
colour of plumage or of leg may be obtained and established in the same
way. The original amount of character required is _very_ slight; a
single hen-tailed cock will be enough to give that characteristic to a
whole breed. Any peculiarity of _constitution_, such as constant laying,
or frequent incubation, may be developed and perpetuated in a similar
manner, all that is necessary being care and time. That such has been
the method employed in the formation of the more distinct races of our
poultry, is proved by the fact that a continuance of the same careful
selection is needful to perpetuate them in perfection. If the very best
examples of a breed are selected as the starting-point, and the produce
is bred from indiscriminately for many generations, the distinctive
points, whatever they are, rapidly decline, and there is also a more or
less gradual but sure return to the primitive wild type, in size and
even colour of the plumage. The purest black or white originally,
rapidly becomes first marked with, and ultimately changed into, the
original red or brown, whilst the other features simultaneously
disappear. If, however, the process of artificial selection be carried
too far, and with reference _only to one_ prominent point, any breed is
almost sure to suffer in the other qualities which have been neglected,
and this has been the case with the very breed already mentioned--the
white-faced Spanish. We know from old fanciers that this breed was
formerly considered hardy, and even in winter rarely failed to afford a
constant supply of its unequalled large white eggs. But of late years
attention has been so _exclusively_ directed to the 'white-face,' that
whilst this feature has been developed and perfected to a degree never
before known, the breed has become one of the most delicate of all, and
the laying qualities of at least many strains have greatly fallen off.
It would be difficult to avoid such evil results if it were not for a
valuable compensating principle, which admits of _crossing_. That
principle is, that any desired point possessed in perfection by a
foreign breed, may be introduced by crossing into a strain it is desired
to improve, and every other characteristic of the cross be, by
selection, afterwards bred out again. Or one or more of these additional
characteristics may be also retained, and thus a _new variety_ be
established, as many have been within the last few years."

Size may be imparted to the Dorking by crossing it with the Cochin, and
the disposition to feather on the legs bred out again by judicious
selection; and the constitution may be strengthened by crossing with the
Game breed. Game fowls that have deteriorated in size, strength, and
fierceness, by a long course of breeding in-and-in, may have all these
qualities restored by crossing with the fierce, powerful, and gigantic
Malay, and his peculiarities may be afterwards bred out. The size of the
eggs of the Hamburg might very probably be increased without decreasing,
or with very slightly decreasing, the number of eggs, by crossing with a
Houdan cock; and the size would also be increased for the table. The
French breeds, Crêve-Coeur, Houdan, and La Flêche, gain in size and
hardiness by being crossed with the Brahma cock. The cross between a
Houdan cock and a Brahma hen "produces," says the "Henwife," "the finest
possible chickens for market, but not to breed from. Pure Brahmas and
Houdans alone must be kept for that purpose; I have always found the
second cross worthless."

In crossing, the cockerels will more or less resemble the male, and the
pullets the hen. "Long experience," says Mr. Wright, "has ascertained
that the male bird has most influence upon the colour of the progeny,
and also upon the comb, and what may be called the 'fancy points,' of
any breed generally; whilst the form, size, and useful qualities are
principally derived from the hen."

Breed only from the strongest and healthiest fowls. In the breeding of
poultry it is a rule, as in all other cases of organised life, that the
best-shaped be used for the purpose of propagation. If a cock and hen
have both the same defect, however trifling it may be, they should never
be allowed to breed together, for the object is to improve the breed,
not to deteriorate it, even in the slightest degree. Hens should never
be allowed to associate with a cock of a different breed if you wish to
keep the breed pure, and if you desire superior birds, not even with an
inferior male of their own variety. "No time," says Mr. Baily, "has ever
been fixed as necessary to elapse before hens that have been running
with cocks of divers breeds, and afterwards been placed with their
legitimate partners, can be depended upon to produce purely-bred
chickens; I am disposed to think at least two months. Time of year may
have much to do with it. In the winter the escape of a hen from one run
to the other, or the intrusion of a cock, is of little moment; but it
may be serious in the spring, and destroy the hopes of a season." Many
poultry-keepers separate the cocks and hens after the breeding season,
considering that stronger chickens will be thereby obtained the next
season. Where there is a separate house and run for the sitting hen this
can be conveniently done when that compartment is vacant. In order to
preserve a breed perfectly pure, it will be necessary, where there is
not a large stock of the race, to breed from birds sprung from the same
parents, but the blood should be crossed every year by procuring one or
more fowls of the same breed from a distance, or by the exchange of eggs
with some neighbouring stock, of colour and qualities as nearly allied
as possible with the original breed.



CHAPTER IX.

POULTRY SHOWS.


A few years ago poultry shows were unknown. In 1846, the first was held
in the Gardens of the Zoological Society, in the Regent's Park; Mr.
Baily being the sole judge. It was a very fair beginning, but did not
succeed, and it was not till the Cochin-China breed was introduced into
this country, and the first Birmingham show was held, that these
exhibitions became successful.

In 1849, "the first poultry show that was ever held in 'the good old
town of Birmingham,' was beset with all the untried difficulties of such
a scheme, when without the experiences of the present day, then
altogether unavailable, a few spirited individuals carried to a
successful issue an event that has now proved the foster-parent of the
many others of similar character that abound in almost every principal
town of the United Kingdom. It is quite essential, that I may be clearly
understood, to preface my narrative by assuring fanciers that in those
former days poultry amateurs were by no means as general as at the
present time; few and far between were their locations; and though even
then, among the few who felt interest in fowls, emulation existed,
generally speaking, the keeping of poultry was regarded as 'a useless
hobby,' 'a mere individual caprice,' 'an idle whim from which no good
result could by possibility accrue'; nay, sometimes it was hinted, 'What
a pity they have not something better to employ them during leisure
hours!' and they were styled 'enthusiasts.' But have not the records of
every age proved that enthusiasts are invariably the pioneers of
improvement? And time, too, substantiated the verity of this rule in
reference to our subject; for, among other proofs, it brought
incontestable evidence that the raising of poultry was by no means the
unremunerative folly idlers supposed it to be, and hesitated not rashly
to declaim it; likewise, that it simply required to be fairly brought
under public notice, to prove its general utility, and to induce the
acknowledgment of how strangely so important a source of emolument had
been hitherto neglected and overlooked."

At the Birmingham Show of 1852, about five thousand fowls were
exhibited, and the specimens sold during the four days of the show
amounted to nearly two thousand pounds, notwithstanding the high prices
affixed to the pens, and that many were placed at enormous prices
amounting to a prohibition, the owners not wishing to sell them. The
Birmingham shows now generally comprise from one to two thousand pens of
fowls and water-fowls, arranged in nearly one hundred classes; besides
an equal proportion of pigeons. This show is the finest and most
important, but there are many others of very high character and great
extent. Poultry is also now exhibited to a considerable extent at
agricultural meetings.

Any one may see the wonderful improvement that has been made in
poultry-breeding by visiting the next Birmingham or other first-class
show, and comparing the fowls there exhibited with those of his earliest
recollections, and with those mongrels and impure breeds which may still
be seen in too many farmyards. Points that were said to be impossible of
attainment have been obtained with comparative ease by perserverance and
skill, and the worst birds of a show are now often superior to the chief
prize fowls of former days. Indeed, "a modern prize bird," says the
"Henwife," "almost merits the character which a Parisian waiter gave of
a melon, when asked to pronounce whether it was a fruit or a vegetable,
'Gentlemen,' said he, 'a melon is neither; it is a work of art.'"

Such shows must have great influence on the improvement of the breeds
and the general management of poultry, though like all other prize
exhibitions they have certain disadvantages. "We cannot but think," says
Mr. Wright, "that our poultry shows have, to some extent, by the
character of the judging, hindered the improvement of many breeds. It
will be readily admitted in _theory_ that a breed of fowls becomes more
and more valuable as its capacity of producing eggs is increased, and
the quantity and quality of its flesh are improved, with a small amount
of bone and offal in proportion. But, if we except the Dorking, which
certainly is judged to some extent as a table fowl, all this is
_totally_ lost sight of both by breeders and judges, and attention is
fixed exclusively upon colour, comb, face, and other equally fancy
'points.' Beauty and utility might be _both_ secured. The French have
taught us a lesson of some value in this respect. Within a comparatively
recent period they have produced, by crossing and selection, four new
varieties, which, although inferior in some points to others of older
standing, are all eminently valuable as table fowls; and which in one
particular are superior to any English variety, not even excepting the
Dorking--we mean the very small proportion of bone and offal. This is
really useful and scientific breeding, brought to bear upon _one_
definite object, and we do trust the result will prove suggestive with
regard to others equally valuable. We should be afraid to say how much
might be done if English breeders would bring _their_ perseverance and
experience to bear in a similar direction. Agricultural Societies in
particular might be expected in _their_ exhibitions to show some
interest in the improvement of poultry regarded as _useful stock_, and
to them especially we commend the matter."

The rules and regulations relating to exhibitions vary at different
shows, and may be obtained by applying to the secretary. Notices of
exhibitions are advertised in the local papers, and in the _Field_ and
other London papers of an agricultural character.

In breeding birds for exhibition the number of hens to one cock should
not exceed four or five, but if only two or three hens of the breed are
possessed, the proper number of his harem should be made up by the
addition of hens of another breed, those being chosen whose eggs are
easily known from the others.

If it is intended to rear the chickens for exhibition at the June,
July, or August shows, the earlier they are hatched the better, and
therefore a sitting should be made in January, if you have a young,
healthy hen broody. Set her on the ground in a warm, sheltered, and
quiet place, perfectly secure from rain, or from any flow of snow water.
Feed her well, and keep water and small quantities of food constantly
within her reach, so that she may not be tempted to leave the nest in
search of food; for the eggs soon chill in winter. Mix the best oatmeal
with hot water, and give it to her warm twice a day. A few grains of
hempseed as a stimulant may be given in the middle of the day. The great
difficulty to overcome in rearing early chickens is to sustain their
vital powers during the very long winter nights, when they are for so
many hours without food, the only substitute for which is warmth, and
this can only be well got from the hen. Consequently a young
Cochin-China with plenty of "fluff" will provide most warmth. The hen
should not be set on more than five, or at most seven eggs; for if she
has more, although she may sufficiently cover the chickens while very
small, she will not be able to do so when they grow larger, and the
outer ones will be chilled unless they manage to push themselves into
the inside places, and then the displaced chickens being warm are sure
to get more chilled than the others; and so the greater number of the
brood, even if they survive, will probably be weakly, puny things,
through the greedy desire to rear so many, while if she hatch but five
chickens she will probably rear four. The hen should be cooped until the
chickens are at least ten weeks old, and covered up at night with
matting, sacking, or a piece of carpet.

Give them plenty of curd, chopped egg, and oatmeal, mixed with new milk.
Stiff oatmeal porridge is the best stock food. Some onion tops minced
fine will be an excellent addition if they can be had. They should have
some milk to drink. Feed the hen well. The best warmth the chickens can
have is that of their mother, and the best warmth for her is generated
by generous, but proper, food, and a good supply of it. Early chickens
rearing for show should be fed twice after dark, say at eight and
eleven o'clock, and again at seven in the morning, so that they will not
be without food for more than eight hours. The hen should be fed at the
same times, and she will become accustomed to it, and call the chickens
to feed; it will also generate more warmth in her for their benefit.
Yolk of egg beaten up and given to drink is most strengthening for
weakly chickens; or it may be mixed with their oatmeal. The tender
breeds should not be hatched till April or May, unless in a mild
climate, or with exceptional advantages.

For winter exhibition, March and April hatched birds are preferable to
those hatched earlier. Not more than seven eggs should be set, for a hen
cannot scratch up insects and worms and find peculiar herbage for more
than six chickens. If the chickens have not a good grass run, they must
be supplied with abundance of green food.

They should not be allowed to roost before they are three months old,
and the perches must be sufficiently large. Mr. Wright recommends a bed
of clean, dry ashes, an inch deep, for those that leave the hen before
the proper age for roosting, and does not allow his chickens, even while
with the hen, to bed upon straw, considering the ashes to be much
cleaner and also warmer.

The chickens intended to be exhibited should be distinguished from their
companions by small stripes of different coloured silks loosely sewn
round their legs, which distinguishing colours should be entered in the
poultry-book. A few good birds should always be kept in reserve to fill
up the pen in case of accidents.

Weight is more important in the December and later winter shows than at
those held between August and November, but at all shows feather and
other points of competitors being equal weight must carry the day, Game
and Bantams excepted. It is not safe to trust to the apparent weight of
a bird, for the feathers deceive, and it is therefore advisable to weigh
the birds occasionally. Each should be weighed in a basket, allowance
being made for the weight of the basket, and they should if possible be
weighed before a meal. But fowls that are over-fattened, as some judges
very improperly desire, cannot be in good health anymore than "crammed"
fowls, and are useless for breeding, producing at best a few puny,
delicate, or sickly chickens; thus making the exhibition a mere "show,"
barren of all useful results.

Pullets continue to grow until they begin to lay, which almost or quite
stops their growth; and therefore if great size is desired for
exhibition, they should be kept from the cockerels and partly from
stimulating food until a month before the show, when they will be
required to be matched in pens. During this month they should have extra
food and attention.

If fowls intended for exhibition are allowed to sit, the chickens are
apt to cause injury to their plumage, and loss of condition, while if
prevented from sitting, they are liable to suffer in moulting. Their
chickens may be given to other hens, but the best and safest plan is to
set a broody exhibition hen on duck's eggs, which will satisfy her
natural desire for sitting, while the young ducklings will give her much
less trouble, and leave her sooner than a brood of her own kind.

All the birds in a pen should match in comb, colour of their legs, and
indeed in every particular. Mr. Baily mentions "a common fault in
exhibitors who send two pens composed of three excellent and three
inferior birds, so divided as to form perhaps one third class and one
highly commended pen: whereas a different selection would make one of
unusual merit. If an amateur who wishes to exhibit has fifteen fowls to
choose from, and to form a pen of a cock and two hens, he should study
and scan them closely while feeding at his feet in the morning. He
should then have a place similar to an exhibition pen, wherein he can
put the selected birds; they should be raised to the height at which he
can best see them, and before he has looked long at them defects will
become apparent one after the other till, in all probability, neither of
the subjects of his first selection will go to the show. We also advise
him rather to look for defects than to dwell on beauties--the latter
are always prominent enough. The pen of which we speak should be a
moveable one for convenience' sake, and it is well to leave the fowls in
it for a time that they may become accustomed to each other, and also to
an exhibition pen." Birds that are strangers should never be put into
the same hamper, for not only the cocks but even the hens will fight
with and disfigure each other.

Some give linseed for a few days before the exhibition to impart lustre
to the plumage, by increasing the secretion of oil. A small quantity of
the meal should be mixed with their usual soft food, as fowls generally
refuse the whole grain. But buckwheat and hempseed, mixed in equal
proportions, if given for the evening meal during the last ten or twelve
days, is healthier for the bird, much liked, and will not only impart
equal lustre to the plumage, but also improve the appearance of the comb
and wattles.

Spanish fowls should be kept in confinement for some days before the
show, with just enough light to enable them to feed and perch, and the
place should be littered with clean straw. This greatly improves their
condition; why we know not, but it is an established fact. Game fowls
should be kept in for a few days, and fed on meal, barley, and bread,
with a few peas, which tend to make the plumage hard, but will make them
too fat if given freely. Dark and golden birds should be allowed to run
about till they have to be sent off. Remove all scurf or dead skin from
the comb, dry dirt from the beak, and stains from the plumage, and wash
their legs clean. White and light fowls that have a good grass run and
plenty of clean straw in their houses and yards to scratch in, will
seldom require washing, but town birds, and country ones if not
perfectly clean, should be washed the day before the show with tepid
water and mild white soap rubbed on flannel, care being taken to wash
the feathers downwards, so as not to break or ruffle them; afterwards
wiped with a piece of flannel that has been thoroughly soaked in clean
water, and gently dried with soft towels before the fire; or the bird
may be entirely dipped into a pan of warm water, then rinsed thoroughly
in cold water, wiped with a flannel, and placed in a basket with soft
straw before a fire to dry. They should then be shut up in their houses
with plenty of clean straw. They should have their feet washed if dirty,
and be well fed with soft nourishing food just before being put into the
travelling-basket, for hard food is apt to cause fever and heat while
travelling, and, having to be digested without gravel or exercise,
causes indigestion, which ruffles the plumage, dulls its colour, darkens
the comb, and altogether spoils the appearance of the bird. Sopped or
steeped bread is excellent.

The hampers should always be round or oval in form, as fowls invariably
creep into corners and destroy their plumage. They should be high enough
for the cocks to stand upright in, without touching the top with their
combs. Some exhibitors prefer canvas tops to wicker lids, considering
that the former preserve the fowls' combs from injury if they should
strike against the top, while others prefer the latter as being more
secure, and allowing one hamper to be placed upon another if necessary,
and also preserving the fowls from injury if a heavy hamper or package
should otherwise be placed over it. A good plan is to have a double
canvas top, the space between being filled with hay. A thick layer of
hay or straw should be placed at the bottom of the basket. Wheaten straw
is the best in summer and early autumn, and oat or barley straw later in
the year and during winter. A good lining also is essential; coarse
calico stitched round the inside of the basket is the best. Ducks and
geese do not require their hampers to be lined, except in very cold
weather; and the best lining for them is made by stitching layers of
pulled straw round the inside of the basket. Turkeys should have their
hampers lined, for although they are very hardy, cold and wet damage
their appearance more than other poultry. Take care that the geese
cannot get at the label, for they will eat it, and also devour the
hempen fastenings if within their reach.

Be very careful in entering your birds for exhibition; describe their
ages, breed, &c., exactly and accurately, and see yourself to the
packing and labelling of their hampers.

Mr. F. Wragg, the superintendent of the poultry-yard of R. W. Boyle,
Esq., whose fowls have a sea voyage from Ireland besides the railway
journey, and yet always appear in splendid condition and "bloom," ties
on one side of the hamper, "near the top, a fresh-pulled cabbage, and on
the other side a good piece of the bottom side of a loaf, of which they
will eat away all the soft part. Before starting, I give each bird half
a tablespoonful of port wine, which makes them sleep a good part of the
journey. Of course, if I go with my birds, as I generally do, I see that
they, as well as myself, have 'refreshment' on the road."[A] The cabbage
will always be a treat, and the loaf and wine may be added for long
journeys.

Birds are frequently over-fed at the show, particularly with barley,
which cannot be properly digested for want of gravel and exercise; and
therefore, if upon their return their crops are hard and combs look
dark, give a tablespoonful of castor oil; but if they look well do not
interfere with them. They should not have any grain, but be fed
sparingly on stale bread soaked in warm ale, with two or three mouthfuls
of tepid water, for liquid is most hurtful if given in quantity. They
should not be put into the yard with the other fowls which may treat
them, after their absence, as intruders, but be joined with them at
night when the others have gone to roost. On the next day give them a
moderate allowance of soft food with a moderate supply of water, or
stale bread sopped in water, and a sod of grass or half a cabbage leaf
each, but no other green food; and on the following day they may have
their usual food.

When the fowls are brought back, take out the linings, wash them, and
put them by to be ready for the next show; and after the exhibition
season, on a fine dry day, wash the hampers, dry them thoroughly, and
put them in a dry place. Never use them as quiet berths for sick birds,
which are sure to infect them and cause the illness of the next
occupants; or as nesting-places for sitting hens, which may leave
insects in the crevices that will be difficult to eradicate.

In our descriptions of the various Breeds, we have given sufficient
general information upon the Exhibition Points from the best
authorities; but considerable differences of opinion have been expressed
of late years, and eminent breeders dissent in some cases even from the
generally recognised authority of the popular "Standard of Excellence."
We, therefore, advise intending exhibitors to ascertain the standards to
be followed at the show and the predilections of the judges, and to
breed accordingly, or, if they object to the views held, not to compete
at that exhibition.


TECHNICAL TERMS.

_Coverts._--The _upper_ and _lower wing coverts_ are those ranges of
feathers which cover the primary quills; and the _tail coverts_ are
those feathers growing on each side of the tail, and are longer than the
body feathers, but shorter than those of the tail.

_Dubbing._--Cutting off the comb and wattles of a cock; an operation
usually confined to Game cocks.

_Ear-lobe._--The small feathers covering the organ of hearing, which is
placed a little behind the eye.

_Flight._--The last five feathers of each wing.

_Fluff._--The silky feathers growing on the thighs and hinder parts of
Cochin-China fowls.

_Hackles._--The _neck hackles_ are feathers growing from the neck, and
covering the shoulders and part of the back; and the _saddle hackles_
those growing from the end of the back, and falling over the sides.

_Legs._--The _legs_ are properly the lower and scaly limbs, the upper
part covered with feathers and frequently mis-called legs, being
correctly styled the _thighs_.

_Primary Quills._--The long, strong quills, usually ten in number,
forming the chief portion of each wing, and the means of flight.

_Vulture-hocked._--Feathers growing from the thigh, and projecting
backwards below the knee.

[Illustration: Buff and White Cochin-China. Malay Cock. Light and Dark
Brahmas.]



CHAPTER X.

COCHIN-CHINAS, OR SHANGHAES.


Like many other fowls these possess a name which is incorrectly applied,
for they came from Shanghae, not Cochin-China, where they were
comparatively unknown. Mr. Fortune, who, from his travels in China, is
well qualified to give an opinion, states that they are a Chinese breed,
kept in great numbers at Shanghae; the real Cochin-China breed being
small and elegantly shaped. But all attempts to give them the name of
the port from which they were brought have failed, and the majority of
breeders persist in calling them Cochins. In the United States both
names are used, the feather-legged being called Shanghaes, and the
clean-legged Cochins.

The first Shanghae fowls brought to this country were sent from India to
Her Majesty, which gave them great importance; and the eggs having been
freely distributed by the kindness of the Queen and the Prince Consort,
the breed was soon widely spread. They were first introduced into this
country when the northern ports of China, including Shanghae, were
thrown open to European vessels on the conclusion of the Chinese war in
1843; but some assign the date of their introduction from 1844 to 1847,
and say that those called Cochins, exhibited by the Queen in 1843, were
not the true breed, having been not only entirely without feathers on
the shanks, but also altogether different in form and general
characteristics. A pair which were sent by Her Majesty for exhibition at
the Dublin Cattle Show in April, 1846, created such a sensation from
their great size and immense weight, and the full, loud, deep-pitched
crowing of the cock, that almost every one seemed desirous to possess
some of the breed, and enormous prices were given for the eggs and
chickens. With his propensity for exaggeration, Paddy boasted that they
laid five eggs in two days, each weighing three ounces, that the fowls
equalled turkeys in size, and "Cochin eggs became in as great demand as
though they had been laid by the fabled golden goose. Philosophers,
poets, merchants, and sweeps had alike partook of the mania; and
although the latter could hardly come up to the price of a real Cochin,
there were plenty of vagabond dealers about, with counterfeit crossed
birds of all kinds, which were advertised to be the genuine article. For
to such a pitch did the excitement rise, that they who never kept a fowl
in their lives, and would hardly know a Bantam from a Dorking, puzzled
their shallow brains as to the proper place to keep them, and the proper
diet to feed them on." Their justly-deserved popularity speedily grew
into a mania, and the price which had been from fifteen to thirty
shillings each, then considered a high price for a fowl, rose to ten
pounds for a fine specimen, and ultimately a hundred guineas was
repeatedly paid for a single cock, and was not an uncommon price for a
pair of really fine birds. "They were afterwards bred," says Miss Watts,
"for qualities difficult of attainment, and, as the result proved,
little worth trying for," and "fowls with _many_ excellent qualities
were blamed for not being _perfect_," and they fell from their high
place, and were as unjustly depreciated as they had been unduly exalted.

"Had these birds," wrote Mr. Baily many years since, "been shy
breeders--if like song birds the produce of a pair were four, or at most
five, birds in the year, prices might have been maintained; but as they
are marvellous layers they increased. They bred in large numbers, and
consequently became cheaper, and then the mania ended, because those who
dealt most largely in them did so not from a love of the birds or the
pursuit, but as a speculation. As they had over-praised them before,
they now treated them with contempt. Anything like a moderate profit was
despised, and the birds were left to their own merits. These were
sufficient to ensure their popularity, and now after fluctuating in
value more than anything except shares, after being over-praised and
then abused, they have remained favourites with a large portion of the
public, sell at a remunerating price, and form one of the largest
classes at all the great exhibitions." This has proved to be a perfectly
correct view, and the breed is now firmly established in public
estimation, and unusually fine birds will still sell for from five to
twenty pounds each. The mania did great service to the breeding and
improvement of poultry by awakening an interest in the subject
throughout the kingdom which has lasted.

They are the best of all fowls for a limited space, and not inclined to
wander even when they have an extensive run. They cannot fly, and a
fence three feet high will keep them in. But if kept in a confined space
they must have an unlimited supply of green food. They give us eggs when
they are most expensive, and indeed, with regard to new-laid eggs, when
they are almost impossible to be had at any price. They begin to lay
soon after they are five months old, regardless of the season or
weather, and lay throughout the year, except when requiring to sit,
which they do twice or thrice a year, and some oftener. Pullets will
sometimes lay at fourteen weeks, and want to sit before they are six
months old. Cochins have been known to lay twice in a day, but not again
on the following day, and the instances are exceptional. Their eggs are
of a pale chocolate colour, of excellent flavour, and usually weigh
2-1/4 ounces each. They are excellent sitters and mothers. Pullets will
frequently hatch, lay again, and sit with the chickens of the first
brood around them. Cochins are most valuable as sitters early in the
year, being broody when other fowls are beginning to lay; but unless
cooped they are apt to leave their chickens too soon, especially for
early broods, and lay again. They are very hardy, and their chickens
easy to rear, doing well even in bleak places without any unusual care.
But they are backward in fledging, chickens bred from immature fowls
being the most backward. Those which are cockerels show their flight
feathers earliest. They are very early matured.

A writer in the _Poultry Chronicle_ well says: "These fowls were sent
to provide food for man; by many they are not thought good table fowls;
but when others fail, if you keep them, you shall never want the luxury
of a really new-laid egg on your breakfast table. The snow may fall, the
frost may be thick on your windows when you first look out on a December
morning, but your Cochins will provide you eggs. Your children shall
learn gentleness and kindness from them, for they are kind and gentle,
and you shall be at peace with your neighbours, for they will not wander
nor become depredators. They have fallen in price because they were
unnaturally exalted; but their sun is not eclipsed; they have good
qualities, and valuable. They shall now be within the reach of all; and
will make the delight of many by their domestic habits, which will allow
them to be kept where others would be an annoyance." They will let you
take them off their roost, handle and examine them, and put them back
without struggling.

The fault of the Cochin-Chinas as table birds is, that they produce most
meat on the inferior parts; thus, there is generally too little on the
breast which is the prime part of a fowl, while the leg which is an
inferior part, is unusually fleshy, but it must be admitted that the leg
is more tender than in other breeds. A greater quantity of flesh may be
raised within a given time, on a certain quantity of food, from these
fowls than from any other breed. The cross with the Dorking is easily
reared, and produces a very heavy and well-shaped fowl for the table,
and a good layer.

"A great hue and cry," says Miss Watts, "has been raised against the
Cochin-Chinas as fowls for the table, but we believe none have bestowed
attention on breeding them with a view to this valuable consideration.
Square, compact, short-legged birds have been neglected for a certain
colour of feather, and a broad chest was given up for the wedge-form at
the very time that was pronounced a fault in the fowl. It is said that
yellow-legged fowls are yellow also in the skin, and that white skin and
white legs accompany each other; but how pertinaciously the yellow leg
of the Cochin is adhered to! Yet all who have bred them will attest
that a little careful breeding would perpetuate white-legged Cochins.
Exhibitions are generally excellent; but to this fowl they certainly
have only been injurious, by exaggerating useless and fancy qualities at
the expense of those which are solid and useful. Who would favour, or
even sanction, a Dorking in which size and shape, and every property we
value in them, was sacrificed to an endeavour to breed to a particular
colour? and this is what we have been doing with the Cochin-China. Many
breeders say, eat Cochins while very young; but we have found them much
better for the table as fowls than as chickens. A fine Cochin, from five
to seven months old, is like a turkey, and very juicy and fine in
flavour."

A peculiar characteristic of these birds, technically called "fluff," is
a quantity of beautifully soft, long feathers, covering the thighs till
they project considerably, and garnishing all the hinder parts of the
bird in the same manner, so that the broadest part of the bird is
behind. Its quality is a good indication of the breed; if fine and downy
the birds are probably well-bred, but if rank and coarse they are
inferior. The cocks are frequently somewhat scanty in "fluff," but
should be chosen with as much as possible; but vulture-hocks which often
accompany the heaviest feathered birds should be avoided, as they now
disqualify at the best shows. "The fluff," says a good authority, "in
the hen especially, should so cover the tail feathers as to give the
appearance of a very short back, the line taking an upward direction
from within an inch or so of the point of junction with the hackle." The
last joint of the wings folds up, so that the ends of the flight
feathers are concealed by the middle feathers, and their extremities are
again covered by the copious saddle, which peculiarity has caused them
to be also called the ostrich-fowl.

A good Cochin cock should be compact, large, and square built; broad
across the loins and hind-quarters; with a deep keel; broad, short back;
short neck; small, delicately-shaped, well-arched head; short, strong,
curved beak; rather small, finely and evenly serrated, straight, single,
erect comb, wholly free from reduplications and sprigs; brilliant red
face, and pendant wattles; long hanging ear-lobe, of pure red, white
being inadmissible; bright, bold eye, approaching the plumage in colour;
rich, full, long hackle; small, closely-folded wings; short tail,
scarcely any in some fine specimens, not very erect, with slightly
twisted glossy feathers falling over it like those of the ostrich; stout
legs set widely apart, yellow and heavily feathered to the toe; and
erect carriage. The chief defect of the breed is narrowness of breast,
which should therefore be sought for as full as possible.

The hen's body is much deeper in proportion than that of the cock. She
resembles him upon most points, but differs in some; her comb having
many indentations; the fluff being softer, and of almost silky quality;
the tail has upright instead of falling feathers, and comes to a blunt
point; and her carriage is less upright.

Cochins lose their beauty earlier than any other breed, and moult with
more difficulty each time. They are in their greatest beauty at from
nine to eighteen months old. The cocks' tails increase with age. In
buying Cochins avoid clean legs, fifth toes, which show that it has been
crossed with the Dorking, double combs that betray Malay blood, and long
tails, particularly taking care that the cock has not, and ascertaining
that he never had, sickle feathers. The cock ought not to weigh less
than ten or eleven pounds, and a very fine bird will reach thirteen; the
hens from eight to ten pounds.

The principal colours now bred are Buff, Cinnamon, Partridge, Grouse,
Black, and White. The Buff and White are the most popular.

Buff birds may have black in the tails of both sexes, but the less there
is the better. Black-pencilling in the hackle is considered
objectionable at good shows. The cock's neck hackles, wing coverts,
back, and saddle hackles, are usually of a rich gold colour, but his
breast and the lower parts of his body should match with those of his
hens. Buff birds generally produce chickens lighter than themselves.
Most birds become rather lighter at each moult. In making up an
exhibition pen, observe that Grouse and Partridge hens should have a
black-breasted cock; and that Buff and Cinnamon birds should not be
placed together, but all the birds in the pen should be either Buff or
Cinnamon. The Cinnamon are of two shades, the Light Cinnamon and the
Silver, which is a pale washy tint, that looks very delicate and pretty
when perfectly clean. Silver Cinnamon hens should not be penned with a
pale Yellow cock, but with one as near to their own tint as can be
found. Mr. Andrews's celebrated strain of Cochins sometimes produced
both cocks and hens which were Silver Cinnamon, with streaks of gold in
the hackle.

In Partridge birds the cock's neck and saddle hackles should be of a
bright red, striped with black, his back and wings of dark red, the
latter crossed with a well-defined bar of metallic greenish black, and
the breast and under parts of his body should be black, and not mottled.
The hen's neck hackles should be of bright gold, striped with black, and
all the other portions of her body of a light brown, pencilled with very
dark brown. The Grouse are very dark Partridge, have a very rich
appearance, and are particularly beautiful when laced. They are far from
common, and well worth cultivating. The Partridge are more mossed in
their markings, and not so rich in colour as the Grouse. Cuckoo Cochins
are marked like the Cuckoo Dorkings, and difficult to breed free of
yellow.

The White and Black were introduced later than the others. Mr. Baily
says the White were principally bred from a pair imported and given to
the Dean of Worcester, and which afterwards became the property of Mrs.
Herbert, of Powick. White Cochins for exhibition must have yellow legs,
and they are prone to green. The origin of the Black is disputed. It is
said to be a sport from the White, or to have been produced by a cross
between the Buff and the White. By careful breeding it has been fixed as
a decided sub-variety, but it is difficult, if not almost impossible, to
rear a cock to complete maturity entirely free from coloured feathers.
They keep perfectly pure in colour till six months old, after which age
they sometimes show a golden patch or red feathers upon the wing, or a
few streaks of red upon the hackle, of so dark a shade as to be
imperceptible except in a strong light, and are often found on close
examination to have white under feathers, and others barred with white.

The legs in all the colours should be yellow. Flesh-coloured legs are
admissible, but green, black, or white are defects. In the Partridge and
Grouse a slight wash, as of indigo, appears to be thrown over them,
which in the Black assumes a still darker shade; but in all three yellow
should appear partially even here beneath the scales, as the pink tinge
does in the Buff and White birds.

Cochin-Chinas being much inclined to accumulate internal fat, which
frequently results in apoplexy, should not be fed on food of a very
fattening character, such as Indian corn. They are liable to have
inflamed feet if they are obliged to roost on very high, small, or sharp
perches, or allowed to run over sharp-edged stones.

They are also subject to an affection called White Comb, which is a
white mouldy eruption on the comb and wattles like powdered chalk; and
if not properly treated in time, will spread over the whole body,
causing the feathers to fall off. It is caused by want of cleanliness,
over-stimulating or bad food, and most frequently by want of green food,
which must be supplied, and the place rubbed with an ointment composed
of two parts of cocoanut oil, and one of turmeric powder, to which some
persons add one half part of sulphur; and six grains of jalap may be
given to clear the bowels.



CHAPTER XI.

BRAHMA-POOTRAS.


It is a disputed point among great authorities whether Brahmas form a
distinct variety, or whether they originated in a cross with the Cochin,
and have become established by careful breeding. When they were first
introduced, Mr. Baily considered them to be a distinct breed, and has
since seen nothing to alter his opinion. Their nature and habits are
quite dissimilar, for they wander from home and will get their own
living where a Cochin would starve, have more spirit, deeper breasts,
are hardier, lay larger eggs, are less prone to sit, and never produce a
clean-legged chicken. Whatever their origin, by slow and sure degrees,
without any mania, they have become more and more popular, standing upon
their own merits, and are now one of the most favourite varieties.

"The worst accusation," says Miss Watts, "their enemies can advance
against them is, that no one knows their origin; but this is applicable
to them only as it is when applied to Dorkings, Spanish, Polands, and
all the other kinds which have been brought to perfection by careful
breeding, working on good originals. All we have in England are
descended from fowls imported from the United States, and the best
account of them is, that a sailor (rather vague, certainly) appeared in
an American town (Boston or New York, I forget which) with a new kind of
fowl for sale, and that a pair bought from him were the parents of all
the Brahmas. Uncertain as this appears, the accounts of those who
pretend to trace their origin as cross-bred fowls is, at least, equally
so, and I believe we may just act towards the Brahmas as we do with
regard to Dorkings and other good fowls, and be satisfied to possess a
first-rate, useful kind, although we may be unable to trace its
genealogical tree back to the root. Whatever may be their origin, I find
them distinct in their characteristics. I have found them true to their
points, generation after generation, in all the years that I have kept
them. The pea-comb is very peculiar, and I have never had one chicken
untrue in this among all that I have bred. Their habits are very unlike
the Cochins. Although docile, they are much less inert; they lay a
larger number of eggs, and sit less frequently. Many of my hens only
wish to sit once a year; a few oftener than that, perhaps twice or even
three times in rare instances, but never at the end of each small batch
of eggs, as I find (my almost equal favourites) the Cochins do. The
division of Light and Dark Brahmas is a fancy of the judges, which any
one who keeps them can humour with a little care in breeding. My idea of
their colour is, that it should be black and grey (iron grey, with more
or less of a blue tinge, and devoid of any brown) on a clear white
ground, and I do not care whether the white or the marking predominates.
I believe breeders could bear me out, if they would, when I say many
fowls which pass muster as Brahmas are the result of a cross, employed
to increase size and procure the heavy colour which some of the judges
affect."

For strength of constitution, both as chickens and fowls, they surpass
all other breeds. Brahmas like an extensive range, but bear confinement
as well as any fowls, and keep cleaner in dirty or smoky places than any
that have white feathers. They are capital foragers where they have
their liberty, are smaller eaters and less expensive to keep than
Cochins, and most prolific in eggs. They lay regularly on an average
five fine large eggs a week all the year round, even when snow is on the
ground, except when moulting or tending their brood. Mr. Boyle, of Bray,
Ireland, the most eminent breeder of Dark Brahmas in Great Britain, says
he has "repeatedly known pullets begin to lay in autumn, and _never
stop_--let it be hail, rain, snow, or storm--for a single day till next
spring." They usually lay from thirty to forty eggs before they seek to
sit. The hens do not sit so often as Cochins, and a week's change of
place will generally banish the desire. They put on flesh well, with
plenty of breast-meat, and are more juicy and better shaped for the
table than most Cochins; though, after they are six months old, the
flesh is much inferior to that of the Dorking. A cross with a Dorking or
Crêve-Coeur cock produces the finest possible table fowl, carrying
almost incredible quantities of meat of excellent quality.

The chickens are hardy and easy to rear. They vary in colour when first
hatched, being all shades of brown, yellow, and grey, and are often
streaked on the back and spotted about the head; but this variety gives
place, as the feathers come, to the mixture of black, white, and grey,
which forms the distinguishing colour of the Brahma. Mr. Baily has
"hatched them in snow, and reared them all out of doors without any
other shelter than a piece of mat or carpet thrown over the coop at
night." They reach their full size at an early age, and the pullets are
in their prime at eight months. Miss Watts noticed that Brahmas "are
more clever in the treatment of themselves when they are ill than other
fowls; when they get out of order, they will generally fast until eating
is no longer injurious," which peculiarity is corroborated by the
experienced "Henwife." The feathers of the Brahma-Pootra are said to be
nearly equal to goose feathers.

The head should have a slight fulness over the eye, giving breadth to
the top; a full, pearl eye is much admired, but far from common; comb
either a small single, or pea-comb--the single resembling that of the
Cochin; the neck short; the breast wide and full; the legs short,
yellow, and well-feathered, but not so fully as in the finest Cochins;
and the tail short but full, and in the cock opening into a fan. They
should be wide and deep made, large and weighty, and have a free, noble
carriage, equally distinct from the waddle of the Cochin, and the erect
bearing of the Malay. Unlike the Cochins, they keep constantly to their
colour, which is a mixture of black, white, and grey; the lightest being
almost white, and the darkest consisting of grey markings on a white
ground. The colour is entirely a matter of taste, but the bottom colour
should always be grey.

"After breeding Brahmas for many years," says Miss Watts, "through many
generations and crosses (always, however, keeping to families imported
direct from America), we are quite confirmed in the opinion that the
pea-comb is _the_ comb for the Brahma; and this seems now a settled
question, for single-combed birds never take prizes when passable
pea-combed birds are present. The leading characteristic of the peculiar
comb, named by the Americans the pea-comb, is its triple character. It
may be developed and separated almost like three combs, or nearly united
into one; but its triple form is always evident. What we think most
beautiful is, where the centre division is a little fluted, slightly
serrated, and flanked by two little side combs. The degree of the
division into three varies, and the peculiarities of the comb may be
less perceptible in December than when the hens are laying; but the
triple character of the pea-comb is always evident. It shows itself in
the chick at a few days old, in three tiny paralleled lines." It is
thick at the base, and like three combs joined into one, the centre comb
being higher than the other, but the comb altogether must be low,
rounded at the top, and the indentations must not be deep. Whether
single or triple, all the combs in a pen should be uniform.

The dark and light varieties should not be crossed, as, according to Mr.
Teebay, who was formerly the most extensive and successful breeder of
Brahmas in England, the result is never satisfactory.



CHAPTER XII.

MALAYS.


This was the first of the gigantic Asiatic breeds imported into this
country, and in height and size exceeds any fowl yet known. The origin
of the Malay breed is supposed to be the _Gallus giganteus_ of Temminck.
"This large and very remarkable species," says Mr. W. C. L. Martin, "is
a native of Java and Sumatra. The comb is thick and low, and destitute
of serrations, appearing as if it had been partially cut off; the
wattles are small, and the throat is bare. The neck is covered with
elongated feathers, or hackles, of a pale golden-reddish colour, which
advance upon the back, and hackles of the same colour cover the rump,
and drop on each side of the base of the tail. The middle of the back
and the shoulders of the wings are of a dark chestnut, the feathers
being of a loose texture. The greater wing-coverts are of a glossy
green, and form a bar of that colour across the wing. The primary and
secondary quill feathers are yellowish, with a tinge of rufous. The tail
feathers are of a glossy green. The under surface uniformly is of a
glossy blackish green, but the base of each feather is a chestnut, and
this colour appears on the least derangement of the plumage. The limbs
are remarkably stout, and the robust tarsi are of a yellow colour. The
voice is a sort of crow--hoarse and short, and very different from the
clear notes of defiance uttered by our farmyard chanticleer. This
species has the habit, when fatigued, of resting on the tarsi or legs,
as we have seen the emu do under similar circumstances."

In the "Proceedings of the Zoological Society" for 1832, we find the
following notice respecting this breed, by Colonel Sykes, who observed
it domesticated in the Deccan: "Known by the name of the Kulm cock by
Europeans in India. Met with only as a domestic bird; and Colonel Sykes
has reason to believe that it is not a native of India, but has been
introduced by the Mussulmans from Sumatra or Java. The iris of the real
game bird should be whitish or straw yellow. Colonel Sykes landed two
cocks and a hen in England in June, 1831. They bore the winter well; the
hen laid freely, and has reared two broods of chickens. The cock has not
the shrill clear pipe of the domestic bird, and his scale of note
appears more limited. A cock in the possession of Colonel Sykes stood
twenty-six inches high to the crown of the head; but they attain a
greater height. Length from the tip of the bill to the insertion of the
tail, twenty-three inches. Hen one-third smaller than the male. Shaw
very justly describes the habit of the cock, of resting, when tired, on
the first joint of the leg."

It is a long, large, heavy bird, standing remarkably upright, having an
almost uninterrupted slope from the head to the insertion of the tail;
with very long, though strong, yellow legs, quite free from feathers;
long, stout, firm thighs, and stands very erect; the cock, when full
grown, being at least two feet six inches, and sometimes over three feet
in height, and weighing from eight to eleven pounds. The head has great
fulness over the eye, and is flattened above, resembling that of the
snake. The small, thick, hard comb, scarcely rising from the head, and
barely as long, like half a strawberry, resembles that of a Game fowl
dubbed. The wattles are very small; the neck closely feathered, and like
a rope, with a space for an inch below the beak bare of feathers. It has
a hard, cruel expression of face; a brilliant bold eye, pearled around
the edge of the lids; skinny red face; very strong curved yellow beak;
and small, drooping tail, with very beautiful, though short, sickle
feathers. The hen resembles the cock upon all these points, but is
smaller.

Their colours now comprise different shades of red and deep chestnut, in
combination with rich browns, and there are also black and white
varieties, each of which should be uniform. The feathers should be hard
and close, which causes it to be heavier than it appears.

Malays are inferior to most other breeds as layers, but the pullets
commence laying early, and are often good winter layers. Their eggs,
which weigh about 2-1/2 ounces each, are of a deep buff or pale
chocolate colour, surpass all others in flavour, and are so rich that
two of them are considered to be equal to three of ordinary fowls. They
are nearly always fertile.

Their chief excellence is as table fowls, carrying, as they do, a great
quantity of meat, which, when under a year old, is of very good quality
and flavour. Crossed with the Spanish and Dorking, they produce
excellent table fowls; the latter cross being also good layers.

Malays are good sitters and mothers, if they have roomy nests. Their
chickens should not be hatched after June, as they feather slowly, and
are delicate; but the adult birds are hardy enough, and seem especially
adapted to crowded localities, such as courts and alleys. "Malays," says
Mr. Baily, "will live anywhere; they will inhabit a back yard of small
dimensions; they will scratch in the dust-hole, and roost under the
water-butt; and yet not only lay well, but show in good condition when
requisite." Like the Game fowl, it is terribly pugnacious, and in its
native country is kept and trained for fighting. This propensity, which
is still greater in confinement, is its greatest disadvantage. When
closely confined they are apt to eat each other's feathers, the cure for
which is turning them into a grass run, and giving them a good supply of
lettuce leaves, with an occasional purgative of six grains of jalap. The
Chittagong is said to be a variety of the Malay.



CHAPTER XIII.

GAME.


This is the kind expressly called the English breed by Buffon and the
French writers, and is the noblest and most beautiful of all breeds,
combining an admirable figure, brilliant plumage, and stately gait. It
is most probably derived from the larger or continental Indian species
of the Javanese, or Bankiva Jungle Fowl--the _Gallus Bankiva_ of
Temminck--which is a distinct species, distinguished chiefly from the
Javanese fowl by its larger size. (_See_ page 124.) Of this continental
species, Sir W. Jardine states that he has seen three or four specimens,
all of which came from India proper. The Game cock is the undisputed
king of all poultry, and is unsurpassed for courage. The Malay is more
cruel and ferocious, but has less real courage. Game fowls are in every
respect fighting birds, and, although cock-fighting is now very properly
prohibited by law, Game fowls are always judged mainly in reference to
fighting qualities. But their pugnacious disposition renders them very
troublesome, especially if they have not ample range, although it does
not disqualify them for small runs to the extent generally supposed. A
blow with his spur is dangerous, and instances have been recorded of
very severe injuries inflicted upon children, even causing death. An old
newspaper states that "Mr. Johnson, a farmer in the West Riding of
Yorkshire, who has a famous breed of the Game fowl, has had the great
misfortune to lose his little son, a boy of three years old, who was
attacked by a Game cock, and so severely injured that he died shortly
afterwards." High-bred hens are quite as pugnacious as the cocks. The
chickens are very quarrelsome, and both cocks and hens fight so
furiously, that frequently one-half of a brood is destroyed, and the
other half have to be killed.

Game fowls are hardy when they can have liberty, but cannot be well kept
in a confined space. They eat little, and are excellent for an
unprotected place, because by their activity they avoid danger
themselves, and by their courage defend their chickens from enemies. The
hen is a prolific layer, and, if she has a good run, equal to any breed.
The eggs, though of moderate size only, are remarkable for delicacy of
flavour. She is an excellent sitter, and still more excellent mother.
The chickens are easily reared, require little food, and are more robust
in constitution than almost any other variety.

The flesh of the Game fowl is beautifully white, and superior to that of
all other breeds for richness and delicacy of flavour. They should never
be put up to fat, as they are impatient of confinement. "They are in no
way fit for the fattening-coop," says Mr. Baily. "They cannot bear the
extra food without excitement, and that is not favourable to obesity.
Nevertheless, they have their merits. If they are reared like pheasants
round a keeper's house, and allowed to run semi-wild in the woods, to
frequent sunny banks and dry ditches, they will grow up like them; they
will have little fat, but they will be full of meat. They must be eaten
young; and a Game pullet four or five months old, caught up wild in this
way, and killed two days before she is eaten, is, perhaps, the most
delicious chicken there is in point of flavour."

The Game-fowl continues to breed for many years without showing any
signs of decay, and in this respect is superior to the Cochin, Brahma,
and even to the Dorking.

The cock's head should be long, but fine; beak long, curved, and strong;
comb single, small, upright, and bright red; wattles and face bright
red; eyes large and brilliant; neck long, arched, and strong; breast
well developed; back short and broad between the shoulders, but tapering
to the tail; thighs muscular, but short compared to the shanks; spur
low; foot flat, with powerful claws, and his carriage erect. The form of
the hen should resemble the above on a smaller scale, with small, fine
comb and face, and wattles of a less intense red. The feathers of both
should be very hard, firm, and close, very strong in the quills, and
seem so united that it should be almost impossible to ruffle them, each
feather if lifted up falling readily into its original place. Size is
not a point of merit, from four to six pounds being considered
sufficient, and better than heavier weights. Among the list of
imperfections in Game cocks, Sketchley enumerates "flat sides, short
legs, thin thighs, crooked or indented breast, short thin neck,
imperfect eye, and duck or short feet."

"It is the custom," says Miss Watts, "consequently imperative, that all
birds which are exhibited should have been dubbed, and this should not
be done until the comb is so much developed that it will not spring
again after the dubbing. This will be safe if the chicken is nearly six
months old, but some are more set than others at a certain age. A keen
pair of scissors is the best instrument with which to operate. Hold the
fowl with a firm hand, cut away the deaf ears and wattles, then cut the
comb, cutting a certain distance from the back, and then from the front
to join this cut, taking especial care not to go too near the skull.
Some operators put a finger inside the mouth to get a firm purchase. We
should like to see dubbing done away with, leaving these beautiful fowls
as nature makes them; but since amateurs and shows will not agree to
this, it is best to give directions for dubbing, as an operation
bunglingly performed is sure to give unnecessary pain." To save the bird
from excessive loss of blood his wattles are usually cut off a week
later. Every superfluous piece of flesh and skin should be removed.

The "Henwife" well says: "Why these poor birds are condemned to submit
to this cruel operation is a mystery, unfathomable, I suspect, even by
the judges themselves. Cock-fighting being forbidden by law, the cocks
should, on principle, be left undubbed, as a protest against this brutal
amusement. The comb of the Game male bird is as beautifully formed as
that of the Dorking; why then rob it of this great ornament? It is
asserted that it is necessary to remove the comb to prevent the cocks
injuring each other fatally in fighting; but this is not true; a Dorking
will fight for the championship as ardently as any Game bird, and yet
his comb is spared. Cockerels will not quarrel if kept apart from hens
until the breeding season, when they should be separated, and put on
their several walks. If pugnaciously inclined I do not believe that the
absence of the comb will save the weaker opponent from destruction;
therefore I raise my voice for pity, in favour of the beautiful Game
cock."

The colours are various, and they are classed into numerous varieties
and sub-varieties, of which the chief are--Black-breasted Red;
Brown-Red; Silver Duck-wing Greys, so called from the feathers
resembling those of a duck; Greys; Blues; Duns; Piles, or Pieds; Black;
White; and Brassy-winged, which is Black with yellow on the lesser wing
coverts. Colours and markings must be allowed a somewhat wide range in
this breed; and figure, with courage, may be held to prove purity of
blood though the colour be doubtful. Mr. Douglas considers the
Black-breasted Red the finest feathered Game, and states that he never
found any come so true to colour as a brood of that variety. White in
the tail feathers is highly objectionable, though not an absolute
disqualification. White fowls should be entirely white, with white legs.
The rules for the coloured legs are very undecided. Light legs match
light-coloured birds best. No particular colour is imperative, but it
should harmonise with the plumage, and all in a pen must agree.

The best layers are the Black-breasted Reds with willow legs, and the
worst the Greys.



CHAPTER XIV.

DORKINGS.


This is one of the finest breeds, and especially English. A pure Dorking
is distinguished by an additional or fifth toe. There are several
varieties, which are all comprised in two distinct classes--the White
and the Coloured. The rose-combed white breed is _the_ Dorking of the
old fanciers, and most probably the original breed, from which the
coloured varieties were produced by crossing it with the old Sussex, or
some other large coloured fowl. "That such was the case," says Mr.
Wright, "is almost proved by the fact that only a few years ago nothing
was more uncertain than the appearance of the fifth toe in coloured
chickens, even of the best strains. Such uncertainty in any important
point is always an indication of mixed blood; and that it was so in this
case is shown by the result of long and careful breeding, which has now
rendered the fifth toe permanent, and finally established the variety."
Mr. Brent says: "The _old_ Dorking, the _pure_ Dorking, the _only_
Dorking, is the _White_ Dorking. It is of good size, compact and plump
form, with short neck, short white legs, five toes, a full rose-comb, a
large breast, and a plumage of spotless white. The practice of crossing
with a Game cock was much in vogue with the old breeders, to improve a
worn-out stock (which, however, would have been better accomplished by
procuring a fresh bird of the same kind, but not related). This cross
shows itself in single combs, loss of a claw, or an occasional red
feather, but what is still more objectionable, in pale-yellow legs and a
yellow circle about the beak, which also indicates a yellowish skin.
These, then, are faults to be avoided. As regards size, the White
Dorking is generally inferior to the Sussex fowl (or 'coloured
Dorking'), but in this respect it only requires attention and careful
breeding. The pure White Dorking may truly be considered as fancy stock,
as well as useful, because they will breed true to their points; but the
grey Sussex, Surrey or Coloured Dorking, often sport. To the breeders
and admirers of the so-called 'Coloured Dorkings' I would say, continue
to improve the fowl of your choice, but let him be known by his right
title; do not support him on another's fame, nor yet deny that the
rose-comb or fifth toe is essential to a Dorking, because your
favourites are not constant to those points. The absence of the fifth
claw to the Dorking would be a great defect, but to the Sussex fowl
(erroneously called a 'Coloured Dorking') it is my opinion it would be
an improvement, provided the leg did not get longer with the loss."

The fifth toe should not be excessively large, or too far above the
ordinary toe.

The White Dorking must have the plumage uniformly white, though in the
older birds the hackle and saddle may attain a light golden tint. The
rose-comb is preferable, and the beak and legs should be light and
clear.

The Coloured Dorking is now bred to great size and beauty. It is a
large, plump, compact, square-made bird, with short white legs, and
should have a well-developed fifth toe. The plumage is very varied, and
may have a wide range, and might almost be termed immaterial, provided a
coarse mealy appearance be avoided, and the pen is well matched. This
latitude in respect of plumage is so generally admitted that the
assertion "you cannot breed Dorkings true to colour," has almost
acquired the authority of a proverb. They may be shown with either rose
or single combs, but all the birds in a pen must match.

The Dorking is the perfection of a table bird, combining
delicately-flavoured white flesh, which is produced in greatest quantity
in the choicest parts--the breast, merry-thought, and wings--equal
distribution of fat, and symmetrical shape. Mr. Baily prefers the
Speckled or Grey to the White, as "they are larger, hardier, and fatten
more readily, and although it may appear anomalous, it is not less true
that white-feathered poultry has a tendency to yellowness in the flesh
and fat." Size is an important point in Dorkings. Coloured prize birds
weigh from seven to fourteen pounds, and eight months' chickens six or
seven pounds. The White Dorking is smaller.

They are not good layers, except when very young, and are bad winter
layers. The eggs are large, averaging 2-3/4 ounces, pure white, very
much rounded, and nearly equal in size at each end. The hen is an
excellent sitter and mother. The chickens are very delicate, requiring
more care when young than most breeds, and none show a greater
mortality, no more than two-thirds of a brood usually surviving the
fourth week of their life. They should not be hatched before March, and
must be kept on gravel soil, hard clay, or other equally dry ground, and
never on brick, stone, or wooden flooring.

This breed will only thrive on a dry soil. They are fond of a wide
range, and cannot be kept within a fence of less than seven feet in
height. When allowed unlimited range they appear to grow hardy, and are
as easily reared as any other breed if not hatched too early. If kept in
confinement they should have fresh turf every day, besides other
vegetable food. Dorkings degenerate more than any breed by
inter-breeding, and rapidly decrease in size.

Dorkings are peculiarly subject to a chronic inflammation or abscess of
the foot, known as "bumble-foot," which probably originated in heavy
fowls descending from high perches and walking over sharp stones. The
additional toe may have rendered them more liable to this disease. It
may now arise from the same cause, and is best prevented by using broad,
low perches, and keeping their runs clear of sharp, rough stones, but it
also appears to have become hereditary in some birds. There is no cure
for it when matured except its removal, and this operation fails oftener
than it succeeds; but Mr. Tegetmeier states, that he has in early cases
removed the corn-like or wart-like tumours on the ball of the foot with
which the disease begins, and cauterised the part with nitrate of silver
successfully.

[Illustration: Golden-pencilled and Silver-spangled Hamburgs. Black
Spanish]



CHAPTER XV.

SPANISH.


This splendid breed was originally imported from Spain, and is
characterised by its peculiar white face, which in the cock should
extend from the comb downwards, including the entire face, and meet
beneath in a white cravat, hidden by the wattles; and in the hen should
be equally striking. The plumage is perfectly black, with brilliant
metallic lustre, reflecting rich green and purple tints. The tail should
resemble a sickle in the cock, and be square in the hen. The comb should
be of a bright red, large, and high, upright in the cock, but pendent in
the hen; the legs blue, clean, and long, and the bearing proud and
gallant.

With care they will thrive in a very small space, and are perhaps better
adapted for town than any other variety. They are tolerably hardy when
grown, but suffer much from cold and wet. Their combs and wattles are
liable to be injured by severe cold, from which these fowls should be
carefully protected. If frost-bitten, the parts should be rubbed with
snow or cold water, and the birds must not be taken into a warm room
until recovered.

The Spanish are excellent layers, producing five or six eggs weekly from
February to August, and two or three weekly from November to February,
and also laying earlier than any other breed except the Brahma, the
pullets beginning to lay before they are six months old. Although the
hens are only of an average size, and but moderate eaters, their eggs
are larger than those of any other breed, averaging 3-1/2 ounces, and
some weighing 4-1/2 ounces, each. The shells are very thin and white,
and the largest eggs are laid in the spring.

The flesh is excellent, but the body is small compared to that of the
Dorking. They very seldom show any inclination to sit, and if they hatch
a brood are bad nurses. The chickens are very delicate, and are best
hatched at the end of April and during May. They do not feather till
almost three-parts grown, and require a steady mother that will keep
with them till they are safely feathered, and therefore the eggs should
be set under a Dorking hen, because that breed remains longer with the
chicks than any other. They almost always have white feathers in the
flight of the wings, but these become black.

"In purchasing Spanish fowls," says an excellent authority, "blue legs,
the entire absence of white or coloured feathers in the plumage, and a
large white face, with a very large, high comb, which should be erect in
the cock, though pendent in the hen, should be insisted on." Legginess
is a fault that breeders must be careful to avoid.

The cockerels show the white face earlier than the pullets, and a blue,
shrivelly appearance in the face of the chickens is a better sign of
future whiteness than a red fleshiness. Pullets are rarely fully
white-faced till above a year old. "The white face," says an excellent
authority, "should always extend well around the eye, and up to the
point of junction with the comb, though a line of short black feathers
is there frequently seen to intrude its undesired presence. It is
certainly objectionable, and the less of it the better; but any attempt
to remove or disguise this eyesore should be followed by immediate
disqualification." Some exhibitors of Spanish shave the down of the
edges of the white-face, in order to make it smooth and larger. This
disgraceful practice is not allowed at the Birmingham Show.

"One test of condition," says Mr. Baily, "more particularly of the
pullets, is the state of the comb, which will be red, soft, and
developed, just in proportion to the condition of the bird. While
moulting--and they are almost naked during this process--the comb
entirely shrivels up."

The White-faced WHITE SPANISH is thought to be merely a sport of the
White-faced Black Spanish. But, whatever their origin may have been,
they possess every indication of common blood with their Black
relatives, and their claims to appear by their side in the exhibition
room are as good as those of the White Cochins and the White Polish. The
plumage is uniformly white, but in all other respects they resemble the
Black breed. From the absence of contrast of colour shown in the face,
comb, and plumage of the Black Spanish, the White variety is far less
striking in appearance.

The ANDALUSIAN are so called from having been brought from the Spanish
province of Andalusia. This breed is of a bluish grey, sometimes
slightly laced with a darker shade, but having the neck hackles and tail
feathers of a glossy black, with red face and white ears. The chickens
are very hardy, and feather well, and earlier than the Spanish.

The MINORCA is so called from having been imported from that island, and
is a larger and more compactly-formed breed, resembling the Spanish in
its general characteristics; black, with metallic lustre, but with red
face, and having only the ear-lobes white; showing even a larger comb,
and with shorter legs. They are better as table fowls than the Spanish,
but the Andalusian are superior to either. The Minorca is the best layer
of all the Spanish breeds, its chickens are tolerably hardy, and it is
altogether far superior to the White-faced breed.

ANCONA is a provincial term applied to black and white mottled, or
"cuckoo," which on all other points resemble Minorcas, but are smaller.

The "Black Rot," to which Spanish fowls are subject, is a blackening of
the comb, swelling of the legs and feet, and general wasting of the
system; and can only be cured in the earlier stages by frequent purgings
with castor oil, combined with warm nourishing food, and strong ale, or
other stimulants, given freely. They are also subject to a peculiar kind
of swelled face, which first appears like a small knob under the skin,
and increases till it has covered one side of the face. It is considered
to be incurable.



CHAPTER XVI.

HAMBURGS.


This breed is medium-sized, and should have a brilliant red,
finely-serrated rose-comb, terminating in a spike at the back, taper
blue legs, ample tail, exact markings, a well-developed white deaf-ear,
and a quick, spirited bearing. They are classed in three varieties, the
Pencilled, Spangled, and Black varieties, with the sub-varieties of Gold
and Silver in the two former.

The Pencilled Hamburg is of two ground colours, gold and silver, that
is, of a brown yellow or white, and very minutely marked. The hens of
both colours should have the body clearly pencilled across with several
bars of black. The hackle in both sexes should be free from dark marks.
In the Golden-pencilled variety the cock should be of one uniform red
all over his body without any pencilling whatever, and his tail copper
colour; but many first-class birds have pure black tails and the sickle
feathers should be shaded with a rich bronze or copper. In the
Silver-pencilled variety the cock is often nearly white, with yellowish
wing-coverts, and a brown or chestnut patch on the flight feathers of
his wing. The tail should be black and the sickle feathers tinged with a
reddish white.

The Speckled or Spangled Hamburg, also called Pheasant Fowl, from the
false idea that the pheasant was one of its parents, is of two kinds,
the Golden-speckled and Silver-speckled, according to their ground
colour, the marking taking the form of a spot upon each feather. They
have very full double and firmly fixed combs, the point at the end
turning upwards, a dark rim round the eyes, blue legs, and mixed hackle.
They were also called Moss Fowls, and Mooneys, the latter probably
because the end of every feather should have a black rim on the yellow
or white ground. In the Golden-spangled some judges prefer cocks with a
pure black breast, but others desire them spangled.

"One chief cause of discussion," says Miss Watts, "relating to the
Hamburg, regarded the markings on the cocks. The Yorkshire breed, which
had been a favourite in that county for many years, produced henny
cocks--_i.e._ cocks with plumage resembling that of a hen. The feathers
of the hackle were not narrow and elongated like those of cocks
generally, but were short and rounded like those of the hen; the
saddle-feathers were the same, and the tail, instead of being graced
with fine flowing sickle feathers, was merely square like that of a hen.
The Lancashire Mooneys, on the contrary, produce cocks with as fine
flowing plumage as need grace any chanticleer in the land, and
tails with sickle-feathers twenty-two inches long, fine flowing
saddle-feathers, and abundant hackle. The hen-tail cocks had the
markings, as well as the form, of the hen; the long feathers of the
others cannot, from their form, have these markings. On this question
party-spirit ran high: York and Lancaster, Cavalier and Roundhead, were
small discussions compared with it; but the hen-cocks were beaten, and
we now seldom hear of them. A mixture of the two breeds has been tried;
but by it valuable qualities and purity of race have been sacrificed."

The Black Hamburg is of a beautiful black with a metallic lustre, and is
a noble-looking bird, the cocks often weighing seven pounds. There is
little doubt that it was produced by crossing with the Spanish, which
blood shows itself in the white face, which is often half apparent, and
in the darker legs. But it is well established as a distinct variety,
and good birds breed true to colour and points. The cocks' combs are
larger, and the hens' legs shorter, than the other varieties.

Bolton Bays and Greys, Chitteprats, Turkish, and Creoles or Corals,
Pencilled Dutch fowls, and Dutch every-day layers, are but incorrect
names for the Hamburgs, with which they are identical.

The Hamburgs do not attain to their full beauty until three years old.
"As a general rule," says Mr. Baily, "no true bred Hamburg fowl has
top-knot, single comb, white legs, any approach to feather on the legs,
white tail, or spotted hackle." The white ear-lobe being so
characteristic a feature in all the Hamburgs, becomes most important in
judging their merits. Weight is not considered, but still the Pencilled
cock should not weigh less than four and a half pounds, nor the hen than
three and a half; and the Spangled cock five pounds and the hen four.

The Hamburgs are most prolific layers naturally, without
over-stimulating feeding, surpassing all others in the number of their
eggs, and deserve their popular name of "everlasting layers." Their eggs
are white, and do not weigh more than 1-1/2 ounce to 1-3/4 ounce each;
and the hens are known to average 240 eggs yearly. Not being large
eaters, they are very profitable fowls to keep. The eggs of the
Golden-spangled are the largest, and it is the hardiest variety, but the
Pencilled lay more. The Black variety produces large eggs, and lays a
greater number than any known breed.

They very seldom show any desire to sit except when they have a free
woodland range, for even if free it must be wild to induce any desire to
perpetuate the species, and they never sit if confined to a yard. The
chickens should not be hatched earlier than May, but in the South of
England they will do very well if hatched by a Cochin-China hen at the
beginning of March. They are small birds for table, but of excellent
quality.

Hamburgs do not bear confinement well, and will not thrive without a
good run; a grass field is the best. Being small and light, even a
ten-feet fence will not keep them within a small run. They may indeed be
kept in a shed, but the number must be very few in proportion to its
size, and they must be kept dry and scrupulously clean. They
are excellent guards in the country, for if disturbed in their
roosting-place they will make a great noise. The breed has improved in
this country, and British bred fowls are much stronger than the imported
birds.

[Illustration: White-crested Black. Golden and Silver-spangled.

POLISH.]



CHAPTER XVII.

POLANDS.


This breed might with good reason be divided into more families, but it
is usual to rank as Polands all fowls with their chief distinguishing
characteristic, a full, large, round, compact tuft on the head. The
breed "is quite unknown in Poland, and takes its name," says Mr.
Dickson, "from some resemblance having been fancied between its tufted
crest and the square-spreading crown of the feathered caps worn by the
Polish soldiers." It is much esteemed in Egypt, and equally abundant at
the Cape of Good Hope, where their legs are feathered. Some travellers
assert that the Mexican poultry are crested, and that what are called
Poland fowls are natives of either Mexico or South America; but others
believe that they are natives of the East, and that they, as well as all
the other fowls on the Continent of America, have been introduced from
the Old World.

The Golden-spangled and Silver-spangled are the most beautiful
varieties, the first being of a gold colour and the second white, both
spangled with black. The more uniform the colour of the tuft is with
that of the bird, the higher it is valued.

The Black Poland is of a deep velvety black; has a large, white, round
tuft, and should not have a comb, but many have a little comb in the
form of two small points before the tuft. The tuft to be perfect should
be entirely white, but it is rare to meet with one without a slight
bordering of black, or partly black, feathers round the front.

There are also Yellow, laced with white, Buff or Chamois, spangled with
white, Blue, Grey, Black, and White mottled. All the sub-varieties
should be of medium size, neat compact form, plump, full-breasted, and
have lead-coloured legs and ample tails.

The top-knot of the cock should be composed of straight feathers,
growing from the centre of the crown, and falling over outside, but not
so much as to intercept the sight, and form a circular crest. That of
the hen should be formed of feathers growing out and turning in at the
extremity, so as to resemble a cauliflower, and it should be even, firm,
and as nearly round as possible. Large, uneven top-knots composed of
loose feathers do not equal smaller but firm and well-shaped crests. The
white ear-lobe is essential in all the varieties.

"Beards" in Polands were formerly not admired. Among the early birds
brought from the continent, not one in a hundred was bearded, and those
that were so were often rejected, and it was a question of dispute
whether the pure bird should have them or not. Bearded birds at shows
were the exceptions, but an unbearded pen of Polands is now seldom or
ever seen.

There was formerly a breed of White, with black top-knots, but that is
lost, although it seems to have been not only the most ornamental, but
the largest and most valuable of all the Polish varieties. The last
specimen known was seen by Mr. Brent at St. Omer in 1854, and it is
possible that the breed may still exist in France or Ireland.

The SERAI TA-OOK, or FOWL OF THE SULTAN, is the latest Polish fowl
introduced into this country. They were imported in 1854 by Miss Watts,
who says: "With regard to the name, Serai is the name of the Sultan's
palace; Tä-ook is Turkish for fowl; the simplest translation of this is,
Sultan's fowls, or fowls of the Sultan; a name which has the double
advantage of being the nearest to be found to that by which they have
been known in their own country, and of designating the country from
which they came. In general habits they are brisk and happy-tempered,
but not kept in as easily as Cochin-Chinas. They are very good layers;
their eggs are large and white; they are non-sitters, and small eaters.
A grass run with them will remain green long after the crop would have
been cleared by either Brahmas or Cochins, and with scattered food they
soon become satisfied and walk away. They are the size of our English
Poland fowls. Their plumage is white and flowing; they have a full-sized
compact Poland tuft on the head, are muffed, have a good flowing tail,
short well-feathered legs, and five toes upon each foot. The comb is
merely two little points, and the wattles very small. We have never seen
fowls more fully decorated--full tail, abundant furnishing, in hackle
almost touching the ground, boots, vulture-hocks, beards, whiskers, and
full round Poland crests. Their colour is pure white."

They are prolific layers during spring and summer. Their eggs are white,
and weigh from 2 ounces to 2-1/4 ounces each, the Spangled varieties
producing the largest. They rarely sit, and generally leave their eggs
after five or six days, and are not good mothers. The chickens require
great care for six weeks. They should never be hatched by heavy hens, as
the prominence in the skull which supports the top-knot is never
completely covered with bone, and very sensible to injury. Like the Game
breed they improve in feather for several years. Polands never thrive on
a wet or cold soil, and are more affected by bad weather than any other
breed; the top-knots being very liable to be saturated with wet.
They are easily fattened, and their flesh is white, juicy, and
rich-flavoured, but they are not sufficiently large for the market.

Mr. Hewitt cautions breeders against attempting to seize birds suddenly,
as the crest obscures their sight, and, being taken by surprise, they
are frequently so frightened as to die in the hand. They should,
therefore, always be spoken to, or their attention otherwise attracted
before being touched.



CHAPTER XVIII.

Bantams.


Of this breed one kind is Game, and resembles the Game fowl, except in
size; another is feathered to the very toes, the feathers on the tarsi,
or beam of the leg, being long and stiff, and often brushing the ground.
They are peculiarly fancy fowls. There are several varieties, the White,
Black, Nankin, Partridge, Booted or Feather-legged, Game, and the
Golden-laced and Silver-laced, or Sebright Bantam. All should be very
small, varying from fourteen to twenty ounces in the hen, and from
sixteen to twenty-four in the cock. The head should be narrow; beak
curved; forehead rounded; eyes bright; back short; body round and full;
breast very prominent; legs short and clean, except in the Booted
variety; wings depressed; and the carriage unusually erect, the back of
the neck and the tail feathers almost touching; and the whole bearing
graceful, bold, and proud.

[Illustration: Black. Sebright's Gold and Silver-laced. White. Game.

BANTAMS.]

"The Javanese jungle-fowl" (_Gallus Bankiva_), says Mr. W. C. L. Martin,
"the Ayam-utan of the Malays, is a native of Java; but either a variety
or a distinct species of larger size, yet very similar in colouring, is
found in continental India. The Javanese, or Bankiva jungle-fowl, is
about the size of an ordinary Bantam, and in plumage resembles the
black-breasted red Game-bird of our country, with, a steel-blue mark
across the wings. The comb is high, its edge is deeply serrated, and the
wattles are rather large. The hackle feathers of the neck and rump are
long and of a glossy golden orange; the shoulders are chestnut red, the
greater wing-coverts deep steel-blue, the quill feathers brownish black,
edged with pale, reddish yellow, or sandy red. The tail is of a black
colour, with metallic reflections of green and blue. The under parts are
black the naked space round the eyes, the comb, and wattles are
scarlet. The hen closely resembles a brown hen of the Game breed, except
in being very much smaller. That this bird, or its continental ally, is
one of the sources--perhaps the main source--of our domestic race,
cannot be doubted. It inter-breeds freely with our common poultry, and
the progeny is fertile. Most beautiful cross-breeds between the Bankiva
jungle-fowl and Bantam may be seen in the gardens of the Zoological
Society."

"That the Bankiva jungle-fowl of Java, or its larger continental
variety, if it be not a distinct species (and of which Sir W. Jardine
states that he has seen several specimens), is one of the sources of our
domestic breeds, cannot, we think, be for a moment doubted. It would be
difficult to discover any difference between a clean-limbed,
black-breasted red Bantam-cock, and a cock Bankiva jungle-fowl. Indeed,
the very term Bantam goes far to prove their specific identity. Bantam
is a town or city at the bottom of a bay on the northern coast of Java;
it was first visited by the Portuguese in 1511, at which time a great
trade was carried on by the town with Arabia, Hindostan, and China,
chiefly in pepper. Subsequently it fell into the hands of the Dutch, and
was at one time the great rendezvous for European shipping. It is now a
place of comparative insignificance. From this it would seem that the
jungle-fowls domesticated and sold to the Europeans at Bantam continued
to be designated by the name of the place where they were obtained, and
in process of time the name was appropriated to all our dwarfish
breeds."

Game Bantams are exact miniatures of real Game fowls, in Black-breasted
red, Duck-wing, and other varieties. The cocks must not have the strut
of the Bantam, but the bold, martial bearing of the Game cock. Their
wings should be carried closely, and their feathers be hard and close.
The Duck-wing cock's lower wing-coverts should be marked with blue,
forming a bar across each wing.

The SEBRIGHT, or GOLD AND SILVER-LACED BANTAM, is a breed with clean
legs, and of most elegantly spangled plumage, which was bred and has
been brought to great perfection by Sir John Sebright, after whom they
are named. The attitude of the cock is singularly bold and proud, the
head being often thrown so much back as to meet the tail feathers, which
are simple like those of a hen, the ordinary sickle-like feathers being
abbreviated and broad. The Gold-laced Sebright Bantams should have
golden brownish-yellow plumage, each feather being bordered with a
lacing of black; the tail square like that of the hen, without sickle
feathers, and carried well over the back, each feather being tipped with
black, a rose-comb pointed at the back, the wings drooping to the
ground, neither saddle nor neck hackles, clean lead-coloured legs and
feet, and white ear-lobes; and the hen should correspond exactly with
him, but be much smaller. The Silver-laced birds have exactly the same
points except in the ground feathering, which should be silvery, and the
nearer the shade approaches to white the more beautiful will be the
bird. Their carriage should resemble that of a good Fantail pigeon.

The BLACK BANTAMS should be uniform in colour, with well-developed white
ear-lobes, rose-combs, full hackles, sickled and flowing tail, and deep
slate-coloured legs. The WHITE BANTAMS should have white legs and beak.
Both should be of tiny size.

The NANKIN, or COMMON YELLOW BANTAM, is probably the nearest approach to
the original type of the family--the "Bankiva fowl." The cock "has a
large proportion of red and dark chestnut on the body, with a full black
tail; while the hen is a pale orange yellow, with a tail tipped with
black, and the hackle lightly pencilled with the same colour, and clean
legs. Combs vary, but the rose is decidedly preferable. True-bred
specimens of these birds being by no means common, considerable
deviations from the above description may consequently be expected in
birds passing under this appellation."

The BOOTED BANTAMS have their legs plumed to the toes, not on one side
only like Cochin-Chinas, but completely on both, with stiff, long
feathers, which brush the ground. The most beautiful specimens are of a
pure white. "Feathered-legged Bantams," says Mr. Baily, "may be of any
colour; the old-fashioned birds were very small, falcon-hocked, and
feathered, with long quill feathers to the extremity of the toe. Many of
them were bearded. They are now very scarce; indeed, till exhibitions
brought them again into notice, these beautiful specimens of their tribe
were all neglected and fast passing away. Nothing but the Sebright was
cultivated; but now we bid fair to revive the pets of our ancestors in
all their beauty."

The PEKIN, or COCHIN BANTAMS, were taken from the Summer Palace at Pekin
during the Chinese war, and brought to this country. They exactly
resemble the Buff Cochins in all respects except size. They are very
tame.

The JAPANESE BANTAM is a recent importation, and differs from most of
the other varieties in having a very large single comb. It has very
short well-feathered legs, and the colour varies. Some are quite white,
some have pure white bodies, with glossy, jet-black tails, others are
mottled and buff. They throw the tail up and the head back till they
nearly meet, as in the Fantailed pigeon. They are said to be the
constant companions of man in their native country, and have a droll and
good-natured expression.

All the Bantam cocks are very pugnacious, and though the hens are good
mothers to their own chickens, they will attack any stranger with fury.
They are good layers of small but exquisitely-flavoured eggs. But no
breed produces so great a proportion of unfertile eggs. June is the best
month for hatching, as the chickens are delicate. They feather more
quickly than most breeds, and are apt to die at that period through the
great drain upon the system in producing feathers. When fully feathered
they are quite hardy. The hens are excellent mothers. The chickens
require a little more animal food than other fowls, and extra attention
for a week or two in keeping them dry. Bantams are very useful in a
garden, eating many slugs and insects, and doing little damage.



CHAPTER XIX.

FRENCH AND VARIOUS.


The French breeds are remarkable for great weight and excellent quality
of flesh, with a very small proportion of bones and offal; their
breeders having paid great attention to those important, substantial,
and commercial points instead of devoting almost exclusive attention to
colour and other fancy points as we have done. As a rule they are all
non-sitters, or sit but rarely.

[Illustration: Houdans. La Flêche, cock. Crêve-Coeur, hen.

FRENCH.]

The CRÊVE-COEUR has been known the longest and most generally. This
breed is said to derive its name from a village so called in Normandy,
whence its origin can be distinctly traced; but others fancifully say,
from the resemblance of its peculiar comb to a broken heart. It is
scarce, and pure-bred birds are difficult to procure. The Crêve-Coeur
is a fine large bird, black in plumage, or nearly so, with short, clean
black legs, square body, deep chest, and a large and extraordinary crest
or comb, which is thus described by M. Jacque: "Various, but always
forming two horns, sometimes parallel, straight, and fleshy; sometimes
joined at the base, slightly notched, pointed, and separating at their
extremities; sometimes adding to this latter description interior
ramifications like the horns of a young stag. The comb, shaped like
horns, gives the Crêve-Coeur the appearance of a devil." It is
bearded, and has a top-knot or crest behind the comb. They are very
quiet, walk slowly, scratch but little, do not fly, are very tame,
ramble but little, and prefer seeking their food on the dunghill in the
poultry-yard to wandering afar off. They are the most contented of all
breeds in confinement, and will thrive in a limited space. They are
tame, tractable fowls, but inclined to roup and similar diseases in our
climate, and therefore prosper most on a dry, light soil, and can
scarcely have too much sun. They are excellent layers of very large
white eggs.

The chickens grow so fast, and are so inclined to fatten, that they may
be put up at from ten to twelve weeks of age, and well fattened in
fifteen days. The Crêve-Coeur is a splendid table bird, both for the
quantity and quality of its flesh. The hen is heavy in proportion to the
cock, weighing eight and a half pounds against his nine and a half, and
the pullets always outweigh the cockerels.

LA FLÊCHE is thus described by M. Jacque: "A strong, firm body, well
placed on its legs, and long muscular feet, appearing less than it
really is, because the feathers are close; every muscular part well
developed; black plumage. The La Flêche is the tallest of all French
cocks; it has many points of resemblance with the Spanish, from which I
believe it to be descended by crossing with the Crêve-Coeur. Others
believe that it is connected with the Brêda, which it does, in fact,
resemble, in some particulars. It has white, loose, and transparent
skin; short, juicy, and delicate flesh, which puts on fat easily."

"The comb is transversal, double, forming two horns bending forward,
united at their base, divided at their summits, sometimes even and
pointed, sometimes having ramifications on the inner sides. A little
double 'combling' protrudes from the upper part of the nostrils, and
although hardly as large as a pea, this combling, which surmounts the
sort of rising formed by the protrusion of the nostrils, contributes to
the singular aspect of the head. This measured prominence of the comb
seems to add to the characteristic depression of the beak, and gives the
bird a likeness to a rhinoceros." The plumage is jet black, with a very
rich metallic lustre; large ear-lobe of pure white; bright red face,
unusually free from feathers; and bright lead-coloured legs, with hard,
firm scales. They are very handsome, showy, large, and lively birds,
more inclined to wander than the Crêve-Coeur, and hardier when full
grown; but their chickens are even more delicate in wet weather, and
should not be hatched before May. They are easily reared, and grow
quickly. They are excellent layers of very large white eggs, but do not
lay well in winter, unless under very favourable circumstances, and
resemble the Spanish in the size and number of their eggs, and the time
and duration of laying. Their flesh is excellent, juicy, and resembles
that of the Game fowl, and the skin white and transparent, but the legs
are dark. This breed is larger and has more style than the Crêve-Coeur,
and is better adapted to our climate; but the fowls lack constitution,
particularly the cocks, and are very liable to leg weakness and disease
of the knee-joint, and when they get out of condition seldom recover.
They are found in the north of France, but are not common even there.

The HOUDAN has the size, deep compact body, short legs, and fifth toe of
the Dorking. They are generally white, some having black spots as large
as a shilling, are bearded, and should have good top-knots of black and
white feathers, falling backwards like a lark's crest; and the
remarkable comb is thus described by M. Jacque: "Triple, transversal in
the direction of the beak, composed of two flattened spikes, of long and
rectangular form, opening from right to left, like two leaves of a book;
thick, fleshy, and variegated at the edges. A third spike grows between
these two, having somewhat the shape of an irregular strawberry, and the
size of a long nut. Another, quite detached from the others, about the
size of a pea, should show between the nostrils, above the beak."

Mr. F. H. Schröder, of the National Poultry Company, considered that
this surpassed all the French breeds, combining the size, shape, and
quality of flesh of the Dorking with earlier maturity; prolific laying
of good-sized eggs, which are nearly always fertile, and on this point
the opposite of the Dorking; and early and rapid feathering in the
chickens, which are, notwithstanding, hardier than any breeds except the
Cochin and Brahma. They are very hardy, never sick, and will thrive in a
small space. They are smaller than the Crêve-Coeur or La Flêche, but
well shaped and plump; and for combining size and quality of flesh with
quantity and size of eggs nothing can surpass them.

SCOTCH DUMPIES, GO LAIGHS, BAKIES, or CREEPERS, are almost extinct; but
they are profitable fowls, and ought to be more common, as they are very
hardy, productive layers of fine large eggs, and their flesh is white
and of excellent quality. They should have large, heavy bodies; short,
white, clean legs, not above an inch and a half or two inches in length.
The plumage is a mixture of black or brown, and white. They are good
layers of fine large eggs. They cannot be surpassed as sitters and
mothers, and are much valued by gamekeepers for hatching the eggs of
pheasants. The cocks should weigh six or seven and the hen five or six
pounds.

The SILKY fowl is so called from its plumage, which is snowy white,
being all discomposed and loose, and of a silky appearance, resembling
spun glass. The comb and wattles are purple; the bones and the
periosteum, or membrane covering the bones, black, and the skin blue or
purple; but the flesh, however, is white and tender, and superior to
that of most breeds. It is a good layer of small, round, and excellent
eggs. The cock generally weighs less than three, and the hen less than
two, pounds. It comes from Japan and China, and generally thrives in our
climate. The chickens are easily reared if not hatched before April nor
later than June. They are capital foster mothers for partridges, and
other small and tender game.

The RUMPKIN, or RUMPLESS fowl, a Persian breed, not only lacks the
tail-feathers but the tail itself. It is hardy, of moderate size, and
varies in colour, but is generally black or brown, and from the absence
of tail appears rounder than other fowls. The hens are good layers, but
the eggs are often unfertile. They are good sitters and mothers, and the
flesh is of fair quality.

The FRIESLAND, so named from confounding the term "frizzled" with
Friesland, is remarkable from having all the feathers, except those of
the wings and tail, frizzled, or curled up the wrong way. It is small,
very delicate, and a shower drenches it to the skin.

BARN-DOOR fowl are a mongrel race, compounded by chance, usually of the
Game, Dorking, and Polish breeds.



CHAPTER XX.

TURKEYS.


Turkeys are not considered profitable except on light, dry soils, which
is said to be the cause of their success in Norfolk. They prosper,
however, in Ireland; but although the air there is moist, the soil is
dry, except in the boggy districts. Miss Watts believes that "any place
in which turkeys are properly reared and fed may compete with Norfolk.
Very fine birds may be seen in Surrey, and other places near London."
The general opinion of the best judges is, that they can barely be made
to repay the cost of their food, which is doubtless owing to the usual
great mortality among the chicks, which loss outbalances all profit; but
others make them yield a fair profit, simply because, from good
situation and judicious management, they rear all, or nearly all, the
chicks. A single brood may be reared with ease on a small farm or
private establishment without much extra expense, where sufficient
attention can be devoted to them; but to make them profitable they
should be bred on a large scale, and receive exclusive attention. They
should have a large shed or house, with a boarded floor, to themselves.

[Illustration: Turkey and Guinea-fowls.]

Turkeys must have space, for they are birds of rambling habits, and only
fitted for the farmyard, or extensive runs, delighting to wander in the
fields in quest of insects, on which, with green herbage, berries,
beech-mast, and various seeds, they greedily feed. The troop will ramble
about all day, returning to roost in the evening, when they should have
a good supply of grain; and another should be given in the morning,
which will not only induce them to return home regularly every night,
but keep them in good store condition, so that they can at any time be
speedily fattened. Peas, vetches, tares, and most sorts of pulse, are
almost poisonous to them. Their feeding-place must be separate from
the other poultry, or they will gobble up more than their share. Turkeys
will rarely roost in a fowl-house, and should have a very high open
shed, the perches being placed as high as possible. They are extremely
hardy, roosting, if allowed, on the highest trees in the severest
weather. But this should be prevented, as their feet are apt to become
frost-bitten in severe weather. The chickens are as delicate. Wet is
fatal to them, and the very slightest shower even in warm weather will
frequently destroy half a brood.

The breeding birds should be carefully selected, any malformation almost
invariably proving itself hereditary. The cock is at maturity when a
year old, but not in his prime till he has attained his third year, and
is entering upon his fourth, and he continues in vigour for three or
four years more. He should be vigorous, broad-breasted, clean-legged,
with ample wings, well-developed tail, bright eyes, and the carunculated
skin of the neck full and rapid in its changes of colour. The largest
possible hen should be chosen, the size of the brood depending far more
upon the female than the male. One visit to the male is sufficient to
render all the eggs fertile, and the number of hens may be unlimited,
but to obtain fine birds, twelve or fifteen hens to one cock is the best
proportion. The hen breeds in the spring following that in which she was
hatched, but is not in her prime till two or three years old, and
continues for two or three years in full vigour.

The hen generally commences laying about the middle of March, but
sometimes earlier. When from her uttering a peculiar cry and prying
about in quest of a secret spot for sitting, it is evident that she is
ready to lay, she should be confined in the shed, barn, or other place
where the nest has been prepared for her, and let out when she has laid
an egg. The nest should be made of straw and dried leaves, in a large
wicker basket, in a quiet secluded place, and an egg or nest-egg of
chalk should be placed in it to induce her to adopt it. Turkeys like to
choose their own laying-places, and keep to them though their eggs are
removed daily, provided a nest-egg is left there. They will wander to a
distance in search of a secluded spot for laying, and pay their visits
to the nest so cleverly that sometimes they keep it a secret and hatch a
brood there, which, however, does not generally prove a strong or large
one as in the case of ordinary fowls. When a hen has chosen a safe,
quiet, and sheltered place for her nest, it is best to give her more
eggs when she shows a desire to sit, and let her stay there. The hen
generally lays from fifteen to twenty eggs, sometimes fewer and often
many more. As soon as seven are produced, they should be placed under a
good common hen, a Cochin is the best, and the remainder can be put
under her when she wants to sit. The best hatching period is from the
end of March to May, and none should be hatched later than June. The
broody hens may be placed on their eggs in any quiet place, as they are
patient, constant sitters, and will not leave their eggs wherever they
may be put. A hen may be allowed from nine to fifteen eggs, according to
her size. During the time the hen is sitting she requires constant
attention. She must occasionally be taken off the nest to feed, and
regularly supplied with fresh water; otherwise she will continue to sit
without leaving for food, till completely exhausted. In general, do not
let the cock go near the sitting hen, or he will destroy the eggs or
chicks; but some behave well, and may be left at large with safety. She
should not be disturbed or visited by any one but the person she is
accustomed to be fed by, and the eggs should not be touched
unnecessarily.

The chickens break the shell from the twenty-sixth to the twenty-ninth
day, but sometimes as late as the thirty-first. Let them remain in the
nest for twenty-four hours, but remove the shells, and next morning
place the hen under a roomy coop or crate, on boards, in a warm
outhouse. Keep her and her brood cooped up for two months, moving the
coop every fine day into a dry grass field, but keep them in an outhouse
in cold or wet weather. The chicks having a great tendency to diarrhoea,
the very best food for the first week is hard-boiled eggs, chopped
small, mixed with minced dandelion, and when that cannot be had, with
boiled nettles. They may then have boiled egg, bread-crumbs, and
barley-meal for a fortnight, when the egg may be replaced by boiled
potato, and small grain may soon be added. Do not force them to eat, but
give them a little food on the tip of your finger, and they will soon
learn to pick it out of the trough. A little hempseed, suet, onion-tops,
green mustard, and nettle-tops, chopped very fine, should be mixed with
their food. Curds are excellent food, and easily prepared by mixing
powdered alum with milk slightly warmed, in the proportion of one
teaspoonful of alum to four quarts of milk, and, when curdled,
separating the curds from the whey. They should be squeezed very dry,
and must always be given in a soft state. Water should be given but
sparingly, and never allowed to stand by them, but when they have had
sufficient it should be taken or thrown away. The water must be put in
pans so contrived or placed that they cannot wet themselves. (_See_ page
38.) Fresh milk is apt to disagree with the young chicks, and is not
necessary. If a chick shows weakness, or has taken cold, give it some
carraway seeds.

In their wild state the turkey rears only one brood in a season, and it
is not advisable to induce the domesticated bird by any expedients to
hatch a second, for it would be not only detrimental to her, but the
brood would be hatched late in the season, and very difficult to rear,
while those reared would not be strong, healthy birds.

The coop should be like that used for common fowls, but two feet broad,
and higher, being about three feet high in front and one foot at the
back; this greater slant of the roof being made in order to confine her
movements, as otherwise she would move about too much, and trample upon
her brood. When they have grown larger they must have a larger coop,
made of open bars wide enough apart for them to go in and out, but too
close to let in fowls to eat their delicate food, and the hen must be
placed under it with them. A large empty crate, such as is used to
contain crockery-ware, will make a good coop for large poults; but if
one cannot be had, a coop may be made of laths or rails, with the bars
four inches apart; it should be about five feet long, four feet broad,
and three feet high.

Keep her cooped for two months, moving the coop every fine, dry day into
a grass field, but on cold or wet days keep them in the outhouse. If she
is allowed her liberty before they are well grown and strong, she will
wander away with them through the long grass, hedges, and ditches, over
highway, common, and meadow, mile after mile, losing them on the road,
and straying on with the greatest complacency, and perfectly satisfied
so long as she has one or two following her, and never once turning her
head to see how her panting chicks are getting on, nor troubled when
they squat down tired out, and implore her plaintively to come back; and
all this arises from sheer heedlessness, and not from want of affection,
for she will fight for her brood as valiantly as any pheasant will for
hers. When full grown they should never be allowed to roam with her
while there is heavy dew or white frost on the grass, but be kept in
till the fields and hedgerows are dry. They will pick up many seeds and
insects while wandering about in the fields with her, but must be fed by
hand three or four times a day at regular intervals.

They cease to be chicks or chickens, and are called turkey-poults when
the male and female distinctive characteristics are fairly established,
the carunculated skin and comb of the cock being developed, which is
called "shooting the red," or "putting out the red," and begins when
they are eight or ten weeks old. It is the most critical period of their
lives--much more so than moulting, and during the process their food
must be increased in quantity, and made more nourishing by the addition
of boiled egg-yolks, bread crumbled in ale, wheaten flour, bruised
hempseed, and the like, and they must be well housed at night. When this
process is completed they will be hardy, and able to take care of
themselves; but till they are fully fledged it will be advisable to keep
them from rain and cold, and not to try their hardness too suddenly.

Vegetables, as chopped nettles, turnip-tops, cabbage sprouts, onions,
docks, and the like, boiled down and well mixed with barley-meal,
oatmeal, or wheaten flour, and curds, if they can be afforded, form
excellent food for the young poults; also steamed potatoes, boiled
carrots, turnips, and the like. With this diet may be given buckwheat,
barley, oats, beans, and sunflower seeds.

When they are old enough to be sent to the stubble and fields, they are
placed in charge of a boy or girl of from twelve to fifteen years old,
who can easily manage one hundred poults. They are driven with a long
bean stick, and the duties of the turkey-herd is to keep the cocks from
fighting, to lead them to every place where there are acorns,
beech-mast, corn, wild fruit, insects, or other food to be picked up. He
must not allow them to get fatigued with too long rambles, as they are
not fully grown, and must shelter them from the burning sun, and hasten
them home on the approach of rain. The best times for these rambles are
from eight to ten in the morning, when the dew is off the grass, and
from four till seven in the evening, before it begins to fall.

Turkeys are crammed for the London markets. The process of fattening may
commence when they are six months old, as they require a longer time to
become fit for the market than fowls. The large birds which are seen at
Christmas are usually males of the preceding year, and about twenty
months old. All experienced breeders repudiate "cramming." To obtain
fine birds the chickens must be fed abundantly from their birth until
they are sent to market, and while they are being fattened they should
be sent to the fields and stubble for a shorter time daily, and their
food must be increased in quantity and improved in quality. Early
hatched, well fed young Norfolk cocks will frequently weigh twenty-three
pounds by Christmas of the same year, and two-year-old birds will
sometimes attain to twenty pounds. When two or more years old they are
called "stags."

The domesticated turkey can scarcely be said to be divided into distinct
breeds like the common fowl, the several varieties being distinguished
by colour only, but identical in their form and habits. They vary
considerably in colour--some being of a bronzed black, others of a
coppery tint, of a delicate fawn colour, or buff, and some of pure
white. The dark coloured birds are generally considered the most hardy,
and are usually the largest. The chief varieties are the Cambridge,
Norfolk, Irish, American, and French.

The Cambridge combines enormous size, a tendency to fatten speedily, and
first-rate flavour. The tortoiseshell character of its plumage gives the
adult birds a very prepossessing appearance around the homestead, and a
striking character in the exhibition room. The colours may vary from
pale to dark grey, with a deep metallic brown tint, and light legs. The
legs should be stout and long.

The Norfolk breed is more compact and smaller-boned, and produces a
large quantity of meat of delicate whiteness and excellent quality. The
cocks are almost as heavy as the Cambridge breed, but the hens are
smaller and more compact. The Norfolk should be jet, not blue black, and
free from any other colour, being uniform throughout, including the legs
and feet.

All the birds in a pen must be uniform.

The American wild turkey has become naturalised in this country, but
being of a very wandering disposition is best adapted to be kept in
parks and on large tracts of wild land. It is slender in shape, but of
good size, with uniform metallic bronze plumage, the flight feathers
being barred with white, and the tail alternately with white, rich dark
brown, and black, and with bright pink legs. The wattles are smaller
than in the other breeds, and of a bluish tinge. They are very hardy,
but more spiteful than others, and are said to be also more prolific.
Crosses often take place in America between the wild and tame races, and
are highly valued both for their appearance and for the table. Eggs of
the wild turkey have also often been taken from their nests, and hatched
under the domesticated hen. The flavour of the flesh of the American
breed is peculiar and exceedingly good, but they do not attain a large
size.



CHAPTER XXI.

GUINEA-FOWLS.


The Guinea-fowl, Gallina, or Pintado (_Numida Meleagris_), is the true
meleagris of the ancients, a term generically applied by Belon,
Aldrovandus, and Gesner to the turkey, and now retained, although the
error is acknowledged, in order to prevent confusion. It is a native of
Africa, where it is extensively distributed. They associate in large
flocks and frequent open glades, the borders of forests, and banks of
rivers, which offer abundant supplies of grain, berries, and insects, in
quest of which they wander during the day, and collect together at
evening, and roost in clusters on the branches of trees or shrubs.
Several other wild species are known, some of which are remarkable for
their beauty; but the common Guinea-fowl is the only one domesticated in
Europe. The Guinea-fowl is about twenty-two inches long, and from
standing high on its legs, and having loose, full plumage, appears to be
larger than it really is, for when plucked it does not weigh more than
an ordinary Dorking. It is very plump and well-proportioned. The
Guinea-fowl is not bred so much as the turkey in England or France, is
very rare in the northern parts of Europe, and in India is bred almost
exclusively by Europeans, although it thrives as well there as in its
native country. It "is turbulent and restless," says Mr. Dickson,
"continually moving from place to place, and domineering over the whole
poultry-yard, boldly attacking even the fiercest turkey cock, and
keeping all in alarm by its petulant pugnacity"; and the males, although
without spurs, can inflict serious injury on other poultry with their
short, hard beaks. The Guinea-fowls make very little use of their wings,
and if forced to take to flight, fly but a short distance, then alight,
and trust to their rapid mode of running, and their dexterity in
threading the mazes of brushwood and dense herbage, for security. They
are shy, wary, and alert.

It is not much kept, its habits being wandering, and requiring an
extensive range, but as it picks up nearly all its food, and is very
prolific, it may be made very profitable in certain localities. The
whole management of both the young and the old may be precisely the same
as that of turkeys, in hatching, feeding, and fattening. This "species,"
says Mr. Dickson, "differs from all other poultry, in its being
difficult to distinguish the cock from the hen, the chief difference
being in the colour of the wattles, which are more of a red hue in the
cock, and more tinged with blue in the hen. The cock has also a more
stately strut."

They mate in pairs, and therefore an equal number of cocks and hens must
be kept, or the eggs will prove unfertile. To obtain stock, some of
their eggs must be procured, and placed under a common hen; for if old
birds are bought, they will wander away for miles in search of their old
home, and never return. They should be fed regularly, and must always
have one meal at night, or they will scarcely ever roost at home. They
will not sleep in the fowl-house, but prefer roosting in the lower
branches of a tree, or on a thick bush, and retire early. They make a
peculiar, harsh, querulous noise, which is oft-repeated, and not
agreeable. The hens are prolific layers, beginning in May, and
continuing during the whole summer. Their eggs are small, but of
excellent flavour, of a pale yellowish red, finely dotted with a darker
tint, and remarkable for the hardness of the shell. The hen usually lays
on a dry bank, in secret places; and a hedgerow a quarter of a mile off
is quite as likely to contain her nest as any situation nearer her home.
She is very shy, and, if the eggs are taken from her nest, will desert
it, and find another; a few should, therefore, always be left, and it
should never be visited when she is in sight. But she often contrives to
elude all watching, and hatch a brood, frequently at a late period,
when the weather is too cold for the chickens. As the Guinea-fowl seldom
shows much disposition to incubate if kept under restraint, and
frequently sits too late in the season to rear a brood in this country,
it is a general practice to place her eggs under a common fowl--Game and
Bantams are the best for the purpose. About twenty of the earliest eggs
should be set in May. The Guinea-hen will hatch another brood when she
feels inclined. They sit for twenty-six to twenty-nine or thirty days.
When she sits in due season she generally rears a large brood, twenty
not being an unusual number.

The chickens are very tender, and should not be hatched too early in
spring, as a cold March wind is generally fatal to them. They must be
treated like those of the turkey, and as carefully. They should be fed
almost immediately, within six hours of being hatched, abundantly, and
often; and they require more animal food than other chickens. Egg boiled
hard, chopped very fine, and mixed with oatmeal, is the best food. They
will die if kept without food for three or four hours; and should have a
constant supply near them until they are allowed to have full liberty
and forage for themselves. They will soon pick up insects, &c., and will
keep themselves in good condition with a little extra food. They are
very strong on their legs, and those hatched under common hens may be
allowed to range with her at the end of six weeks, and be fed on the
same food and at the same times as other chickens.

The Guinea-fowl may be considered as somewhat intermediate between the
pheasant and turkey. After the pheasant season, young birds that have
been hatched the same year are excellent substitutes for that fine game,
and fetch a fair price. They should never be fattened, but have a good
supply of grain and meal for a week or two before being killed. The
flesh of the young bird is very delicate, juicy, and well-flavoured, but
the old birds, even of the second year, are dry, tough, and tasteless.



CHAPTER XXII.

DUCKS.


Ducks will not pay if all their food has to be bought, except it is
purchased wholesale, and they are reared for town markets, for their
appetites are voracious, and they do not graze like geese. They may be
kept in a limited space, but more profitably and conveniently where they
have the run of a paddock, orchard, kitchen garden, flat common, green
lane, or farmyard, with ditches and water. They will return at night,
and come to the call of the feeder. Nothing comes amiss to them--green
vegetables, especially when boiled, all kinds of meal made into
porridge, all kinds of grain, bread, oatcake, the refuse and offal of
the kitchen, worms, slugs, snails, insects and their larvæ, are devoured
eagerly. Where many fowls are kept, a few ducks may be added profitably,
for they may be fed very nearly on what the hens refuse.

Ducks require water to swim in, but "it is a mistake," says Mr. Baily,
"to imagine that ducks require a great deal of water. They may be kept
where there is but very little, and only want a pond or tank just deep
enough to swim in. The early Aylesbury ducklings that realise such large
prices in the London market have hardly ever had a swim; and in rearing
ducks, where size is a desideratum, they will grow faster and become
larger when kept in pens, farmyards, or in pastures, than where they are
at and in the water all day." Where a large number of geese and ducks
are kept, water on a sufficient scale, and easily accessible, should be
in the neighbourhood.

[Illustration: Toulouse Goose.

Rouen and Aylesbury Ducks.]

Ducks, being aquatic birds, do not require heated apartments, nor roosts
on which to perch during the night. They squat on the floors, which must
be dry and warm. They should, if possible, be kept in a house separate
from the other poultry, and it should have a brick floor, so that it
can be easily washed. In winter the floor should be littered with a thin
layer of straw, rushes, or fern leaves, fresh every day. The
hatching-houses should be separated from the lodging apartments, and
provided with boxes for the purpose of incubation and hatching.

In its wild state the duck pairs with a single mate: the domestic duck
has become polygamous, and five ducks may be allowed to one drake, but
not more than two or three ducks should be given to one drake if eggs
are required for setting.

Ducks begin laying in January, and usually from that time only during
the spring; but those hatched in March will often lay in the autumn, and
continue for two or three months. They usually lay fifty or sixty eggs,
and have been known to produce 250. The faculty of laying might be
greatly developed, as it has been in some breeds of fowls; but they have
been hitherto chiefly bred for their flesh. They require constant
watching when beginning to lay, for they drop their eggs everywhere but
in the nest made for them, but as they generally lay in the night, or
early in the morning, when in perfect health, they should therefore be
kept in every morning till they have laid. One of the surest signs of
indisposition among them is irregularity in laying. "The eggs of the
duck," says Mr. Dickson, "are readily known from those of the common
fowl by their bluish colour and larger size, the shell being smoother,
not so thick, and with much fewer pores. When boiled, the white is never
curdy like that of a new-laid hen's egg, but transparent and glassy,
while the yolk is much darker in colour. The flavour is by no means so
delicate. For omelets, however, as well as for puddings and pastry, duck
eggs are much better than hen's eggs, giving a finer colour and flavour,
and requiring less butter; qualities so highly esteemed in Picardy, that
the women will sometimes go ten or twelve miles for duck eggs to make
their holiday cakes."

A hen is often made to hatch ducklings, being considered a better nurse
than a duck, which is apt to take them while too young to the pond,
dragging them under beetling banks in search of food, and generally
leaving half of them in the water unable to get out; and if the fly or
the gnat is on the water, she will stay there till after dark, and lose
part of her brood. Ducks' eggs may be advantageously placed under a
broody exhibition hen. (_See_ page 88.) A turkey is much better than
either, from the large expanse of the wings in covering the broods, and
the greater heat of body; but if the duck is a good sitter, it is best
to let her hatch her own eggs, taking care to keep her and them from the
water till they are strong. The nest should be on the ground, and in a
damp place. Choose the freshest eggs, and place from nine to eleven
under her. Feed her morning and evening while sitting, and place food
and water within her reach. The duck always covers her eggs upon leaving
them, and loose straw should be placed near the house for that purpose.

They are hatched in thirty days. They may generally be left with their
mother upon the nest for her own time. When she moves coop her on the
short grass if fine weather, or under shelter if otherwise, for a week
or ten days, when they may be allowed to swim for half an hour at a
time. When hatched they require constant feeding. A little curd,
bread-crumbs, and meal, mixed with chopped green food, is the best food
when first hatched. Boiled cold oatmeal porridge is the best food for
ducklings for the first ten days; afterwards barley-meal, pollard, and
oats, with plenty of green food. Never give them hard spring water to
drink, but that from a pond. Ducklings are easily reared, soon able to
shift for themselves, and to pick up worms, slugs, and insects, and can
be cooped together in numbers at night if protected from rats. An old
pigsty is an excellent place for a brood of young ducks.

Ducklings should not be allowed to go on the water till feathers have
supplied the place of their early down, for the latter will get
saturated with the water while the former throws off the wet. "Though
the young ducklings," says Mr. W. C. L. Martin, "take early to the
water, it is better that they should gain a little strength before they
be allowed to venture into ponds or rivers; a shallow vessel of water
filled to the brim and sunk in the ground will suffice for the first
week or ten days, and this rule is more especially to be adhered to when
they are under the care of a common hen, which cannot follow them into
the pond, and the calls of which when there they pay little or no regard
to. Rats, weasels, pike, and eels are formidable foes to ducklings: we
have known entire broods destroyed by the former, which, having their
burrows in a steep bank around a sequestered pond, it was found
impossible to extirpate." If the ducklings stay too long in the water
they will have diarrhoea, in which case coop them close for a few
days, and mix bean-meal or oatmeal with their ordinary food.

A troop of ducks will do good service to a kitchen garden in the summer
or autumn, when they can do no mischief by devouring delicate salads and
young sprouting vegetables. They will search industriously for snails,
slugs, woodlice, and millipedes, and gobble them up eagerly, getting
positively fat on slugs and snails. Strawberries, of which they are very
fond, must be protected from them. Where steamed food is daily prepared
for pigs and cattle, a portion of this mixed with bran and barley-meal
is the cheapest mode of satisfying their voracious appetites. They
should never be stinted in food.

To fatten ducks let them have as much substantial food as they will eat,
bruised oats and peameal being the standard, plenty of exercise, and
clean water. Boiled roots mixed with a little barley-meal is excellent
food, with a little milk added during fattening. They require neither
penning up nor cramming to acquire plumpness, and if well fed should be
fit for market in eight or ten weeks. Celery imparts a delicious
flavour.

The Aylesbury is the finest breed, and should be of a spotless white,
with long, flat, broad beak of a pale flesh colour, grey eyes, long head
and neck, broad and flat body and breast, and orange legs, placed wide
apart. As it lays early, its ducklings are the earliest ready for
market. They have produced 150 large eggs in a year, and are better
sitters than the Rouen.

The Rouen is hardy and easily reared, but rarely lay till February or
March. They thrive better in most parts of England than the Aylesburys,
and care less for the water than the other varieties. They are very
handsome, and weigh eight or nine pounds each, and their flesh is
excellent.

The Muscovy duck is so called, says Ray, "not because it comes from
Muscovy, but because it exhales a somewhat powerful odour of musk."
Little is known of its origin, which is generally thought to be South
America; nor has the date of its introduction into Europe been
ascertained. "This species," says Mr. W. C. L. Martin, "will inter-breed
with the common duck, but we believe the progeny are not fertile. The
Musk duck greatly exceeds the ordinary kind in size, and moreover,
differs in the colours and character of the plumage, in general contour,
and the form of the head. The general colour is glossy blue-black,
varied more or less with white; the head is crested, and a space of
naked scarlet skin, more or less clouded with violet, surrounds the eye,
continued from scarlet caruncles on the base of the beak; the top of the
head is crested, the feathers of the body are larger, more lax, softer,
and less closely compacted together than in the common duck, and seem to
indicate less aquatic habits. The male far surpasses the female in size;
there are no curled feathers in his tail." The male is fierce and
quarrelsome, and when enraged has a savage appearance, and utters deep,
hoarse sounds. The flesh is very good, but the breed is inferior as a
layer to the Aylesbury or Rouen.

The Buenos Ayres, Labrador, or East Indian, brought most probably from
the first-named country, is a small and very beautiful variety, with the
plumage of a uniform rich, lustrous, greenish-black, and dark legs and
bills; the drake rarely weighing five pounds, and the duck four pounds.
Their eggs are often smeared over with a slatey-coloured matter, but the
shell is really of a dull white.



CHAPTER XXIII.

GEESE.


Geese require much the same management as ducks. They may be kept
profitably where there is a rough pasture or common into which they may
be turned, and the pasturage is not rendered bare by sheep, as is
generally the case; but even when the pasturage is good, a supply of
oats, barley, or other grain should be allowed every morning and
evening. Where the pasturage is poor or bad, the old geese become thin
and weak, and the young broods never thrive and often die unless fully
fed at home. A goose-house for four should not be less than eight feet
long by six feet wide and six or seven feet high, with a smooth floor of
brick. A little clean straw should be spread over it every other day,
after removing that previously used, and washing the floor. Each goose
should have a compartment two feet and a half square for laying and
sitting, as she will always lay where she deposited her first egg. The
house must be well ventilated. All damp must be avoided. A pigsty makes
a capital pen. Although a pond is an advantage, they do not require more
than a large trough or tank to bathe in.

For breeding not more than four geese should be kept to one gander.
Their breeding powers continue to more than twenty years old. It is
often difficult to distinguish the sexes, no one sign being infallible
except close examination. The goose lays early in a mild spring, or in
an ordinary season, if fed high throughout the winter with corn, and on
the commencement of the breeding season on boiled barley, malt, fresh
grains, and fine pollard mixed up with ale, or other stimulants; by
which two broods may be obtained in a year. The common goose lays from
nine to seventeen eggs, usually about thirteen, and generally carries
straws about previously to laying. Thirteen eggs are quite enough for
the largest goose to sit on. They sit from thirty to thirty-five days.
March or early April is the best period for hatching, and the geese
should therefore begin to sit in February or early March; for goslings
hatched at any time after April are difficult to rear. Food and water
should be placed near to her, for she sits closely. She ought to leave
her nest daily and take a bath in a neighbouring pond. The gander is
very attentive, and sits by her, and is vigilant and daring in her
defence. When her eggs are placed under a common hen they should be
sprinkled with water daily or every other day, for the moisture of the
goose's breast is beneficial to them. (See page 50.) A turkey is an
excellent mother for goslings.

She should be cooped for a few days on a dry grass-plot or meadow, with
grain and water by her, of which the goslings will eat; and they should
also be supplied with chopped cabbage or beet leaves, or other green
food. They must have a dry bed under cover and be protected from rats.
Their only dangers are heavy rains, damp floors, and vermin; and they
require but little care for the first fortnight; while the old birds are
singularly free from maladies of all kinds common to poultry. When a
fortnight old they may be allowed to go abroad with their mother and
frequent the pond. "It has been formerly recommended," says Mowbray, "to
keep the newly-hatched gulls in house during a week, lest they get cramp
from the damp earth; but we did not find this indoor confinement
necessary; penning the goose and her brood between four hurdles upon a
piece of dry grass well sheltered, putting them out late in the morning,
or not at all in severe weather, and ever taking them in early in the
evening. Sometimes we have pitched double the number of hurdles, for the
convenience of two broods, there being no quarrels among this sociable
and harmless part of the feathered race. We did not even find it
necessary to interpose a parting hurdle, which, on occasion, may be
always conveniently done. For the first range a convenient field
containing water is to be preferred to an extensive common, over which
the gulls or goslings are dragged by the goose, until they become
cramped or tired, some of them squatting down and remaining behind at
evening." All the hemlock or deadly nightshade within range should be
destroyed. When the corn is garnered the young geese may be turned into
the stubble which they will thoroughly glean, and many of them will be
in fine condition by Michaelmas. Green geese are young geese fattened at
about the age of four months, usually on oatmeal and peas, mixed with
skim-milk or butter-milk, or upon oats or other grain, and are very
delicate. In fattening geese for Christmas give oats mixed with water
for the first fortnight, and afterwards barley-meal made into a
crumbling porridge. They should be allowed to bathe for a few hours
before being killed, for they are then plucked more easily and the
feathers are in better condition. Their feathers, down, and quills are
very valuable.

Geese are very destructive to all garden and farm crops, as well as
young trees, and must therefore be carefully kept out of orchards and
plantations. Their dung, though acrid and apt to injure at first, will,
when it is mellowed, much enrich the ground.

The Toulouse or Grey Goose is very large, of uniform grey plumage, with
long neck, having a kind of dewlap under the throat; the abdominal pouch
very much developed, almost touching the ground; short legs; flat feet;
short, broad tail; and very upright carriage, almost like a penguin. The
Toulouse lays a large number of eggs, sometimes as many as thirty, and
even more, but rarely wishes to sit, and is a very bad mother.

The Emden or pure White is very scarce. The bill is flesh-colour, and
the legs and feet orange. They require a pond. The Toulouse, crossed
with the large white or dark-coloured common breed, produces greater
weight than either, and the objection to the former as indifferent
sitters and mothers is avoided; but is not desirable for breeding stock,
and must have a pond like the White.



CHAPTER XXIV.

DISEASES.


It is more economical to kill at once rather than attempt to cure common
fowls showing symptoms of any troublesome disease, and so save trouble,
loss of their carcases, and the risk of infection. But if the fowls are
favourites, or valuable, it may be desirable to use every means of cure.

See to a sick fowl at once; prompt attention may prevent serious
illness, and loss of the bird. When a fowl's plumage is seen to be
bristled up and disordered, and its wings hanging or dragging, it should
be at once removed from the others, and looked to. Pale and livid combs
are as certain a sign of bad health in fowls, as the paleness or
lividness of the lips is in human beings. Every large establishment
should have a warm, properly ventilated, and well-lighted house,
comfortably littered down with clean straw, to be used as a hospital,
and every fowl should be removed to it upon showing any symptoms of
illness, even if the disease is not infectious, for sick fowls are often
pecked at, ill treated, and disliked by their healthy companions. Bear in
mind that prevention is better than cure, and that proper management and
housing, good feeding, pure water and greens, cleanliness and exercise,
will prevent all, or nearly all, these diseases.

APOPLEXY arises from over-feeding, and can seldom be treated in time to
be of service. The only remedy is bleeding, by opening the large vein
under the wing, and pouring cold water on the head for a few minutes.
Open the vein with a lancet, or if that is not at hand, with a
sharp-pointed penknife; make the incision lengthways, not across, and
press the vein with your thumb between the opening and the body, when
the blood will flow. If the fowl should recover, feed it on soft, low
food for a few days, and keep it quiet. It occurs most often in laying
hens, which frequently die on the nest while ejecting the egg; and is
frequently caused by too much of very stimulating food, such as
hempseed, or improper diet of greaves, and also by giving too much pea
or bean meal.

HARD CROP, or being CROP-BOUND, is caused by too much food, especially
of hard grain, being taken into the crop, so that it cannot be softened
by maceration, and is therefore unable to be passed into the stomach.
Although the bird has thus too large a supply of food in its crop, the
stomach becomes empty, and the fowl eats still more food. Sometimes a
fowl swallows a bone that is too large to pass into the stomach, and
being kept in the crop forms a kernel, around which fibrous and other
hard material collects. Mr. Baily says: "Pour plenty of warm water down
the throat, and loosen the food till it is soft. Then give a
tablespoonful of castor-oil, or about as much jalap as will lie on a
shilling, mixed in butter; make a pill of it, and slide it into the
crop. The fowl will be well in the morning. If the crop still remain
hard after this, an operation is the only remedy. The feathers should
be picked off the crop in a straight line down the middle. Generally
speaking, the crop will be found full of grass or hay, that has formed a
ball or some inconveniently-shaped substance. (I once took a piece of
carrot three inches long out of a crop.) When the offence has been
removed, the crop should be washed out with warm water. It should then
be sewn up with coarse thread, and the suture rubbed with grease.
Afterwards the outer skin should be served the same. The crop and skin
must not be sewed together. For three or four days the patient should
have only gruel; no hard food for a fortnight." The slit should be made
in the upper part of the crop, and just large enough to admit a blunt
instrument, with which you must gently remove the hardened mass.

DIARRHOEA is caused by exposure to much cold and wet, reaction after
constipation from having had too little green food, unwholesome food,
and dirt. Feed on warm barley-meal, or oatmeal mashed with a little warm
ale, and some but not very much green food, and give five grains of
powdered chalk, one grain of opium, and one grain of powdered
ipecacuanha twice a day till the looseness is checked. Boiled rice, with
a little chalk and cayenne pepper mixed, will also check the complaint.
When the evacuations are coloured with blood, the diarrhoea has become
dysentery, and cure is very doubtful.

GAPES, a frequent yawning or gaping, is caused by worms in the windpipe,
which may be removed by introducing a feather, stripped to within an
inch of the point, into the windpipe, turning it round quickly, and then
drawing it out, when the parasites will be found adhering with slime
upon it; but if this be not quickly and skilfully done, and with some
knowledge of the anatomy of the parts touched, the bird may be killed
instead of cured. Another remedy is to put the fowl into a box, placing
in it at the same time a sponge dipped in spirits of turpentine on a hot
water plate filled with boiling water, and repeating this for three or
four days. Some persons recommend, as a certain cure in a few days, half
a teaspoonful of spirits of turpentine mixed with a handful of grain,
giving that quantity to two dozen of chickens each day. A pinch of salt
put as far back into the mouth as possible is also said to be effectual.

LEG WEAKNESS, shown by the bird resting on the first joint, is generally
caused by the size and weight of the body being too great for the
strength of the legs; and this being entirely the result of weakness,
the remedy is to give strength by tonics and more nourishing food. The
quality should be improved, but the quantity must not be increased, as
the disease has been caused by over-feeding having produced too much
weight for the strength of the legs. Frequent bathing in cold water is
very beneficial. This is best effected by tying a towel round the fowl,
and suspending it over a pail of water, with the legs only immersed.

LOSS OF FEATHERS is almost always caused by want of green food, or
dust-heap for cleansing. Let the fowls have both, and remove them to a
grass run if possible. But nothing will restore the feathers till the
next moult. Fowls, when too closely housed or not well supplied with
green food and lime, sometimes eat each other's feathers, destroying the
plumage till the next moult. In such cases green food and mortar rubbish
should be supplied, exercise allowed, the injured fowl should be removed
to a separate place, and the pecked parts rubbed over with sulphur
ointment. Cut or broken feathers should be pulled out at once.

PIP, a dry scale on the tongue, is not a disease, but the symptom of
some disease, being only analogous to "a foul tongue" in human beings.
Do not scrape the tongue, nor cut off the tip, but cure the roup,
diarrhoea, bad digestion, gapes, or whatever the disease may be, and
the pip will disappear.

ROUP is caused by exposure to excessive wet or very cold winds. It
begins with a slight hoarseness and catching of the breath as if from
cold, and terminates in an offensive discharge from the nostrils, froth
in the corners of the eyes, and swollen lids. It is very contagious.
Separate the fowl from the others, keep it warm, add some "Douglass
Mixture" (see "Moulting") to its water daily, wash its head once or
twice daily with tepid water, feed it with meal, only mixed with hot ale
instead of water, and plenty of green food. Mr. Wright advises half a
grain of cayenne pepper with half a grain of powdered allspice in a
bolus of the meal, or one of Baily's roup pills to be given daily. Mr.
Tegetmeier recommends one grain of sulphate of copper daily. Another
advises a spoonful of castor-oil at once, and a few hours afterwards one
of Baily's roup pills, and to take the scale off the tongue, which can
easily be done by holding the beak open with your left hand, and
removing the scale with the thumbnail of your right hand; with a pill
every morning for a week. If not almost well in a week it will be better
to kill it.

THE THRUSH may be cured by washing the tongue and mouth with borax
dissolved in tincture of myrrh and water.

PARALYSIS generally affects the legs and renders the fowl unable to
move. It is chiefly caused by over-stimulating food. There is no known
remedy for this disease, and the fowl seldom if ever recovers. Although
chiefly affecting the legs of fowls, it is quite a different disease
from LEG WEAKNESS.

VERTIGO results from too great a flow of blood to the head, and is
generally caused by over-feeding. Pouring cold water upon the fowl's
head, or holding it under a tap for a few minutes, will check this
complaint, and the bird should then be purged by a dose of castor-oil or
six grains of jalap.


MOULTING.

All birds, but especially old fowls, require more warmth and more
nourishing diet during this drain upon their system, and should roost in
a warm, sheltered, and properly-ventilated house, free from all draught.
Do not let them out early in the morning, if the weather is chilly, but
feed them under cover, and give them every morning warm, soft food, such
as bread and ale, oatmeal and milk, potatoes mashed up in pot-liquor,
with a little pepper and a little boiled meat, as liver, &c., cut small,
and a little hempseed with their grain at night. Give them in their
water some iron or "Douglass Mixture," which consists of one ounce of
sulphate of iron and one drachm of sulphuric acid dissolved in one quart
of water; a teaspoonful of the mixture is to be added to each pint of
drinking water. This chalybeate is an excellent tonic for weakly young
chickens, and young birds that are disposed to outgrow their strength.
It increases their appetite, improves the health, imparts strength,
brightens the colour of the comb, and increases the stamina of the
birds. When chickens droop and seem to suffer as the feathers on the
head grow, give them once a day meat minced fine and a little
canary-seed.



FOOTNOTES:


[Footnote 1: Piper on Poultry: their Varieties, Management, Breeding,
and Diseases; Price 1s. Groombridge & Sons, 5, Paternoster Row, London.]

[Footnote 2: The Practical Poultry Keeper. By Mr. L. Wright. Cassell,
Petter & Galpin.]

[Footnote 3: The Practical Poultry Keeper. By Mr. L. Wright. Cassell,
Petter & Galpin.]





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Poultry - A Practical Guide to the Choice, Breeding, Rearing, and - Management of all Descriptions of Fowls, Turkeys, - Guinea-fowls, Ducks, and Geese, for Profit and Exhibition." ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home