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Her Own Experience in Her Own
THE HON. MRS ARBUTHNOTT.
TO WHICH IS ADDED
THE HENWIFE'S LATER EXPERIENCE.
THOMAS C. JACK, INDIA BUILDINGS.
LONDON : SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO.
omu-i/^ I. (O^mt^y.
3IISS BURDETT COUTTS.
Introduction . . . . .
Houses and Yards
Hatching . . . . .
Exhibition . . . . .
Fattening . . . . .
Dorking . . . . .
Gkey Dorking ....
Silver Gkey DoRiaxG
White Dorking ....
Brahma Pootka . . . .
Scotch Grey ....
Spanish . . . . .
Go Laighs, or Scotch Dumi'irs .
Cochin . . . . .
White Cochin ....
Partridge, &c. . . . .
Breeds — continued
French Breeds .
Wild American Turkey
My Own Expeeience
THE HENWIFE'S LATER EXPERIENCE.
Chickens and Ducklings .... 221
Diseases in Chickens ... 230
Young Stock ...... 234
Summer Ma.nagement . ' . . . 237
Preserving and Sale of Egg.s . . . 241
Exhibition ...... 245
Autumn Management ..... 252
Feeding ...... 258
French Poultry ..... 263
Houses ...... 267
LIST OF PLATES.
Silver Spangled Hamburgh
Buff Cochin ....
Brahma Pootra ....
Golden Polish ....
Golden Pencilled Hamburgh
WUd American Turkey
LIST OF WOODCUTS.
Ground Plan of Poultry-House
Poultry-Houses . . . . .
Sitting-House . . . . .
Eggs in Basket . . . . ■
Weighing Apparatus ....
Diagram of a Fowl — Points for Exhibition
Iron Hopper . . . . •
Inchmartine Cottage and Poultry- Yards .
Laurel House .....
Moveable Yard-House ....
Moveable Glass Yard-House .
Coop with Wire Range
Coop for Hens or Tiirkeys
Wire Hen'Coop . . . . ■
Hamper for Packing Eggs
Willow Sitting-House ....
The Henwife's Owti Basket
TO THE SEVENTH EDITION.
I PEEL that, in issuing this seventh edition of
" The Henwife," some acknowledgment is more
than due to those who have so kindly expressed
themselves as pleased, and also benefited by the
study of it. I thank them from my heart for
their warm approval and encouragement. When,
at the urgent request of friends, I consented to
publish my notes and experience of poultry life, I
little dreamt of the wide circulation they were
to receive. With much fear and trembling I
awaited the verdict of the public, and rejoiced
indeed that it was favourable. Success cannot
be foreseen or determined, but when it has been
fairly and honestly striven for, and the utmost
has been done to obtain it, it is gratifying.
The pages I now send forth will, I hope, meet
with approval. I have explained away some
difficulties, and corrected mistakes ; also added
new chapters. The descriptions of the new
foreign breeds will doubtless be acceptable, as
these are rapidly making their way into public
favour, and suj^erior specimens may now be seen
in almost every poultry-yard. The principal
exhibitions encourage their introduction by grant-
ing separate classes and prizes to them, just as
in France the " Jardin d'Acclimatation," at its
annual concours, gives medals to our Dorkings,
game, and other home breeds. The advantages
of public competition are understood, and as the
love of poultry rearing is extending every day,
and they are found to be, even on farms, pro-
fitable stock, I hope to see them objects of in-
terest to most colonial and continental agricul-
The antiquated idea that fowls on a farm did
mischief to crops is now exploded. If the grain
is deeply deposited (as it should be), they cannot,
by scratching, get access to it ; besides, they
greatly prefer worms and insects, and may thus be
considered good friends to the farmer. Poultry
will more than repay any little outlay expended
upon them ; they will always command a mar-
ket ; and when we see the immense quantity of
eggs that are imported into our large towns, we
ought to consider if our own farms could not
supply our own wants. If it pays to rear poul-
try for market in France, it must surely f)ay at
home. It is computed that a million of eggs
are consumed daily in London and its suburbs,
and the proportion of these contributed by home
farms is very small. This is not as it should be.
I shall now take leave of my readers, in wish-
ing them as much enjoyment in their poultry-
yards as I have ever found in mine. With them
are associated, in my mind, the happiest hours
of my life. And although for a time I have
deserted them, I still am, and must ever remain
*'THE HEN WIFE."
"How now. Dame Partlet, the hen?"
I HAVE been often asked to publish a work on
Poultry, and have complied, because I think I
have no right to withhold any unit I may
possess, from the sum of human knowledge.
I also, naturally, desire to afford satisfaction to
my friends; whUe any who are the reverse (if
such there be) must admit that I fulfil for them
the wish of the Patriarch of Uz : " that mine
enemy had written a book."
I think I am entitled, without egregious
vanity, to deem my experience worthy of some
claim to attention, as, during the last four
years, I have gained upwards of 460 prizes,
in Scotland and England, and personally super-
intended the management of forty separate yards,
in which have annually been hatched more than
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.
All honour to the numerous writers on the
subject. I pretend not to rival them. The field
(like the world) is wide enough for all. A few
portions of this work must necessarily treat of
the same subjects as their's, although a good deal
that is new, I trust, will be found, I am not
a plagiarist. I desire to copy no one. I make
no pretence to be scientific, but only very prac-
tical, and to tell wliat my experience has been ;
and this is just what this little book is: viz.,
What I did, and how I did it.
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
The poultry yard supplies one of the most
delicate descriptions of food with which man
has provided himself. He accepts it from
Nature's munificent hand as a great boon ; but
he is not contented to keep it as he gets it : he
improves upon the gift. Whoever desires to
realise the measure of success he has attained in
this, has simply to walk into next Birmingham
show-room, and compare what he sees there^
with what he remembers in the old barn
Indeed, a modern prize-bird 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."
The cost of poultry keeping is much overrated.
To rear for the market only, would even give a
profit. Exhibition is, doubtless, expensive ; but
in some measure it pays itself, and the necessary
outlay is much reduced by sales of eggs and
fowls at high prices, when a reputation has been
once established; and any intending exhibitor
may take my word for it, that she (though per-
haps of moderate means) may, without extra-
vagance, snatch her harmless victories, invest
herself with the blue riband of the poultry yard,
and win her bloodless Solferinos.
In these pages wiU be found figures as to the
"Balance Sheet." I am aware that these can
be made to prove anything. I can say, how-
ever, with a clear conscience, that mine are in-
tended to be honest.
I have not shrunk from giving them, any
more than from expressing my own opinions
on all points. I take this opportunity, how-
ever, to thank those eminent breeders who
have kindly furnished me with their experience,
and whose letters, in my opinion, so much en-
hance the value of this book.
I have striven not to be dogmatical, and in
a matter in which " much may be said on
both sides," I wished to give all arguments
fair play. To have done otherwise, would
have been to forfeit the confidence of the reader,
as well as to make a very daring infringe-
ment on the prerogative of the " Editor of The
All success, then, to the poultry yard !
Are you a lover of nature? Come with me,
and view with delighted gaze her chosen dyes.
Are you a utilitarian? Eejoice in sucti 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 success-
ful 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 tap-
For myself, I can truly say that, during the
time I have reared poultry, I have ever found
the pursuit to be " a labour of love," and (like
virtue) "its own reward." I feel that, though
more tangible benefits had not fallen to my lot,.
I can still look back on the hours spent among
ray feathered pets with afifectionate gratitude.
|0Mses nub ^uh.
It is impossible to give special rules for poultry
houses and yards, to suit all tastes and require-
ments, without knowing the facility the ground
possesses for such.
My endeavour is to lay before the reader a
few simple plans which may guide the intending
poultry keeper, and be the means of insuring the
comfort and well-being of the flock.
I do not consider any one soil necessary for
success in rearing poultry. Some think a chalk
or gravel 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,
24 HOUSES AND YARDS.
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 houses and yards should have a south or
south-west exposure, and (if possible) open into a
grass park, to which the fowls can have daily
The houses may be biult of stone and lime
or brick; but I prefer wooden erections, as less
close, and affording a freer circulation of air.
The roof, however, in every case must be per-
fectly waterproof, a pane of glass inserted in each
door to admit light, and a few holes pierced to
promote ventilation. Light, air, and sunshine are
indispensable to the health of fowls — the floor of
clay or gravel, well-beaten down, so as to be per-
fectly hard and dry. For a cock and six hens,
the house should not be less than from twelve
to sixteen feet in height, and eight feet square ;
the yards the width of the house, and fifteen feet
lung, enclosed by posts and wire fencing (two-
HOUSES AND YARDS. 25
inch mesli), eight feet high, boarded up two feet
from the ground between the yards, to prevent
the cocks fighting through the wire. This is the
most dangerous of all warfare, as the birds injure
themselves in the meshes, and (Dorkings espe-
cially) are apt to tear their combs and toes in them.
In each yard there should be a water-vessel, and
a small, low lean-to shed, under which is the dust-
bath — viz., a box, filled with dry ashes, or sand
and lime rubbish. This shed also serves for shelter
from rain and sun. It should be placed against
the front of the hen-house, sloping to the front.
A trap, a foot and a half square, must be cut iu
the fencing round each yard, to admit of the fowls
being let out to the grass park, and each house
should open into its own yard, for the convenience
of cleaning out, catching the fowls, &c.
It is of advantage to poultry houses to be en
suite, communicating with each other by doors,
to allow them to be cleaned from end to end
without the necessity of passing through the
yards ; and there must be a trap from the house
into the yard for the egress and ingress of the
fowls at pleasure. I would recommend that all
HOUSES AND YARDS
these traps be made with sliding panels which
close, to prevent the fowls having access to the
houses while the process of cleaning out is going
on, and at all times it is requisite to have the
means of shutting out the fowls from house or
yard, as may be wished. The doors which con-
nect house with house should be made to fasten
on either side, to guard against the possibility of
the different varieties meeting, when the keeper's
attention may be engaged in performing any
necessary duties in the house, such as arranging
straw in the nests, collecting eggs, &c., (fig. 2).
Ground Plan of Poultry Uouses.
HOUSES AND YARDS
To secure the safety of eggs, (which, in estab-
lishments of mark, are apt to excite the cupidity
of the covetous), each external door should be
provided with a lock and key. Inferior manages
are, of course, not so liable to this drawback;
but I would say to all poultry keepers, Guard
your fowls during night ; they are, perhaps, more
easily "conveyed" than any other species of
domestic animals. "Experto crede."
During the winter months close all the traps
from sunset to sunrise. My Scotch experience,
at least, has shown me the advantage of this
precaution; and past seasons have proved the
climate of England to be quite as severe as that
north of the Tweed.
For this daily routine you must have con-
fidence in your poultry attendants, and feel
assured that the birds are admitted to their
yards at an early hour in the morning. The
only admissible furniture in a poultry house is
a moveable perch, not higher than two feet from
the ground, made in the form of trestles, of
split larch, the bark left on, and uppermost,
(fig. 3). If the perch is high, heavy birds are
30 HOUSES AND YARDS
very apt to be lamed in descending. The house
being small, they drop perpendicularly from the
roost, and so injure their feet ; hence the bumble
foot of the Dorking. A small or smooth cylin-
drical perch is not desirable. The fowls can-
not take a firm hold of it; and it is certain
to cause crooked breast-bones, a most grave
defect. For the use of the hens, a few nests on
the ground, divided from each other by strips of
wood, are necessary ; but these are understood to
be merely for the benefit of laying fowls, a
sitting-house being indispensable in even a
moderate establishment Where only one variety
of fowl is kept, a very simple style of arrange-
ment is required. A span-roofed house, covered
with felt, or tarpauling coated with tar, a door to
lock, moveable perch, a few nests, and trap, will
HOUSES AND YARDS. 31
answer all needful purposes; this is supposing
the fowls to have complete liberty; if shut up
during any part of the day, they must have a
yard such as I have already described. WTiere
many kinds of poultry are desiderated, a much
more extended system becomes imperative.
Houses to suit their different peculiarities must
be erected, in order to do justice to them all,
and guarantee success in eacL
Take, for example, the classes of Brahma
Pootra and Cochins. These require no perch,
preferring the floor of the house to any more
elevated position ; but this must be well littered
down with straw, as in a stable, and as regularly
removed. A broad board covered with straw is
sometimes substituted for a perch ; this must be
a little elevated from the ground. I find, how-
ever, that if there are nests, there the Cochins
will roost, in spite of all attempts to make them
do otherwise. A wire fence three feet high is
quite sufficient to restrain these birds within
bounds; they never attempt to fly over the divi-
sions, or poach on their neighbour's grounds. If
a tree can be enclosed in a poultry run, it forms
HOUSES AND YARDS
a very agreeable object, and affords shelter to the
fowls. On a warm sunny day they will always be
found under the protecting shade of its branches,
and half-buried in the holes they have scraped
out, in which to roll and dust themselves.
I will now describe a sitting-house, which may
be made on a greater or lesser scale, (fig. 4).
UO USES AND YARDS.
Indeed, where a great number of fowls is kept,
more than one will be necessary. The interior
should be fitted up with a row of nests ; in fact,
a broad wooden shelf, divided into compartments
a foot and a half square, covered over with a roof
sloping to the front. The additional height at
the back gives better ventilation to the sitting
hens; and this has more to do with their health
and comfort, and consequent good hatching, than
most are aware of Generally speaking, sitting
places are too close and confined, showing a
marked difference, indeed, to those selected by
the hens themselves if allowed freedom of choice.
A sitting-house being a necessary evil in a
poultry establishment, let us make it as comfort-
able as possible to the poor hen during her
retrdite. Each nest must have a folding flap in
front, to secure the hen from any intrusion on
the part of her neighboiu-s, and to confine her if
at all inclined to vagrancy. The flaps should be
numbered, and a few air-holes pierced in each ;
the lower panels of the nests be made to slide
out and in, as after each occupancy it is advisable
to have them washed. The sitting-house yard
34 HOUSES AND YARDS.
differs in no respect from that described for non-
incubating fowls ; it must have a similar dust-
bath and water-vessel. A flue (as seen in the
woodcut) is desirable where chickens are wished
during the winter months, to be used only in
very cold weather, when the frost might be ex-
pected to injure the eggs.
Having now described the House of the hen,
I shall proceed to its Food.
Never stint poultry in the variety or quality
of their food ; good food is a positive economy.
The best and heaviest corn is the cheapest, if we
except the small or tail-wheat, which, fortunately,
is richer in flesh-forming properties than the
full-grown and more marketable grain.
' I do not propose to write a lecture on
chemistry ; for this read Liebig ; but we ought
to make ourselves intimately acquainted with
the different substances required for the for-
mation and reparation of the system. The best
food is that which gives the most of what Nature
demands for the formation of muscle, bone, and
Fine bran, or middlings, (also termed sharps),
is richer in two of these important ingredients
than any other one kind of food, but being
deficient in gluten, is not warmth-giving, and is
better when combined with the whole grain,
which, when bruised, or hashed, Cas it is some-
times provincially called), forms the most whole-
some and nutritious food.
Barley is more used than any other grain. It
is cheaper, but unless in the form of meal, should
not be the only grain in the poultry-yard. Fowls
do not fatten ujDon it.
Oats, also, are inferior in nutriment, unless in
the form of meal.
Indian corn is a good and economical food, too
fattening, however, to be given without judgment.
It can be bought at most sea-ports at a reason-
able price, and fowls are very fond of it. I find
light wheat, or tailings, the best grain for daily
use, and next to that, barley.
Tlie subjoined table may interest my readers.
I take it from a very useful publication, " The
Poultry Diary, by an Essex Amateur : " —
1 'i '^-^
Evert 100 lbs. of
12 : 70
18 ; 53
Middlings (fine bran)
Beans and Peas
Rice forms a very agreeable change of diet; it
can be procured, a little damaged, for a small
price, and is cooling and alterative, -when pro-
perly prepared. The following is the method :
Boil for half-an-hour, and then let it stand in
the water till cold, when it will be found to have
swelled amazingly, and the mass so firm as to
admit of being taken out in lumps, and easily
Buck-wheat and hemp-seed are greedily de-
voured by poultiy, and no grains are more
likely to produce eggs, early, and in abundance.
During moult, give hemp-seed freely ; it strength-
Groats also form an item in the food of these
omnivorous creatures, but are not to be consi-
dered ordinary feeding. They should be reserved
for the basket of the lady manager.
Linseed steeped is occasionally given (chiefly
to birds destined for exhibition), to increase
the secretion of oil, and give lustre to their
The best sort of soft food is composed as fol-
lows:— Mis equal quantities of thirds (sharps)
with Indian, oat, or barley-meal, into a paste
with water. This should be worked up into
balls, which, if of proper consistency, break when
thrown on the ground, and are thus equally
.divided among the fowls; the size of the balls
secures accuracy as regards quantity.
Another advantage also is, that, if a lady per-
sonally distributes the food, these balls are more
agreeable to manipulate than the 'porridgy mass
generally seen, and which fowls by no means
relish : soft food should always be friable.
The potato is the only cooked vegetable ad-
missible, and is very conducive to the health and
growth of poultry. When mashed and sprinkled
with meal, it is a pleasant variety in the poultry
bill of fare. Time was when we were wont to
indulge our favourites freely in its use, but, alas !
that is matter of history now. The high price
almost prohibits it to poultry, and I fear to
many, too, who once depended mainly upon this
fickle root for their support.*
I do not approve of any feeding dish. Poultry
prefer to pick their food off the ground, and the
gravel and sand swallowed along with it are ne-
cessary for digestion. Chopped cabbage, lettuce,
spinage, or other green vegetables, should be
given daily ; calcined oyster-shells are also to be
used. Fowls are very fond of them, and they
tend to produce perfect eggs. They are prepared
by burning them in the fire until quite brittle,
when they can be easily broken by the hand.
The first meal, consisting of grain, should be
given at six a.m. in summer, and at daylight in
* This was writteu during the prevalence of the potato
disease, therefore — although potatoes still command good
prices — they are quite within the reach of all.
whiter. That at mid-day should be the soft food
balls already mentioned; and the last, grain
again, that the fowls may have, during the night,
the benefit of the warmth it imparts.
In cold weather, feed liberally on toast soaked
in ale. Fowls are by no means abstainers, but
heartily enjoy their beer, nay, even wine, when
suffering from debility. Cooked animal food is
to be given daily during winter, taking the place
of the insect life, which is absent.
When the genial softness of spring again
reigns over the scene, and the sleeping earth
wakes once more, we may trust a good deal
to the supply afforded by nature. The fowls,
during their daily grass run, will pick up much
themselves, for which we endeavour to make our
own superfluity a substitute.
We ought to consider ourselves deeply in-
debted to poultry for the saving from waste of
broken victuals, scraps of fish, &c., crumbs and
larger fragments of bread, which last are too fre-
quently collected, and appear again at table in
the very objectionable form of puddings, and
other unprincipled disguises, where a stern eco-
nomy reigns, at the expense of all " reason, faith,
Had I the honour of being a correspondent of
a sporting periodical, I would, of course, here
quote, " Revenons d nos moutons." Being, how-
ever, only a simple " Henwife," I may, perhaps,
be allowed the more humble expression of " Let
me revert to my subject;" and tliis brings me
to drinking-vessels for poultry.
Those I approve of, are the common tile
flower-pot saucers. They do not hold much, so
that the water is ever fresh, if frequently replen-
ished, as they ought to be. This is a great
desideratum, especially in summer. Fowls
relish fresh cool water, as may be seen by the
eagerness with which they fly to the vessels
when refilled. These must always be kept clean,
and occasionally scrubbed with sand, to remove
the green slime which collects, and is so produc-
tive of roup, gapes, and other diseases. In
winter, care must be taken to empty them at
nightfall, otherwise ice would form and cause
breakage. In moulting time a little citrate of
iron mixed in the water is beneficial ; about a
teaspoonful to a common -sized water-can is
I am happy, in concluding my own experi-
ences in poultry feeding, to be able to men-
tion very favourably the food manufactured by
Messrs Chamberlain & Co. Having now used
it for some time, I can vouch for its excel-
lence. My fowls are very fond of it, and thrive
admirably upon it. I give it, mixed with minced
boiled liver, and pounded pimento sprinkled over
all. This, however, is to be considered quite a
" bon bon," and used in limited quantities.
Sometimes, I give the food plain, following their
own directions for use, and have found the result
The best guide is Nature, and we should always
follow her as closely as possible in the treatment
of our stock Fowls are almost grazing animals,
and pick up grass, or any green food, in quan-
tities. If, therefore, you cannot give them com-
plete liberty, (and this is impossible where large
numbers and several varieties are kept), you
should, at all events, allow them a daily run in a
grass park One hour's liberty is sufficient to
keep them in health, and their enjoyment of
this boon is so great, that, even were there no
other reason, that should be sufficient induce-
ment for you to give them their little bit of
happiness, even at the expense of trouble to
It is astonishing how soon fowls accommodate
themselves to the regulations of the establish-
ment. A day or two suffice to make them
acquiesce in all our wishes, and enable them to
recognise, without apparent difficulty, their re-
spective yards. Fowls seem to understand the
value of their hour's play, and lose no time, (the
trap once opened), in availing themselves of it;
they rush to the grass, and never cease picking
it, until driven home. Great care must be taken
that one set is put in before another is let
out; this demands hourly attention, as, by one
moment's carelessness in allowing breeds to mix,
hopes, for a whole season, may be destroyed.
If there are several yards of the same breed,
these, to save time, may be allowed to enjoy each
other's society during their run, but never let
out different varieties together. One single
mesalliance will ruin the purity of the breed
for the whole hatch of eggs, and even a second
hatch. At no season of the year should hens
be allowed to associate with the male bird of a
different variety, and if superemment excellence
is desired, not even with an inferior one of the
GENERAL TREATMENT. 45
While the fowls are enjoying their grass run,
their yards may be dug over ; twice a-week is
not too often for this operation. Occasionally a
little of the soil pared oflF, and fresh sand strewed
in its place. At all times perfect cleanliness,
in yards and houses, should greet the eye
of the lady visitor — it is the grand requisite.
At the risk of appearing didactic, I must insist
upon this sine qua, non in a poultry establish-
ment, (great or small), be it that of the " laird,"
or that of his "tenant." I do not say with
some writers, "If the floor of the fowl house can
be cleansed every morning, so much the better;"
but I say, " It fniust be done," and scrupulously
so, too. If the floor is as hard as it ought to be,
a birch broom is the best implement that can be
used for this purpose.
The supply of water must be copious and of
the purest description, and the dust-bath always
provided with ashes for the use of the fowls.
They love to roll themselves in this, scattering
the contents over their feathers, to the effectual
discomfort and dislodgement of all parasites. A
heap of lime rubbish, or old mortar, should be
46 GENERAL TREATMENT.
placed in a corner of each yard — poultry are
fond of it, and it is conducive to their health.
Once a-year, the interior of the houses and nests
should be limewashed, and the floor saturated
with the same mixture; this keeps aR perfectly
pure and free from taint.
It is good, during warm weather, occasion-
ally to sprinkle water over the perch, and
in its vicinity, scattering a little sulphur over
the wetted parts. This ought to, and in a
great measure does, prevent the appearance
of any obnoxious animalculse, which, too
often, in even well-regulated establishments,
make their way good, to the torment of the
occupants and their attendants. Depend upon
it, the more we attend to the comfort of our
domestic animals, the more they will repay our
To realise excellence, demands the most un-
flagging zeal and energy on the part of the
mistress and her servants. Every day must have
its apportioned work, carried out systematically,
with honest vigour, in cold or heat, in rain or
sunshine. Poultry must not be capriciously
dealt with — a feast one day, a famine the next.
Superiority cannot thus be obtained. Where a
hearty goodwill is shown by those appointed to
tend your flock, and a kind interest is taken by
them in its welfare, you have the surest founda-
tion for success. There may sometimes be a
little difficulty in eflecting reforms in manage-
ment. Old prejudices and opinions, too deeply
rooted to be easily eradicated, may be encoun-
tered; but, if the lady fancier devotes some part
of her leisure time to general supervision and
direction, she will soon find that her presence
acts like a charm upon even the most obdurate
and old-fashioned bigot, who must, perforce, ac-
knowledge the superiority of the new, over the
ancien regime, as proved by the higher condi-
tion, greater weight, and increased beauty of the
In cold or damp weather give nourishing food,
and plenty of it; while in moult, the birds
can scarcely be too highly fed. Amateurs, who
themselves look after the wants of their stock,
can best judge of their requirements, and will
48 GENERAL TREATMENT.
prefer making their own arrangements regarding
a dietary table.
Never feed in haste, but watch the peculiari-
ties of taste in your flock, and minister to them.
One fowl may starve, while the others revel in
luxury. As with children, their likes and dis-
likes must be studied, and no one kind of food
forced upon them, to their disgust, and conse-
quent loss of condition and beauty.
Where young stock, for early market, or
summer exhibition, is desired, the breeding
yards should be made up not later than Novem-
If fowls are properly fed, and attended to, eggs
for setting will be plentiful in December.
Well-formed, healthy, spirited birds should
alone be selected to breed from, and a certain
vivacity of temperament, and proud mien, are
essential characteristics of the Lord of the
Harem. His sultanas, of whatever variety,
should be good types of their respective classes.
Polygamy is allowable, but only to the extent of
six wives, and this number may, with advantage,
be reduced to four. The male bird, if of tlie
:r spangled hambtjr^r
GENERAL TREATMENT. 49
previous season, should be mated with hens two
years old, and vice versd.
The strongest chickens are to be obtained from
old hens, with a cockerel. Broods, however, from
these will be deficient in pullets ; such, at least,
has been my experience.
Avoid breeding from fowls related to each
other. It is a baneful system, and results in
small, delicate offspring, which easily falls a prey
to roup, leg weakness, and all the ills that
chickenhood is heir to.
The cost of poultry keep may be considerably
lessened by the proceeds of an annual sale by auc-
tion, early in the year, before the breeding season,
and also by the disposal of shigle birds or matched
pens for exhibition at high prices. If the owner
is known as a prize-winner, the fowls will pro-
bably average L. 1 apiece at the sale, and are, con-
sequently, too valuable ior the stock-can, which,
otherwise, must be the destination of all that
have passed chickenhood, and yet are unlikely to
prove prize-takers, or desirable to breed from.
Aspic de vollaile, and even cock's combs, when
judiciously combined with oysters, truffles, &c^
50 GENERAL TREATMENT.
are charming additions to the cuisine, but it is
not every henwife, who, like Cleopatra, can
afford to dissolve her jewels.
Large sums have probably been required for
the purchase of the parent birds, and we value
their descendants accordingly. A good founda-
tion was laid, regardless of cost, and the progeny
must not be sacrificed.
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.
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
Early chickens may be hatched and sold to
Edinburgh and London dealers, who will gladly
give L.2 per dozen, ay, and more, for well-grown,
straight-breasted white-legged chickens, mode-
rately fat. Poultry rearers must not suppose
such sums are given for any hut early, well-
grown, fat chickens.
Leadenhall prices are said to be exaggerated,
but residents in the Metropolis, during the
season, know to their cost what they are, and I
can verify them by my own books.
Deem not, however, that all birds sold as
spring chickens, are so in reality. Many are the
produce of the previous autumn, stunted in
growth by the hardships of winter. These the
verdant housekeeper buys, and her master's
guests eat them, asking no questions.
The chickens which realise such high prices are
hatched early in Januaiy, and reared with the
greatest care, and attention to feeding.
Poultry keeping (though essentially a home
pleasure) need not be limited to home. Indeed,
it becomes a necessity/ to dispose, in one way or
other, of your superfluous stock. If you breed
for exhibition, you cannot too strictly limit
your numbers. Out of 100 chickens, you may
not be able to match more than two pens for
Birmingham, and must therefore leave yourself
ample room for choice. This will give an abun-
52 GENERAL TREATMENT,
dance to your establishment, and for the poul-
terer. Chickens and eggs should be plentiful all
the year round ; where poultry are kept on a large
scale, the purchase of either should be unknown.
By keeping pallets of those breeds that lay early,
you command a supply of eggs for daily use all
winter, and often have an overplus for market at
its dearest season. I shall elsewhere detail the
method I have found most effectual, for preserv-
ing eggs for kitchen use, during the scarce season ;
in summer, they are plentiful and cheap, and, as
I said before, too good for market.
I think I have now given all necessary instruc-
tions for the treatment of poultry kept on a
somewhat extended scale. Amateurs, who have
limited accommodation, should keep only a few
first-rate fowls, say a Dorking cock and two
hens, two Cochin and two Brahma Pootra hens.
These latter lay all winter, sit soon, and bring
out Dorking chickens much earlier than the
Dorking hens themselves, which are tardy
The Cochin and Brahma eggs, being dark in
colour, are easUy distinguished from those of the
GENERAL TREATMENT. 53
Dorkings. I would advise the Cocliin eggs to
be used in the household, and a few of the
Brahmas to be set. A cross between it and the
Dorking makes a large if somewhat coarse bird
for the table.
The pure Dorking chickens can be sold, at
good prices, to other fanciers. To the hreeder
they are useless, and are, perhaps, too valuable
to be killed. The original stock will last two
years, at the end of which I would recommend
that the male bird be replaced by a younger one,
of a diflerent strain, and then your own pullets
will come into use. A few choice birds can be
kept, in this way, at very small cost ; only one
house is required, and that of moderate dimen-
sions. If the fowls are to be confined during
any part of the day, they must have a yard
similar to that already described. If they have
absolute freedom, they find many means of suste-
tenance for themselves in the open fields or sur-
rounding shrubberies, and will be, in a great
measure, independent of the provision commis-
sariat. It is impossible to lay down exact rules
as to feeding ; experience is the safest guide.
54 GENERAL TREATMENT.
Poultry, if penned up, with only an occa-
sional run, live in complete dependance on
the food given, which must always be regu-
lated by circumstances. It must be borne in
mind that high feeding is conducive to lay-
ing, and the eggs will always pay for the
grain consumed, if the yearly average price is
I have thus attempted to show that it is pos-
sible to keep poultry, even as an amusement,
without loss. It pays best either on a very large
or very small scale. In the latter case it must
be viewed only as a "fancy," and if the expense
can be covered by the sale of extra stock, it is all
that can be expected or desired. On a larger
scale, the pursuit resolves itself into a system.
The market must be studied for the purchase
of grain, and for the sale of your produce. To
show a good balance-sheet, your household must
be supplied during the dearest as well as the
cheapest seasons of the year. Your spring
chickens must come from your own yards; your
eggs, at two shillings a-dozen, from your own
laying-houses. Thus you live in plenty — nay.
GENERAL TREATMENT. 55
in extravagance, had you to purchase all you
supply yourself with — and you enjoy the bless-
ing of independence.
To the farmer (and I hope to number many
among my readers), I would give the following
advice : — In spring, purchase a Houdan cock and
six hens, also six Brahma hens. Set every egg.
From these keep all the pullets, and kill or sell
the cockerels. In autumn, the yard will be fully
stocked with fine young hens, which will lay
freely all winter. If eggs alone is the object,
the original male bird may remain, with the
addition of a cockerel when twenty pullets are
kept ; but if pure bred chickens are wished, then
I advise that the adult Houdans should be boarded
out. A cottager, for a remuneration, will gladly
take charge of them, and rear as many chickens
as desired for carrying on the system. In this
way, your original stock will supply your yard for
several seasons. From thirty Brahma and Houdan
pullets you will have above ten dozen eggs per
week all winter ; and the cross produces the finest
possible chickens for market, but not to breed from.
Pure Brahmas and Houdans alone must be kept
56 GENERAL TREATMENT.
for that purpose : I have always found the
second cross worthless. As Brahmas do not so
constantly show a desire to incubate, their period
of laying being much more extended than that
of Cochins, a few of these hens, (not the leggy,
tucked-up looking things, so often called such,
but short-legged, compact, well-feathered birds),
may with advantage be kept, to act as mothers;
they sit early, and are capital nurses. Farm
yards are seldom stocked with profitable poultry;
in them, too often, is the pernicious adherence to
the system of breeding in and in seen, in its
worst aspect; the result is certain degeneracy.
Farmers look upon poultry as a trifling and un-
important item in the farm stock, only to be kept
as layers of eggs during summer, and are quite
satisfied if their chickens bring a fair market
price. But why not rear fowls that will weigh
eight instead of four pounds? and at the same
cost of feeding. Surely, such weights will com-
mand higher prices than merely those of the
market, which is often supplied with birds,
scarcely worthy of the name of fowls. Creatures
of every conceivable form and colour, with long
GENERAL TREATMENT. 57
black legs, narrow breasts, and twisted breast-
bones, certainly possessing a superabundance of
tail, but tliat adornment goes for little in the
cook's eye. These miserable results are by no
means the consequence of want of food ; a farm
yard is the paradise of poultry, and nowhere can
they live in greater comfort or plenty. It is just
because the birds want frame, on which to jjut
flesh and fat ; bone is deficient ; and all the lap's
full of oats, barley, and wheat, which the far-
mer's wife may filch for them from the gude-
man's barn, are wasted on a worthless crew.
Let the fiirmer test the merits of my advice by
his own practical experience, and I am not afraid
of an adverse opinion. Poultry ought to pay
him, if anybody; they have the advantage of the
gleanings of the stack-yard, and at times are
almost independent of any extra feeding. Should
the farmer be an exhibitor, he must, of course,
submit to some expense in carrying out his
hobby. High feeding must then be the rule.
Exhibition fowls require more than ordinary
care and trouble. Money may have been in-
vested in the purchase of prize pens, at enhanced
58 GENERAL TREATMENT.
prices, but he may look for his return in the con-
stant pleasure they afford him, and in being the
envied winner of a " silver cup."
As "hatching" is often attended with great
disappointments, my readers may like to know
some of their causes, and the best means of
guarding against them.
The weather is often unjustly blamed; it
ought not to have the influence so many hen-
wives ascribe to it. You can, and should, always
defend your poor sitters from its attacks. If
my plan of "sitting-house" is adopted, you can
expel John Frost by means of the flue, and, by
damping the eggs regularly, set at nought the
sharp drying wind, however penetrating.
The mischances in hatching should really be
few. If you set a hen under unnatural circum-
stances, you must make it up to her by extra
kindness, and endeavour to render the cloister-
like life she necessarily leads, as little irksome
The house and yard must be tenanted by
sitters alone, and kept scrupulously clean, the
dust-bath full, and a daily supply of garden pro-
duce, fresh water, and as much grain, and soft
food, as the hen can eat, supplied during the
half-hour allowed her for exercise.
The birds should be taken off their nests
simultaneously, and put into the yard, the atten-
dant, (meanwhile), examining the eggs to see if
any are broken. If any such there be, they must
be removed, and the remaining eggs, when soiled,
wiped v\^ith a damp cloth. The eggs in each nest
should then be sprinkled with water, either by
the hand or with a small flat brush, which
answers the purpose admirably, as it does not
distribute the water too freely. The floor of the
house must be swept every doy, and, in warm
weather, have a little flour of sulphur scattered
Hens usually return, quietly, and of their own
accord, to their nests. If refractory, however,
they must be lifted on, the panels closed, and
the inmates left in peace, till the return of
another day calls for a similar routine of duty
and pleasure. So on, until the 21st day, when
the hen is released from her prison-house, and
walks forth the proud and devoted mother of a
brood of chickens.
The necessity of damping eggs was not at all
understood by the old school, and yet it must
be done, if success in hatching is desired. Many
complaints are made of eggs not hatching though
there have been birds in each. This is entirely
caused by the neglect of this precaution. Unless
moistened, the inner membrane of the egg be-
comes so hard and dry, that the poor little chick
cannot break through, and so perishes miserably.
Before dying, its cry, (like that of the starling of
Sterne), probably has been, "I can't get out, I
can't get out." Has slavery a more bitter
draught than this?
When a hen steals her nest in a hedge or
clump of evergreens, she sits on the damp
ground. She goes in search of food early in the
day before the dew is off the grass, and returns
to her nest with saturated feathers. To this fact
is to be attributed the comparatively successful
hatching of the eggs of wild birds. To follow
this as closely as possible, put a thick fresh-cut
turf in the nest you are about to prepare for the
reception of the sitting hen. Sprinkle a little
sulphur over this, and spread over it straw in
summer, hay in winter. I shall suppose that you
have eggs ready for setting. They should be
thirteen in number, or at most fifteen, if set dur-
ing warm weather; in winter, nine eggs are
sufficient for the very largest hen.
Before hazarding your (it may be) valuable
eggs, be certain that the hen is really broody.
You may give her one or two worthless eggs as
a trial, or, if you are anxious not to lose time,
divide your setting between two or more hens,
and if one proves truant at the end of a few
days, give all to another.
By setting several hens at the same time,
you have the great advantage of being able
to put all the chickens, as soon as they are
hatched, under one, and of adding new comers
to her flock. Eggs sometimes hatch irregularly,
and unless some such system were established,
the earliest hatched chicken would die of starva-
tion before the whole were brought out.
I strongly deprecate the custom of removing
chickens from the nest, and keeping them in
baskets, before the fire ; there is no warmth so
suited for them as that of the hen's body.
After removing the empty shells from the
nest, leave the Kttle creatures with their mother,
undisturbed for twelve hours. When that time
has elapsed, you may offer them food and water.
If the egg has been chipped for some hours,
and the chick does not make its appearance, a
slight assistance may be given, by enlarging the
fracture with scissors, cutting up towards the
large end of the egg, never down, or the loss of
blood may prove fatal. When the chicken, at
last, makes its way out, do not interfere with it,
or attempt to feed it. Animal heat alone can
restore it ; if it survives the night, it may be
considered safe. Weakness has caused the delay,
and this has probably arisen from insuflScient
warmth ; the hen may have had too many eggs
to sit upon, or they may have been stale when
set. If the chickens come out in the mominsf
they may be taken from the nest in the evening,
put on the ground, offered water, and a few
crumbs of stale bread. Feed the hen well at the
same time, and then restore them to their nest
for the night Next morning, remove them
carefully to a coop which, in summer, is best
placed on grass, in winter, on dry dusty soU.
In selecting eggs for setting, choose the fresh-
est, of moderate size, well-shaped, and liavinii the
air-vessel distinctly marked either in the centre
of the top of the egg, or slightly to the side, as
shown in the woodcut, (fig. 5.)
By holding the egg between the eye and a
lighted taper, in a darkened room, this air-vessel
will be distinctly visible. Some assert that the
sex of the chickens can be ascertained by the
Kggs in Basket.
position of the air- vessel If on the top, you will
have a cockerel; if on the side, a pullet; but this
is a mere fable, and I have proved it to be so.
Eggs intended to be set should be carefully
collected and handled, and (to prevent them
rolling about) placed, pointed end downwards.
in bran ; the date and description having been
marked in pencil on each, (fig. 6.)
One glance then suffices for selection, and the
eggs are in nowise shaken. See that your hen
be well fed, and has water, before putting her on
the nest ; if hungry, she will be restless.
If you get sitting hens from a distance, they
should be carried in a basket, covered over with
a cloth, never with the head downwards, as is too
often seen, at the risk of suffocation, and the
certain dissipation of their maternal dreams.
Brahmas and Cochins are excellent sitters,
and have no objection to enter into your views of
a fitting domicile for them, during their retrdite;
but Dorkings occasionally rebel, and refuse to
sit, unless in their own way. You must be very
gentle with them, and try, by kindness, to induce
them to take to the nest selected. You cannot
allow one hen to sit where others can have
access to her nest. If you really have no room
for her elsewhere, put a wire coop over her in her
usual house, with something hung round it, to
keep her secluded from every eye. Want of ac-
commodation may compel you to do this; but, if
possible, avoid it ; a great objection being, that
what is out of sight, is often out of mind, and
the poor sitter may not be taken off her nest with
the same regularity as the hens in the sitting-
If you have a large bevy of brooding hens, it
is advisable to number each nest, and register it
in your diary, along with the date of setting and
description of eggs ; when hatched, the number
of chickens should also be entered. Some hens
are reluctant to give up sitting, and will hatch a
second brood, with manifest pleasure, but it is
cruel to overtax their strength and patience ; more
or less, they are sure to suffer. If altogether re-
strained from sitting, however, a hen suffers much
in moulting, and is restless and excited for the
rest of the season. Pullets are less to be trusted,
as sitters, than more mature hens, and (being
rather erratic in their dispositions) are not very
careful mothers. Artificial incubators are now
extensively used, and where there is a command
of gas they are easily managed, I, however, pre-
fer the natural mother, as should some prove
ftiithless, others will be found to take their place.
The necessity of quiet, gentle handling, both
of the hens and broods, must be urged upon
the person in charge of the sitting-house. Be
watchful, and ready to assist the well-meant
efforts of the mother, whose instincts are not
always sufficient for the performance of her
duties in a civilized and highly artificial condi-
On the day following that on which the chicken
is emancipated from the shell, the proper food for
the little stranger becomes a matter for considera-
The most approved regimen — at least, the one
I adopt — is grated bread, yolk of hard-boiled eggs,
and oatmeal, made into a crumbly mass with
water, for the first week ; and afterwards, in addi-
tion, groats, hemp-seed, and any small grain.
Wheat-tailings are excellent food, more nutri-
tious than any other. Feed often, giving little at
a time, the first meal at daybreak, and every
hour after that, till they are safely housed for the
night. The water-vessels should be replenished
at the same time ; these should be shallow. A
good plan is to invert a small flower-pot saucer
in a larger ; this leaves a narrow circle of water,
in which the chicken cannot become immersed.
Onion tops and leeks chopped small, are much
relished by all young stock, as also cress, lettuce,
If the weather is damp and cold, add a little
pounded pimento to the food, give meat occasion-
ally, fresh curd and hard-boiled eggs, yolk and
white, mashed with shell, in the proportion of
one egg to four chickens every day.
Spare not your food; the young chicken has
everything to make, and the mother being neces-
sarily much confined to her coop, it is entirely
dependent on extraneous aid.
At times the hens may be allowed free
range, but never in the early morning, or until
the ground is thoroughly dry; the coops should
be changed to fresh ground every day, from sun-
shine to shade, and from shade to 'Sunshine, as
The young broods become objects of intense
interest, and a great deal of time may be spent
among them ; they are creatures to love, and that
How eager we are that they should all thrive !
We examine their points anxiously, and can
almost, in their early infancy, pronounce upon
the future prize-winners. From that moment
hey are marked birds, and receive special
attention; all the tidbits fall to their share,
and if there is a better coop, or a choicer spot of
ground than another, it is theirs.
I often wish poor children were fed, and their
comforts as well attended to, as those of our
embryo Birmingham and Crystal Palace competi-
]May should find us surrounded with well-
grown chickens ; it is the halcyon time of
poultry. The weather is, or ought to be, warm,
but whether or no, the chickens are growing
apace, and for winter exhibition there is no doubt
March and April birds are preferable to their
earlier-hatched companions, which, however, you
must have, for August showing, and early market.
Chickens suffer much from bad feathering, which
may be caused by the coldness of the season, or
delicacy of constitution. In either case, high
feeding is the cure. Bread soaked in ale should
be daily given, with crushed bones and oyster
Many writers add vermin as another chicken
disease, but I cannot allow it in my category. It
should be unknown in a well-appointed poultry
As I before observed, a little sulphur dusted into
the feathers of the hen mother occasionally, and
daily access afforded to ashes and dry soil, will
banish effectually all such intruders ; let the hen
out, and she will perform her toilet scrupulously.
The chicken's progress (like that of the Pil-
grim) is beset with many dangers and difficulties.
Eoup, gapes, leg weakness — all are Sloughs of
Despond ; it is not an easy matter to rear
many chickens. Every poultry breeder can
probably remember when he, or she, fancied
it must be quite an A B matter, because
every cottager had one brood at least. Happy
ignorance! The one brood was the secret:
our's being legion, the ground has become
tainted, the chickens overcrowded, and disease
The remedy for all this I touch upon elsewhere,
but must here impress on my readers the necessity
of the flock being scattered.
Young stock cannot thrive if crowded. ' Think
over the room you have for it, when the chick-
ens approach adolescence. A good plan is to
have a number of small houses erected in the
woods and shrubberies, and in each of these
establish a sufficient number of chickens, of one
sex, old enough to forage for themselves.
These detachments being drafted off, your
coops will be ready for a fresh supply of young
broods, and so on all the year round ; in winter
the coops must be under shelter, and covered
up with matting at night-fall the chickens,
getting their last meal by candle-light, a])out
Pullets continue to grow until they begin to
lay. I therefore advise their being kept by
themselves, (if a great size is desired), till they
are required to be matched in pens for exhi-
Cockerels will not fight, if the female sex is
absent, and unable to incite and witness their
gallantry, and prowess in the lists : —
"Love of ladies, splintering of lances;
Bright eyes behold your deeds."
But as adolescence ceases with the year, (so the
poultry parliament has enacted), they must then
be separated from their brother knights, and dis-
posed of as may be thought advisable.
As soon as the chickens are taken from their
mothers, and established in their own colonies,
their feeding should be the same as that of adult
.fowls, the plumage of which they ought to assume
at the ase of six months.
To obtain a correct estimate of the real value of
your jjoultry, you must exhibit them from time
to time, at good shows, where the leading breeders
compete, and by prizes (if you get any), and com-
parison, determine their true merit.
Comparisons may be odious, but they are quite
indispensable ; in no other way can this know-
ledge be obtained. No one, who has not tried it,
can imagine how poor may be the appearance of
a home prodigy, when brought side by side with
the produce of other yards. Alas ! what we fondly
thought a " swan," dwindles down to a very com-
monplace, under-sized " goose," by the fiat of the
judge, while we, unwillingly, admit its justice.
The spirit of emulation, implanted for wise
purposes in our nature, is afforded, in these ex-
hibitions, a field for action, and public advantage
is the result.
If successful, you contribute fresh recruits to
the army of poultry champions ; if the reverse,
you probably purchase a better strain of blood,
and retire, for a time, into obscurity, with the
somewhat equivocal consolation that
" All partial evil" ts " universal good,"
determined that, on a future occasion, you will
not play the philanthropist on such unsatisfac-
tory terms. Philanthropy is, doubtless, a good
thing, but it is more self-pleasing when practised
through success than defeat.
Yes, the cold shade of the show-room has dis-
pelled many a bright aspiration.
" So, when the beams of sober reason play,
Lo, fancy's fairy frost-work melts away ! "
Still, there is nothing like perseverance and
For attaining victory, I venture to give the no-
vice a few hints, the results of my own perils and
struggles in the troubled waters of exhibition.
The pilot who has " weathered the storm" can best
conduct a stranger bark into its wished-for haven.
I will presume that the chickens have been
selected from infancy for exhibition, fed accord-
ingly, and marked. This is best done by sewing
small stripes of different-coloured silks loosely
round their legs, which you can verify by your
poultry diary, in which everything of importance
should be entered. I recommend the cockerels
and pullets to be kept apart until a month before
the show, during which time they must receive
extra feeding and care.
Nothing is too good for exhibition birds ; give
them daily exercise and an abundance of food.
Linseed is calculated to give lustre to the
plumage, and toast, soaked in ale, sprightliness,
courage, and strength.
High feeding is unquestionably the grand secret
of bringing chickens up to the great weights now
required in first-prize poultry.
There should always be a few spare birds in
reserve to fill up a pen in case of accidents, and
such often beat their selected companions, under
high feeding, and eventually take their places at
Feather and points being equal, lueight must
be the criterion. It is astonishing what the
steelyard discloses ; birds, to all appearance the
heaviest, are "found wanting when weighed in
No eye can be trusted to judge of weight.
Seeming size is nothing — it may be all feather
— so the birds must go to scale, and the breeder
will often be very much surprised at the result.
The fairest weighing apparatus is the one I
commonly use, (fig. 7.)
The weight of the basket being ascertained,
must be deducted from the total, and, if possible,
weigh your birds before their meal, as geese and
turkeys will easily put on 1^ lb., in a pen of three.
All other birds should give way to those
selected to do battle, in the show-room, for the
honour of the yard. They must receive exclu-
sive attention, and their supposed inferiors bide
their time, ready to supply vacancies, which they
are often called upon to do.
There is nothing so certain as disappointment ;
I, in common with every exhibitor, have met
with it. i\Iy experience, however, has proved to
me, that full confidence may be placed in the
general justice of judges' decisions. They have
an arduous and most invidious duty to perform
— arduous, because so extended — invidious, be-
cause suspicions are often alleged by the losing
parties. Such are, frequently, very virulent, and
entertain a life-long grudge ; and may even say
to him in his last moments, (with Eichard's
ghostly visitors), " Let me sit heavy on thy soul
to-morrow ; you passed me by at Birmingham ! "
I believe poultry judges act honourably and
scientifically. I unhesitatingly leave my poultry
to their verdict, and do not complain (if 1 think
they have fulfilled their duty in accordance with
such principles), though not awarded first or
second honours. Theirs is a position I do not
envy : all thanks to those who, so kindly, fill it.
There being, however, no rule without an excep-
tion, I must confess to more than one altercation
with some who, I thought, had not studied the
points of exhibition fowls, as distinctly laid down.
I particularly allude to the decision of the ruling
judge, English, at a recent show in the west of
Scotland, (where there were separate classes for
Grey and Silver-grey Dorkings, as at Birming-
ham, Liverpool, and other leading shows), founded
on the notion that the classes were synonymous,
or (as he expressed it), "a distinction without
a difference." I can imagine one diffident in ex-
2')ressing an opinion, though competent to form
one ; but no such scruple troubled this worthy* —
" Thus fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
* A poultry club has now been established, by whose autho-
rity a book of "rules for judging" has been issued. The
club also appoints judges from its members, who are bound
to adhere to the rules laid down, and it is to be hoped we
shall bear fewer complaints of bad judging.
Let not the novice think his, or her, pen a cer-
tain ''first." There is much to be encountered ;
size, colour, comb, tail, feet, hackles, all must be
perfect; and, in addition, a good constitution be
Be careful lioio you enter your stock for exhi-
bition. Describe the ages and varieties exactly,
and see, yourself, that the labels are securely fas-
tened to their respective hampers. Mistakes con-
stantly occur in this : be equally watchful that the
right birds are put in their right places. I have
seen grey geese placed in the hamper intended for
white, which most provoking occurrence cast the
pen. ]Many such incidents take place at every
On the day previous to exhibition, remove all
private marks, and wash the feet and bodies of
white fowls. This is best done with tepid water,
and white soap, rubbed on flannel, care being
taken to wash the feathers downwards, so as not
to break or ruffle them. The fowls should be
gently dried with soft towels, shut up in their
houses with an abundance of clean straw, and
there fed on soft food alone. Hard grain is apt
to cause fever and inflammation while travellinof,
and in the exhibition pen ; its use is now discon-
tinued at all well-conducted shows.
When the birds return home, they should be
fed sparingly on bread, soaked in warm ale, —
liquid is mo;?t hurtful if given in quantity ; admin-
ister also a teaspoonful of castor oil to each. On
the following day, allow soft food only it] water,
— after this they may resume their usual feeding.
Hampers should always be circular in form, as
fowls invariably creep into corners and destroy
their plumage. They must be sufficiently high to
admit of the birds standing upright, and suj^plied
with a bed of hay to keep them warm. I consider
a lining imperative : coarse pink calico, stitched
round the inside of the basket-work, is what I
use as the most useful and ornamental material.
After each trip these linings are taken out,
washed, and laid aside for future occasions.
Sometimes padlocks are made available to fasten
the lids of the hampers, but two pairs of strings,
one on each side, (of rope), answer the purpose as
well ; they are easily untied, and, being fixtures
on the hampers, are always ready for use.
Some prefer canvas tops to wicker ones, think-
ing they save the fowls injuring their combs. I
use the latter, as being more secure, and admit-
ting of one hamper being placed over the other.
Geese and ducks require no lining to their ham-
pers, unless in severe weather, during which their
comfort is much increased by layers of pulled
straw, stitched round the inside of their baskets.
Guard against geese having a chance of reaching
the direction label ; they invariably eat it, and are
so mischievously inclined, that they will even nib-
ble off the rope fastenings, if they can get at them.
Turkeys suffer more than any other birds in
apiyearance from cold or wet ; therefore, though
hardy, they, for our own sake, demand a lined
Never put strange birds together ; they fight
with, and disfigure each other. They should be on
friendly terms for some time previous to exhibition.
Unless this is attended to, your hamper will be
the arena of a savage combat ; even hens evince
such jealous feelings towards a new-comer, that,
if the cock does not interfere and keep down the
^meute, his seraglio suffers.
When the exhibition season closes, choose a
fine day to have youv hampers washed, dried,
and put away. They should never be used but
for exhibition birds ; disease is often spread by
sick birds being put for a few days into com-
fortable quarters (such as they afford), and the
result is, the certain illness of the next occu-
Dear reader, the day, the eventful day, arrives,
when your chosen champions must depart for the
battle-field, and quit their comfortable home.
Poor things ! most of you have known no
other, and all may not return to it. Farewell, my
gallant cockerels ! Farewell, my dainty pullets !
" Farewellj" — perchance — " a long farewell, to all
my '' — beauties.
Should your experience prove like mine, the
scene will be something in this wise.
Through the morning mist the active hen-
wives may be discerned flitting to and fro like
mad women. But there is " method in their
madness." They are giving the Jast meal to
their charges, and placing each carefully labelled
hamper in its appointed place.
As noon approaches, all hands muster, for all
dearly love the poultry.
The cart arrives; the horse stands quietly,
with nose in bag, eating his corn. Anticipated
triumph, or timid doubt, is in every face : not one
is listless. How busy they are! No castle of
indolence here. Hamper after hamper is brought,
with its living freight, and carefully secured. The
pile rises like a pyramid : at length the last crowns
the tier, magnificent in its gay lining, and graceful
in its limber wicker work. The cordial glass goes
round, to drink them success, and they move
slowly away, under a shower of old shoes for luck,
to the station, where a covered van awaits them.
As the cart recedes through the apple-trees in
the orchard, one and all follow it with wistful
gaze; when it finally disappears behind the in-
tervening hedge-row, each gives an anxious look
on his neighbour, and they disperse to their sus-
Great anxiety prevails to hear the sentence of
the judge. This is known before the fowls return,
when all are kindly cared for, but the prize-win-
ners are handled with an almost pious reverence.
To serve as a guide to the uninitiated in the
mysteries of poultry points, and their technical
terms, I give a diagram of a fowl, (fig. 8), with
a lettered reference.
Upper wing coverts.
Lower wing coverts.
"Whatever tends to alleviate the sufferings of
domestic animals kept for our own gratification,
it is our duty to study, for we must not allow
them to pine and die unaided.
"We ought to know all that is worth knowing,
and make ourselves elioible for the deoree of
M.D. (Poultr}'), equal to all emergencies of hen
Take their diseases in time; your own prompt
attention to their wants may ward off a serious
malady, too often resulting in death ; procrastina-
tion is as pernicious in poultry keeping as in
There should be attached to every poultry
establishment, a hospital, viz., a warm, well-
lighted house, littered do^mi with straw, to which
the fowl can be removed, on the first symptom
Sickly fowls are generally ill-used by their
companions, pecked at, and evidently objects of
dislike ; therefore a sanatorium is indispen-
Poultry are subject to many diseases ; the old
(alderman-like) suffer from gout; moulting, with
them, is often so severe and protracted that it
carries them off.
The young are victims of roup, gapes, leg weak-
ness, and bad feathering. Eoup is highly infec-
tious, and a very deadly disease, but if taken in
time, can be cured. The premonitory symptoms
are a slight hoarseness and catching in the breath,
as if from cold. Do not neglect this, but at once
remove the sufferer to the hospital, and give a
tablespoonful of castor oil.
A few hours after, administer one of Baily's
" roup and condition pills," and take the scale off
the tongue, which can easily be done by holding
the bill open with the left hand, and removing the
excrescence with the thumb-nail of the right.
Repeat the dose of physic every morning for a
week, and give soft food only, mixed with ale
and chopped green vegetables.
If the disease has made much progi'ess before
discovery, and rattling in the throat (with dis-
charge from the eyes and nostrils) has com-
menced, you must use stronger remedies.
In addition to the castor oil, which should
always be given before other medicine, and is
perfectly safe, the following recipe by an amateur
wiU be found beneficial : —
" Take of dried sulphate of iron, in powder, half
a drachm; capsicum, in powder, one drachm;
extract of liquorice, a sufficient quantity, to make
a mass which is to be divided into 30 pills. One
to be given three times a-day, continued to the
end of the third, and then followed by the second
prescription:" which is "Half an ounce of sul-
phate of iron, and one ounce of cayenne pepper
in fine powder. Mix carefully a teaspoonful of
these powders with butter, and divide into ten
equal parts, one to be given twice a-day,"
Each morning and evening, until the complete
restoration of the patient to health, wash the eyes,
and inside of the mouth and nostrils with vine'j'ar.
This is very cleansing, and a few drops inter-
nally are useful in removing the mucus which
collects in the throat.
The disease runs its course rapidly. If your
bird is not better in a week, it will be dead.
Whole yards are often depopulated by the ravages
of this scourge ; single cases occur which are over-
looked, and then the disease becomes universal.
Some think roup merely a neglected cold ; but
my opinion is, that it attacks the birds at once,
and is contagious.
The bill of the first sufiferer has perhaps con-
taminated the water-dish, and such is the virulence
of the malady, that it quickly spreads through
the whole stock, and is indeed the Poultry plague.
Even when the fowl appears to have recovered,
it must undergo a long and strict quarantine
before it is restored to the bosom of its family.
I do not advise all this care to be bestowed on
any but valuable fowls ; if the more worthless are
attacked, the sooner they are put out of pain,
and hidden from sight, the better, so wretched
an appearance does a sickly fowl present.
Gapes, or inflammation of the trachea, is a
disease peculiar to chickenlioocl, and is occasioned
by small worms imbedded in the throat.
They can be removed by introducing a feather,
stripped to within an inch of the point, into the
windpipe ; if turned round quickly, the parasites
will be drawn up with it. It is a difficult opera-
tion, and often fails in effecting a cure. So, un-
less in the case of very valuable birds, I do not
advise the amateur to have recourse to it. If the
chicken gapes, give it a few drops of castor oil,
and occasionally a small piece of bread soaked in
spirit of camphor; feed with boiled milk and
bread or custard, given by hand until the bird
recovers its usual appetite.
I must repeat, however, that a constant supply
of fresh water, and perfect cleanliness, ensure
good health : prevention is better than cure.
Sometimes fowls become crop-bound, when (to
save the bird) you must make a small incision,
remove the mass of undigested food, and sew up
the wound with fine silk thread. Give a table-
spoonful of castor oil, separate the invalid from its
companions until the wound is perfectly healed,
and during this time feed entirely with soft food.
Hens occasionally drop their eggs on the
ground, repudiating nests altogether, without
the slightest regard to les convenances. This
must be treated medically, and the hen shown
the impropriety of deviating from the usages
of society ; it may happen that they lay soft
eo-D-s, and this also demands treatment. A dose
of oil, in both cases, should be administered,
and a change of diet enforced; the hen is too
fat, and must be brought down in condition.
Moulting, though a natural process, at times
assumes the form of disease. The birds look out
of health, and suffer, even to death, unless
nourishing food is freely given ; if the weather is
severe, many old fowls die. It is advisable to
keep them warm, and feed well on hemp-seed,
bread and ale, buck-wheat a discretion, and ani-
Loss of feather (or mange) must not be con-
founded with moulting; it is a sign of debility
and pining. Fresh air, good feeding, and free
range are the best cures; in country poultry
establishments mange should be almost unknown.
Fowls, if too closely housed or restricted in
green food and lime, sometimes attack each other's
feathers imder the influence of a morbid appetite,
and eff'ectually destroy the plumage till next
moult. The remedies I have found best, are a re-
formation in the economy of their diet, removal
of the pecked bird to private lodgings, and the
wounded parts rubbed over ■with sulphur ointment.
Diarrhoea is caused by the too abundant use of
relaxing food : boiled rice, with a little chalk and
cayenne pepper mixed, will check the complaint.
To all my fowls and chickens I give, from
time to time, jalap in their food, in the pro-
portion of a teaspoonful to 20 birds. It sets
them up wonderfully, and keeps them in health.
I also give a restorative, recommended by Mr
Douglas. He is a well-known and successful
breeder, and I consider his advice very valuable in-
deed. He has kindly allowed me to publish it :
" Bitter Eimedy.
" Half a pound of sulphate of iron, one ounce of diluted
sulphuric acid, dissolved together; add two gallons of
water, allowed to stand fourteen days.
" Dose for chickens : — One teaspoonful to a pint of
water, twice or thrice a-week. Good also for old birds
" WoLSELEY Aviaries.
" Restorative to prevent Eoup and Gapes
IN Chickens and old Fowls.
" One pound of sulphate of iron, one ounce of sulphu-
ric acid, dissolved in a jug with hot water, then let it
stand twenty-four hours, and add one gallon of spring
water ; when fit for use, one teaspoonful of the restora-
tive to a pint of water, given every other day to chickens,
and once a-week to old fowls, will make roup and gapes
entirely a stranger to your yards."
" Pills to Cure Eoup in Poultry and Pheasants.
" One grain of calomel, one grain of antimony, made
into a pill ; one to be given every evening ; fowls kept
dry, and fed on soft food ; when getting better, add a
teaspoonful of the restorative to the water every day
until they have quite recovered, which will be in about a
I hope none of my readers will be so unlucky
as to have a fowl poisoned ; but if so, I give Mr
Douglas's method of cure : —
" How to Tre^vt a Poisoned Fowl.
" There must be no delay. Give two or three spoon-
fuls of castor oU, according to the size of the bud.
" In half-an-hour administer a strong infusion of coffee
— %Yith a little sugar, but no milk.
" The strength is one ounce of coffee to a wine glass
of water, given warm, but uot too hot, and the bird must
be sheltered from cold.
" After six hours give one more dose, and the recovery
will be found perfect.
" WoLSELET Aviaries."
Leg weakness is generally caused by the size
and weight of the body being more than the legs
can bear; it is shown by the bird resting on the
first joint. Being entirely the result of weak-
ness, the best treatment is that which gives general
strength and stamina to the sufferer.
Citrate of iron must be given dissolved in ale,
and added to the food, which may be more than
usually nourishing, but not in greater quantity,
as over-feeding has occasioned the disease.
Frequent bathing in cold water is very bene-
ficial. This is best efi'ected by tying a towel
round the fowl, and suspending it over a pail
of water, with the legs only iaimersed, so as not
to injure the plumage.
Absence of lime in the poultry yard sometimes
causes leg weakness, and old age invariably shows
itself in the "trembling limb." Warmth and
generous diet are the sole remedies for this.
Fowls are apt to be afflicted with (dare I
mention it?j corns. These are caused by injury
to the foot in descending from high perches.
Eemoval to a grass run is the best treatment.
The calosity must first be carefully pared.
Apoplexy is the result of high feeding; the
comb becomes black, and the bird falls down in
a state of stupor. Bleeding from the foot
sometimes effects a cure, with the aid of medicine,
and a continuation of low diet.
It is well to know that fowls are no homceopa-
thists, and can hardly be overdosed by simple
physic. However, a smaller quantity has the
same effect as a larger.
I HOLD all artificial fattenino; and crammino; of
fowls to be an iitter abomination, unless at the
hands of the regular poultry salesman, who buys
up country birds, and treats them on a system.
Ill an amateur establishment, poultry should
always be fat, and fit for table, the difficulty
being to prevent them becoming too much so.
It may not be amiss, however, to shut up fowls,
and especially ducks, for a short time, and restrict
them in diet to rice and milk or porridge.
The Brahma, crossed with the Dorking, makes
certainly the earliest spring chickens : the white
leg and full straight breast will generally appear.
The Sussex breed is large, and a cross between
it and the Dorking will give increased bone to
the progeny ; but the chickens are not so early
as those of the above-named cross, and I do not
think the shape or flesh improved by it.
Summer and autumn chickens are plentiful
enough, and in these seasons the pure Dorking
and French breeds are to be preferred ; but Jan-
uary Dorkings are scarce, and generally destined
for early exhibition, so we gladly put up with a
less delicate, but larger, style of chicken for table
The Creve Cceur attains a remarkable weight,
and is the Chapon and Poularde. of the Continent,
but is late. The Scotch Grey or Chick Merlin
(the old name of this breed), also supplies a
really good and desirable table fowl.
Turkeys, geese, and ducks should always bp in
good flesh and condition. I\Iy own ctre so, inva-
riably, and I should be very sorry to condemn
any of my stock to the miserable confinement of
a fattening coop, with its too common discom-
forts — want of air and cleanliness.
Aquatic birds fatten better when limited to a
trough, in lieu of a running stream, and this
seems no deprivation to them; they take their
bath daily, and it seems all they require, if
we may judge by tlieir plumpness and good
FA TTENIXG. 99
The little black East Indian duck is a most
delicious bird, when fed upon barley meal and
celery, indeed almost equal to the famed Canvas-
back of America; this mode of treatment first
suggested itself to me from a knowledge of the
habits and food of that bird, which latter con-
sists of the sea-celery (yalisneria), found in the
mouth of the Delaware ; they obtain it by diving
to a great depth, beyond the powers of any other
species of duck.
I have always found that fowls can be induced
to feed as you wish them. Science and observa-
tion should guide that; Nature, their habits.
I conclude this short chapter with some
remarks kindly afforded me by ]\Ir ]\Iuirhcad,
Queen Street, Edinburgh, Poulterer to Her j\Ia-
jesty in Scotland: —
" Capons are of very ancient origin, and arc
mentioned by authors of the middle ages as hav-
ing been in use among the Greeks and Eomans,
and only seen among nations in the highest state
" The j&esh of these birds is very delicate, they
attain great weights, and comnumd high price's
and a great advantage is, that they never quarrel
with each other, nor interfere with the breeding
" They can mix with these with impunity, and
are available in winter and spring of the following
year, when cockerels have become too old and
coarse for the epicure's table.
" Practical instructions as to the process of
caponizing can always be obtained from our
" 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 hoth 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.
" C. MUIEHEAD."
There is so much beauty in all the different
breeds of fowls, each possessing so many good
qualities, that it is quite impossible to state a
preference for any one in particular.
Perhaps my individual favourites may be sur-
mised from a perusal of these pages, though in-
tended to be impartial
Every breeder has his, or her, own fancy, doubt-
less much influenced by the climate of the loca-
lity, and facilities for rearing different varieties.
I pretend not to universal poultry knowledge.
When I had not an intimate acquaintance with
any breed, I begged the assistance of those well
qualified to give the desired information, and
this request has been cordially met.
This breed has now attained a size quite mar-
vellous, and in point of rich colouring, is un-
rivalled; it is a truly English bird, and follows
up its resemblance to the character of a Briton
in its love of liberty.
The old coarse breed is now unseen in the ex-
hibition room, and is indeed nearly extinct even
in market, being rej)laced by more refined but
equally heavy birds.
Delicate white flesh (that sine qua non), sym-
metrical shape, and equal distribution of fat,
mark the Dorking, as it at present exists, to be
the bird, j^ar excellence, of our table poultry.
There are several varieties, but only two dis-
tinct classes-r-the white and the coloured.
All Dorkings are delicate until full-feathered,
when I consider them as hardy as any other
kind of fowl.
GREY DORKING. 103
The chickens must be kept on hard clay or
gravel soil, never on wooden, stone, or brick
floors; their coops, in winter, may be boarded, but
the tenants must have earth to run upon during
the day, or they will become cramped.
Over-crowding these chickens is the most pro-
lific source of disease ; irregular feeding, and ex-
posure to damp and cold, increase the mortality ;
there is no such thing as luck in rearing broods;
too often, want of care and knowledge occasion
Dorkings are, perhaps, more liable to roup
than other fowls; it attacks them when three-
parts grown; they also sometimes suffer from
slight attacks of cold, and hoarseness.
Their food should be mixed with ale or beer,
and a small quantity of cayenne pepper.
To intending exhibitors, I may now mention
a few of the points essential to success in Grey
Neck hackle — full light straw colour, or silvery
Saddle hackle — same, and abundant.
Primary quills — black or grizzled.
Secondary quills — light grey.
Upper wing coverts — light grey.
Lower wing coverts — slightly darker.
Breast — black, or speckled with white.
Tail — black, large and sweeping ; a white
feather will not cast an otherwise perfect bird.
Side tail feathers abundant and long. (This adds
much to his beauty).
Thighs — straight, strong, and black, or spotted.
Legs and feet — white, and free from feathers.
Toes — five in number, and quite distinct, the
fifth pointing upwards, and not a mere branch of
Comb — straight and single, though a rose comb
does not disqualify.
Wattles — red, long, and pendulous, but firm.
Ear-lobe — red.
Kech hackle — light grey, or darker.
Bach — dark ash, or grizzled grey.
ft./ * , ' ^ ^w^^^ —
EaiZJi-JTgll ThnTTift j ; C-Jajck
OREY DORKING. 105
Primary quills — black, or a mixture of black
Secondary quills — dark brown, spotted.
Upper wing coverts — grey.
Loiuer wing coverts — grey, and as distinct as
'Breast — ruddy, or grey, if the cock has a
Tail — dark, inclining to grey.
Til ighs — mixture of brown and grey.
Legs and feet — white.
Comb — falling over on either side.
Wattles — red and firm.
Ear-lobes — red.
The following points are kindly supplied by
an eminent English judge: —
" To the best of my recollection the rule laid
down for judging Silver-grey Dorkings at Liver-
pool, where they were first admitted as a class,
was as follows —
Breast and tail — pure black, not the slightest
stain of white allowed.
Hackle and saddle — pure silver, without one
spot of straw, red, or black.
Breast — bright robin colour.
Body — light grey, the shaft of each feather white.
Hackle — pure silver. Any tendency to red in
the plumage of the wing is a great defect.
" This variety is best known as Lord Hill's
breed, and has now obtained a class at most of
the principal shows.
" In point of weight it cannot compete on equal
terms with the Grey Dorking, but for colour and
shape stands unrivalled."
The following opinion, from an extensive and
successful breeder, may be relied on as perfectly
correct, and affording a true guide to the ama-
teur of these lovely birds : —
WHITE DORKIXG. 107
" I find the white Dorkings hardy, quite as
prolific as the coloured; they lay well, and are
excellent sitters and mothers.
"Their qualities as table fowls are too well
known to require any notice from me. They are
always in request by dealers for that purpose. I
consider their exhibition points to be as follows: —
Plumage — pure white in both cock and hen.
Corah — double rose, bright scarlet, set straight
on the head, pointed at the back, well serrated,
Toes — the fifth well-defined.
Bill and legs — perfectly white.
Cock — tail, large, with full sweep.
Ear-lohe — white.
I\eck and saddle hackles — white, free from all
yellow tinge, too frequently seen in these birds,
and always a blemish.
" T. D. FlNDLAY."
There are other varieties of Dorkings, such as
the Blue or Cuckoo, the Speckled, &c., but it is
unnecessary to give their points, as they are not
in request, and little known.
I consider this a most valuable variety, so
hardy, so beautiful, so excellent, in all the rela-
tions of poultry life.
Although it bears a close resemblance in form
to the Cochin, I maintain it to be a distinct breed.
Their habits are quite dissimilar, their eggs are
larger, they roam farther from home, and have
more sj^irit, and fiery elan.
I think their expression indicative of good
temper, and yet they are formidable foes when
roused, their immense size and weight giving
them great advantage over their rivals.
The hens excel as mothers, and layers of fine
large eggs during winter. Even when snow
covers the ground, they lay regularly an average
of five eggs a-week, and, in fact, at all times,
when not employed in the nursery, or renewing
The pullets attain full size at an early age,
and are in their prime when eight months old.
BRAHMA POOTRA. 109
Some judges seem to have a predetermination
to give prizes only to the dark variety, entirely
overlooking the beautiful light-coloured, which,
I think, was, certainly, the original breed intro-
duced into England. This is mere fancy, and I
affirm them to be distinct varieties.
They demand separate classes at shows, as
much as the Buff and Partridge Cochins, Grey
and Silver-grey Dorkings.*
Purity of race is claimed for both single and
pea-combed Brahmas. Precedence is generally
given to the latter, and I withhold not my con-
sent, provided it is allied to other good points.
Comb is not an imperative point in this breed ;
the single comb resembles that of the Cochin.
The double or pea-comb is not so easy to
describe, but I shall try to be as lucid as pos-
sible ; it is very singular in appearance, thick at
the base, and is like three combs joined in one,
the centre one higher than the other, but it must
be (altogether) a low comb, rounded at the top,
and the indentations must not be deep.
* Separate classes are now given for dark and light
Brahuias, and generally fill well.
This (rather negative) description will, I hope,
be understood ; in the hope of obtaining separate
classes for light and dark pencilled varieties, I
shall describe the form and feathering of each.
Dcwk Cock — square build, broad chest, digni-
fied carriage ; tail, small, and as black as possible ;
breast, dark, spangled with white ; ear-lobes and
face, red ; wattles, long ; neck and saddle hackles,
streaked black and white ; general colour of
plumage, grey ; thighs, ditto ; feet and legs, yel-
low, and abundantly feathered.
The vulture hock controversy is very keen. It
certainly seems hard that what was only a few
years ago considered a beauty is now j)ronounced
so great a defect, that birds possessing it (how-
ever fine otherwise) are excluded from all chance
of gaining the jDrize. The result is seen in many
cases by the almost total absence of leg feather-
ing, or recourse is had to the reprehensible action
of pulling out the offending hock feathers.
Hen — regularly marked all over the back and
breast ; iving quill feathers and tail, black ; wat-
tles, short; legs mud feet, yellow, and feathered.
Light Cock — broad across back, full chest ;
BRAHMA POOTRA. Ill
hackles, full, each feather laced with black ; tail,
black; breast, grey; thighs, light grey; iving quill
feather s,h\?LQk\ coverts, white ;/eei and Ze^5, yellow,
and well-feathered ; wattles, red and pendulous.
Hen — hackles, white, each feather tipped with
black ; tail, white, edged with black ; breast,
white ; body, clear white ; legs, short and fluffy.
The legs of all Brahnias should be short and wide
apart. This is a great beauty, and, in both cock
and hen, the outer toes should be shorter than the
others, and feathered to the point ; beaks, yellow.
]\Iiss Watts is too well known in the poultry
world to require any introduction from me. I
append her polite communication as to this
variety : —
" I think all who keep Brahmas will agree
with me in giving them a high place among our
useful poultry. They are large, and put on flesh
readily ; they are good layers, good sitters, and
good mothers ; they are also very hardy, apt at
keeping themselves in good condition, and, under
the unfavourable circumstances of dirty weather,
or of living much among houses, they decidedly
keep up a cleanly, tidy appearance better than any
other kind I know. The chickens are hardy and
easy to rear ; I very seldom lose any, and I have
noticed that they 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. I should
like to know if you have noticed this peculiarity
in the Brahma* I believe I am prejudiced in
their favour, but it is from experience of their
merits perhaps ; so, not exactly prejudiced, but
convinced. I was among the first to import
them, rather largely, and after keeping them just
over seven years, I would not give them up for
any other variety that I have tried.
" The worst accusation their enemies can ad-
vance 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
* Quite correct. — E. A.
BRAHMA I lOTRA.
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 gener-
ation, 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 hroiun) on a clear, white
ground, and I do not care whether the white or
the marking predominates. I beheve 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
" It gives me great pleasure to write these few
remarks on the good qualities of the Brahma, but
it is not needed, for I find they are making their
way into very general favour by their useful
" E. Watts."
" Marton House, South End.
These singular-looking fowls have their ad-
They are of great size, and beautiful in plum-
age, and their very rarity makes them always
interesting objects in an exhibition; the hens
lay eggs of average size, of a deep buff colour;
they are acknowledged to be very rich in flavour,
and for hatching purposes, very few will be found
As the chickens do not fully get their feathers
till three-parts grown, they should be hatched
early, so as to be quite fledged before cool weather
Their native country is the southern point of
Asia, and the breed has always been had recourse
to, in Britain, where size was required, previous
to the introduction of the Shanghaes.
The cock is a magnificent bird, standing over
two and a-half feet in height, of a proud and
majestic carriage, and will weigh about eleven
The colour of the pair first imported was a
reddish yellow, but there are now many varieties,
black, white, &c.
The most esteemed, however, is Black-breasted
Eed, the exhibition points of which we shall
notice. I do not think this fowl so useful as
some others, but it is interesting to the amateur,
as showing: individual characteristics.
Comh — small, and not extending the whole
length of the head.
Wattles — poor.
Neck hackle — red, dark or bright,
Saddle hackle — darker.
Upper wing coverts — rich maroon.
Lower wing coverts — green, or a bluish black.
Breast — black, or spangled with a chestnut
Tail — black, shaded with green.
Thighs — same.
Legs and feet — bright yellow.
Ear-lohe — scarlet.
Eye — red.
Beak — yellow, sometimes tinged with black.
Plumage — short and close, and very glossy.
Weight — about eight and a-half pounds.
Gomh — hardly any.
Wattles — none.
Ear-lohe and face — red.
Legs and feet — yellow and long.
Breast — brown,
TJiighs — same.
Upper wing coverts — brown.
Lower iving coverts — same.
Saddle — same as body — maroon.
Neck hackle — dark reddish brown.
The general character of these birds is vindic-
tive, cruel, and tyrannical.
If in confined premises, they are in the habit
of eating away each other's plumage, though this
is not peculiar to this variety ; and are very quar-
relsome, so that they sometimes appear at an ex-
hibition in sorry plight.
Although this fowl is so well described by
Mr Douglas, in the letter which follows, I must
append a few remarks : —
The hen is a good layer, sits well, and is care-
ful of her brood.
She forages zealously for the chickens, and
remains with them until they are independent of
her superintendence. They are easily reared,
require little food, and (in constitution) are far
more robust than any other variety.
The Game fowl continues to breed for many
years, without showing any symptom of decay,
and in this, is superior to the Cochin, Brahma,
or even Dorking.
If hatched in March, the cockerels must be
dubbed in August, to fit them for exhibition.
Why these poor birds are condemned to
submit to this cruel operation, is a mystery.
unfathomable, I suspect, even by the judges
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 beauti-
fully 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
Cockerels will not quarrel if kept apart from
hens, until the breeding season, when they
should be separated, and put on their several
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
The rules for colour of legs are very undecided.
111 my humble opinion, light legs match
light-coloured birds best, but this is not im-
perative, and every colour, except black, is ad-
Mr Douglas's remarks will, doubtless, be
thought valuable by the Game fancier : —
" The Game fowl has so long been a favourite
with the public, and is sv well and deservedly
known, that I need not detain your readers with
a lengthened description of its merits. There
are two classes of admirers of this beautiful bird
— the one, looking only to those points which are
likely to be most telling in the pit, the other,
admiring the bird for its great beauty. To the
latter class of fanciers I am proud to belong;
but I refrain from comment upon those whose
tastes, perchance, may differ from my own.
" We admire the Game cock for his bold,
defiant carriage, his perfect symmetry and beauty
of plumage. We cannot look upon him with
any other feeling than that of admiration; his
fearless eye, firm and stately step, and bold
majestic watchfulness over his harem, seem to
convey at once to our mind the idea, * I 'm mon-
arch of all I survey.'
" Althoujrh there are many varieties of Game
fowls, one description will suffice for the whole,
for the exhibition points are identically the same.
I will, therefore, begin with the Black-breasted
Red, believing, as I do, that it is the purest
feathered Game that is bred; for, breed wliat
variety we may, we have never found any come
so true to colour as a brood of Black Reds.
As more depends upon the Game hen, in the
production of first-class chickens, than many
are aware of, we will first describe her points:
Head, long ; mandible, very strong and firmly set
in the head ; eyes, very prominent ; neck, long and
graceful ; shoulders, square ; chest, broad ; jjoints
of wings almost meeting under the tail; the
latter adornment must be close and compact, not
carried too erect or loose over the back; thighs,
short and muscular; legs, long, and free from
feather; toes, well spread; feathers, short and
hard. These are the points of a good Game hen.
We now come to her mate, the Game cock.
Some breeders fancy one weight and some
anotlier, but I prefer my stock-bird of about
five or six pounds weight. Choose a bird of
bold, defiant carriage, of good colour, head long
and slender, mandible strong, curved, and well set
in the head; very stout at the base, full breast,
round body, broad between the shoulders, and
tapering to the tail. In fact, he must resemble the
hen in all his points, except in colour. Having
given the exhibition and breeding points of one
class of Game fowl, the same qualifications are
necessary in all other varieties, however nume-
rous they may be; names and colours we leave
to the taste of the amateur himself. To give
a separate description of each of the different
coloured varieties would be more than your space
will permit, for their name is legion; but I
may mention a few of those we are best ac-
quainted with, viz., Duck wings. Brown-breasted
Keds, Brassy Wings, White, Black, Piles, Greys,
Birchin Greys, Weedon Keds, &c., &c., all
of which have their friends and admirers, and
must all possess the different points we have
enumerated, whether they are intended for the
purposes of amusement and exhibition, or the pit.
" To breed fancy, streaky-breasted, brown-red
cockerels, mate a streaky-breasted hen to a black-
red cock; nine times out of ten the cockerels
will resemble the hen in colour. To breed pul-
lets to match, the cock must be streaky-breasted,
and the hen black-breasted red; these will be
the exhibition Brown-breasted Eeds.
" The principal points in the Duckwing Game
cockerel are the clear, vivid wing, black breast
and tail, and light straw-coloured hackle. To
obtain these, breed from a light grey-backed and
winged hen, with silver hackle and salmon breast,
and a black-breasted red cock ; the hen should not
have the slightest shade of red on the wing; this
" To obtain similar pullets, the cock must be
Duckwing, and the hen Black-Red.
" Piles (cockerels) are bred from a white cock
and black-red hen. They "will have the clear
white feather, light salmon breast, and tinge of
gold in hackle. The cockerels are the produce
of a red-spangled cock and white hen, and should
possess the beautiful white tail, clean hackle,
and red shoulder. These remarks are the result
of an experience of more than twenty years,
in breeding the different varieties of Game. I
wish (in common with many other exhibitors)
there was more uniformity of opinion in judging
this breed ; only practical breeders should be em-
ployed ; the mistakes made are truly ludicrous.
.For exhibition chickens I prefer those hatched
the last week in March or first In April. At
that season nine eggs are sufficient for the sitting
hen ; earlier, only seven. The mother with her
brood must be cooped under a shed, with a dry
bottom, composed of three parts road drift and
chalk, and one part lime rubbish ; this must be
renewed every season: at the end of nine days
the coop should be placed on turf, choosing the
middle of the day for the shift. Until the grass
is thoroughly dry, keep the chickens confined to
their coop, feeding them once or twice if neces-
sary. Give plenty of fresh water, adding a little
of the 'restorative' (previously mentioned) every
morning before the coops are opened. When the
hen leaves the chickens, select the cockerels and
put them on a walk with an old cock without
hens or pullets. At six months we put them to
separate walks, unless a few intended for early
exhibition, which are put to a walk at once, on
leaving the hen. Pullets must be treated in the
same manner. Before sending off birds to exhi-
bition, feed them on boiled milk and bread ; never
on hard food.
In Scotland, tMs breed is much valued. It
is of great antiquity, and still to be found in
the most remote districts, where other (and
newer) varieties are unknown. Our poulterers
consider it is excellent for the table, and it pos-
sesses the great advantage of white legs and
skin. The hens lay in due season, and perform
their maternal duties creditably. For the points
of this breed, I give the remarks of a friendly
poultry fancier, and admirer of this fowl : —
"I have no doubt that this is a distinct
breed. It throws true chickens, and that is
sufficient to prove it, although this may be the
result of cross-breeding at a period more or less
"In her foreign relations, Scotland has im-
ported many breeds from Spain, Hamburgh,
Holland, and France, and, as a matter of course,
SCOTCH GREY. 127
these have impressed the stamp of their features
on the Scotch Grey.
" Some assert that it is a mere modification
of the Dorking, fine specimens of which occur
of similar colour, which I have heard styled
the ' Blue Mottle,' and it cannot be denied
that it is largely imbued with the blood of
" Such a cross tends to produce a distinct
and valuable species, while an infusion of
Spanish, Hamburgh, and Cochin China blood
interferes with the essential features of the
" The coch is rather a slim bird, and the
more closely he resembles the Game, the better.
He should stand erect, with a proud carriage,
the thiglis slightly exposed, though less so than
in the Spanish.
"The thicker and more widely set his limbs
are, the more perfect the fowl: they shoidd be
white, though black spots are not considered
" The coinh is single, very large, and straight.
The head should be small, and the e}je bright
and quick. Much importance is attached to
the redness of the ear-lohe. Birds, good in
other respects, have often a whiteness in it,
and this is, no doubt, owing to defective breed-
" Although I myself have never seen a cock
over two years with the lobe perfectly red, still
it is a point to be aimed at, and is, I believe,
" The colour of the plumage must be particu-
larly attended to.
" The bluish-grey mottled appearance of these
birds depends upon the pencilling of the feathers
(otherwise M'hite), by broad grey marks across
them. Their beauty depends on the strength,
without blackness, of these markings, especially
at the feather tips, and the purity of the inter-
vening white ground. These, together, give a
mottled aspect like snow flakes, and this is best
observed in the hens and half-grown chickens.
" The greatest defect in colour is the indis-
tinctness and muddling of the grey and the
" The whiteness of the flight and sickle feathers
SCOTCH GREY. 129
may be a disadvantage, but it is of secondary
imiDortance. Birds, (otherwise well coloured),
have sometimes black feathers scattered over the
surface, and this must be regarded as a defect,
" Eed and brassy marks across the back is a
defect that occurs in cockerels, and a yellowness
of hackle, in hens.
"Some very handsome cocks have a rich
brownish transparent greyness of the hackle and
saddle feathers, which enhances the beauty of
their plumage, and is not inconsistent with the
requisite style and colour, but I have seen this
excessive in some specimens.
" The hen shows the markings better than the
cock. Her figure should be long and tapering,
without the bulk and breadth of the Dorking's
shoulder, and the comb should be small, and
" The ear-lobes should be red, but this appears
to be more rare than in the cock.
" The principal points to be avoided in this
breed are the bulky body and fifth toe of the
Dorking, the white ear-lobes and small size of
the Hamburgh, the drooping comb and whitish
cheek of the Spanish, aud the raised hind-
quarters and feathered legs of the Cochin
" The great advantage I have observed in the
Scotch Grey is, that they are very hardy fowls,
and easily fed. The chickens require less care
and attention than those of other kinds; these
are of presentable size at the age of six months,
and may weigh six pounds.
" The hens are average layers. Their only
advantage over the Dorking and Spanish is
their superior constitutional strength; I have
seen them thrive, where these (under the same
management) became affected with roup ; and
their chickens matured well, while the others
"I cannot compare, however, the Scottish
Grey with Dorking or Spanish, the former for
chickens, the latter for eggs.
" But for cottagers and others, whose fowls
may not have the advantage of a roomy and well
protected yard, they are possessed of valuable
" There has always existed in Scotland, as
SCOTCH GREY. 131
wide-spread preference for the ' Old Scotch
breed/ or 'Check Merlins,' the distinctive colour
of which has obtained for it many synonyms in
The Spanish fowl is much admired, and de-
servedly so, combining (as it does) so much that
is beautiful, dignified, and useful; the hens,
though only of a fair average size, lay immense
eggs, and are also more precocious, in ttiis respect,
than any other breed except the Brahma,
They seldom condescend to sit, and are not
to be desired as mothers, being careless, and
flighty ; their eggs should be set under Dorking
hens, because these go with their chicks longer
than any others.
Spanish do not feather till almost three-parts
grown, and therefore require a steady, domestic
mother, who wall remain with them till that
critical period is safely past.
Though, apparently, spirited, the cock is not
game to the back-bone. He is, fortunately, easily
cowed. Probably his motto is —
" He that fights and runs away
May live to fight another day."
He makes the best of unfortunate circum-
stances, and calmly acquiesces in his fate, say-
ing in the spirit of his native lord, the majestic
and philosophic Don, " My son, if thou seest thy
house on fire, approach, and warm thy hands
The following remarks will be appreciated by
amateurs of this mdely spread, and popular
variety, kindly given to me by a well-known
amateur : —
"Let the bird have — 1st, a pure luhiteface,
deep in the lobes, and of good space above the
eye, and neither too fat above nor below it,
yet not so skinny-faced as to lose that angular
oblong shape which imparts such reverence to
the fowl in question; 2nd, erectness, or all but
erectness, in comb; 3rd, length in body, and of
leg; 4!th, long clean neck; 5th, upright carriage;
6th, plumage metallic green; and, 7th, rrood sise.
I have stated the points in the order of their
value. Nothing can compensate for the want of
the first point, and the same may now be said of
the second. Of course, if he be a pretty early
chicken, he will show much better in autumn
than an adult bird. " John Ridpath."
" P.S. — Unless a bird answer very nearly to all
these marks, he has very little chance of gaining
honours in a good show. Few breeders have
more than one such young bird. " J. E."
Mr Muirhead has kindly given the following
remarks : —
"As the name implies, this breed has origi-
nally been imported from Spain. The best-known
variety is called White-faced, from that charac-
teristic feature by which they are distinguished,
so to it we will give precedence.
" \st Variety. — White-Faced Black.
Bill — strong, slightly curved, and dark-
SPA NTS IT. 13.5
Eye — large, dark, and flashing, surrounded with
a naked white skin* extending from the base of
the comb round the ears and cheeks, meeting like
a cravat under the throat, and terminating in the
ear-lobes, which are exceedingly long and pendu-
lous. If this white face is very large and well
developed, it proves high breeding; the texture
of the skin cannot be too fine and smooth, and if
it is blushed or spotted with red, it is considered
Comh — single and large, beginning over the
nostril, and extending backwards, should stand
very erect, be regularly serrated, fine in the grain,
and of a rich vermillion colour.
Wattles — very large, hanging a good way down
the neck, which is longer in this than in other
The body should be as deep as possible, the
shanks and legs being naturally long, and deptli
* It is the practice of exhibitors of Spanish to shave
the down of the edges of the white face, thus to enlarge
it and make it smooth. It is a disgraceful practice, and
not allowed at Birmingham Show.
in body from the back to the breast-bone gives a
better proportion to the shape, which would
otherwise look scraggy.
The legs are clean and of dark blue colour.
Plumage — a brilliant jet black, hackles and
saddle feathers long.
Tail — full, rising perpendicularly from the
back, and the numerous sickle feathers falling
Carriage — bold and majestic; this is of great
importance in rendering these fowls handsome
" White face not nearly so large as that of the
cock. Comb, large, and hanging over one side;
it lessens very much during the moulting or non-
laying season, and is much affected by cold.
Plumage, perfectly black. This breed is cele-
brated for being egg-producers, a property which
renders them very valuable. They surpass all
other breeds in the size of their eggs, and they
lay constantly, being non-sitters. They are,
however, very unfit for table purposes, as they
i^0 \ ♦*'
Edjiibargli Ihamai C Jade
carry very little flesh, and consume a great deal
of food without ever getting fat. The chickens
are very delicate to rear; they are long of fledg-
ing, and of showing their good points.
2mcZ Variety — White- Faced White.
"This variety is seldom met with. Good
specimens would certainly be valued if only for
their rarity. Description, same as first variety,
except the white plumage.
3rd Variety. — Andalusian.
" Fowls of a bluish -grey colour mixed with
black, having white faces; white fowls with red
faces have been shown under this name; so
called, from having been imported from the
Spanish province of Andalusia. Unless this
variety is found to possess superior properties to
the White-faced Black, as it has not such dis-
tinctive points, it is doubtful if the fine name
will bring it into repute.
Mh Variety. — Minorca.
" So called from having been brought from
that island. This variety is also sometimes
called Andalusian, as no doubt fowls of this de-
scription may be found there also. Comb and
wattles are similar to the first variety, but instead
of a white, a red skin extends from the throat to
the ear-lobes, which are of moderate size, and
red, though, from mixture with the White-faced
variety, the ear-lobes are very often found white.
Body rounder, shanks and legs shorter than in
the first variety. These fowls are hardy, and will
thrive in a confined place, whereas the White-
faced require a good run on a dry soil. Spanish
fowls have been recommended for keeping in
towns, as the smoke and dirt do not affect their
plumage. The Minorca, or fomth variety, is
best adapted for that purpose, and they possess
capital laying properties.
GO LAIGJIS, OR SCOTCH DUMPIES. 139
^0 S^itrgbs, 0r ^roftlj gumphs.
This breed is now almost extinct, but as an
attempt has been made to revive it, we may ex-
pect to see this Dwarf in Poultry exhibited with
good chance of favourable notice, and even with
hopes of a special class.
They can be bred true to feather, and this
should be particularly aimed at, to the exclusion
of the Mongrels so often pointed out as fair
Shortness of leg alone should not constitute
their claim to notice. They must have large
heavy bodies, bright distinctive colouring, and
other points of excellence.
They are not merely fancy birds, but valu-
able as table poultry, layers of large fine eggs,
and cannot be excelled as sitters and mothers.
Gamekeepers have a strong partiality for this
breed, for hatching the eggs of partridges and
pheasants, being so quiet in their movements,
and attentive to their young.
The exhibition points are as follows : —
Cock — Tail, full and black; neck and saddle
hackles, silvery- white ; breast, black or spotted
with white ; thighs, black, or as nearly so as pos-
sible; form, squarely built, and broa-d across the
chest ; legs, very short, not above one inch and
a-half in length, free from feathers, and white in
colour; C07nb, rose, double and pointed at the
back, bright scarlet, as are also the wattles, which
should be long and pendulous, almost touching
the ground; ear-lobes, red.
Hen — Ash-backed, salmon-breasted, silver-
hackled; in other points similar to the cock.
The general carriage is heavy, and gait waddling.
The extreme shortness of leg gives them the
appearance of swimming on dry land.
All persons conversant with poultry matters
are aware that this gigantic fowl was originally
imported from China, and has added considerably
to om: stock of valuable birds.
Cochins lay regularly, and if not too highly
fed, are productive of very fine chickens, which I
consider excellent for the table, if killed young ;
more than that, I cannot say.
The hens are most exemplary in their ma-
ternal duties, and, from their abundance of soft
and downy feather, are peculiarly adapted for the
purpose of hatching. This seems their vocation,
which they accept with the most serene patience
three or four times a-year. They enjoy the hon-
ours of maternity ; their love of this task seems
their idiosyncrasy. For them a mother's life is
" blessed with those SAveet cares, all other joys so
far above," and they are often tempted to leave
their chickens at too early an age to resume them,
which is a great disadvantage in cold weather.
I have found that, if cooped up, the chickens
having egress between the wires, the hens will both
lay and tend them ; and as they are chiefly de-
pendent on her protection during the night, this
is a more natural, and therefore preferable plan,
to putting the little things by tnemselves, (even
with the protection of a glass house), until turned
out into free ranges.
This variety is very hardy, and may be
kept in a smaller space than almost any other ;
cockerels, however, must have ample range, if
intended to become superior specimens. It is
remarkably free from liability to any disease, if
well provided with green food; this is indis-
I consider the Cochin a most beautiful bird,
and capable of comparison with the most grace-
ful and high-coloui'ed of our poultry; its ex-
quisite feathering, and lovely tints, from the palest
buff to deep orange, make this bird peculiarly the
All must appreciate its massive huild, small
head, rich, full hackle, and majestic carriage; true
types of the high-caste Cochin.
It, perhaps, has a larger appetite than most
fowls, and a good hearty meal must be given;
but we are repaid in eggs and early chickens.
These are the principal uses for which we should
The male bird possesses a quiet and easy tem-
per, and is peculiarly gifted with the art of calm-
ing any violent spirit his hens may display.
Lords of the creation! what an example do
they set you of patience under much provoca-
To be perfectly truthful, a cross with the
Cochin deteriorates the beauty of a?^ other varieties,
and adds nothing to the value of chickens so
As an example of this, see the gaunt, long-
legged, ill-conditioned birds so often the result
of a Cochin cock having been introduced into a
poultry yard to improve the breed ! !
Since writing the above, I have been gratified
by receiving a perfect corroboration of my opi-
nions, both as to this breed and the general treat-
ment of stock, from Mr Stretch, the eminent
His commuiiication is of much value ; I there-
fore give it verbatim: — ^
" I have often been asked what aged birds are
the best to breed from. My experience would
lead me to say, health is of more consequence
than age ; but I by no means despise birds of the
previous year. The chickens from pullets' eggs
are generally smaller than those from the eggs of
old hens, when first out of the shell ; but after
the second month, they grow much faster, and
generally show more constitution. Avoid birds
with glaring defects, as they are more surely re-
produced than good points. Moderate-sized birds,
however, of good shape, often produce as fine
chickens as the larger-sized birds.
" This breed has a great disposition to accumu-
late abdominal fat, and consequently their food
should not be of too nourisliing a quality. Those
who give Indian meal or corn (which contain
about 8 per cent, of oily matter), have frequent
cases of apoplexy amongst their poultry. Boiled
potatoes, mixed with a little barley meal or mid-
dlings, should form at least a portion of their
daily food. There is another reason why Cochins
should not be kept in too higli condition; the
eggs of such seldom produce chickens, and in a
short time barrenness ensues.
"With respect to setting, the place chosen
should be perfectly free from draughts, and if not
on the orround, some sifted coal ashes should be
placed under the straw, A little flour of sulphur
dusted imder the hen's feathers will prevent the
accumulation of vermin, thus freeing her from
one of the greatest annoyances to which sitting
hens are liable.
"Although a Cochin hen can cover a large
number of eggs, I believe more strong chickens
can be reared from seven eggs than from an in-
oreased quantity; and I am sure that this num-
ber of chickens is quite as many us the hen can
keep sufficiently warm and find food for, to en-
sure a rapid growth. For the first week, bread
crumbs and hard-boiled eggs, chopped small,
should form their food; afterwards groats; and,
as they increase in size, wheat and slacked oat-
meal will be found a valuable addition. Green
food and clean water are essential to health.
"At three months old the sexes should be
separated. The cockerels, to grow fast, should at
least have soft food twice, and grain once a-day.
The pullets should have a more sparing diet, as,
if forced into laying at five or six months old,
their growth is stopped ; their eggs are small,
and they lay only a few at a lime. If allowed
time to develope their full form, they not only
make much larger birds, but frequently lay thirty
or forty eggs before showing any disposition to
sit. This frequent desire to sit is a great an-
noyance to some parties, and the cause of their
services often being dispensed with altogether.
It is, however, easily cured, not by the cruel
method of ducking the hen in water, but by
placing her in a pen where there is no nest, and
feeding her well. The fever will generally leave
her in about five days, and she will soon recom-
** The points aimed at by amateurs who desire
success at the numerous exhibitions of poultry
throughout the country, are as follows, viz., per-
fectly straight fine comhs, the serrations well-de-
fined ; the body well let down between the legs,
the shanks of which should be of a yellow colour,
short, and well feathered to the end of the toes.
Only about an inch of the thighs should be
visible above the hocks, and the upper part well
surrounded with fluffy feathers. Great breadth
of body, and large size, indispensable. The cocks
vary in colour, from a dark red to a lemon colour.
The clearer they are in colour the better, but a
good bird in other respects is not to be despised
for a little mealiness in the wing coverts. Neck
and saddle hacJde should be of a bright golden
colour, and copper-coloured tails are preferred to
black. The latter should be small and compact,
rising gracefully from the body. The hens vary
in colour, from a dark yellow to a pale buff. The
lighter-coloured hens show to most advantage in
an exhibition pen, and are generally preferred.
Golden neck hackle, and clear if possible, but a
slight necklace is by no means fetal. The car-
riage should be rather drooping forward, rising
from the back to the extremity of the tail, of
>vhich only about an inch should be visible be-
yond the surrounding fluff.
Marsh Lane, Bootle, Liverpool.
This delicately-beautiful variety demands the
same requisites in size and shape as the coloured ;
the plumage alone differs — this must be of a
brilliant white, without the slightest admixture
of yellow ; the contrast of the deep scarlet comh,
wattles, pale yellow hill, legs, and snowy plumage,
make this bird the champion of its class, if seen
under a pure sky, and on a clean grass run.
It is quite a mistake to suppose the white less
robust than the coloured Cochin; they are vigor-
ous and hardy ; good layers, sitters, and mothers.
The Partridge, the Black, and other varieties,
are almost identical with the Bufi's in general
The plumage, of course, differs. In the Par-
tridge the hackles should be reddish-yellow, free
from dark stains ; tail and hreasty black.
The hens have dark pencillings on the hackles,
and are generally richly coloured.
The legs are rather of a deeper tint in the
Yellow, than in the Buff variety, especially in
A " white feather " in any of these is as fatal
to the Cochin, as it is to those that show it, in
another school. The Black variety is seldom "as
black as it is painted."
The cocks too often show the yellow hackle;
good Blacks are decidedly scarce, in spite of
Mrs Beecher Stowe.
There are Cuckoo and Silky Cochins, but of
these the "Henwife" knows little, and therefore
must be held excused in not entering into their
merits ; the more, as she thinks them only a par-
ticular fancy, and not likely to further the in-
terests of poultry.
These are very pretty, interesting little crea-
tures, but altogether fancy fowls, utterly useless
for table or market.
Their bones and flesh are coal-black, while,
strange to say, their plumage is snowy-white, soft
and silky, resembling spun glass. Their eggs,
though small, are said to be excellent, pinkish-
white in colour, something like those of the Ban-
tam, but I confess to a prejudice against the egg
of a Darkie, not even overcome by its silvery locks.
The cock is a pattern of fidelity and gentle-
ness; he assists his partner in the care of her
family, and even acts as nurse.
The hen is the best of foster-mothers for Ham-
burghs and Polish, their soft warm feathering
tempting these delicate little fastidious beings to
cotton kindly to them for protection.
Tlie points of a Silkie Goch are: — Plumage,
white ; crest, small, low, and set far back on the
head; comb, dark reddish purple; ear-lobes,
turquoise blue; wattles, purple; legs, eyes, and
bealc, jet black ; tail, full, but not with many
sickle feathers; body, low set, but large, and
broad in the breast.
Hen — precisely similar points, except the tail,
which, in her, consists of a small bunch of
feathers like marabouts. Her comb also is
smaller, and crest (or tuft) larger.
A very elegant and pretty, though somewhat
foppish and conceited-looking bird. It is not of
suflScient size to be eligible for market purposes,
but for private consumption is excellent, the flesh
being white and tender.
They are almost everlasting layers, but the
eggs are, certainly, below average size. They
rarely sit, and the reputation of good mother,
cannot, with fairness, be classed among their
As d, fancy variety, the Polish take high rank,
and deservedly so, for they thrive under petting,
and really require greater care than more robust
A farm-yard would be the death of them ; they
like a grass run and aviary accommodation, and
their plumage increases in beauty with the in-
crease of comfort.
Their greatest merit is, that, like the Game,
they continue to improve in feather for several
years, when other varieties of the same age have
faded; they are the Perennials in poultry.
In plumage they are of different colours.
The Black should be unifonnly of that hue,
with a greenish sheen; crest, full and globular,
and as white as possible ; comh, should hardly be
visible ; it is merely two small fleshy points ;
wattles, small ; tail, black, ample, and well
sickled ; legs, lead-coloured.
The Golden resemble nearly the gold spangled
Hamburghs, except in having a top knot, which
should be golden brown. The Silver differ only
in the colours, which are white and black, instead
of gold and dark brown. The White Polish is
very delicate, and are more often obtained by
chance than by special breeding. Buff and Grey
Polish have been exhibited, which were very
handsome and rare ; a peculiarity in this variety
is that the hen is web-footed.
These gems of beauty and most treasured and
prettiest of pets are, certainly, the most impu-
dent, as well as diminutive, of our domestic
They are ridiculously consequential, and seem
as if they prided themselves on their captivating
appearance. There are several varieties, all pos-
sessing the same passionate temper, and, though
such perfect pigmies, are most pugnacious, which
clearly proves their Javanese origin.
They resemble the natives when under the
influence of bang, that intoxicating herb which
destroys all sense and reason.
The hens are very good layers, and many per-
sons relish their eggs exceedingly; they contain
a greater proportion of yolk than those of larger
As mothers. Bantams are unrivalled, fulfilling
their duties to a wish ; the chickens should not
be hatched till July or August, as it is an object
to have them of the smallest possible size, a
strange deviation from the utilitarian principle.
For the first few weeks they are decidedly
delicate ; they seem to feather more quickly than
most fowls, and in that stage are apt to die off,
the drain on the system being too severe.
\Yhen fully feathered, they are quite hardy,
and may be allowed free range, with the mother,
in a garden, where they will do much good by
devouring insects, (for they are industrious
little labourers), and will not injure flowers or
They are a pretty fancy, and being miniatures
themselves, are well suited to miniature poultry
grounds ; not that they are at all limited to such,
for they are prized by fanciers who rear all sorts
and breeds of fowls on the most extended scale.
They can be kept along with other breeds and
fowls with impunity.
There are many varieties of Bantams, exclusive
of the feather-legged, which, like moustache in
the pulpit, is a matter, (shall I say fortunately ?)
of rare occurrence, though the former may be
considered more objectionable than the latter, as
being more unnatural.
The points of Gold-laced Sebright Bantams
are : — Plumage, golden brownish-yellow, each
feather bordered with a lacing of black ; tail,
without sickle feathers, carried well over the
back, each feather tipped with black ; comb, rose,
pointed at the back; wings, drooping to the
ground ; saddle and nech hacJcles, totally absent ;
feet and legs, lead-colour and clean; ear-lobes.
The Gold-laced hen corresponds exactly, in
plumage, with the cock, but is considerably
lighter in weight.
The Silver-laced differ from the above only in
the ground-feathering, which is silvery instead
The more nearly the shade approaches to
white, the more beautiful is the specimen; too
often a yellowish tinge is visible.
Both classes are distinguished for their strut-
ting braggadocio air, and pufFed-out breasts,
making, as it were, the most of themselves.
The Black and White Bantams are perhaps the
smallest of that tribe. One description will suf-
fice for both, as they differ only in colour, which
must be stainless in either. Cock — tail, sickled
and flowincr; con\h, rose; wattles, scarlet; ear-
lobes, white, and well developed ; legs, deep slate-
colour. Hen — similar in plumage. In breed-
ing the White Bantam, white legs and bill are to
be aimed at; these points greatly enhance the
beauty of these little favourites.
Game Bantams resemble the real game in
form, colour, and high courage (only, in size, on
a ridiculously reduced scale) ; this gives to the tiny
breed a degree of interest superior to any other.
Fanciers can keep these representatives of by-
gone days, and " fight their battles o'er again,"
in idea, " thrice rout all their foes," and " thrice
slay the slain."
Even these innocent little creatures are sub-
jected to the cruel process of dubbing. It is
indeed monstrous to rob these pretty fairies of
any beauty with which nature has adorned
Game Bantam fanciers ! will you listen to the
cry of a " Sister of Mercy," and abolish at once
this barbarous remnant of antiquity?
The Duckwing and Black-breasted Red are the
two most esteemed varieties. The points of the
former (small size being essential) are: Cock —
Breast, black; tail, black and sickle-feathered;
neck and saddle hackles, silvery white ; face, red ;
head, thin and long; beak, curved. The lower
wing coverts of the male bird, which is always the
most marked and brilliant in plumage (giving,
in fact, the name to the breed), should be marked
with blue, forming a bar across the wing.
Hen — Breast, robin colour; body, ash grey ;
hackle, silvery; legs vary in colour, white are
much coveted, but very rare.
Cock — Breast, black ; neck and saddle hackles,
bright orange-red ; back, brown-red ; tail, black.
He7i — general colour, chestnut-brown; hackle,
pale buff, edged with black ; breast, deep fawn;
body and iving coverts, partridge colour.
Each amateur has his own predilection as to
the colour of legs and feet. Uniformity, how-
ever, in a pen, is indispensable.
There are other varieties of Game Bantams,
as in their larger progenitors, but it is not pos-
sible to give the descriptive characteristics of
These newly -imported birds are of various
colours, but all have the same form — very short
leg — well feathered — the tail almost touching the
back of the head, as in the fan-tailed pigeon. I
have found them delicate in chickenhood, but
not so when fuU grown. The buff, wliite, and
black varieties are all very beautiful.
This breed is of elegant form, and graceful in
its movements. It may be called " everlasting
layer," because, until in moult, the hen lays
almost every day; they seldom show a desire
to sit ; it is the exception, and only indulged in
(I have found) when the birds had a free woodland
range, thereby clearly demonstrating the fact,
that domestication has impaired their sitting
powers. Originally, (of course), they must have
hatched their eggs like other fowls. I have found
both the Pencilled and Spangled varieties good
mothers. If not interfered with, (like the phea-
sant, in a fine season), she will rear all her brood,
but, like her, is quite dependent on weather. If
confined to a yard, I have never found the Ham-
burghs sit ; and their range, even if free, must be
wild, to induce a desire to perpetuate her species.
They are truly lovely and perfect creatures,
and, if size of egg is not a desideratum, this breed
1 KNCILLF. D HAMBURGH
HAMBURG HS. 161
will suit the mere fancier better than any other.
It is robust in constitution, and has the knack of
keeping itself in good looks eleven months out of
the twelve. For the table, what is of it, is good.
I have found them safe birds to exhibit; for if
the colour and points are good, condition and size
are never considered. Mr Brown's description of
the necessary points is exactly in accordance with
my own experience : he has kindly permitted me
to make use of it.
" The points of ' Silver-spangled Hamburghs '
are: a white ground, with clear and distinct
spangles (in the hens) all over the body; tail,
white and spangled, or traced on the outer
margin of the feathers; blue legs; good double
combs, finely serrated and fii-mly set on the
head, with an evenly-pointed spike at the back.
The spangled cock must possess the same points
as the hen ; with this exception, that his wings
are not spangled in all varieties of the Ham-
hurgh. The larger the luliite ear the more valu-
able the bird, provided it has all the above
"The points of the 'Golden- spangled' are
exactly similar to the Silver, except the ground-
colour, which is golden. The cochs in this variety-
differ very. much. Some judges approve most
of those which have a pure hlach breast — some
desire them spangled, but this, so-called spangling,
on the breast of a golden cock is seldom more
than oblique patches of red, not corresjjonding
at all with the upper parts of the bird's plumage.
Seeing the difficulty of getting a pure and well-
defined spangled breast, I prefer a pure black.
" In the pencilled varieties, the combs, legs,
tail, and hackles, are the same as in the spangled
birds ; but the tail in the hens is very frequently
pencilled, as well as the body. The cock, in the
Silver-pencilled variety, is often nearly white, with
yellowish wing coverts, and a brown or chestnut
patch on the flight feathers of his wing. The cock,
in the Golden-pencilled, should be of one uniform
colour all over his body — no pencilling whatever.
Tail, copper colour, but many first-class birds have
a pure black tail. It must be borne in mind that the
hackles and head of the four varieties I have de-
scribed should be entirely free from any black
markings. " D. Beown."
"We have received many varieties of
fowls from France, some of which I can
from experience recommend. As a rule,
they are non-sitters — lay large, white, de-
licately flavoured eggs, and are excellent
as table fowls — being white in flesh and
well-shaped. Unlike the Dorking, they
lay in winter, irrespective of age, and
adult hens, if highly fed, will lay during
nine months of the year. I can particu-
larly call attention to the three following
varieties : —
This hobgoblin-looking fowl is really a good
and useful one.
164 FRENCH BREEDS.
Some think its name is derived from the re-
semblance the comb presents to a split heart ;
others (with whom I agree) do away with this
romance, and attribute it to the preponderance
of the breed in the village of Creve Coeur, in
Normandy, whence we can distinctly trace its
I have bred these birds largely, and continue
to do so, which is a sure proof that I consider
this variety (so little known) worthy of consider-
able attention in this country. Parisians are
quite aware of its merits.
The breed is scarce, and I have found much
difficulty in procuring birds, of a different strain,
to breed from — true to colour.
The pure-bred Creve is of large size ; the cock
should weigh nine and a-half pounds, and the
hen (which is heavy in proportion) about eight
and a half pounds.
The pullets come to maturity at an early age,
and always outweigh the cockerels.
Creves possess the great advantage of thriving
in a confined space, are remarkably tame, and of
great amiability ; but I have found the chickens
CREVE CCEUR. 1G5
delicate and liable to roup in damp seasons —
they thrive best on dry light soil, and can scarcely
have too much sun.
The points to be aimed are as follows : —
Cock — jet black body, and tail with the green-
ish hue of the Spanish.
Neck and saddle hackles — ^jet black, long and
Top —must be jet black.
Ear-lobes — red.
Wattles — bright scarlet, long, and pendulous.
Beak — black.
Legs — black, and free from feathers.
Coynb — scarlet. In shape a cleft heart, or rather
like the horns of the fallow-deer.
He7i — identical in colour with the cock, as
regards bodi/, legs, and tail. The crest must be
very full and globular, either black, or black and
white ; the comb is, of course, much smaller —
The body must be square, breast full, and legs
166 FRENCH BREEDS.
These are very handsome, large, showy birds,
very lively, and more inclined to wander than
the Creve Coeurs. When full grown, they are
also hardier ; but as chickens, even more delicate,
in wet weather. They should not be hatched
before May. Their points are : —
Comb — shaped like horns — quite straight and
more pointed than that of the Creve Cceur.
Face — bright red, and nostrils wide and ele-
Ear-lobe — white.
Hackles, neck, and saddle — metallic black.
Plumage — jet black.
Legs — very dark — almost black — strong,
straight, and somewhat long, but concealed by
the full, deep breast — a most important point.
Comh — small, and spiked.
Plumage — jet black.
Legs — short and strong.
Breast — broad and deep. Size is arrived at
in this breed.
This is my favourite variety of all the Conti-
nental fowls, and I hope to see it widely spread
throughout our own land. It should be seen in
every farm-yard, and I can guarantee that the
earliest chickens sent to market will be from this
breed. The chickens feather quickly, and are
altogether more precocious than others, (unless
the Hamburgh, that pretty, graceful bird, dimi-
nutive in form, but of rare beauty). I have found
them quite hardy, and in damp weather much
more easily reared than Dorkings. In addition
to their laying powers, as table fowls they are
excellent — smaller than the Creve Coeur or La
168 FRENCH BREEDS.
Fleche, but very white in flesh, plump, and well-
shaped. Houdaus, in their own country, have
no particular points of colouring beyond the
black and white plumage, as free from any tinge
of yellow as possible. In our exhibitions we are
more ambitious and exclusive, and I shall en-
deavour to describe the points of merit aimed
at by English fanciers and breeders. Size should
have much influence in the decision of judges.
Premising tlmt the pens of Houdans will be
matched in colour of leg, the other points are as
follows : —
Breast — black and white, regularly spotted —
full and deep.
Thighs — spotted, as short and fleshy as pos-
I^eck hackles — white and black, streaked — full
Saddle hackles — white, and very long.
Crest — scanty — streaked black and white.
Comb — branched, and slightly cupped.
Wattles — red and long as possible, but firm.
Tail — white, carried well up, and abundant.
Legs — as white as possible, or spotted with
Feet — do., with five claws.
Carnage — bold and upright.
Breast — black and white, regularly spotted.
Body — do.
Comb — small and spiked, or slightly cupped.
Beard — full and long.
Crest — very full and globular, mixed black
There is a variety of Houdan very dark in
colour — the ground almost black, with very little
white. The tail feathers must in the cock be
almost black, and the hackles also be of dark
hue. Either variety breeds true to colour.
The evidence seems in favour of our being
indebted to our transatlantic cousins for this
gigantic race of Poultry.
There can be no doubt of the existence now,
in America, of two distinct classes, the Domestic
and the Wild, although they must originally have
centred in one common stock.
The former is famous for its immense size, the
latter for its beauty.
In our own country we have several varieties,
distinguished by colour only, for they are all
identical in their habits and general form.
I shall dilate on the peculiar characteristics of
each, though I do not think the Turkey is a profit-
able denizen of the farm-yard. Their chickenhood
is so delicate, that many do not arrive at maturity,
even after the greatest care has been bestowed
upon them, and much food wasted. When suc-
cessful, and fine birds are reared to grace the
Christinas board, the price they commaud is not
at all commensurate with their cost; they are
To pay, I consider they must be bred in
numbers, and on a system of exclusive attention ;
but a single brood reared on a farm, fed up to
great size and weight, and pampered to their
heart's content, will, at the period of sale, have
cost double its price in food.
I know many who will bear me out in this.
Does any one, then, ask, " Is this species to be
tabooed in private establishments?" I say. Most
certainly not; it cannot be dispensed with, so
elegant in life, so useful in death: who ever
heard of a dinner without a Turkey?
Where attendance is ample, the Turkey may
be raised with ease, without any important extra
expense in that respect, though its food must,
of course, always be a heavy item.
Adult birds are very hardy, and poults, when
fully feathered, will have, in a great measure,
survived their earlier delicacy.
For breeding purposes, birds of mature age,
even three or four years, are preferable to those
of only one year ; the hens may be unlimited in
Turkeys select their own laying places, and
will return to them faithfully, though their eggs
are removed daily, provided a nest-egg is left to
mark the spot.
When broody, the hens may be deposited in
any corner, as they are persevering sitters, and
will not desert their eggs wherever placed.
If the nest, chosen by the hen, is in a sheltered
and secluded spot, it is as well to return her
eggs when she gives evidence of a wish to sit.
I have always found the healthiest birds are
obtained from this natural treatment.
Turkeys roam far in search of privacy for
laying, and steal off most cunningly to the
selected retreat; they sometimes even defy de-
tection, and are not seen till they appear with
their brood, generally a small one, for, if the
weather ic wet or cold, the chicks die off, as
do those of our wild birds — partridges and
Fifteen eggs are sufficient to place under a
Turkey; they are hatched on the 31st day.
"WILD AMERICAN TURKEY
£din1nirfii Tbtr^^^ C Jacx
A similar treatment should be adopted with
the chicks, as with those of the common hen.
Leave them for twenty -four hours with the
mother ; then offer them the yolk of hard boiled
eggs, bread crumbs, curd, minced green food,
and confine the hen to her coop for a few days,
and always till the grass is dry.
She will, when at liberty, lead them into the
unmown hay, and dry plantations, where they
will pick up much food, in the shape of seeds
and insects, but they must also be fed by hand,
three or four times a day, and at regular intervals.
Porridge and milk, chopped nettles, onions,
docks, and cabbage, are aU favourite items in
their dietary ; some are nourishing, some stimu-
lating ; they must also have their share of the
soft balls described in my chapter on food, and
grain of any or every sort. For some years I
have made use of Durant & Co.'s* patent meal,
for mixing with the other food, and I have found
it very beneficial. The poults eat it greedily,
and it keeps them in good health and spirits
* Agent, Mr Daniel Brown, taxidermist, Perth.
even in damp weather, which all know is so
trying to young birds.
The curd I have mentioned is prepared accord-
ing to a recipe kindly sent to me by a friend who
is a great Turkey-breeder, and I have found it
excellent, both as food and medicine, the astrin-
gent qualities acting as tonics, and my game-
keeper has found it a most valuable prepara-
tion for young pheasants, reared under hens.
It is made as follows : — Mix one teaspoonful of
pounded alum, with four quarts of milk slightly
warmed, separate the whey from the curd, and
give only the latter in a soft state.
If judiciously and fully fed, Turkey male poults
should weigh at least twenty pounds at Christ-
mas, and that with only their natural feeding.
Any other I repudiate, along with all those who
have any experience in this breed.
The classes of our domestic Turkeys are the
Norfolk, Cambridge, and White.
There is also a pretty buff-feathered bird, more
to be admired, however, for its singularity than
usefulness ; also a grey variety, sometimes called
Virginian, small but elegant.
Last, but not least, comes the Wild Ameri-
can Turkey of the " forest primeval " — in form,
slender and erect, of stately proportion, and
dignity of mien — resembling its native pursuers,
the chiefs of the prairie.
It is impossible to conceive any tints more
glowing than those which light up the plumage
of this beautiful bird ; they are brilliant in the
extreme ; a ground of brown, burnished with
gold, ruby, and green, w'hich, in the sunbeam,
has quite a dazzling aspect.
Unless in the peacock, I know not of such
exquisite hues, and in graceful bearing the Wild
Turkey stands alone.
!Many of the so-called wild birds sent to this
country are hatched from eggs laid in the bush
by domesticated hens, which, in accordance with
their habits previously mentioned, often lay at
great distances from home.
The really Wild Turkeys are seldom seen in
Great Britain ; they never breed, if shut up, they
are so shy and restless, lose all brightness of
colour, and pine away.
Their large woman-like, gentle dark eyes seem
to reproach their gaoler, and their plaintive cry
to plead for liberty ; I, for one, never resisted
the appeal. They wander to incredible distances,
if allowed free range.
Hence the difl&culty of keeping the pure breed.
Their long slender red legs appear made for
traversing the fallen pines, and their close firm
plumage for resisting the tangled brushwood. The
hens will cross with our " domestic Cambridge,"
improve the constitution of that bird, and impart
some of their native characteristics and beauty.
Tor exhibition, the Norfolk Turkey must be
in plumage, jet black (not a hlue black), free from
any admixture of colour ; legs and feet the same.
Camhridge may vary from pale grey to dark,
with a deep metallic tint of brown ; legs, light in
Good matching is imperative; a dark cock
must have dark hens, and a light cock light hens.
This being attended to, size and weight decide
These domestic Goliahs are generally divided
into two classes, the White, or Embden, and
the Grey, or Toulouse, equally advantageous in
size, and other good qualities.
The goose lays early, if well fed, and is cer-
tainly a most profitable denizen of our poidtry
yard, looking to the immense amount of food she
contributes to the general use.
The feathers and do\\Ti, alone, make Geese
valuable stock, even though we do not follow the
barbarous practice of plucking the poor creatures
alive, once a-year, for the sake of them.
I find the Turkey an excellent mother for
The Goose wanders too far with them, and
does not allow them to be familiar with their
keeper, of whom, indeed, they soon can be quite
independent, as they feed on grass, and forage
well for themselves. Treated thus, however, they
will never arrive at the size and weight of exhi-
bition birds, and I therefore recommend a Turkey
mother, or even a large common hen ; this latter
will cover three eggs ; a Turkey seven; the period
of incubation is 30 days.
Goslings cannot be too highly fed; meal,
grain, bread, onions, cabbage, &c., all, in abund-
ance, should be set before them. Eats are their
natural enemies, and from these they must be
protected; in addition, a dry bed under cover is
all they require in the way of night housing.
Geese are much less hydropathically inclined
than people fancy, and do not require more than
a large trough to bathe in; the breeding stock,
5 in number (1 male and 4 females), should be of
My ideas as to weights and points correspond
with those of the unconquered (though I trust
not the unconquerable) Mr Fowler, our " Magnus
His experience is : — " Toulouse Geese should be
tall and erect, with their bodies hanging on the
ground ; light grey breast and body.
Back, dark grey; necks, darker grey; wings
and helly should shade off to white, but there
should be little actual wliite visible; hills, pale
flesh-colour, hard and strong ; legs and feet, deep
orange, approacliing to red.
"The weight of these birds, by careful feeding
and management, has become extraordinary; 74
lbs. for three birds has been attained. The cup
gander at Birmingham in 1859 weighed 33 lbs.,
and in 1860, 30 lbs.; the three, 71 lbs. The
weight of geese may be from 20 to 25 lbs.
"Goslings, at IVIichaelmas, often weigh 20 to
22 lbs. "J. K FowLEE."
There are several semi-domesticated varieties of
Geese. The only one I consider of any utility is
the Chinese ; it lays a great number of eggs, and
a cross between it and the Toulouse gives a deli-
cious bird for the table. Their time of incuba-
tion is about 35 days.
The goose resembles the gander in form and
colour, and both have a dark brown stripe down
the back of the neck. They are graceful in form,
but have that greatest of all defects, a discordant
voice, and, being very loquacious, it is a serious
evil to be constantly exposed to their whining,
discontented, harsh cry. On a distant piece of
water, they look well, as they are peculiarly ele-
gant in movement ; their colour is brown, shaded
into white on the breast; hill, tuberculated and
black; neck, long; feet and legs, black.
Blossom-white plumage; hills, flesh-colour;
legs dindifeet, orange.
These birds attain great weights, and are valu-
able in the market, on account of the superior
quality and colour of the down, but, to look well,
they must have access to a pond, and are there-
fore alone available to those who possess this
There is not a great variety in our domestic
ducks ; only three distinct exhibition breeds exist,
viz., the Aylesbury, Rouen, and Buenos Ayres or
They are very hardy, sleeping out of doors
in all weathers, from preference. Of course, as in
all poultry establishments, there should be a
duck-house — a mere shed suffices, without door;
but a yard is indispensable, if they are shut up
Where two or more varieties are kept, they
must not be allowed to mix at any season;
therefore separate apartments become necessary.
Both house and yard should be littered down
with straw, frequently renewed.
A duck sits faithfully, but is the worst pos-
sible mother for her own progeny, as she waddles
ofl' with them as soon as hatched to her favourite
element, generally leaving the half of her family
immersed, unable to extricate themselves; hence
the small broods of wild ducks generally seen —
the delicate ones were, in all likelihood, drowned
in their infancy. Ducks' eggs are better set
under a hen, who will rear her foster chicks most
tenderly; it is even advisable to give a valu-
able hen duck's eggs to bring out, as she will
have more liberty with them than with chickens,
and (not being obliged to cover the young flock),
will not have her plumage destroyed.
Ducklings soon become independent of a
mother's care, and, if protected from rats, can
be cooped in numbers together, at night.
Their food should consist at first of meal
made into a paste, and given frequently; later,
groats thrown into water.
I find a square, flat, tin dish, the best vessel
for this purpose, as also an iron hopper, a cut of
which is appended, (fig. 8.) It is filled from the
top, and, being heavy, cannot be upset, or the
Ducklings are sometimes afiected by cramp;
this must be attributed to the absence of dry
straw, or the presence of too deep water.
When fully grown, ducks should be fed only
twice a-day, on soft food and any kind of grain,
always in water; in their wanderings, they pick
up a great deal very much to their taste ; they
begin to lay regularly in February, often at
Christmas, and continue many months.
The eggs of the Eouen are large, and of
a greenish-blue tint; a drake should not be
allowed more than four females, or many of the
eggs will prove imfertile.
The wild drake is monogamous, and there is
no doubt, to it, our domestic Kouen breed owes
its origin, though it now differs from it essen-
With respect to exhibition points, colour, and
weights, I can give no information that will
be so acceptable to my readers as that of Mr
Fowler, the well-known agriculturist, and the
most successful breeder of ducks known.
I subjoin his kind remarks on this variety: —
" Prebendal Farm, Aylesbury.
" Rouen Drake should have a yellowish-green
hill, without splash of black or any colour, ex-
cept the black bean at the tip; it should be
long, broad, and rather wider at the tip than the
base, well set on to the front of the head. Head,
rich, lustrous, green and purple; distinct white
ring round the neclc, not quite meeting at the
back; rich brown or claret breast, reaching low
down to the water line. Back, dark-green ; body
beautifully soft grey, almost coming to white
near the tail ; tail, darkish green, and curls firm
and black; wings, brownish, with broad ribbon
mark of purple and white; on no account white
flight feathers, this defect is fatal; legs, orange.
or brown and orange ; weight about 8 lbs., some-
times 9 lbs. ; when heavier, some defect of
plumage or bill is always found.
"Rouen Buck — brown pencilling on a greyish
body; the hack beautifully marked with blackish
green on light brown base; ribbon mark and
other colour of wings nearly like the drake;
towards the tail the feathers should be well
pencilled, quite to the tip. The head should be
marked with three dark longitudinal stripes from
the bill past the eye, and the neck on no account
should have the least appearance of a white ring ;
this would be as heretical as a white flight feather
in the wings. The hill should be broad, long,
and somewhat flat, brownish orange, with a dark
blotch on the upper part ; a slate-coloured bill,
or an absence of orange, is a sure disqualifica-
tion ; legs, brown and orange. Weight of first-
class birds, 7 lbs. It should be remarked that
Rouen drakes change colour in an extraordinary
manner ; they first resemble the ducks, then
moult to their true colour, then back to the
colour of ducks, and the fourth time moult to
their original beauty. J. K. Fowlek."
The great beauty of this breed consists in its
snowy plumage; the delicate rose-coloured bill
must also be admired. To obtain it without
stain or blemish, free from yellow tinge, is the
great aim of all Aylesbury breeders.
A ferruginous soil, as I have experienced,
affects the colour of the bill very much. Al-
though correct as to tint, when brought to the
fatal spot, in a few days the yellow shade makes
its appearance, and can never be got rid of;
true, old age produces this colour on any soil.
The Aylesbury is admirable for its pure white
downy feathers, and as it lays early, the duck-
lings are always first in the market.
The eggs are white, and excellent in flavour.
Mr Fowler says : —
"Aylesburys — purest white plumage all over ;
hills, delicate flesh-colour, long and broad, and set
on like the bill of a woodcock; any spots of black
or yellow hue must disqualify ; legs, deep orange ;
necks, fine and long.
"Brake and duck quite alike, in form and
" A first-rate drake weighs from 9 to 9^ lbs. ;
ducks have weighed 9 lbs.
"A good average pen of three, at a show,
should weigh 23 or 24 lbs.; at Birmingham
(where four are shown), 32 lbs. is a great
" It should be noticed that Aylesbury and
Rouen Ducks, as well as geese, suffer much in
weight from travelling; quite as much as 1 to
1 \ lbs. each on a journey of fifty miles ; geese,
perhaps, even more.
" East Indian Ducks should be all of a rich
lustrous greenish black, with a perfect absence of
white feathers ; dark legs and bills. The bill of
the drake, dark greenish yellow; a brown breast
is inadmissible. They should be as light in
weight as possible ; as little as 2 lbs. each would
"J. K Fowler."
Pj ©felt (B^txmtt
— ♦ —
" Richard loves Richard ; that is, I am I." — Shakspeare,
" Poet of all time," gracing the closing chapter
of even the struggling " Henwife ;" yes, immortal
Bard of Avon ! little did you think, when you
penned these words, that you might have owed
fame to her page, had not the veneration of your
posterity forestalled it ! !
To carry out my principle of practicality, I
now treat of "my own experience;" egotist,
necessarily, I must be, in so doing ; but without
some measure of self-esteem, we could not be
conscious of our own identity, and no such being
could have shown forth as a Patriot, or a suc-
cessful Poultry Exhibitor.
I write, however, in no vainglorious spirit ;
I have been beaten too often to boast ; my wish
only is to show what amount of success may be
achieved by a novice, such as I was a few years
ago, in exhibition, though not in table, Poultry.
Feeling the utter hopelessness of winning any
honours with my own stock, I commenced my
192 MY OWN EXPERIENCE.
career by purchasing, in " ]\Ierrie England," a
splendid pen of Dorkings, which carried all
before it, at my first and second exhibition, in
Scotland ; so I began well, and though, of course,
I buy, every year, for change of blood, I now
breed my own exhibition fowls, — ay, and sell
to others for that purpose ; and have even been
beaten by my own birds showTi against me.
To breed successfully, one must part with the
good as well as the indifferent, when too nearly
allied, and, though loath to lose them, go they
must, either privately or by public sale, which
latter is always more satisfactory, both to feeling
and purse ; if good, the birds fetch high prices,
and there can be no after-reproach ; the public
fixes its own rate, and relieves you from that
responsibility, which is no small one.
It is always extremely difficult to know how
much an intending purchaser will give ; you fear
to lose a customer, and also to ask too little ; it is
inherent in human nature to love a good bargain.
From year to year, I have added to my hen-
houses and yards, till I have arrived at the grand
total of forty-two separate runs ; many of a very
2IT OWN EXPERIENCE.
rude and primitive construction. Some are on
the plan given in page 29 ; otliers are erected at
the edge of plantations and shrubberies, as shown
in annexed cut (fig. 9.) These have no yards, as
the occupants enjoy complete liberty ; there I
place my choicest breeding pens, free from all
restraint, thus giving them the best chance of
retaining health and vigour.
When the hens become broody, and are re-
JfY OWiV EXPERIENCE.
moved to the sitting-houses, chickens take pos-
session, and remain till the sale in the early year,
which makes room for their successors. " Wel-
come the coming, speed the parting guest."
The 'parent cocks, meanwliile, are shut up in
the yard-houses with a few hens of any variety,
in order to keep up a succession of cross-bred
chickens for the table.
I have found the advantage of a number of
small houses with covered-in wire runs, (move-
able at pleasure to fresh ground), a drawing of
which I give (fig. 10.)
Some of these yards are of glass, laced over
with wire, the houses in both cases being alike
detached, but fitting closely to the runs (fig. 11.)
Mr OWIf^ EXPERIENCE.
These "Crystal Palaces" answer admirably for a
brood of early chickens, protecting them from
rain, wind, frost, and snow, and affording the ad-
vantage of their receiving every ray of sunshine
attainable at the season. In this variable climate
I never feel confidence in the weather till May is
out ; before that, it is often damp and chilly.
The houses are 6 feet high and 4 square ; tlie
yards only 4 feet high, G long, and 4 wide. The
roofs are wooden, covered with waterproof felt ;
ventilation in the houses is secured by small
holes pierced in the end, and, on fine days (when
the hen is allowed to sally forth with her family),
I leave the door open till her return. At aU
other times it is locked, and the only egress is by
196 MF WJV EXPERIENCE.
a trap into the run, the end of which opens like
a door, and can thus easily be cleaned out.
The interior of these houses is fitted up with
a row of nests ; occasionally I set two hens in
these, and when the broods are hatched, give all
the chickens to one. Beinor protected from cold,
they are not too many, the mother feels herself
at home, and the chickens are comparatively in
a natural condition ; they even winter very com-
fortably in these houses and runs. I find them
very useful for a pen of fowls put up for exhibi-
tion (in which case a moveable perch is required) ;
and for chickens deserted by their mother at too
tender an age, when they demand the greatest
care ; also for many other exigencies.
In a sheltered spot, facing south, I have a
large lean-to glass-house, divided into three com-
partments, each large enough to contain twenty
chickens, with a mother hen. This house is
warmed by a stove, and ventilated by sliding
boards — this enables me to rear chickens in
January ; but care must be taken to air the
buUding well — leaving the doors open in fine
weather — to let the chickens run out at will
MY OWN EXPERIENCE.
In summer, all my small houses are placed on
grass, in winter, on dry earth, against a beech
hedge, facing the west; twice a- week they are
moved to fresh ground: if done regularly, and
in line, the ground has time to freshen during
When not in use, I have the runs set aside
so as to leave the pasture perfectly clear; the
grass springs up luxuriantly, and should be
mown at intervals. Lime is sprinkled over the
portion of the park allotted to them, which keeps
it free from taint.
Coop, with wire range, (fig. 12), is specially
MF OWJV EXPERIENCE.
useful for the nio-lit-housmo; of ducklino-s and
goslings; indeed, these tempting morsels easily
fall a prey to rats, — they seem their favourite
dainties. Chickens they do not touch, unless
pressed by hunger, which, perhaps fortunately,
is impossible, where so much food can be had for
the taking; yet I have had twenty-seven duck-
lings and three gosKngs carried off in one night.
For hens and turkeys which must be confined
for a part of each day, (and many altogether, if
they fight with and ill-use stranger chickens),
coop, fig. 13, is essential. The bars of this should
J/F V^'N EXPERIENCE.
be rounded, two inches apart; in the middle a
flat spar, which, when taken out, permits the
egress of the hen.
If wooden floors and shutters are wished, they
should be made to slide, and more than one for
each coop will be requisite; (mine are washed,
and put up to dry every second day) ; hence the
necessity for duplicates.
Coop, fig. 14, is a mere frame of wire, which
is employed to secure a refractory hen, while
her proper abode is being cleaned, or as a safe-
200 MY WjV experience.
guard for the food devoted to the chickens ;
they have access to it through the wire, and
Goslings and ducklings, alone of all young
stock, should have food always before them ; they
eat little at a time, and (for exhibition), require
to be pushed on and tempted.
I have no special houses, coops, or troughs for
Turkeys. They require none; but live in a semi-
wild state after the first month, during which
the young poults associate with the chickens
— the mother being confined in the coop before-
mentioned, except an hour or two each day.
Sometimes, when all my little domiciles are full,
I am obliged, hon gre, mal grh, to let my broods
wander at large; the strong chickens take no
harm, and, perhaps, this roving gipsy life makes
them even less liable to disease. Many deaths,
however, must occur among the weakly birds;
doubtless a provision of nature, in order that the
one may not hamper the other.
The mother walks off with the utmost sang
froid, leaving her helpless babes sprawling on
the ground, uttering piteous little cries for help.
MY ]VJ^ EXPERIENCE. 201
quite disregarded and neglected; — they are left
alone to die.
WTien the time comes to draft off the chickens
to their adolescent ranges, I carefully select the
most promising for the superior ones, putting all
the best of one kind there, and mixing the worst
indiscriminately together in inferior houses and
situations; from these the table and market are
The points of Dorkings, Brahmas, Spanish, &c.,
can be pretty well guessed when the hen leaves
I put about twenty chickens into each hut, and
from time to time, take away any that have fallen
off in looks since their location there, to make
room for those of a better stamp. I thus weed
my runs to the best of my judgment, and a little
experience soon malces it comparatively easy to
pick out, and do away with, the worst.
Even with the greatest care, some thrive better
than others; these are the "lights and shadows"
of poultry life. How often does a single bird
represent a brood, if the season proves unfavour-
able to delicate varieties; such I do not recom-
J/r OWN EXPERIENCE.
mend to be hatched early ; they cost us too much
in care and affection.
Slight defects in comb or claw are not fatal to
the chickens' merits as table fowls; I, therefore,
feed such as well as the very best, but do not
crowd my intended prize-winners with them.
I keep an exact (even fastidious) account of all
dates and numbers in my Poultry Diary, for cor-
rectly filling up schedules, arranging my sale
catalogue, and for my own general satisfaction.
Each day the number of eggs laid is noted
down ; the houses are all numbered, and the
figure of that in which the egg is found, marked
on it by the collector, who need not know one
sort of fowl from another.
/ alone arrange the eggs in their different
baskets, writing on the shell with pencil the date
Chickens, as they are hatched, are entered in
the Diary, as also the fowls killed for table and
market, at their respective values.
Wlien my assistant henwife receives orders for
settings of eggs, I mark them down in due order,
that each purchaser may be supplied according to
MY OWN EXPERIENCE. 203
the date of application; on the day wished, I
select the eggs myself, and superintend tlie pack-
ing of them.
This is the form of hamper used (fig. 1 5) ; they
are made by my OAvn gardeners, and answer the
^IJ ><r\^v^ J f)f»7i i'y^'
1 wish I could say, all the eggs sent in them
hatched well, but this I cannot.
Purchasers, however, should make themselves
aufait in the treatment of travelled eggs, as the
sender is often unjustly blamed.
I have sent eggs to the Bahamas (which hatched
in the proportion of 8 to ] 8); also to Ireland and
Shetland; these all did well, while others, not
carried a mile, failed.
204 MF WJV EXPERIENCE.
I buy eggs for setting every year, and have
had varied fortune; I do not, however, take for
granted, that the sender is to blame — when I
am unlucky. Even wild birds' eggs do not hatch
well in some seasons, and every poultry fancier
knows that high-bred prize stock is seldom pro-
lific — the life is too artificiaL
If even two birds are hatched from a setting
at L.l, Is., these alone are worth the money;
honest dealers (and such names as Watts,
Holmesdale, Fowler, Fitz- William, &c., are ma-
terial guarantees that they are to be met withj
find that price too low for eggs from really prize
stock, and put an almost prohibitory value on
them, I myself among the number.
It is nonsense to talk of eggs having been
doctored ; Quid nuncs may swallow such tales, but
not the practical fancier or breeder. Our names
are too valuable to us in the poultry world, and
our honour is quite as unimpeachable as that of
When my eggs have hatched badly, I have in
some cases given a fresh supply, ungrudgingly,
and, I may say, have also received it.
MY WN EXPERIENCE. 20o
My method of packing is to put each egg
upright (previously wrapped in strong paper) in
a little nest, as it were, of hay, tightly com-
pressed ; they are placed as closely as possible in
the hamper; on the top is a layer of hay, and
paper over all; with a packing-needle and twine
the lid is then fastened down.
Some use wooden boxes, and pack the eggs in
sawdust or bran ; but I consider the nailing down
of the lid causes a jar which is apt to frac-
ture the eggs. I never received a setting, packed
in this way, which reached me in perfect pre-
Railway officials, moreover, handle boxes much
less carefully than the more fragile-looking hamper.
As soon as eggs for setting are received, they
should be put under the hen. I have had com-
plaints of the failure of eggs from my yards,
which, I have found, were actually allowed
to lie in their hamper a fortnight unset;
the wonder is that any hatched at alL Often, too,
laying hens are allowed access to the sitting hen's
nest, and eggs are broken in the struggle which
206 J/r WN EXPERIENCE.
Hens often lay during incubation, and, if these
eggs are not removed, the result will be the
appearance of mongrels in a clutch of a supposed
A little attention would have ensured the non-
intrusion of such black sheep, and probably the
better hatching of the travelled eggs, for such
require abundant warmth, even more than those
laid at home; a tutored eye at once detects the
presence of these imbidden guests.
On the ninth day I examiue the eggs, by the
aid of a candle, in a darkened room, in the same
way as advised in my chapter on Hatching. If
the egg is to prove productive, it wUl aj^pear quite
dark, except a small clear disc at the top; if
clear throughout, I remove it as hopeless, and
have all such boiled hard (to feed the young
stock), which is a great economy.
I have found that hens hatch well in small
separate houses made something in the style of the
annexed cut (fig. 16); they may be placed in the
shrubberies, or anjrwhere, if secluded, and the
door left open, or closed, as circimistances dic-
tate ; when the sitting-houses are full, these little
3/7 OTFiT EXPERIENCE.
willow-retreats will be found useful and accept-
able beyond expression, to the intended sitter.
Having before advised my readers to preserve
all supernumerary eggs of summer, I now give
tliem my own recipe for so doing.
Once a-week I clear my baskets, selecting only
perfectly formed eggs; the slightest fracture or
imperfection in the shell would cause the failure
of a whole batch.
I place the eggs carefully in a jar, and pour
over them lime-water^ which is made by dissolving
208 i/r WN EXPERIENCE.
quicklime, in the proportion of two pounds to
four gallons of water ; this must stand a day, at
least, till the residue has settled at the bottom of
the vessel; the clearer portion is then poured
over the eggs, so as to cover them.
Should the jar not be fall, fresh eggs are added
from time to time, and as the lime water rises,
it is poured into another jar, ready to be filled in
like manner. Some use salt for preserving eggs ;
I have tried it, and found it worse than useless.
It hardens the yolk, and renders the egg uneat-
Be careful that the eggs are at least an inch
below the surface of the water; place a plate, or
lid of wood, over them, to prevent their floating ;
tie up the jar, and label it, stating the date, and
number of dozens.
These eggs are only worth, perhaps, sixpence
a-dozen at the time, but when you use them
(which will be in the scarce season, for they keep
good many months), they will be worth Is. 4d.
For even culinary purposes foreign eggs, — the
collection of months, — find ready purchasers at
MF TTiT EXPERIENCE. 209
that price; but, (were preserved eggs more
in use), we would not be so dependent on our
gallant allies for a winter pudding; the sun's
partiality makes us owe the juice of the grape to
the " Gallic cock," but we have no occasion to be
indebted to his hens.
Our own poultry yards should furnish our
tables; there need be no limit to our supply of
eggs and poultry, — at present, not, by any means,
equal to the demand ; for a bountiful and " all-
the-year-round " stock, I ask only a fair trial of
Every one has experienced the scarcity of
poultry in the country; a dire necessity exists
for reform, — let us have it, and we shall no longer
be obliged to eat things — called chickens — too
often to be classed only with Pharaoh's "lean
AYe have brighter hopes for the future, we will
no longer give the "pas" to our continental
dealers; we shall equal them, and then cry,
Libert^, ^galiU, f rater niU.
Farmers say that "Poultry rearing is unprofit-
able, won't pay, that prices are small," &c., — so
210 MY WN EXPERIENCE.
are the chickens, — make them larger, and prices
The importation of eggs and poultry from
abroad is enormous; I do grudge to see our
farmers throw away so great a source of profit.
All keep poultry on a greater or lesser scale,
thereby admitting the necessity of such stock, —
now, if kept at all, let it be of remunerative kinds.
My maxim is, " Whatever is worth doing, is worth
doing well," — and I would rather see our agricul-
tural husbands " hen-pecked '* all their lives, than
beaten by foreigners.
Let us give our neighbours useful lessons in
poultry, as in the management of the farm, and
they must succumb, in spite of their more genial
Perhaps my little book may assist in this
laudable endeavour; a certain degree of know-
ledge is necessary to organize a system.
I assure my readers mine is not merely theory;
they may judge of this by my facts. To back up
this pretension, figures are requisite, and they are
MYOWN^ EXPERIENCE. 21 1
" The farm-yard " is patronized by royalty, and
deaUngs in stock — not despised; many ladies
take an interest in the "Dairy;" I advise their
turning their attention to the "Poultry-yard"
as well, — thereby giving a stimulus to the
breeders of fine poultry, and certainly benefiting
their ovm manages by the introduction of such.
At the risk of even my word being doubted by
the ignorant, I subjoin the weights of Turkeys,
Geese, Ducks, Dorkings, Cochins, &c., from my
own yards. Only those who have real experience
in modern poultry will credit the weights to
which they have attained, by judicious breeding
and feeding. A friend of mine, the other day,
spoke (with a mixture of surprise and incredulity)
of a Torkey he knew of, which was said to weigh
20 lbs. His surprise was considerably increased
when one was pointed out to him weighing 34 lbs.,
which was strutting about in my yard in all its
pride, the consequential protector of twenty hens,
the best of which would rival the weight of the
cock that caused so much astonishment to the
212 MY OWN EXPERIENCE.
I had once a Turkey that weighed 40 lbs., but
alas! he is no more, though he lives
in his pos-
I consider the following good
weights, where they are an element
which, in many merely fancy varieties.
is not the
case — colouring and condition being the deside-
to 30 lbs.
„ Hen, .
„ 20 „
Toulouse Gander, .
V 30 „
» 24 „
Grey Dorking Cock,
„ 12 „
„ 10 „
. . 7
J, 8| „
» * »
Aylesbury Drake, .
>» " })
„ Duck, .
» 8| „
„ Hen, .
>J " «
Brahma Pootra Cock,
„ 12 „
„ „ Hen,
» " )>
I may mention that a p
en of two
sent to Birmingham, in Dec
.ember, 1860, weighed
M7 WN EXPERIENCE. 2 1 3
42 lbs., their age being five months. Three Dork-
ing pullets (six months' old) I sent to the same
show weighed 23 i lbs.
My own expenses are, perhaps, greater than are
required. Poultry is my "hobby," and I ride
it. My " staff" numbers three, — a man and two
women; my own valuable services must not be
lost sight of, — a galaxy of talent — at least we
think so, and that is the same thing.
Fortunately there are full lists of our prizes
and precedents, during past years, to refer to. I
do not think they will show I have been a laggard
in the fray; badinage apart, we have been given
laurels, and gratefully wear them.
Not the least pleasure of social life is that of
making friends, and retaining them by the inter-
change of ideas and experience on a subject of
Such is the mysterious and cabalistic tie which
binds poultry-fanciers together, that, without
even an introduction, they look upon each other
as friends, and are delighted to acknowledge the
freemasonry that exists among them.
From a simple question about poultry has
214 MY OWN EXPERIEISrCE.
arisen a personal friendship, and the kindest pos-
sible feeling; how pleasant a chat upon poultry
can be, is only known to the initiated few.
The cottager seeks for information from his
wealthier (in poultry) neighbour, and it is for
him I enjoy the small country shows, if conducted
on an amiable and friendly footing; they are the
annual exponents of poultry progress, and a true
lover of poultry will take defeat in good part,
provided he feels sure that he has been fairly
dealt with ; though disappointed, he will bear no
malice ; but justice there must be, to avoid grumb-
lings and heart-burnings.
Now for my " Balance Sheet," — dreadful words
to not a few! Bear in mind that the profits and
expenses of exhibition about make an even balance
in the debit and credit account, and are therefore
excluded ; if I hxiy at shows, I sell also, and in the
long-run nothing is lost. I give my regular
yearly expenses, and returns of private and
market sales — including the value of poultry-
yard produce used in my household.
Had profit been my sole object in poultry-
rearino-, I could have shown a much larger credit
J/r OWN EXPERIENCE. 215
account, for I should not, in that ease, have put
prohibitory prices on my exhibition pens, but
sold them at a remunerative rate. I have refused
sLxteen guineas for two favourite goslings, and
more than once ten for a Dorking cockerel —
money could not buy them. I have always
found my prizes pay expenses of exhibition in
Scotland. It is different when a long journey
has to be undertaken to London, Liverpool, and
Birmingham. Fame, however, there acquired,
sells eggs and stock.
Poultry on Hand— Bbebdino Stock.
15th February, 1861.
14 Geese at Market value
25 Turkeys at 10s.
15 Rouen Ducks at 2s. .
6 Buenos Ayres Ducks at 23.
55 Dorkings at 2s.
36 Brahmas at 28.
15 Buff Cochins at 2s. .
25 White Cochins at 2s.
12 CrSve Coeurs at 2s. .
30 Cross-bred Hens for Setting at 2s.
The manure from the poultry houses, which is very valuable, in fact the
Eggs sold at Market
Poultry sold at market prices
Eggs for household, do.
Poultry for household, do.
Eggs sold for setting
Poultry sold for breeding
Feathers and Down
I'Dultry sold by public aucticaj
able, in fact the
Balance brought down
Balance brought down
Total profits, .
L.320 18 9
. L.17 1
Poultry on Hand— Bbeedino Stock.
15th Fdmiary, 1860.
5 Geese at Market value
10 Turkeys at 10s.
10 Ducks at 2s.
36 Dorkings at 2s.
36 Brahmas at 2s.
10 Buff Cochins at 2s. .
10 White Cochins at 2s.
6 Golden-Pencilled Hamburghs at 28.
8 Crgve Coeurs at 2s. .
5 Bantams at Is.
25 Hens bought in for Setting at 28.
Balance carried down
richest Guano, I consider quite an equivalent for the straw and hay used.
Grain and Oatmeal
Paring Meal (or Thirds)
Buckwheat and Linseed
Eggs for Setting
Ale and Beer . ,
Bread . . ,
Advertising and Dairy .
Carpenter- Work and Wire
Wicker- Work, Setting Coops
Feeding and Drinking Vesselg
Balance carried down
L.820 18 9
218 3fF OWJi EXPERIENCE.
I must leave it to the reader to put a price on
my own personal labour, time, &c.; do not set
them do^vn at too low a figure.
All dainty food I distribute with my own
hands, or give it in charge to one who is
acquainted with the wants and circimistances of
Even as late as ten o'clock, on a summer night,
I may be seen, basket in hand, containing
vinegar, oil, and other " impedimenta," making
the round of the houses and coops, in which
some of the occupants require the different
Should roup unfortunately appear, a regular
routine of washing is established ; a small basin
for vinegar, and a sponge, are produced from my
basket, and every night, and every morning,
each sufferer is attended to.
Such care is rewarded by the speedy recovery
of the patients, and then I gladly lay aside the
physic for the food, and rejoice the hearts of
the convalescents with some little additional
They all know me quite well, and. at the
JfV TPiV EXPERIENCE. 219
usual hour of feeding, will come far on the way to
meet me ; I am proud to have them about me.
• • • •
" He prayeth well that loveth well
Both man, and bird, and beast ;
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things, both great and small ;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made, and loves them all."
" No man can tether time or tide," this is
beyond the energies even of the " Henwife,"
and I must now make my conge, a book not
being (as were Othello's " bloody thoughts") —
" Like to the Pontic Sea,
Whose icy current and compxilsive course
Ne'er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont."
I would not lag " superfluous on the stage : "
sweet is the sailor's rest when the voyage is over,
and sweet the Author's dreams when the toil is
Many, perhaps, have deemed me a fanatic, and
have, long since, thrown away my book as the
raving of a monomaniac.
MY OTfiT EXPERIENCE.
But all have not the same tastes, and if any
have been my unwearied companions through the
pleasant fields of Poultry, I thank them with a
warm and grateful heart. With such, "parting"
is, indeed, " sweet sorrow."
"Parewell, — a word that must be, and has
been.'* Farewell — kind reader.
Xhe Henwife's Own Basket.
^\t pcntoifc^s f atcr ^^nmt
Since this volume was first published, " The
Henwife " has contributed many valuable papers
on the subject of poultry to the Farmer news-
paper. With the exception of much that was
nearly a repetition of what is contained in this
work, these have been rearranged in their pre-
sent form, and cannot fail to be acceptable to
all lovers of poultry. They still retain their
journalistic style, but that can readily be over-
looked in the useful information they contain.
C^icluns mxH guchliitgs.
In the early spring it is quite necessary for all
good henwives to look forward, and, with all the
knowledge we possess or can acquire from the
222 CHICKENS AND DUCKLINGS.
experience of others, make every needful arrange-
ment for the future. I gladly, therefore, contri-
bute my mite in further aiding such endeavours
with what I may know on the subject.
Every well-regulated poultry-yard should be
able early in April to display a sufficient number
of late-hatclied chickens to supply the table until
those of this year's hatching are ready for use ;
and there should also be abundance of eggs for
the use of the household and for setting. All
superfluous stock should have been disposed of,
either by private or public sale, during the month
of January, and the different yards made up for
the breeding season — say one cock and six hens
in each. Already, there should be seen chickens
of two months old — perhaps future prize-takers
— if not, at all events birds valuable for table
use. The work of setting must be proceeded
with regularly and rapidly. Give only nine eggs
to the hen ; make the nest on a layer of ashes,
with hay, under which put a fresh green turf;
sprinkle the eggs slightly every day with tepid
water ; keep the hen off the nest a quarter of an
hour till she feeds, and during that time the
CHICKEXS AND DUCKLINGS. 22Z
different nests can be examined, cleaned, &c.
In case of frost, it is desirable to have a flue in
the sitting-house, so that a little heat may be
given at night ; none is necessary during the day,
nor at all for the laying-houses. The food sup-
plied gives sufficient warmth. This should
be of thirds — sometimes called sharps — slaked
with water, made overnight, and given as early
as possible in the morning ; at mid-day (for the
second meal), a little minced liver or cooked
meat of any kind, hemp-seed, and any green
food procurable at this season ; at four o'clock,
for the last meal, give as much grain as they
will pick up — light wheat or barley is the best,
and, in addition, a little Indian corn, but this
last sparingly, as it tends to fatten too much,
and I need not say that all breeding birds should
be in stock condition. Very heavy fowls seldom
either lay or breed well. Setting-hens are not
plentiful at this time. One is indebted to kind
neighbours for all their spare setters. It is a
good plan to place a number of early-hatched
pullets of all kinds that sit well in a yard with
any cocks reserved to fill up vacancies by casu-
CHICKENS AND DUCKLINGS.
alties. These pullets lay soon, and from them
early sitters are supplied.
Chickens should hatch on the twenty-first day,
or a few hours later at furthest. Save removing
the empty shells, do not interfere with the nest for
twenty-four hours ; then put the mother and her
brood into a coop ; feed with oatmeal and paring-
meal, equal parts, mixed wdth water into a
crumbling state, or bread soaked in milk and
squeezed dry ; give the chicks twice daily a little
water to driiik, but do not leave it beside them.
Some writers on poultry advise the removal of
the little scale from the tip of the chickens' bill,
but this practice is as cruel as it is unnecessary.
Where it is possible, the mother and her brood
may with great advantage be placed under a shed
in their coop for a few days until the chickens
become strong on the leg, when they can be
cooped out on dry earth or gravel. Chickens are
liable to cramp, and although access to grass is
advantageous, close confinement to it is not so at
every time. A gravel walk near grass is the best
possible site for a poultry coop until the chickens
are old and stronir enough to seek for shelter
CIIICKEXS AXD DUCKLiyGS. 22r,
from damp or cokl. They can then be removed
to less-favoured quarters, and give place to newly-
liatched broods. Following this practice system-
atically, numbers may be reared in a small space.
A little fresh gravel or sand must occasionally be
strewed over the ground, and it must be swept
daily. It is useful to leave little heaps of sand
here and there ?is> play-grounds for the chickens;
they scrape and half bury themselves in the dust,
thereby ridding their little bodies of troublesome
insects. After the third day from hatching,
chickens may have an increased dietary, such
as eggs boiled hard, mixed up with the shell ;
bread soaked in beer ; cooked meat minced ; a
few grains of hemp-seed, buckwheat, and groats
— all in addition to their former food. The hen,
of course, must be plentifully supplied with the
usual food of the poultry-yard. After the first
week chickens may be allowed free access to
water. The best water dishes are made of tin,
1^ inches deep, the middle filled up, leaving only
a narrow channel for water ; or what is equally
good, and more easily obtained, flower-pot saucers
inverted one into the other.
CHICKENS AND DUCKLINGS.
All persons conversant with poultry matters
allow that, in order to secure early-hatched
chickens, it is a necessity to have Cochin hens to
act as mothers. Dorkings, &c., may lay during
winter, but they rarely sit until their usual time,
which is spring. Cochins, on the contrary, sit
three or four times a year, and as they are good
winter layers, if young, they can be depended
upon to hatch the eggs of all tardy sitters. For
this purpose alone, therefore, Cochins would be
valuable additions to our stock ; but I consider
them besides very beautiful birds. Their soft
downy feathering, of such exquisite tints of
yellow and maize, all ladies must admire, and
the true types of the high-caste Cocliins are of
handsome, massive build, majestic carriage, large
size, and (which is but little known) very short
on the leg. They are hardy, docile, aiid very
productive ; their eggs are not large, but by no
means so small as those of the Hamburgs.
They bear confinement well, and a fence three
feet high is sufficient to keep them within bounds.
They require no perch in their houses, preferring
the floor, which must, however, be littered down
CIIICKEXS AM) DUCKLIMJH. 227
with straw, as in a stable, and as regularly re-
newed, for the feathering is so delicate in colour
and texture that it is easily soiled and ruffled by
damp. I do not consider Cochins good table
fowls unless when quite young, and I conse-
quently advise their being kept principally as
egg-layers and sitters. Pure-bred birds com-
mand high prices, and at all our principal shows
the classes fill well. Each fancier has her or his
individual taste regarding colour, and, as the
varieties are numerous, if the points and qualities
are good, colouring only holds a secondary place.
White Cochins, from the contrast of the scarlet
comb, yellow bill, and snowy plumage, are pe-
culiarly attractive, and they are quite as robust
as the coloured birds, but they must have a clean
grass run, and be seen only under a pure sky.
They are apt to become yellow if exposed much
to the sun ; so require a shaded yard — if the
birds are intended for exhibition — the yellow
tinge being a great disqualification. To tho.se
who have the wish to breed early chickens for
market, I confidently recommend crossing the
Cochin hen with a Dorking cock. The chickens
228 CHICKENS AND DUCKLINGS.
will feather more quickly than the pure-bred
Cochins, which are backward in fledging ; and
although there may be a shade of yellow in the
skin at that early season, say in March, poul-
terers cannot be fastidious, and I have known
them thankful to pay high prices for chickens
that would be almost worthless later. There is no
doubt Cochins are very productive when properly
managed ; and I strongly advise the introduction
at once of a few hens into all poultry-yards,
feeling sure they will give satisfaction on trial.
Chickens hatched in January should have
assumed the plumage of adult birds by the
middle of June, and many will have begun to
lay — thus keeping up the supply of eggs during
the moulting season. These young fowls will
sit in the autumn, and a continued succession of
chickens will thus be secured. Fewer are re-
quired during winter, as they are only for table
use. The great bulk of hatching should be
proceeded with during the six months from
February to July.
Ducklings should now be making their appear-
ance, and, if well fed, will be fit for table use in
CHICKENS AND DUCKLINGS. 229
the first week of June, when green peas may be
confidently looked for as their natural accom-
paniment. For a fortnight keep the hen cooped
on grass, giving the ducklings access to a small
enclosure — temporary, of course, as it must be
moved daily. Feed with soft food — groats
thrown into a shallow dish kept always full of
water, in which may be a fresh turf ; a little
buckwheat, linseed, and hemp-seed, with crusts
of bread — all, when well soaked, are greedily
devoured by ducklings. I prefer a hen to a
duck mother, as being more easily managed, and
not requiring a daily bath. Gt)slings can also
be reared successfully under hens, and the earliest
eggs (three to each hen) should be set as soon
as laid, leaving the latest for the goose herself.
The Toulouse breed lays freely, sometimes thirty
eggs before showing any inclination to sit. They
are fond of all green food — cabbage, lettuce,
spinach, &c., in addition to soft food and grain.
The goose mother is very exclusive, and is jealous
of any interference with her young, and though
careful, and seldom losing any by illness or acci-
dent, she cannot, owing to her wandering habits
230 DISEASES I.V CHICKEXS.
and naturally frugal fare, build up prize goslings.
To attain to the enormous weights required, high
feeding is de rigueur.
gisea^es hi C Inch cits.
In spring the weather is generally very trying
for young chickens. They have then much to
strive against — and happy those breeders who can
say they have not suffered in stock from the pre-
valence of cold winds, showers of rain and sleet,
with treacherous glimpses of sun, wnich, like
a false friend, smiles upon us only to leave us in
the hour of trial and weakness. It is then that
roup and other diseases will probably appear,
with the usual fatal results. Much, however,
may be done, by care and experience, to ward off
the malady, and I am glad to be able to come
to the assistance of desponding fellow-henwives,
and give them a recipe for the benefit of their
valuable young birds. If roup, though a very
deadly disease, has made its appearance, it can
be cured. Put into each drinking vessel a piece
of camphor, and as it dissolves replace it. If
DISEASES IN CIIICKEXS. 231
the weather is damp, dust a little jiounded pimento
into the food, in the proportion of one teaspoon-
ful to twenty-four chickens. For the first week
do not allow the hen to leave her coop, unless
you can put her under cover and confine her to
a wired-in range. Roup generally attacks chick-
ens when the feathers begin to appear. It will
probably have owed its origin to the bad weather
remarked upon ; but breeders must also be care-
ful that over-crowding has not had a share in
producing the evil. Take care, therefore, not
to overstock your ground ; if crowded, chickens
cannot thrive. In wet weather it is necessary to
put very young chickens under cover, and it is
difficult to find space for all to be comfortably
housed, and yet sufficiently apart. If possible,
howevet", separate your coops, and on the first
appearance of disease remove the brood to a
distance, and make it your special care. Mere
removal to fresh ground often effects a cure.
Very young chickens cannot bear much hand-
ling, and every other means should be tried
before having recourse to the medicine bottle.
The symptoms of roup are gasping, hoarse-
232 DISEASES IN CHICKENS.
ness, and loss of appetite. If the birds attacked
are not valuable, I strongly urge their being put
out of pain and of sight at once, thereby stamp-
ing-out the disease in our poultry-yards. Put
only your very best chickens under medicinal
treatment, and administer to thern the following
remedies : — A piece of camphor the size of a
pea, a few drops of castor-oil, and wash the
nostrils and inside of mouth with vinegar. For
this purpose, use a small sponge. Vinegar is very
cleansing, removing the mucus which collects in
the throat. Take the scale off the tongue ; this
is done by holding the bill open with the left
hand, and scraping off the hard point with the
thumb-nail of the right. This operation can only
be performed upon strong well-grown chickens.
The more the tongue bleeds the better. Continue
the washing with vinegar morning and evening
until the gushing ceases, and the appetite returns.
Every morning fill the drinking vessels with
water, to which has been added the restorative,
the recipe of which is as follows : — " 1 lb. of
sulphate of iron and 2 oz. sulphuric acid, dis-
solved in 1 J gallons of boiling water. When cold
DISEASES nv CHICKENS. 233
bottle it, and use in the proportion of one tea-
spoonful to a pint of water." At all times and
to all poultry this tonic may be given with ad-
vantage, particularly in the moulting season, or
when the birds have been weakened by exhibition.
Chickens, especially Brahmas, suffer much
from slow feathering. In cold weather it is very
trying, and some will sink under it. The cure is
good housing and high feeding. Bread soaked in
ale, given once a day, or oftener, if not grudr/ed ;
crushed bones, curd, eggs ; in fact, everything
that is conducive to strength and health.
I have seen (fortunately not often) chickens suf-
fering from noxious animalculte, which literally
prey upon the bodies of the poor little things. It
maybe the mother has been too closely confined, or
perhaps not allowed daily access to her dust bath,
or the coop has not been cleansed sufficiently often.
In any case, it shows bad management, for such
a disease should be unknown in a well-appointed
poultry-yard. The cure is simple enough — snuff
or sulphur dusted into the feathers of the hen
chickens ; but when the latter have suffered and
severely from the attacks of their enemies, and
234 YOUNO STOCK.
become ragged in feather, and almost naked,
the snuff or sulphur should be mixed with lard,
and rubbed in by the hand. During warm
weather, the hen-houses, and especially the sitting-
house, should be kept scrupulously clean. Occa-
sionally sprinkle a little water over the floors
and nests, and upon the wetted parts scatter
sulphur mixed with ashes. The hen-house is so
frequently visited by the lady or gentleman
manager and their friends, that cleanliness be-
comes a sine qua non, and perfect security from
the inroads of all parasites must be guaranteed.
When May sets in, our poultry-yards teem
with daily-increasing life, and we must be very
busy with the care of our young stock.
Pick out indifferent early chickens now, and
kill them as required for the table. There are
always some with faulty claws or combs, and
upon such high feeding and special care are
wasted ; therefore slay and eat all doubtful
chickens, and hatch more — the greater the
YOUNG STOCK. 233
number to choose from, of course, the better
the chance of prize-birds. Remove the superior
chickens to choice situations, separating the
pullets from the cockerels, as in this way diflFer-
ent breeds can be kept together at one range.
From time to time weed out any that are de-
ficient in points, and fill up their places with
fresh recruits. The great work of setting is
nearly over ; but a few pens may still be set for
the purpose of keeping up a regular supply of
chickens throughout the year. The henwife's
time will be fully occupied with the many
young broods now demanding constant care
and watchfulness. Geese, ducks, chickens, and
turkeys will all be abundant. Turkeys should
be set so as to hatch about the same time, as
they go together in large flocks ; and being
generally put as far as possible from the rest of
the poultry, it would require too much labour to
look after broods of different ages. Turkey eggs
hatch on the thirty-first day, and for a week the
chicks should be treated in a similar manner to
those of the common hen, but after that they
require more green food. Chopped onions,
236 YOUNG STOCK.
nettles, docks, and cresses are much relished,
mixed uj? with meal. A little fresh curd, hard-
boiled eggs, bread, groats, and buckwheat, are
also favourite items of their daily diet. Coop
the hens on grass, and do not, for the first
fortnight, allow them free range. After that,
let them out during the day, when fine and the
ground quite dry. Turkeys are careful, gentle
mothers, but the chicks are delicate, and in
damp seasons defy all care. They must have
shelter from too hot sun, as well as occasional
showers, for at least two months. When the
weather is very warm and sunny at this season,
this is a good time to dispose of adult birds of
all kinds, thus making room for the young.
I would advise poultry-rearers to exercise their
discretion, and allow the mother hens to roam
at large with her young brood for a few hours
daily, care being taken that she does not wander
too far ; but if she seeks the shade and shelter
of a hedge or plantation, and there takes her
dust-hath, and scrapes up food for her young,
the less she is interfered with the better. Place
water near, and throw down the usual food for
SCMMER MANAGEAfENT. 237
the chickens; but never allow them to go out
till the dew is off the ground, or leave them out
When summer has fairly set in, poultry-keepers
cannot be too seriously warned against exposing
their young broods to the full force of the sun.
Turn the coops so as partially to afford shade ;
but by far the best plan is to let the mother
wander at large with her little flock. A few
branches of evergreens stuck into the groimd
will afford a very simple and yet efficient shelter.
Turkeys take refuge in the long grass, and it is
a good plan to cut strips at regular distances
throughout, on which place the coops, and the
poults can roam at large. Shift the coops to
fresh ground every day, and see that the poor
imprisoned mothers are well fed, and supplied
daily with green food, such as cabbage, or what-
ever is not required as being too coarse for the
food of the young. The adult fowls that are
shut up in yards are much to be pitied in warm
weather ; see, then, that their water dishes are
238 SUMMER MANAGEMENT.
frequently refilled, and that they get as much
green food as possible. In each yard there
should be a low shed erected, under which they
can shelter themselves and take their dust bath.
Moulting has begun, and as this is a drain on
the constitution of birds closely confined, high
feeding is necessary. They have good appetites
during this period, and, if properly attended to,
and nourishing food freely administered to supply
the waste, their poor denuded bodies will soon be
again covered with smooth, firm plumage, which
is the surest indication of good health in poultry.
Old mortar or lime rubbish should be scattered
over the yards, or placed in a heap in a corner.
Fowls are very fond of it, and it is conducive to
their health. A little citrate of iron may be
given, dissolved in ale, and added to the soft food ;
and at all times give the fowls a few burnt oyster
shells. In April it is well to lay in a store, and
burn them when required. This, if properly
done, calcines the shell, when it can be easily
broken with the fingers. Hens frequently eat
their eggs ; if of little value, kill the offender at
once, for she may infect the others ; but I have
SUMMER 2rANA0EMENT. 239
found that if the laying-house is kept quite dark,
hens are not so apt to indulge in this evil pro-
pensity : absence of lime frequently causes it,
and once the habit is acquired, it is impossible
to cure it effectually. Many recommend chalk
nest-eggs, but I have tried them without any
As some of my readers may wish to diminish
the expense of their poultry-keeping, I suggest
their sending early chickens to market. If good
enough — that is, with straight breast bones,
white legs, are fat and plump, and of fair size
for birds hatched in January and February — the
highest prices for such are to be obtained in
London ; but even in country towns the value
of early chickens is very fairly estimated, and a
remunerative price freely given. The importa-
tions of eggs and poultry from the Continent
are enormous, and if it pays to breed poultry
abroad, surely it might be made equally profit-
able in our own country. Establishments have
been lately organised to try the effect of rearing
poultry on a large scale. Time will, I hope,
enable these philanthropists to show a fair
240 SUMMER MANAGEMENT.
balance-sheet, and to encourage others to follow
their good example.
If poultry is kept for profit alone, or where
the superfluous stock is only sold to reduce ex-
penses, I advise the breeder to confine his fancy
to the more valuable varieties, as commanding a
sure market, either for table use or exhibition.
The expenses of rearing and feeding valuable
fowls will be all but the same as that of com-
paratively worthless ones. The same attendance
will be required, and the only additional outlay
will be on the extra comfort and -warmth neces-
sary for early-hatched chickens. This, if pro-
perly managed, will be very trifling. It is a great
mistake to build chicken palaces, or to fancy
that such can ever be constructed on such
elastic principles as to aSbrd space for the rear-
ing of poultry and supjDly of eggs, even for a
moderate establishment, throughout the year.
On however large a scale the attempt is made,
chickens confined entirely to such would not
thrive, and the result would only bring dis-
appointment. Nowhere can poultry be reared
better or at less outlay than at a farm-steading
PRESERVIXG AND SALE OF EGGS. 241
— aye, and very fair pens for exhibition can be
picked out from the farm-stock. When eggs for
market is the object, I would recommend the
best layers only to be kept, and all young pul-
lets ; but there may also be a pure unmixed
breed of Dorkings, Brahmas, Spanish, or any
kind most fancied, kept as well for exhibition
and sale, in matched pens. From five to ten
pounds can be got for such, and this repeated
several times makes a pretty entry on the credit
side of the balance-sheet.
Prtscrbing anir Sale x)f 6ggs.
When eggs are plentiful, 6|d, or 7d. per
dozen is their usual market-price in country
places. Say this lasts during the months of
May, June, and July ; during that time I would
advise all those who look forward to the rearing
of pheasants, turkeys, and young poultry of all
kinds, to preserve every egg not required for
household use or for setting. During the three
following months eggs become much less plentiful,
as the hens are in moult, and many going with
242 PRESERVING AND SALE OF EGGS.
broods. These sell at highest market-prices,
and continue to do so as long as possible ; but
to the breeders of pure strains of poultry I
would give this advice : never sell at market at
all ; the price is not sufficiently remunerative,
and it is far better to preserve even your most
valuable eggs, or eat them, than to run the risk
of their being set and hatched to supplant your
birds perhaps at your own county exhibition of
poultry. Sell, of course, at setting price, but no
other. November, December, and January are
bad egg months generally with the common run
of fowls, and setting for spring chickens com-
mences ; so, except any small or malformed eggs
(all which should go into the preserving jars),
there are not many to spare for market, and we
are very glad to have an abundant supply of
well-preserved, I may even say fresh^ eggs for
kitchen use, reserving choice, new-laid eggs for
the breakfast-table. I have, as a great favour,
frequently supplied the table of royalty from
my poultry-yard when all other sources failed in
Scotland. With a system of poultry manage-
ment there need never be a dearth ; and I was
PRESERVIXG AXD SALE OF EGGS. 243
very pleased that I could supply eggs, capons,
<S:c., really worthy of places on the royal tables.
February, ]\Iarch, and April are the three busiest
mouths in the " Henwife's " year. The demands
for settings pour iu from all quarters, and it is
sometimes difficult to supply all the applicants
and our own sitting-house too ; and at this time
we feel the full benefit of the forethought which
made us fill jar upon jar of eggs, now called for
on all hands to feed the young stock. In my
own establishment thirty dozen are required for
that purpose alone, and it can be understood
how impossible such a claim could be met
unless in the way I have described. I would
sum up the directions thus : — February, March,
and April — Set for stock, and sell for setting
only. May, June, and July — Preserve every
Qgg. August, September, and October — Sell
at market, if you do not fear the risk, and con-
tinue to preserve. November, December, and
January — Set for spring chickens, or sell. At
that cold season there is less chance of eggs
To preserve eggs, soak four pounds of quick-
244 PRESERVING AND SALE OF EGGS.
lime in two gallons of water, stir occasionally
for two clays, when, after allowing it to settle,
the clear liquid can be poured off into jars.
Select the eggs (as fresh as possible) very care-
fully. The slightest crack or blemish in the
shell would destroy the whole contents of a jar.
Put in the eggs gently, and fill up to within
three inches of the surface with the lime-water.
Place a lid of wood or a plate upon the eggs to
keep them down ; tie up the jar, and label it,
marking the date of preserving, and number of
dozens. Eggs will soon become scarce, and
consequently dear, but those preserved as I have
directed will keep fresh and good for twelve
months, and may be used in the kitchen with
perfect confidence. I repeat, however, that
though the process is simple, like anything else,
it requires to be effected with care. Where
valuable poultry is kept, eggs cannot be sent to
market ; and, indeed, the price is so low at this
season, there is no inducement to sell, unless for
hatching, when one or two guineas per dozen
can be readily commanded.
Those who are looking forward to summer
^chicken) exhibitions, should, by the middle of
May, be selecting matched (as far as possible at
this early stage) birds, and putting them together
in free runs. Many, when the time comes, will
fall short of the necessary qualifications— for it
is not easy to rear prize-fowls — but though not
fit for an exhibition-pen, the rejected ones may
be very good as single birds to sell or breed
from. The extra feeding and exclusive attention
they have received will also be well bestowed
upon them if they are destined to grace the
boards, and cause them to be appreciated by the
good housewife when they make their appear-
ance, " beautiful in death," on the dinner-table.
It is often a matter of congratulation, that out
of a flock of early chickens, ducks, geese, or tur-
keys, some may be given over without a murmur
or sigh of regret to the tender care of the cordon
bleu of the kitclien.
If all has gone well with our early hatchings,
the spirit of emulation may lead us to wish for
success in the "exhibition-yard," and already
many poultry-shows, principally (and wisely at
this season) for chickens, are announced. It is
to be presumed that all the pullets and cockerels
have been living apart, and ail consequently
growing more rapidly, and with greater perfec-
tion of plumage, than if kept together. The
separating system has been strongly advocated.
Premature laying stops the growth of the pullet ;
and while it is useful to keep up a supply of
eggs, it can be done by devoting, say, the badly-
feathered, and otherwise deficient birds to this
purpose, and keeping your intended exhibition
birds in greater seclusion. The chicken runs
having been carefully weeded from time to time,
it becomes comparatively easy to select from
these a pair of pullets and cockerel to form a
matched pen. These must now be cooped to-
gether, and receive extra care and feeding. Pro-
vided you give them daily and abundant exercise,
you may feed highly ; in fact, it is the grand secret
of bringing up birds to the seemingly marvellous
weights now required in prize poultry. Give
bread soaked in ale, linseed soaked and mixed
with their soft meal food, cooked meat, crushed
bones, hemp-seed, custard made with milk and
eggs — nothing is too good for our intended prize-
winners; and though our fond hopes may not
be realised as to seeing our names in the prize-
list ,we have had a great and constant interest
afforded us for months. The pleasure of anti-
cipation is great ; and one disappointment may
be tempered with the thought that with persever-
ance and patience we may attain perfection, and
in time secure the coveted prize, justly withheld
from us now. Many pens we noticed in the
prize-list find purchasers at remunerative re-
turns ; and those who do not put prohibitory
prices on their birds can generally count upon
the sales covering their exhibition expenses.
But even if they did not, it is still necessary to
exhibit, in order to keep up the standard of their
poultry-yards. A simple " commendation " at
a high-class poultry-show is of value, as the
fame justly acquired there sells both eggs and
PEEPAEING FOE EXHIBITION.
The season of poultry-shows begins in Sep-
tember. A little advice to those who are about
to make their d^hut in poultry life may now be
acceptable from one who has " trod the boards,"
and experienced the anxiety, and frequently dis-
appointment, which attend the footsteps of the
exhibitor. I cannot do better than relate my
own mode of procedure while preparing birds
for show. About the middle of July I select
from the free runs of pullets and cockerels a few
of the best of each kind of fowls, and shut them
up in the wired-in range of the poultry-yard,
where they are well fed and have regular ex-
ercise. Three weeks after, I choose and match
a cockerel and three pullets of each kind, return-
ing the rejected ones to their old homes, none the
worse for their change of abode and extra
feeding. The selected champions of the poultry-
yard are then made the objects of peculiar care
and attention. While at exercise they are
watched to prevent fighting, which is certain
destruction to the combs and toes of cocks.
Their food consists of meal mixed with ale or
milk, scraps of meat from the table, linseed
soaked and mixed with rice or meal, hempseed,
groats, and wheat. Nothing is too good for
exhibition-birds, the expected winners of first
prizes and silver cups. Having put up three
pullets with each cockerel, I have then to select
from them the best pair, and return one to its
plantation run. It is not an easy matter to
match a pen of fowls, though only three in num-
ber ; there are so many points to be considered ;
and the matching of combs, hackles, breasts,
shape, and colour, must be perfect. All other
points being equal, I determine the final choice
by weight, and I have just completed my entries
by weighing my beautiful Kouen ducklings,
which turn the scale at eighteen pounds. I
am scrupulously careful in washing the white
Cochins and light Brahmas, Old birds are
yellow and shabby at this season, and require to
be thoroughly cleansed to look at all well. I use
a brush, white soap, and hot water, taking care
to brush the feathers straight down, and always
pouring tepid water over the bird to remove any
traces of the soap. Immediately after washing,
and drying with soft towels, put the birds into
hampers with straw, and keep them under cover
till quite dry. I always wash the feet of Dork-
ings carefully before putting them into their
exhibition-hampers, because the white leg and
foot are " points " of excellence; and it freshens
up all birds to have their legs, combs, and faces
washed and made tidy before leaving home, to be
admired of hundreds, and to undergo the scrutiny
of keen, quick-sighted judges. It is often so
difficult to decide between two cocks of appar-
ently equal merits, that I always pen them up in
a row, and select the one that shows himself off
to the best advantage. A drooping, dull bird is
seldom successful; sprightliness is a sign of
health, and boldness of mien indicative of vigour
and courage, two essentials in male birds. When
all is ready, with the help of many willing assist-
ants (for a poultry-show is a great event, and
speculation is rife upon the merits of the diflfer-
ent birds), I put my beauties into their hampers,
and despatch them to their destination. Their
breakfast preparatory to their journey is entirely
of meal, with a little sijice (pimento or pepper)
in it, to give warmth ; and I always send along
with the birds a bag containing food for at least
one day. The hampers are best when circular
in form, as fowls often creep into corners and
destroy their feathers. They must be sufficiently
high to enable the birds to stand upright, and in
each should be a good bedding of hay. I consider
a lining imperative for all birds hut geese, ducks,
and turkeys, and even for these, in cold weather,
a little straw stitched inside the hampers adds
very much to their comfort. Coarse canvas or
calico fastened round the basket is what I use,
and from time to time these linings are taken
out, washed, and put aside for future occasions.
The hampers should have wicker-work lids, to
tie down with strings ; and I always, if possible,
superintend the putting the birds into their
hampers, and tying on the labels. Mistakes arc
of frequent occurrence, and it is almost too much
for one's temper to have a fine pen of birds dis-
qualified, from having been placed in a wrong
hamper. I have known this sad event happen,
and experienced tho inevitable effect, I ought
to explain that my reason for giving only soft
food to exhibition-birds is, that hard grain is apt
to cause fever and inflammation while travelling,
and being so closely confined in the pens, the food
should be of an easily-digested nature. During
exhibition I strongly deprecate the use of grain.
Much discomfort is consequent upon the liberal
supply given on these occasions to poultry ; and
I have even seen sawdust put in the bottoms of
the coops, which reprehensible plan is certain
to cause illness of a very serious nature.
At the approach of autumn, with it.s chilly
evenings and mornings, while our young stock is
stiU abundant, and much of it just hatching out
of the shell, very careful treatment becomes
imperative, and it is absolutely necessary that
there should be an abundance of warmth-givino:
food. The last meal should be given at five
o'clock, and the coops shut up soon after, to be
opened again at six in the morning. Feed often
and well. Keep the hen entirely confined to the
AUTUMN MANAGEMENT. 263
coop, and choose sunny spots for the runs. There
is much less fear now of overcrowding — our
numbers are fewer ; indeed, only those chickens
intended for table use or market should now be
hatched. Turkeys, if not fully fledged, suffer
severely from cold and damp, and although much
tempted by the abundance of eggs and evident
desire of the hen to incubate, I do not advise
any being set ; far better give the turkey some
hardy fowl's or duck's eggs to hatch. She will
cover twenty-one with ease, and have a fair chance
of rearing her Hock. It is useful now to mix a
little pepper in the soft food of the chickens —
powdered pimento does as well, and is cheaper ;
and Indian corn, both ground and whole, may
safely be given to all the stock poultry. Young
turkeys sometimes refuse it, but by degrees they
begin to relish it, and at last prefer it to all other
grain. It should also be thrown into the feeding
vessels appropriated to geese and ducks, mixed
with oats and other grain. In our variable
climate the weather is often so exceptionally bad
that it tries the constitution of even the hardiest
of our birds. The heavy mists prevent the grass
254 .4 UTUMN MANAGEMENT.
from ever being dry, and unless there are covered
runs for chickens, they have but a poor chance
of living through a long track of wet weather and
consequent confinement to coops or outhouses.
Protection from rain (when the brood is composed
of valuable chickens worthy of all care) may be
given at but little cost. Wire netting, yard-
wide, stretched on frames with a roof of felt or
tarpaulin, affords perfect shelter; and these runs
can be easily moved to fresh ground — which
point is too often neglected, as many others are
which give extra trouble ; but the neglect of
this is more fatal to young birds than if they
were left entirely to the mercy of the elements
and the instinctive care of the hen, who, how-
ever, only attends to the comfort of her healthy,
strong chicks, and walks off with them, perfectly
indifferent to the cries of her helpless weaklings.
Under the covered runs a heap of sand or earth
must be placed, and green food, lettuce, spinach,
cress, with, of course, a constant supply of fresh
water, always with a piece of camphor in it.
Young birds should be fed often, but small quan-
tities given at one time, and the food bruised ;
A UT UMN MA XA GEMEXT. 255
for example, in the morning a little oatmeal and
water mixed into a crumbly state ; later, green
food and a few groats ; tlien more meal and a little
hempseed. In the afternoon, crusts of bread,
soaked and squeezed dry, and any scraps of meat
left from table ; and so on till the last meal,
which must always be of grain — light wheat and
groats are the best for chickens. Thirds, or
sharps (sometimes called paring-meal) is very
good for all poultry, and particularly for young
growing birds, as it is rich in bone and muscle-
forming properties, but being deficient in gluten,
it is not warmth-giving, and is therefore better
when combined with meal. Full-grown pullets
will now (end of September) be laying, and some
will even show symptoms of wishing to sit ; but,
with Birmingham and other important shows in
the distance, no fine specimen of poultry should
be allowed to devote herself to maternal duties.
These must be left to mongrels, and the picked
fowls shut out from their nests, which very soon
cools their ardour, and after a little they begin
laying again. Dipping in water is often recom-
mended to reduce hatching- fever, but it is not
256 AUTUMN MANAGEMENT.
necessary. Nothing answers better than the
shutting-out system, or confinement to a strange
yard alone. Turkeys and geese should now be
put on the stubble, and (except their last meal
on their return home in the evening) be quite
independent of any other feeding. We must
often be indebted to the kindness of our neigh-
bours for the privilege of pasturing our flocks on
their fields ; it is one that can be repaid in part
by the gift of a turkey or goose at Christmas !
Even the second broods of turkeys should now
be large and strong enough to be sent great dis-
tances from home, water being carried to them.
In extensive poultry establishments, where a
regular debit and credit system is enforced, the
earliest-hatched birds are reserved for exhibition
and sale at high prices ; so the second hatchings
are devoted to home consumption, and for that
purpose are in no respect inferior to their older
brethren, except in size.
Eggs may be safely sent to market by mid
October, few caring to take the trouble of rearing
chickens through a long, dreary winter; and at
present prices both poultry and eggs should be
A UTUMN MA XA GEMENT. 257
repaying part of the expense of feeding. All
inferior birds should be killed off. Grain will
probably be daily rising in value, and, as insect
life is scarce, fowls are more dependent upon the
food given to them. A reduction in the stock,
therefore, becomes advisable, and good birds can
readily be sold at fair remunerative prices.
Where the stock is known as prize-takers,
matched pens of chickens fetch from £3 to £6
each ; single birds for breeding, 30s. Turkeys
(hatched in May) — which should now weigh,
cocks, seventeen pounds ; hens, twelve pounds —
are considered cheap at £3 per pair; goslings
and ducks, ditto. Pens for exhibition must of
course be reserved, as only by success in the
show-room can stock command high prices ; and
it is a pleasant thing to watch the progress of
birds intended for Birmingham or Manchester,
where, if a prize is taken, almost fabulous prices
may be obtained, and a certain sale for eggs in
spring secured. To breed for market only will
pay ; but then a great source of interest is lost,
and all individual tastes must be sacrificed in
trying to keep the balance on the right side of
the account. Where exhibition (in moderation),
home supply, and market are all combined, a
dail)^, nay hourly, amusement is afforded, and
profit may still exist ; it will only be a matter of
time, not of degree, for there are many well-
known amateurs who gain considerably by their
prize-poultry. Poultry-rearers must make up
their minds to one or other j)lan, and adhere
strictly to it. As a matter of business, and
solely for profit, the great object is to increase
the stock as fast as possible. Sell off when ready
for market — the earlier in the season the better,
when young poultry is in greatest demand. Feed
economically, and give the birds entire liberty.
Keep only young hens of the best kinds for laying
and crossing, to obtain large chickens.
It is often asked " How much grain should I
give daily to my fowls?" This is a question
not easily answered, so different may be the
treatment in poultry-yards. Where exhibition
is the rule, a very high and varied course of
feeding is necessary — the birds must be forced
into feather at the proper time at any expense ;
but where one pure variety of fowl only is kept
— however numerous the stock — from having
full liberty during the day, when they pick up
much food iii farm-yards, fields, &c. (which
makes them in a great measure independent of
the provision commissariat), the cost of keep is
obviously less, and the birds never do better,
are in greater health, or feather more quickly,
than when treated thus. But they will not be
in exhibition condition — they will be merely
in good buying and breeding order. It is im-
possible to lay down exact rules as to feeding ;
some varieties eat more than others. At all
times feeding well is positive economy. Hens
lay better and earlier when abundantly fed, and
the eggs (on a yearly average) will always more
than repay the extra cost. Now I shall give
the details of the weekly diet of a cock and
fourteen hens, set apart for the purpose of arriv-
ing at the exact expense of their weekly food.
For a cock and fourteen hens, confined en-
tirely to their yards, the following description
and quantity of food, given daily, is abundant —
2^ pounds paring and whole meal mixed, and 2
pounds of wheat and Indian corn mixed. In
the morning open the trap and give the fowls
access to their yard, feed with one half of the
soft food, and give fresh water. In the middle
of the day throw down some lettuce or cabbage
leaves, and calcined oyster shells broken small ;
also the remaining half of the soft food. At four
o'clock give the grain, and again fresh water.
The birds will retire shortly after this last meal
to roost, when they must be shut up for the
night. During the day let the flock out to graze,
and pick up what they can in the shape of in-
sects and seeds. At this season there is very
little to be found, but the exercise is conducive
to health, and it is astonishing how much grass
some fowls will eat, especially Brahma-pootras.
One hour's liberty is sufficient, but the more
they can have the better will they thrive. Much
less food would be required if the fowls had
complete liberty, but the quantities I have
specified have been proved in my own establish-
ment to be sufficient for the support of fourteen
early-hatcbed pullets (some pure Dorking and
Cochin, others crosses between the Brahma-
pootra and Dorking), all laying regularly. The
cock is of the Dorking breed, aged eighteen
months, and is in full health and vigour. It
may be thought that one male bird is not suffi-
cient for so large a flock of hens, but in the par-
ticular case given, the object being merely the
produce of eggs, and to ascertain the actual cost
of the food consumed, the domestic arrange-
ments are quite satisfactory. The yard should
be frequently dug over, and the floor of the fowl-
house swept every day, and sprinkled with ashes
or sand, and occasionally a Kttle lime. This
keeps the house perfectly pure and free from
taint. Cleanliness is indispensable ; and there
can be no doubt that the more we attend to the
comforts of domestic animals, the more will they
repay our care.
One bird will not eat barley, another rejects
Indian corn ; so that a mixed diet in that case
is necessary. No one kind of food can be forced
upon fowls ; their likes and dislikes must be
studied. Feed at regular hours, and watch them
while they eat. It is at that time you can best
judge of the state of health they are in.
The fattening of fowls is carried on to a great
extent in France. In some localities it is the
staple occupation of the females. In three
weeks after being penned up, the birds should
be ready for market ; but they must be in fair
condition when cooped, and not more than six
months old. Cockerels do not fatten so well
as pullets, but if they have been kept apart, the
young male birds of all the French breeds are
very superior in flavour and delicacy to the
Dorking, and must not be despised as table
fowls. In France the food given is buckwheat
ground into meal and mixed with milk. Barley
and oatmeal, and also Indian-corn meal, are
all good feeding stuifs. Great cleanliness is
imperative, and to ensure this in the coop there
should be no bottom, but merely rounded spars ;
the coop being on legs, is raised above the
droppings, which must be removed daily, and
sawdust sprinkled underneath. The chickens
should be fed twice in the twenty-four hours,
early and late, the feeding- troughs taken away
FRENCH PO UL TR T. 2G3
after each meal, waslied and kept sweet, as
fowls will not thrive if their food is sour and
dirty. ^Milk may be given as drink ; it is sup-
posed to whiten the flesh, and certainly it assists
in the fattening. Kice boiled in milk forms a
very delicate food, but it is not so fat-forming
as the meals before mentioned. Suet, molasses,
&c., are often given to produce fat, but it is of
too rank a nature to please those who are con-
noisseurs in poultry. Pure natural food must
be best, and no other can be recommended.
The feeding-house must be kept warm and
quiet, the fowls themselves being quietly and
carefully treated. In my own establishment
flattening is never required ; the fowls are fed up
from tlie shell for exhibition, and therefore are
always fit (after a fast of twelve hours) for the
table, the only risk being of their becoming too
fat for laying purposes and successful breetling.
I gladly repeat my testimony as to the superior
qualities of some of the French breeds, especially
264 FRENCH POULTRY.
the " Houdan," whether viewed as table or merely
ornamental poultry. My experience has been
acquired principally in Scotland ; therefore, if
any bir-ds thrive in this cold and often damp
climate, they ought to do even better in more
favoured quarters. The " Houdan," " La Fleche,"
" Creve Coeur," and " La Bresse" breeds are all
excellent as table poultry, and all lay large white
eggs with almost equal regularity, — perhaps the
*' CrSve Coeur " less frequently than the others, —
and they are also decidedly the most dependent
upon a dry soil, good exposure, and comfortable
housing. The " Houdan " is very hardy, and can
live anywhere. They eat little, moult with ease,
and are precocious layers. Pullets hatched in
May are laying by October, and if their eggs
were set at once, the produce would bring large
prices as spring chickens in March. I have it
much at heart to introduce these " model hens "
into our farm-yards, and make them, par excel-
lence, the farm-yard bird. The "Houdans" are
well known and sufficiently appreciated in France,
where they rival, and many think excel, the better-
known " Creve Coeur, " and " La Fleche " breeds.
FRENCH POULTR T. 265
I acknowledge the merits of these, but claim a
higher place for the "Houdans," as a hardier race
and of faster growth than either of the others.
They lay large, beautifully-formed white eggs,
which, like the diminutive Hamburg, seldom fail
in hatching. I have kept "Houdans" in great
numbers, and never have had a badly-formed egg
from them. The chickens grow and feather
rapidly, and nothing can be better as table
poultry — added to all which, they are very orna-
mental. They sometimes show a desire to incu-
bate, but their forte lies in laying — therefore I
strongly recommend their being kept as the egg-
suppliers of the establishment, and am not afraid,
if once tried, of any adverse opinion. The " La
Bresse " breed is also hardy and precocious ; but
I cannot advise any of my readers to set the eggs
of either " Creve Coeurs " or " La Fleches " till
April at soonest, and only then if the frost has
left the ground. A very interesting show of
poultry was held in Paris in 18G5, not for orna-
mental fowls, but for fat ones killed and trussed
for cooking. The " La Bresse " breed caiTied otf
the " prix dlionneur" closely run by the " Hou-
266 FRENCH POULTRY.
dan." Both are remarkable for smallness of
bone, plumpness, and -whiteness of flesh. The
latter reminds one of the once famous, but now
all but extinct, old Scotch breed, the " Chick
Marlin." In colour they are very similar ; but
as egg-producers the French breeds must have
the pas. I hope to see prizes offered at our
agricultural shows for the best table-poultry of
any distinct breed — not alive, as we have some-
times seen, but ready for the spit, and prepared
artistically. The French pay more attention to
this than we do. No fowl can make a good
appearance on the table if badly trussed.
Seldom do we see this attended to. It is not
difficult to learn the art, and yet how often are
chickens that, in able hands, might be made to
assume a respectable form, presented to us sprawl-
ing on the dish as if in agony, their poor sharp
breast bones sticking up to upbraid us for our
want of attention and "good guiding." In
France the combs of cocks are considered a
delicacy, and sold separately ; the giblets, too, are
always set apart. The French, as a rule, con-
sume far more poultry than we do ; and even
after supplying their own great demand, the
exportation of it to England forms one of the
principal sources of wealth.
Before concluding, it may be necessary to state
how those who are tempted to take up my hobby
should proceed in erecting suitable and economi-
cal habitations for their poultry. The simplest*
and I think best, house is that made of wood,
well secured from damp by felt covering on the
roof. This house may be built against a wall —
which will reduce the cost considerably — and if
possible facing south or south-west. There must
be a door with lock and key, and a trap a foot
and a half square made with sliding panel for
the egress and ingress of the fowls at plea-
sure, and also for shutting them in at night ; a
few nests provided (either boxes or baskets), and
a movable perch not higher than two feet from
the ground. The great advantage of the mov-
able perch over all others is, that it confines the
fowls to any desired spot in the house, thereby
giving less trouble to the person in charge in
the way of sweeping up, and it can be kept clean
and fresh very easily by occasional washings of
lime-water. The trestle form I consider the
best, and the roosting-board made of rough
wood, and broad. If small and smooth, the
fowls cannot take a firm hold, and it is apt to
cause crooked breast-bones in chickens. A larch
tree split, and the bark left on, makes an excel-
lent perch. Fowls cannot thrive without plenty
of air, but a few holes pierced in the door, at the
top, will secure sufficient ventilation, and, if de-
sired, a small pane of glass inserted in roof or
door will admit light. For a cock and ten hens
the house should not be less than twelve feet in
height, and about eight feet square ; the floor
clay or gravel, beaten down so as to be quite
hard. This very simple style of arrangement is
all that is necessary in forming a poultry estab-
lishment where only one variety of male bird
is kept, and where the fowls have complete
liberty ; but if required to be shut up at all,
they must have a yard, with dust-box, &c., which
I shall describe with all due regard to economy
and simplicity. To suit tlie size of ilie poultry-
bouse, which forms one side of the yard, the
ground enclosed should not be less than fifteen
feet long, and the materials used wire-fencing
stretched on larch posts. If covered over the top
with netting, five feet high will be sufficient, but
uncovered, the fencing must be at least eight feet
in height, and the posts pointed sharp, to pre-
vent the birds flying to them in their endeavour
to escape from their prison. The door of the
poultry-house should open into the yard ; but
there must also be a dooi- cut in the fencing to
admit of the fowls being let out to their run,
and for the convenience of cleaning and digging'
up the ground. A small lean-to low shed (under
which the dust-box is placed) affords the fowls
shelter from sun and rain, and is a favourite
resort at all times ; it can be placed in a corner
of the yard. Nothing more, I think, is required
for the erection of a poultry-house, and arranging
a yard suited to the wants of the finest varieties
of poultry. It is a mistake to suppose that any
out-house, pig-sty, or shed will do for fowls.
How often do we see them with no other house
than the cart-shed ; and although in summer
the common stock hens may thrive well enough
in these airy quarters, in winter they must suffer
severely from frost, and many die from want of
proper care and protection. Five pounds would
cover the expense of putting up a house and
roof such as I have described ; and that sum
would be more than repaid by the increased num-
ber of eggs, and the general improvement of the
birds : besides that, it will enable the proprietor
to keep a superior class of poultry, which will
command high prices, and not cost more in food
than very inferior breeds.
Where only one pure breed of fowl is kept,
mixed with other varieties of pullets for laying,
it is an easy matter to form a suitable habitation
for them. At a very small cost, a sufficiently
good, and in every respect fitting poultry-house
can be erected. By those whom Providence has
favoured with wealth, there need be no restriction
to the extent and even elegance of the building ;
but the very best breeds, and the same numbejf of
fowls, can be reared as successfully by a person
of moderate means in a much more humble struc-
tuie. A wooden shed, if perfectly waterproof, is
even more advantageous to the health of poultry
than a stone and lime house ; it is less close, and
affords a freer circulation of air. This, and
scrupulous cleanliness, are essential to the well-
being of all stock. The fowls having perfect
liberty only require a sleeping habitation, and
access to it for laying. By all means have a door
with lock and key, and a trap for the egress
and ingress of the fowls. The trap should have
a sliding panel, which, in winter, can be shut from
sunset to sunrise. The only inside fittings re-
quired are a few nests raised off the ground, and
a movable perch, not more than three feet high.
This is best made of spiit trees, the bark left on,
to give the fowls a firm hold. The setting up of
a poultry establishment is thus not a serious ex-
pense or troublesome matter ; but in addition to
the general living abode there should be a sitting-
house, devoted entirely to the sitting hens. Here
they will be secure from intrusion, and the greatly-
inci^eased return from the clutches set will soon
pay the small outlay expended on the house.
The saving of time to the poultry manager is also
a consideration. The hens are taken off tlieir
nests simultaneously, well fed, allowed access to
sand or ashes, and in twenty minutes all should
be replaced on their eggs, to sit in peace till the
return of another day calls for a similar routine
of action. The sitting-house may be fitted up
with rows of nests, with folding flaps in front, to
confine a careless, giddy hen if she shows any
inclination to wander, and on the flap may be
marked the date of setting, which will be found
useful where there are many hens sitting at the
same moment. The rearing of poultry is a very
pleasant recreation. We know that our gracious
sovereign. Queen Victoria, stands first on
the now long and fashionable list of poultry-
fanciers ; and in humbler quarters we find the
love of animals deeply implanted in the minds
of children. To them the care of the hen-
house forms a useful and instructive lesson — it
teaches them regularity, tidiness, and persever-
ance ; and while affording a harmless amuse-
ment as well, it may be made a self-supporting,
if not profitable one. It is essentially a
home pleasure, and whatever tends to increase
our interest in, and love of home, must be worth
" How grateful 'tis to wake
While raves the midnight storm, and hear the sound
Of busy grinders at the well-filled rack,
Or flapping wing and crow of chanticleer,
Long ere the ling'ring morn."
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