1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Poultry and Poultry-farming
POULTRY AND POULTRY-FARMING. The term “poultry” (from “poult,” Fr. poulet, dim. of poule, a fowl) is usually regarded as including the whole of the domesticated birds reclaimed by man for the sake of their flesh and their eggs. The most important is the common fowl, which is remarkable as having no distinctive English name; but the present article also deals with the poultry-farming side of the turkey, the guinea-fowl, the duck and the goose. For purely zoological details the separate articles referred to should be consulted.
Fowls.—The common fowl (see Fowl) belongs to the restricted genus Gallus, of which four wild species are known—the Bankiva jungle fowl (G. ferrugineus), the Sonnerat jungle fowl (G. sonnerati), the Ceylon jungle fowl (G. stanleyi), and the forked-tail jungle fowl (G. furcatus). The origin of the domesticated breeds is ascribed by Darwin, Blyth and other naturalists to the Bankiva fowl, much stress being laid on the comparative want of fertility in the hybrids produced between this species or the domesticated breeds and the other three forms of wild Galli, but it is probable that this want of fertility was due in great part to the unnatural conditions under which the parent and offspring were placed, as, if bred under more natural conditions, there is no difficulty in rearing these hybrids or in breeding from them with the domesticated varieties.
Breeds.—The number of poultry exhibitions has nowadays multiplied to such an extent that as many as twenty shows have been criticized in print in one week in Great Britain. Competition has increased the money value of prize fowls and created a large class+almost a profession-who have considerable pecuniary interests embarked in breeding and exhibiting such birds. This professionalism, and the interests at stake, have in turn naturally given rise to many proceedings of doubtful character, which it has been found needful to keep in check by an organization known as the Poultry Club. An enormous multiplication of varieties is another phase of this development, nearly all breeds having had their older subdivisions supplemented by new colours, produced through crossing and skilful selection, amidst which buff or orange, now bred in nearly all fowls, has had a curious popularity. While formerly the diminutive bantams were confined to a few well marked varieties, all the large breeds of poultry have now been dwarfed into bantam size by the skill of breeders. To enter farther into this branch of the subject is beyond the scope of the present article, but it may be interesting to state that at a public auction in 1901 one prize fowl was sold for £150.
Game Fowls.—Game fowls differ less from the wild Bankiva than any other variety; they are, however, considerably larger, and carry the tail more erect than the wild birds, Game fowls in England were long cultivated not only as useful poultry, but on account of their combative tendencies for the cock-pit. The comb in the game is single, the beak massive, the spurs strong and very sharp. There is a tendency towards the assumption of the female plumage by the males, and distinct breeds of “henny” game are known. Game are highly esteemed for the table on account of their plumpness, the amount of the breast-meat, owing to the size of the pectoral muscles, being very great, from which cause, combined with their hardihood, they are most valuable for crossing with other breeds, as the Dorking. English-bred game have been reared of many varieties of colour, retaining in all cases their distinctive peculiarities of form. Game fowls have been reduced in size b selective breeding, and exceedingly minute game bantams have been produced with the distinguishing characters of the larger breed. But the long-legged and long-necked “stilty” game fowls, which resulted at one time from breeding for exhibition purposes, have been again superseded in favour of the old and genuine type.
Cochins.—This type, which must be regarded as including not only the birds generally so-called but also the Brahmas and Langshans, is of very large size, some of the males reaching the great weight of 16 or 17 ℔. They are distinguished by a profusion of downy plumage, with small wings and tails; they are incapable of long flight, and the pectoral muscles are consequently but feebly developed. The Cochins originally imported from Shanghai were of several colours; some of the grey birds in America were crossed with the grey Chittagong, the Brahmas being the result of the cross, and they became established as a pure breed, faithfully reproducing their own type. The Langshans, a later importation, have fuller breasts and less abundant plumage. The exaggeration of fluff and leg-feather has removed all Cochins—it is to be feared permanently—from amongst popular and useful breeds, and in only less degree the Brahma, once the most popular breed of the day. On the other hand, new sub-breeds, based upon a cross from one or the other of the Asiatic races, have been multiplied and largely bred, these being all of smooth-legged type and somewhat less in size. A sub-variety of Cochin, raised in America, by crossing with a cuckoo coloured breed long known as Dominiques, became fashionable under the name of Plymouth Rocks. They are cuckoo-coloured, viz. each feather is marked with transverse grey stripes ona lighter ground, and, as in all cuckoo-coloured breeds, the cocks are of the same colour as the hens; their legs are not feathered, and the plumage is not so loose as that of the more typical Cochins. To the original cuckoo-coloured Plymouth Rock have been added buff and white varieties; and by crossing Cochins and Brahmas with other fowls, American breeders produced another useful race of compact form with smooth yellow legs, and white feathers laced with black round the edges, called the silver-laced Wyandotte, to which were speedily added other colours and patterns of plumage. The feathered Langshan has given rise to the black Orpington with smooth legs; and a local cross of Cochin and Dorking prevalent in Lincolnshire, to a buff breed with smooth White legs, now called the buff Orpington, though quite unrelated to the former. All these are useful for table, and good layers.
Malayan Fowls.—The Malayan ty has been long recognized as of Eastern origin. The birds are ofxfarge size, close and scant in plumage, with very long legs and necks. The Gallus giganteus .of Temminck, which he regarded erroneously as a distinct species, belonged to this group, as did the Kulm fowl and the grey Chittagong of the United States. The Malays are of savage disposition. Several smaller breeds of a somewhat similar type are known as Indian Game; some of these, as the Aseels, are of indomitable courage. Until the arrival of the so-called Cochin breeds from the north of China, Malays were the largest fowls known in Europe and were employed to impart size to other varieties by crossing.
Spanish.—The Spanish or Mediterranean type is well marked. The birds are of moderate size, with large single erect combs and white ear-lobes. In the black Spanish the whiteness of the ear-lobe extends over the face, and its size has been so greatly developed by cultivation that in some specimens it is 6 or 7 in. in length and several in breadth. Closely related to the Spanish, differing only in colour of plumage and extent of white face and ear-lobe, are the white and brown Leghorns, the slaty-blue Andalusians, the black Minorcas, &c. All are non-incubators, the desire to sit having been lost in the tendency to the increased production of eggs, which has been developed by the persistent and long-continued selection of the most fertile layers. The white-faced black Spanish, once the most widely kept, has almost disappeared; but the allied red-faced Minorca and the blue Andalusian have achieved great popularity as free layers of large white eggs; and the yellow-legged Leghorns of similar type, though rather smaller, have spread on all sides with much multiplication of varieties, the latest of which, with mottled black and white plumage, is termed the Ancona.
Hamburghs.-The Hamburghs, erroneously so called from a name given them in the classification adopted at the early Birmingham shows, are chiefly breeds of English origin. They have double combs and small white ear-lobes. There are various sub-varieties. Those with a dark crescent-like mark on the end of each feather of the hen are termed Spangled Hamburghs. Others are of uniform black plumage. A somewhat similar breed of smaller size, with each feather of the hens marked with transverse bands of black on a white or bay ground, is termed Pencilled Hamburghs; they were formerly known as Dutch Everyday-layers. These breeds are all non sitters and lay a remarkably large number of eggs. Hamburghs in England have been depressed in recent years by the complicated system of breeding separate strains for each sex; but there has been introduced from Europe the hardy Campine or Braekel, resembling the pencilled Hamburgh in plumage, but larger and with a single comb, and laying a large egg in great numbers.
Crested Fowls.—The crested breeds (non-incubating) have long been cultivated on the continent of Europe and are admirably delineated in the pictures by Hondekoeter and other early Dutch artists. In Great Britain they are erroneously termed Polish. The development of the feathered crest is accompanied by a great diminution in the size of the comb, which is sometimes entirely wanting. The wattles also are absent in some breeds, their place being occupied by a large tuft of feathers, forming what is termed the “beard." In all the crested breeds there is a remarkable alteration of the cranium, the anterior part of the skull forming a prominent hollow tuberosity which contains a very large part of the brain. This portion of the brain-case is rarely entirely ossified. There are numerous sub-varieties of crested fowls. The best-known breeds in England are the spangled, with a dark mark at the end of each feather. This mark often assumes a crescent shape, the horns of the crescent sometimes running up each margin of the feather so as to form a black border; feathers so marked are termed “laced” by poultry-fanciers. There are also white Polish and a buff variety. A very distinct sub-variety is the black breed with a white crest on the head and large pendent wattles. A variety with the arrangement of these colours reversed was formerly known, but it has now become extinct. Some of the larger breeds of the west of Europe are closely related to the Polish. The Creve-Coeur is a crested breed of uniform black colour; it is of large size and of great value for the table and for egg-production.
The Houdan is a black and white breed of very similar character. In some breeds the form of the body and structure of bones of the face closely resemble those of the Polish, but there is an absence of the feathered crest, the crescent-shaped comb becoming more largely developed; such are those known as Guelders, Bredas, and La Fleche, the latter being the best French fowl for eating. A small white crested variety, profusely feathered on the legs, was received about 1864 from Turkey; they are known as Sultans. The older French breeds are less kept than formerly, but a race originated in France by crossing Houdans with Dorkings and light Brahmas, and known as the Faverolles, is a tender and quick-growing table fowl, and even in the Houdan district itself is displacing the Houdan, one of its ancestors. The Faverolles have single upright combs, beards and whiskers, slightly feathered legs, and five toes on each foot; and the general colour of the hen is salmon or fawn, with an almost white reast.
Dorkings.—The Dorking type includes fowls that have for many generations been bred for the supply of the London markets. They are all fleshy on the breast and of fine quality. The Dorkings have an extra toe, a monstrosity which leads to disease of the feet. The Surrey and Sussex fowls are four-toed. The coloured Dorkings were i/iieatly increased in size by crossing with an Indian breed of the alay type. The birds of the Dorking type are fair layers and good sitters. They are rather delicate in constitution, and are chiefly bred in the south of England. 'Crossed with the game breed they furnish a hardy fowl, plumper than the Dorking and larger than the Game, which is of unsurpassed excellence for the table. Mating a Dorking cock with large game hens is found to be the most advantageous.
Silk Fowls.—These constitute a singular variety, in which the barbs of the feathers are not connected by barbules and the entire plumage has a loose fibrous appearance; similar variations are found amongst other species of birds, but are soon lost in a wild state. The silk fowl best known is that in which the plumage is perfectly white, whilst the skin, cellular tissue between the muscles, and the periosteum covering the bones are a deep blue-black, the comb and wattles being a dark leaden blue. The birds are admirable sitters and mothers, and are much valued for rearing pheasants, being of somewhat small size. Though of remarkable appearance when cooked, they are of good quality. In crosses with other breeds the silky character of the plumage is generally lost, but the dark skin and inter muscular cellular tissue remain and greatly lessen the value of the birds in the market.
Frizzled Fowls are birds in which each feather curls outwards away from the body. They are common in India, but are not adapted to the climate of Britain, as the plumage offers an imperfect protection against wet.
Rumpless Fowls are those in which the coccygeal vertebrae are absent; there is consequently no tail. By crossing, rumpless breeds ofany variety may be produced. They are not desirable to cultivate, as, from the structural peculiarities, the eggs are very apt to escape being fertilized.
Dumpies or Creepers are birds in which the bones of the legs are so short that their progression is considerably interfered with. The best known are the Scotch dumpies.
Long-tailed Fowls, under the various names of Yokohama or Phoenix fowls, or Shinotawaro fowls, are singular varieties recently introduced from japan, in which the sickle-feathers of the tail are 6 or 7 ft. long. In japan they are said to assume a much greater length. One bird in the museum at Tokio is stated to have sickle feathers 17 ft. long. In other respects the fowls are not peculiar, resembling the birds of the Game type.
Bantam.—This term is applied to fowls of a diminutive size without any reference to the particular breed. By careful selection and crossing with small specimens any variety can be reduced to the desired size. The Chinese had in the Summer Palace at Peking small Cochins weighing not more than 1 ℔ each. The japanese have long possessed a dwarf breed with enormous tail and comb, and with very short legs. One of the most artificial breeds is the Sebright bantam, named after its originator. This bird has the laced or marginal feather of the Polish combined with the absence of male plumage in the cocks, so that it may be described as ahen-feathered breed with laced plumage. When perfect in marking it is of singular beauty, but is not remarkable for fertility.
Most of the modern changes in breeds, broadly speaking, have been in the direction of replacing poultry with chiefly fancy points by really useful fowls, yet it is noteworthy that they have been carried out by fanciers, or breeders for exhibition, proving that there has not been that practical antagonism between the aims of these breeders and the production of food which some have alleged. But there has further been, since 1890 especially, a remarkable development of what has been termed “utility” poultry-breeding.
Feeding and Egg-production.—These aspects of poultry culture are closely connected, and in both such advances have been made as almost amount to a revolution. The breeders of the United States have led the way, and, though it had first been taught in England, were the first to practise generally the systematic breeding, year after year, from the best layers only. It had always been known that some hens would lay from 150 to 200 eggs in a year whilst many did not exceed 100, and some laid much less. This was tested (on a better stock than the average) at the Maine experimental station in 1898–1899, 260 pullets being selected, of which 5 died and 19 were stolen. Of the remainder, 39 laid 160 eggs each or more, and 22 less than 100, the rest coming between these figures; the five best laid 200, 201, 204, 206 and 208 eggs in twelve months, and the three worst only 36, 37 and 38 in the same time. From such figures the money value of selective breeding is apparent. As a proof of what may be done by systematic breeding, one American breeder obtained an average of 196 eggs per annum from as many as 600 white Leghorns, and another 194 eggs from 140 Plymouth Rocks; greater numbers have been obtained from single birds or small pens of fowls, but these are results from considerable flocks.
It has been proved, however, that such averages as these cannot be obtained unless they are fed for as well as bred for. The most successful egg-farmers now feed their poultry on definite “rations,” compounded so as to give what is termed a proper “nutritive ratio,” or proportion of albuminoids to carbonaceous material. The basis of such feeding is analysis of foodstuffs, in some form which shows simply their percentages of albuminoids, fats or hydrocarbons, carbohydrates (starch, sugar, &c), salts, crude husk or fibre, and water. Fats, being relatively much richer in carbon than the starch compounds, are generally multiplied by 2·25, and this product added instead to the carbohydrates; then the ratio of albuminoids or nitrogenous matter to this total of carbonaceous compounds is the “nutritive ratio.” The following is a useful table of analyses made out in this way, taken from The Book of Poultry:—
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|Articles of Food.||Albuminoids
|Grains and Meals.|
|Beans and peas||24·0||1·5＝ 3·4||48·0||2·5||10·0||14·0|
|Malt sprouts||23·2||1·7＝ 3·8||48·5||5·7||10·7||10·2|
Oatmeal .... 18·0 6·0＝13·5 63·5 2·0 1·5 9·0
Middlings or Fine Sharps 16·0 4·0＝9·0 57·0 4·5 4·5 14·0
Sunflower seed 16·0 21·5＝48·4 21·4 2·6 29·0 9·5
Bran ..... 15·5 4·0 ＝9·0 44·0 6·0 16·5 14·0
Oats and ground oats 15·0 5·5＝12·4 48·0 2·5 19·0 10·0
Wheat ..... 12·0 1·8＝4·0 70·1 1·8 2·3 12·0
Barley (and meal) 12·0 1·4＝3·2 56·0 3·6 14·0 13·0
Millet seed 11·3 4·0 ＝9·0 60·0 3·0 9·4 12·3
Maize ...... 10·5 8·0 18·0 66·5 1·5 2·5 11·0
Rye . . . . 10·5 1·8＝4·0 72·5 1·9 1·7 11·6
Buckwheat 10·0 2·2＝5·0 62·2 2·0 11·0 12·6
Hempseed 10·0 21·0＝47·2 45·0 2·0 14·0 8·0
Dari . . . . 9·5 4·5＝10·1 68·7 1·5 3·3 12·5
White bread 8·8 1·8＝4·0 56·4 0·5 0·0 32·5
Rice .. .. . 6·6 0·4＝0·9 80·0 0·0 0·0 13·0
Brewers' grains 5·4 1·6＝3·6 12·5 1·0 3·8 75·7
Potatoes 6·5 0·0＝0·0 41·0 2·0 0·0 50·5,
Red clover 5·0 0·8＝1·8 133 2·4 6·5 72·0
Meadow grass . 3·5 1·0＝2·2 13·5 2·0 4·7 75·3
Hay . . . . 8·4 2·6＝5·8 41·0 6·2 27·2 14·6
Cabbage 2·4 0·4＝0·9 3·8 1·4 1·5 90·5
Onions . . 1·5 0·2＝0·5 4·8 0·5 2·0 91·0
Turnips . . 0·5 0·1 ＝0·2 4·0 1·0 1·4 93·0
Dry meat meal. 71·2 13·7＝30·8 0·3 4·1 0·0 10·7
Flesh of fowls 21·0 3·8＝8·5 0·0 1·2 0·0 74·0
Horse-flesh 21·7 2·6＝5·8 0·0 1·4 0·0 74·3
Lean of beef 20·5 3·5 ＝7·9 0·0 1·6 0·0 74·4
Fresh-cut bone 20·2 26·1＝58·7 0·0 24·0 0·0 29·7
Dried fish 48·4 11·6＝26·1 0·0 29·2 0·0 10·8
Milk . . . 4·0 3·5 ＝7·9 4·8 0·7 0·0 87·0
Skim milk (separated) 3·1 0·3＝0·7 5·3 0·7 0·0 90·6
Eggs (yolk only) 16·0 30·0＝67·5 0·0 1·0 0·0 53·0
Eggs (white only). 12·0 2·0 ＝4·5 0·0 1·2 0·0 84·8
Many writers have introduced unnecessary complication into a very simple matter. Some elaborately compute the amount of “dry matter,” which is needless if our analyses show the proportion of water, as above. Others have calculated “digestibility,” on the theory that food not rejected as excrement is “retained in the body.” This theory has a basis in the case of animals which consume a large amount of hard indigestible fibre, excreted in such a form as horse manure; but fowls macerate all they eat in the crop, and grind it in the gizzard, and in their case the excreta represent very little undigested food, but mainly the final result of the vital processes, and of food usefully employed in carrying these on. We may be sure that we more than allow for any factor of in digestibility if we merely leave out any crude husk or fibre, giving that to the fowl for whatever it is worth, and calculate our ratio direct from the figures of the table.
Two extremely simple cases will suffice as examples of the modern method. Potatoes are often cheap, but on account of their starchy composition require a “balance,” and the same may be said of maize: one method of balancing each will show what is meant and the simplicity of the calculation. We will take potatoes and bran first.
|Fat × 214.||Carbo-
|1 ℔ Potatoes||6·5||0·0||41·0||2·0|
|1 ℔ Bran||15·5||9·0||44·0||6·0|
Adding here the fats × 214 to the carbohydrates, we get the ratio of the mixture as 22:94, or about 1:414, which is very good. Coming next to the maize, let us suppose that it is desired to feed this as grain in the evening, and to “balance” it by an equal weight of “mash” or soft mixture in the morning. One way would be as follows:—
|Fat × 214.||Carbo-
|3 ℔ Maize (×3)||31·5||54·0||199·5||4·5|
|1 ℔ Horse-flesh||21·7||5·8||0·0||1·0|
|2 ℔ Ground oats (×2)||30·0||24·8||96·0||5·0|
This ration explains how in such a case we must multiply the figures for maize by 3, and those for oats by 2, being the proportions we are taking to one portion of horse-flesh. The ratio of this dietary comes out slightly lower than 1:412.
The proper ratio for feeding fowls has received much discussion. Dietetic authorities mostly agree that about 1:5 is the best for maintenance of animal life generally, and more specifically that there should be of albuminoids about 18 parts in 100, of fats 7 and carbohydrates 75. That should suffice for growing chickens; but it is fairly obvious that fowls fattening may require more fat, while the constant production of eggs, whose high ratio is shown in the analyses, must require a larger amount of albuminoids. This fact is indicated by the hen herself, which when laying devours large earthworms, usually rejected with disgust at other times. She shows by this appetite how specially she needs albumen; and fowls on a wide range, though only fed with corn, may thus in summer “balance” a dietary for themselves by the worms and insects which they procure. When they cannot do this, more albumen must be supplied, and the general opinion of practical egg-farmers has tended towards a ratio of 1:4 or 1:412 for hens in full lay. One successful American breeder feeds as high as 1:3, and states that his results have been best at that figure.
Passing from theory, the greatest practical advance in poultry feeding has probably been the discovery of the benefit to be derived from dividing the extra supply of albumen between fresh bones cut up small in a mill (known amongst breeders as “cut bon”) and such green food as clover or cabbage. The bones contain a good proportion of fat, and of mineral salts also, which careful experiments have shown to be of great importance both in egg-production and for growing stock. Green food had until recently been looked upon chiefly as a corrective, or necessity for health, though it was known that fowls on a pasture grazed largely. But the nutritive ratio of clover is as high as 1:3, and American poultry-farmers now use it largely as really albuminous food, to promote laying. Its use in this way also allows more animal food to be used without ill effect; and to this free use of clover and cut bone in conjunction the improved results upon American egg-farms are largely due. The following is the “mash” ration on a successful American egg-farm, and represents a high forcing diet: middling or sharps 100 ℔, maize meal 75 ℔, gluten-meal (a highly nitrogenous by-product; of American flour-milling) 25 ℔, clover-meal 80 ℔, meat-meal 35 ℔, all weighed dry, mixed with boiling water in the evening, and kept covered all night.
The majority of poultry-farmers give their stock each day one feed of grain, and one of soft meal-food or “mash,” but by no means agree as to the times for these meals. In England, morning mash and evening grain are almost universal, the latter giving more support during the long fast at night, and the former more rapid recuperation on cold mornings. But in America and Canada, where the climate compels confinement of the fowls for months together in enclosed sheds, health and eggs can only be secured by constant “scratching,” to promote which the grain is scattered amongst loose litter spread several inches deep. Many, therefore, prefer to scatter the grain in the morning and feed the mash at night, alleging that a good breakfast of mash makes the fowls lazy, with bad results. Others state that this is avoided by a rather scantier morning feed of mash, with a slight sprinkle of grain in the litter afterwards. In 1890 a careful experiment was made by the Massachusetts Agricultural College, two similar lots of pullets being fed upon similar food, on the two plans, for two periods of several months each, in summer and winter seasons, and each lot receiving, besides the morning and evening feeds, a slight sprinkle of millet in the litter, to promote exercise. In egg-production there was scarcely any difference, what little there was being in favour of the morning mash; and the birds thus fed became also somewhat the heaviest. The most remarkable result was that the weight of manure voided in the night was nearly double in the case of the evening-mash birds, showing the rapid digestion of mash food.
Artificial Incubation and Rearing.—In the separate article on Incubator, details are given concerning the appliances used in artificial hatching and rearing, and the subject may be only briefly treated here.
Even in England the eggs hatched in incubators now probably equal, or nearly equal, those hatched under hens: in America the wide practice of artificial incubation is difficult to realize. Of small-sized machines one Illinois maker sold 14,800 in 1899; and in regard to large sizes, in 1900 at least seven names and addresses were known of operators who each used from 55 to as many as 85 machines, every machine holding 300 or more eggs: somewhat smaller plants were of course far more numerous. Experience on such a vast scale has led to a practical advance of considerable importance. While in England it is still usual to effect empirical adjustment of ventilation and moisture, the better American incubators now dispense with direct moisture altogether. It was remembered that the hen hatches without moisture, and equally so the egg-ovens of Egypt; the absence of direct air-current, and consequently of any rapid evaporation, being the obvious explanation. The manufacturers therefore set themselves to slow the movement of the air; and when this object was effectually accomplished, it was found that there was no need for moisture, and that the chicks also hatched out stronger and in higher proportion. The general opinion in the United States, where many farmers tested both hens and machines on a large scale, whilst still undecided between them, is that the proceeds of artificial incubation are superior by about 10%, and this is based upon hatches of thousands annually.
Artificial hatching necessitates artificial brooding, and in this also great changes have taken place, any real success in rearing having been for some years far behind that in hatching. The method universally attempted at first might be called the “coverlet” system, nestling material such as strips of flannel or wool, warmed from above, being provided for the chicks to nestle under, as they do under the feathers of the hen. Many were reared in this way, but failures were also terribly general, and these were ultimately traced to confinement and pollution and heating and re breathing of the air, caused by the nestling material. That system is now abandoned, warmed but open chambers being provided, which the chicks use at pleasure, but which have no coverlet to rest upon their bodies. In some, heated pipes traverse the upper part of the chamber, some inches above the chicks; in others a warm iron plate radiates heat in the same way; in others warmed air is brought in by flues or openings; in some small ones the lamp itself burns in the chamber of the brooder: but the principle is common to all of a warmed shelter, open above, and generally with an outer chamber also, sheltered but not heated, which breaks the transition to the open air outside. In America a very large proportion of the chickens reared are brought up till hardy in the large “brooder-houses” mentioned below.
Poultry-farming.—Poultry-farming in a practical sense is now carried on somewhat extensively in various ways, understanding that term to include any case where poultry-culture is carried on for substantial profit, or as an important interest of the holding, beyond the mere breeding of prize birds for exhibition. The difficulty never had been, as some have stated, in ground getting tainted or rent costing too much. It is now well understood that in the English climate 100 birds per acre must not be exceeded, though it is far better to confine them to one-half or one-third of the space, while some crop is got off the remainder when they go yearly to absolutely fresh ground. The mere rent of an acre is not much for 100 fowls, but the real difficulty was and is that a fowl is such a small unit, entailing constant liability to small losses and wastes, and necessity for labour and oversight out of proportion. Hence at a time when 100 eggs per annum was thought a fair return for each bird, and there was but a poor and uncertain market for them, this difficulty was insuperable. A very different average production would now be worked for; while, on the other hand, the greater crowding into cities, and growing appreciation of eggs as an article of diet, have caused a market for “new-laid” eggs at good prices which previously did not exist. It is these changes which have altered the conditions.
The chief development in England at the beginning of the 20th century was a very large increase in the poultry kept upon farms. Formerly very few were kept, looked after casually by the mistress or a boy, and only expected to provide for the household and occasionally a few shillings in cash, while any food expressly fed to them was grudged. It has now been taught all over the country, by lecturers under the county council technical instruction committees, that poultry pay best of any branch upon a farm. It has become generally known that, provided they can be run over the farm by using detached houses, and not huddled together, a dozen hens per acre can be kept upon a holding without interfering with any other stock; indeed, the curious fact is observed that horses and cattle prefer to graze over grass that might be thought soiled by the fowls. Where the statement was once derided, it is now a commonplace of county council lecturers, that the additional manure thus made is really worth to the farm from sixpence per bird per annum for small breeds to as much as one shilling for very large ones. Out of a large number of similar instances collected in 1900, one specimen may be given. In Worcestershire 210 fowls had the run of 100 acres, lots of 20 to 30 being kept in detached houses. From 20,000 to 25,000 eggs per annum were marketed, and 150 to 200 chickens, the food averaging about £40, and the cash return £90 to £100. The almost universal opinion is that the manure pays for the labour, and that the annual profit averages from 4s. to 5s. 6d. per head. Poultry-farming on a larger scale than this is also carried on in connexion with the Sussex fattening industry, presently described. That was until recently a separate business, chickens being bought from neighbouring small rearers, or imported from Ireland, to go directly into fattening cages; and it has often been stated that rearing and fattening together were incompatible. This was so far true that the manure made by numbers of fattening poultry was very considerable, and had to be used upon a small holding kept in order to use it; such a holding, therefore, received as much as it could possibly bear, and was thereby “sickened” for live poultry running at large. But with an extra holding or larger holding this is not the case, and increasing competition and the desire for the two profits have led to a large amount of rearing and fattening combined. In 1894 one of the officers of the agricultural commission found 8000 chickens being reared and fattened annually on one farm of 200 acres, and this proved only a pioneer: in 1900 he found (amongst many such instances) 4000 reared upon So acres, 1500 upon 22 acres and 5000 upon an extra holding (taken for the purpose) of 40 acres. In most cases the main cereal crop was oats, to be fed to the fowls; and some cows were kept, the skim milk from which was used in the same way; but the poultry was the controlling interest of the whole.
On any such scale as this the manure becomes of great importance. About 1880 Dr Augustus Voelcker, chemist to the Royal Agricultural Society, made the following analysis of two samples, one moist or fresh dropped, the other freed from much moisture by storing under cover for four weeks:—
|Organic matter and ammonia salts||20·19||38·19|
|Tribasic phosphate of lime||2·97||5·13|
|Magnesia, alkaline salts, &c.||2·63||3·13|
|Insoluble siliceous matter (sand)||12·58||12·49|
|Equal to ammonia||2·09||4·59|
Valued in the usual way, Dr Voelcker found that the moist manure was worth £2 per ton, and the drier stored manure £4 4s. per ton; but though the figures were indisputable, for many years such manure was practically unsaleable. Gradually in Sussex it became saleable at 6d. per bushel, and in 1900 some of the smaller fatters were selling it at prices varying from 4s. to 15s. per load; the larger men either used it themselves or obtained higher prices.
Really large poultry-farms are few in England, and to give quite recent facts would be to run the risk that they might prove ephemeral. It has been supposed that the common experience is failure after two years’ trial, but this is unduly pessimistic. Even in 1901 two farms in Berkshire were selling eggs from over 2000 and 3000 laying hens; and' there was one farm in the west of England, occupying 300 acres with the poultry (besides a shorthorn herd and other branches), which had a stock of 5000 pullets for laying, and had been in existence four years, a large capital amounting to thousands of pounds having been sunk in it. The owner explained that two years was the critical period, simply because for about that time there were practically no returns, and that in his case he had only “turned the corner” after three years. Though a practical man already, he had begun in a small way with one incubator and training one man; gradually extending, building up his own market, organizing his own selling agency, and building a mill to grind his own grain. Only such gradual extension by practical men can ever lead to success.
Besides the breeding of prize poultry, the changes mentioned in the early portion of this article have led to another class of breeding directed to the supply of pure races from good stock, but bred mainly for purposes of utility. The demand for such stock, at fair prices, though far below those for prize stock, is a good index of the development of the poultry industry. The establishments which supply it furnish eggs for hatching, or stock birds, or newly hatched chickens, which are now hatched in incubators and sold by thousands when only one day old, at which age they travel without needing food. Some of such establishments are quite large. One in Yorkshire occupies 43 acres solely devoted to this business.
Poultry-farming has reached its fullest development in the United States, owing no doubt to the apparently inexhaustible market; butcher’s meat being far less eaten than in England, and poultry and eggs to a large extent replacing it as national food. More especially is there an enormous demand for small chickens, known as “broilers,” weighing from 112 ℔ to 2 ℔ only, destined to be split in half and broiled on gridiron. These birds being unfastened, and ready at ten or twelve weeks, give a quick turnover with less expense and risk than older fatted birds; and this peculiar demand has largely dominated American poultry-farming, a great deal of which runs in the direction of great “broiler-plants” solely devoted to the hatching and rearing of these broilers, while large “brooder-houses,” similar to those used in that business, are prevalent on more miscellaneous farms. The broiler business started at Hammonton in New Jersey about 1880–1885, when plant after plant was rapidly erected, some of which have since shut down; but many others have taken their place, and some of the originals are still running. The chicks are all hatched in incubators (many plants running from 20 to 40 machines), and then transferred to long “brooder-houses,” built with a corridor all along one side, the rest being divided into successive pens for the chickens. These latter are moved along every few days to the next of the pens, which are arranged so as to give rather more space as the birds grow larger. Each pen has next the corridor a “hover” or brooding shelter. These have no nestling material, but only a roof or cover somewhat to retain the heat, closed by a curtain cut into strips in front; and are warmed by hot-water pipes running along the building. Generally these pipes run some inches above the chicks reposing on the floor, and are set rather on a slant, so as to be higher for the bigger chicks in the larger pens; but in some cases they run under the floor, and warm the air which enters under the hovers. Every hover, with its inmates, can be reached from the corridor at the back of all. In many cases the chickens are confined in these small pens until large enough, the floors being littered and regularly cleaned; but some raisers have also small outside yards which they use in fine weather. The mortality in nearly all plants is great, as might be supposed. There are said to be some at Hammonton which only market 30% of the eggs incubated, yet pay a modest profit at that, which is allowed for. On the one hand, a broiler realizes about four times the cost of its own hatching and food; on the other hand, the labour is very heavy and the loss considerable: these factors obviously give a very wide margin of possibilities as regards success or failure.
The most remarkable establishment of this kind, embodying some novel features, was erected in Ohio at the end of 1896 by J. Loughlin. The plant cost over $60,000, and was designed to market 250 to 300 broilers per day regularly, weighing 112 ℔ each, which were sold alive to one large dealer at $3 per dozen. Each day an average of 450 eggs were started, the chicks from which went into one pen. For the chicks, while small, there were 30 small pens, each with 5 by 10 ft. of floor space, or at the rate of six chickens per sq. foot; and there were 60 larger pens each 8 by 12 ft. with outer runs to each of 8 by 20 ft. Every day the chickens were marketed from the ninetieth pen, and all the rest moved one pen forward, leaving the first small pen vacant for the day’s hatch: thus fully 22,000 birds were in the plant at one time.
In more general American poultry-farms the same system of “brooder-houses” largely prevails, and from many great numbers of broilers are sent to market; but as both heart and liver are perceptibly affected by such rearing, birds intended for stock are either taken out of doors early, or reared in detached brooders, as in England. Some establishments are mainly egg-farms, high averages being obtained by the system before described. Many breeders have a high reputation for their stock as layers, and derive large profit from selling stock or eggs to other farms. There are many immense duck-farms or “ranches,” as mentioned below, which sell nothing except stock ducks or market ducklings. A great many combine the breeding and sale of exhibition poultry with some or all of these objects, fancy points being on the whole less distinct from useful qualities than in England, and the farmer and exhibitor far more commonly combined.
As a rule, American poultry-farmers employ long ranges of buildings divided into pens or houses, with enclosed yards in front; and the most remarkable fact is that interest can be paid upon the capital sunk in such buildings. The explanation in some cases is that much is put up by personal labour, while the cheapness of land and feed are also favourable. But the climatic conditions also differ. During the winter months the birds have to be confined in what are called “scratching-sheds,” and American farmers have successfully reduced to a system the keeping of them healthy and in profit by scratching amongst litter in a small space. During this period the outer runs sweeten and recuperate; smaller runs therefore suffice, and the stock is kept closer and more compact. Another system is pursued, more especially about Rhode Island, called the “colony” plan; detached rough houses, holding forty or fifty hens each, being scattered over the farm: there may be a hundred houses, but there is no fencing. This is very economical in buildings, but expensive in the labour of feeding and collecting eggs, and the system is only possible near the sea or where there is little snow. In several cases it has been abandoned for the system of housing and scratching-sheds.
There are a few very large establishments indeed in the United States, combining almost every branch. At the Meadow Brook Farm in Pennsylvania, occupying 80 acres, the buildings total 112,000 sq. ft. under cover, and the farm has sent to market in one year 25,000 chickens and 20,000 ducklings, besides selling many stock birds, and an enormous number of eggs for hatching at an average price of $40 per 1000. Businesses like this are very exceptional; but farms on a more moderate scale are numerous, and intelligent American farmers reckon to make a profit of a dollar per annum for each head of their laying or breeding stock.
Table Poultry.—National taste governs the market for table poultry to a large extent. In England white meat, skin and legs are preferred, and at one time black legs or yellow skin were heavily discounted. More knowledge has largely removed that prejudice, but white has a market value still. In France exceedingly white and smooth skin is preferred, but buyers are indifferent to black legs. In America yellow skin and legs are actually preferred, such fowls being thought more juicy; but there has been some tendency towards white meat of late. Belgian feeders think the best result follows from crossing a yellow-skinned race upon a white-fleshed one. It is some confirmation of this idea that one of the best English table fowls is the produce of a cross between Dorkings and the yellow-skinned Indian game, while other similar instances might be cited. For some years past the quality of British table poultry has been shown by displays of plucked birds in connexion with the Christmas Smithfield Cattle Show. For many years France had a reputation for greatly surpassing British production; and as the best French fowls readily sell for £1 each and more in the Paris market, it would not be surprising if they were superior to such as have to be sold for 15s. per couple. French fatters appear to seek and obtain a smooth whiteness of fat under the skin—almost like that of a bladder of lard—which does not find favour in the British market; but the best judges have considered that the finest English specimens staged were equal to all comers, and some realized high prices. Foreign experts, equally with English, admit that England has now little to learn from any foreign feeders.
The chief supply of the best fowls for the London market has long come from the Sussex district whose centre is Heathfield: these are termed “Surrey” fowls, though Surrey now sends few in comparison. This local industry has been founded in a curious way upon the “ground oats” of the district, the whole grain being ground up, husk and all, nearly as fine as flour. This is done by a peculiar local dressing of the stones, which are “stitched” into little pits by a pointe pick, instead of being dressed into narrow grooves, as for flour-milling; and this meal is found specially suitable for feeding and fattening poultry. In early times cottagers crammed a few fowls with pellets of meal dipped in milk, but this method is now quite superseded by machine cramming, a rubber tube from the machine being introduced into the crop of each fowl, and a stroke of the foot on a pedal squeezing out a ration of thin, almost creamy, paste, composed of the ground oats, fat and sour skim-milk, a food which puts on flesh fast and makes it white and delicate. Great experience is required in this business. When killed and plucked, the fowls are placed in a trough whilst still warm, close side beside, and their backs and breasts pressed closer together by a board loaded with heavy weights. This combination of fattening and subsequent shaping constitutes the Sussex system, which is extending in some other parts of England; many excellent fowls, well fed, but unfastened, are also supplied from Lincolnshire (known as “Bostons”) and other districts. The largest provincial towns have similar supplies in less degree.
In America larger fowls are called “roasters,” to distinguish them from the broilers above described; and there has grown up in the eastern states a system of rearing these also in confinement. Hatching them begins in September, and the birds are at first reared in brooder-houses; but when large enough are placed about fifty together in small houses, with 6 by 8 ft. of floor, in small yards about 20 ft. square. One very successful raiser puts 200 birds into one pen 10 by 17 ft., in a warmed house, where they remain till killed at 7 ℔ or 8 ℔ weight. One firm had raised in this way, for seven years in succession, 2000 birds per annum upon half an acre of ground, but occasionally there is serious mortality in this kind of business, and as a rule only 60% are reared of those hatched, the loss of the rest being averaged and allowed for.
In western Europe there is some demand for chickens fattened quite young, weighing only 8 oz. to 12 oz. each, and known as petits poussins, or “milk chickens.” In Belgium somewhat older ones, weighing up to 112 ℔, are sold as poulets de grains. The demand for such birds in England is small, and confined to the West End of London, the flesh being too excessively tender for average English palates. Birds of similar sizes have lately been finding a market in the United States, as “squab broilers,” but are split and broiled, and not fattened, the difference being that a whole bird is served for one portion.
Turkeys.—The varieties of the turkey (q.v.) differ chiefly as to colour. The principal English breeds are the bronze or Cambridge, the black or Norfolk, the fawn and the white. Of these the first, especially when crossed with the American, is the largest and most desirable.
Turkey-breeding has been largely dominated by the magnificent American bronze breed, derived from wild blood, and distinguished for size and weight. There is some question whether it does not require more space and fresher ground than the older English strains, and may not be more delicate on small holdings. French birds come largely to the Christmas market in London, but, as compared with English, are small. The chicks, when hatched after twenty eight days’ incubation, should be left undisturbed for twenty-four or thirty hours, during which time they are digesting the yolk that is absorbed into the intestinal canal at birth. No attempt should be made to cram them; their first food should consist of sweet fresh meal, soft custard made with equal parts of egg and milk set by a gentle heat, and, above all, abundance of some bitter milky herb, as dandelion, or, much better, lettuce running to seed, on which they can be reared successfully with very little food of any other description. The young turkeys progress much better if the hen has the range of a small enclosure from the first than if she is confined to a coop; thus reared they are much hardier than when cooped and corn-fed, and not so susceptible to injury from slight showers; but a damp locality should be avoided. Turkey-hens are most persevering sitters, and are employed in France to hatch successions of sittings of hens’ eggs. Turkeys can often be most advantageously reared by cottagers, as one or two hens only can be kept, one visit to the male being sufficient to fertilize the entire batch of eggs. The young turkeys find a larger proportion of their own food than fowls, and with a good free range cost but little until they are ready for fattening for the table. In places where the opportunity serves they may be allowed to roost in the trees with great advantage. Some wild flocks treated like pheasants are to be found in several of the large parks in Scotland as well as in England.
Guinea-fowls.—The guinea-fowl (q.v.) may be successfully reared in any dry locality provided it has a good range and trees in which to roost. The hen lays an abundance of eggs, which are generally hidden. The birds are useful as furnishing a supply of poultry for the table in the interval that ensues between the time when game are out of season and that before chickens arrive at maturity. On a dry, sandy and chalky soil and in a warm situation they are reared with ease, but are quite unsuited to damp, cold localities. The continued vociferation of the henbirds renders their maintenance near a house very objectionable, as the cry is continued throughout great part of the night. Several variations of colour exist, but they do not require any detailed description.
Ducks.—All the varieties of the domesticated duck are descended from the common mallard or wild duck, Anas boschas, a species which, though timid in its wild state, is easily domesticated, and suffers changes of form and colour in a few generations. The most important breeds are: the Rouen, which, retaining the colour of the original species, grows to a large size; the Aylesbury, a large white breed with an expanded lemon coloured bill; the Peking, a white breed with a pale yellowish tint in the plumage, and a very bright orange bill; two breeds which are entirely black. The smaller of these, which has been bred down to a very diminutive size, is remarkable for the extreme lustre of its feathers and the fact that its eggs are covered with a dark black pigment, which becomes less in quantity as each successive egg is deposited. It is known by the equally absurd names of East Indian, Labrador or Buenos Aires duck. The larger black variety, the Cayuga duck, has been introduced into England. Decoy or call ducks are small breeds of a very loquacious character, which were originally bred for the purpose of attracting the wild birds to the decoys. Some are of the natural colour, others are white. Amongst the less known breeds are the Duclair ducks of France, evidently the result of crossing white and coloured varieties. Among the breeds differing in structure may be mentioned the Indian Runner duck, formerly called Penguin duck from its erect attitude, the hook-billed and the tufted ducks, &c. During the last fifteen years of the 19th century the first of these became very popular in England as a hardy forager and good layer, many birds laying 150 to 180 eggs in a year. It is small in body but good in flavour, and is a great favourite in many districts.
Formerly the greater number of ducklings came to the London market from the Vale of Aylesbury. This trade still continues, but the adherence of the Aylesbury duckers to old-fashioned methods, and the increasing demand, has led to great competition in other districts, such as Norfolk, Lancashire, Kent, &c. Some of the new duck-farmers market 10,000 to 15,000 annually, mostly hatched in incubators, and never allowed in the water or out of the small rearing pens. In America, however, this kind of rearing has found its ullest development, the number who raise 10,000 ducklings or more being considerable, and a few sending to market, as above indicated, very large numbers indeed, requiring 40 to 80 incubators to keep up the supply. It is remarkable that while in England the Aylesbury is genera ly preferred, in America the Peking duck is universally used, and has been made by selection both larger and a better layer. Some duck-farmers in England have, however, also adopted the Peking. By good feeding the ducks are caused to lay in the winter months, when the eggs are hatched under hens, the young ducklings being reared in artificially warmed buildings or in the labourers cottages; they are fed most liberally on soft food, soaked grits, boiled rice with tallow-melters’ greaves, and in ten or twelve weeks are fit for the market; if killed before moulting their quills, which they do when about twelve weeks old, they are heavier than afterwards and much better eating. When ducklings are required for the early spring markets the old birds must be fed most freely to cause the production of eggs in cold weather, corn being given in vessels of water, and the birds must be shut up at night, or the eggs will be laid in the water, where they sink and become putrid. Duck-rearing is a very profitable industry, very high prices being paid for ducklings in the early months of the year. The so-called Muscovy duck is a Brazilian species, Cairina moschata, which is not reared for the market, although the young birds are edible. The drake not infrequently mates with the common duck, and large but sterile hybrids are the result.
Geese.—The domestic goose (q.v.) of Europe is undoubtedly the descendant of the migratory Graylag goose, Amer cinereus, from which it differs chiefly by its increased size. Although domesticated since the time of the Romans, it has not been subject to much variation. The most important breeds are the large grey variety known as the Toulouse, the white breed known as the Embden, and the common variety frequently marked with dark feathers on the back, and hence termed “saddle backs.” After the Crimean War a Russian variety was introduced into England in which the feathers are singularly elongated, and even curled and twisted; this breed, termed the Sebastopol, is of small size and more important as a fanciers’ breed than from a practical point of view. In some countries a second species is domesticated; it is usually termed the Chinese, knob-fronted or swan goose, Anser cygnoides. Though perfectly distinct as a species, having a different number of vertebrae in the neck and a loud clanging voice, it breeds freely with the common goose, and the hybrids produced are perfectly fertile.
Geese in England are declining in relative popularity. In German they are consumed to an enormous extent, and the British consul-general at Berlin reports that even the large domestic supplies have to be supplemented by considerable imports from Russia, a special “goose-train” of fifteen to forty cars arriving daily from the Russian frontier at that city. In America there has been increased interest in goose-breeding, and in the Chinese goose especially, which has been largely bred (with some trifling peculiarities) under the name of the African goose, and crossed with the Embden and Toulouse. The produce of this African cross is considered very fertile and profitable to rear.
Geese are much more exclusively vegetable feeders than ducks, and can only be kept to profit where they can obtain a large proportion of their food by grazing. The old birds should not be killed off, as they continue fertile to a great age. Geese are readily fattened on oats thrown into water, and the young, when brought rapidly forward for the markets, afford a very good profit. The Chinese, if well fed, lay at a much earlier date than the common species, and, if their eggs are hatched under large Cochin hens, giving three or four to each bird, the young are ready for the table at a very early period. The nest, as in ail cases of ground-nesting birds, should be made on the earth and not in boxes, which become too dry and over-heated. In breeding for the market or for the sake of profit, the very large exhibition birds should be avoided, as many are barren from over-fatness, and none are so prolific as birds of fair average size. National Interests and Commerce.-The foreign importations of eggs into Great Britain increased rapidly during the later years of the 19th century. Taking only alternate years for brevity's sake, the following table shows the amount, value and average price per 120 between 1870 and 1900:-
Number, Value and Price of Imported Eggs.
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Year. Number of Eggs. Value. Average Price
£ s. d.
1870 430,842,240 1,102,080 6 112
1872 531,591,720 1,762,000 7 1114
1874 680,552,280 2,433,134 8 7
1876 753,026,040 2,620,396 8 4
1878 783,714,720 2,511,096 7 812
1880 747,403,600 2,235,451 7 2
1882 811,922,400 2,385,263 7 1
1884 993,603,760 2,910,493 7 0
1886 1,035,171,000 2,884,063 6 8
1888 1,126,793,000 3,083,167 6 6
1890 1,234,950,000 3,428,806 6 8
1892 1,336,730,000 3,794,718 6 10
1894 1,425,236,000 3,736,329 6 5
1896 1,589,401,000 4,184,656 6 4
1898 1,730,952,000 4,457,117 6 2
1900 2,025,820,560 5,406,141 6 512
From such figures the conclusion might be drawn eggs were “ousting” British to a formidable extent; but such a conclusion is dispelled when we take into consideration questions of price and nationality. Imported eggs are of very different qualities and prices, France averaging for the year 1900, 7s. 712 d. per 120, Denmark 7s. 634 d., Belgium 6s. 2d., Germany 5s. 914d. and Russia 5s. 6d., many of the latter being almost putrid when sold in England, and chiefly used in manufactures, for which, at a low price, they answer perfectly. Many eggs are sent from Russia to Germany, Belgium and even Denmark, so that some of these also come from her, at an original price with which no British producer could compete. A steady decline in imports of the higher priced French eggs, and an enormous increase of low-priced eggs, explain the drop in average price from 8s. 7d. per 120 in 1874 to 6s. 512d. in 1900; and were this all, the inference would be simply that the selling price of eggs had fallen. But this is not so. While the higher priced foreign eggs have thus been largely displaced from the market, there has grown up a very large demand for British “new-laid” eggs, at prices much higher than any of the above. There is a wholesale market for such eggs in London. The lowest price (in May) for 1900 was 7s. 6d. to 8s. 6d., and the highest (in December) 19s. to 205. per 120. The quantity of reputed “new-laid“ British eggs now sold is enormous, and has grown up in the face of foreign imports, the native producer selling in spite of them, and at far better prices, many times more than he did, say, in 1875.
The following were the British imports of dead poultry and game for the last three years of the 19th century:—
Value of British Imports of Poultry and Game.
Year. France. Russia. Belgium. Other Countries
- £ £ £ £
1898 217,703 164,493 127,923 127,363
1899 296,555 139,334 165,303 133,102
1900 333,148 199,282 213,603 264,327
The total for 1900 thus amounted to £1,010,360. The imports from France and Belgium are largely for the Christmas market. Those from Russia are chiefly very small fowls wrapped in paper and packed in cases of a hundred each, which come over frozen, to be sold at ls. 2d. or 1s. 3d. each. Other sources include America, Canada and Australia, which have been sending smaller but increasing quantities of larger birds, packed in smaller numbers, and which realize 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. each, a few of the largest as much as 4s. each. Such supplies have somewhat affected the Sussex fattening industry, necessitating the production of a lower class of bird at a lower price and narrower margin; but they look rough and inferior in colour, and chiefly supply restaurant and hotel demand. The foreign birds being cold-storage goods, which must be consumed quickly when taken out, a fresh Sussex fowl of the same weight will always sell for considerably more.
There are no statistics of British poultry; in Ireland they are collected. The year 1851 closed a decade in which the number of holdings under ten acres had decreased enormously, and the number of poultry in Ireland was then returned as 7,470,694. In 1889 this number had doubled to 14,856,517, and in 1899 there were 18,233,520. The Irish Agricultural Organization Society is doing muc to improve breeds and management, and the packing of eggs, pf which Ireland is a considerable exporter to Great Britain. There 18 also now a considerable export of lean chickens for fattening to Sussex and other parts of England, and a smaller number have also been fattened in Ireland.
In Australia most of the federated states have a produce export department, which receives eggs and dead poultry into cold storage and ships to London, managing, if desired, the whole business. That of South Australia shipped a good many eggs to England in 1895, but the temperature was found too low for eggs, and this trade has so far not developed. Dead poultry come in a similar way from West Australia and Victoria to London. In New South Wales such arrangements have inaugurated a small export business which seems the most active of any, and more seems known about the poultry industry in this state than in others. The government statistician estimated the number kept in 1900 at 3,180,000 fowls, 320,000 ducks, 234,000 turkeys and 97,000 geese, the annual consumption being about three-fourths of this, and of eggs about 97,000,000.
In Canada the government makes considerable effort to encourage poultry. It has established several stations where systematic fattening of chickens in the English manner is taught, and official experiments are also made on the results of various feeding-rations and other matters. From these stations shipments of fatted chickens were first made to Liverpool and London, commencing an export trade which shows signs of growth.
The poultry industry in the United States is the most gigantic in the world. By the census of 1900, which tabulates returns from 5,096,252 out of the 5,739,657 farms in the States, the number of fowls over three months old on the 1st of June 1900 was returned as 233,598,085, with 6,599,367 turkeys, 5,676,363 geese, and 4,807,358 ducks, or 250,681,673 birds in all, valued at 85,794,996 dollars. This, however, would include very few of the chickens raised that year, which would not have reached the age stated, and mainly represents breeding and laying stock, which thus averages about 49 birds to every holding; it also of necessity omits many of the smaller city-lot 'raisers. The value of the poultry raised during the whole year 1899 is given as 136,891,877 dollars, and of the eggs produced (1,293,819,186 dozen) at 144,286,186 dollars; a total year's product of over £56,000,000. Adding only a very moderate amount for city-lot and other small producers not making return, the poultry industry in America exceeded in value either the wheat crop, or swine or cotton crop.
The importance of poultry in France has long been recognized, being due mainly to the prevalence of moderately small holdings and the national disposition to small rural industries. The eggs exported are collected from the farmers by such a well-organized system that eggs collected on Wednesday are in the'L0ndon market the following Tuesday. The home consumption of eggs is also enormous, so that when prices for foreign eggs decreased in England, the Paris market paid better. In 1900 the Paris Municipal Council reported the consumption of eggs in that city alone in the previous year as 212 per head. Eggs are imported from Italy to some extent.
The conditions in Belgium are somewhat similar to those in France. Some eggs are imported from Italy, and much of the home production is from imported Italian hens, kept laying for a year and then killed: eggs are exported chiefly to France, Great Britain and Germany. There is a fattening industry somewhat similar to that in Sussex, lean chickens being bought for fattening in certain markets. The chief export of these is to Germany, but there is some to the London market, especially in December.
In the Netherlands the number of poultry increased considerably during the last decade of the 19th century, excepting turkeys, which' diminished. Taking 1900 as a typical year, there were 4,083,312 fowls, 430,022 ducks, 36,307 geese, and 13,130 turkeys; and there were about 70 special establishments for poultry-rearing, which were rather on the increase, chiefly for local requirements. Of eggs there were exported to Belgium 656,898, England 370,418 and Germany 3,212,845 kilos; but the imports were in excess of this by 2,916,269 kilos, and came chiefly from Russia. Dead fowls and ducks also go to the countries above named.
In Denmark there were in 1900 about 9,000,000 fowls, mostly local and Italian. The eggs exported numbered 332,000,000, practically all to England; there were imported 35,600, o0o, practically all Russian, re-exported to England. The flourishing export trade is due to a good co-operative system.
Germany is a large consumer rather than a producer of poultry products, and chiefly a carrier of her nominal exports. She imports eggs from Italy and Austria-Hungary as well as from Russia.
Austria-Hungary has a large trade in poultry and eggs. In 1900 the dual monarchy imported poultry to the ~ value of £268,240 and eggs to the value of £1,230,655. But the exports of poultry amounted to £977,051, and of eggs to no less than £3,750,078. This country is therefore a very large producer, most of the eggs going to Germany, and some of them through her on to England. Italy sends live fowls, for laying, to northern Europe, and eggs to Belgium and France.
In Russia the growth of the poultry industry has been very great since 1890. In that year her British trade was small: in 1900 she bulked largest of all countries in eggs sent to England direct, and some nominally from others really came from her. Her exports of eggs (reckoned as £1 = 10 roubles) were valued in 1898 at £3,113,386, and of live poultry (chiefly geese) at £637,000; but this latter sum is now exceeded by geese alone sent to Germany, as above noticed. Hervast southern provinces are, of course, the origin of this produce, which is collected by dealers from the farmers, the price realized by the latter for eggs being in summer sometimes less than a rouble per hundred. The government has shown considerable interest in this growing industry in several ways, and produce is carried at almost incredibly low rates on the State railways; but the vast distances involved must always confine Russian produce to the supply of the cheaper class of demand in western Europe. (L. Wr.)