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-lailed 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. lon In japan they are said to assume a much greater length. One iird 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 I Tb 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 I8Q8'I8QQ, 260 pullets being selected, of which 5 died and IQ 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.”V The following is a useful table of analyses made out in this way, taken from The Book of Poultry:- Analyses of Poultry Foods.
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Articles of Food.
Grains and Meals.
Linseed meal 32-9 7 =17-8 35-4 5-7 8-9 9-2 Beans and peas 24-0 1 = 3-4 48-0 2-5 IO'O 14-0 Malt sprouts 23-2 1 = 3-8 48-5 5-7 10-7 10-2 Oatmeal .... I8'0 6 =I3'5 63-5 2-0 1-5 9-0 Midd1ingsorFineSharps I6'O 4 = 9-0 57-0 4-5 4-5 I4'O Sunfiower seed 16-0 21 =48-4 21-4 2-6 29-o 9-5 Bran ..... 15-5 4 = 9-0 44-o 6-0 16-5 I4'O Oats and ground oats 15°C 5 12-4 48'O 2-5 19-0 10-0 Wheat ..... I2'O 1 = 4-o 70-1 1-8 2-3 12-0 Barley (andmeal) 12-0 1 = 3-2 56-0 3-6 I4~0 13-0 Millet seed 11-3 4 = 9-0 60-0 3-0 9-4 12-3 Maize ..... 10-5 8 I8'O 66-5 1-5 2-5 11-0 Rye 10-5 1 = 4-0 72-5 1-9 1-7 11-6
Buckwheat 10-0 2 = 5-0 62-2 2-0 11-0 12-6 Hernpseed 1o-o 2I =47-2 45°C 2-O 14-0 8-0 Dari 9-5 4 =10-1 68-7 1-5 3-3 12-5
White bread 8-8 1 = 4-0 56-4 o-5 0-0 32-5 Rice .... . 6-6 0 - 0-9 80-0 0-0 o-o 13-0 Brewers' grains 5-4 1 3-6 12-5 1-0 3-8 75-7 Vegetables.
Potatoes 6-5 0 o-o 41-0 2-0 o-o 50-5, Red clover 5-0 0 1-8 133 2-4 6-5 72-0 Meadow grass . 3-5 1 2-2 13-5 2-0 4-7 75-3 Hay 8-4 2 5-8 41-0 6-2 27-2 14-6
Cabbage 2-4 0 o-9 3-8 1-4 1-5 90-5
Onions 1-5 0 - 0-5 4-8 0-5 2-0 91-0
Turnips 0-5 0 = 0-2 4-0 I'O 1-4 93-0 Animal Foods.-Dry
meat meal. 71-2 13- =3o-8 0-3 4-1 o-o 10-7 Flesh of fowls 21-0 3- = 8-5 o-o 1-2 o-o 74-0-Horse-flesh 21-7 2- = 5-8 o-o 1-4 0-0 74-3
Lean of beef 20-5 3- = 7-9 0-0 1-6 0-0 74-4 Fresh-cut bone 20-2 26 =58-7 o-0 24'0 0-0 29-7 Dried fish 48-4 11- =26-1 0-0 29-2 o-o I0-8 Milk . . 4-0 3- = 7-9 4-8 o-7 0-0 87-o
Skim milk (separated) 3-1 0- = 0-7 5-3 0-7 0-0 90-6 Eggs (yolk only) I6'0 30- =67-5 o-o I'O o-o 53-0 (white only). I2~Ol 2- = 4-5 o-o I'2 o-o 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 ghe simplicity of the calculation. We will take potatoes and bran rst.